Negative Creep wrote:It's something that seems to be enshrined in video game law - over saturated market led to a collapse, Nintendo come along and save it with the NES. I was only a few years old when it happened so have no direct experience, but given the popularity of home computers in the UK and Europe did it have the same sort of effect here? The NES was popular but didn't dominate the market in the same way it did in the US so was it really that much of a saviour?
You might want to check out the article I did on the "crash" in Retro Gramer 100. It seems some of the common hearsay is popping up in this thread, so without repeating the entire article here's a few key points:
- The "Crash" was not a "video game industry" crash. There was no such beast at that time. Rather you had separate industries (consumer, coin, computer) that had video games in them. Each is a separate industry with it's own resources, logistics, markets, needs, etc. I think what confuses the issue for some is that you had some companies, such as Atari, who operated in all three. The "crash" was a North American consumer industry crash. Coin had already going through it's own industry crash earlier and was just coming out of it when the consumer crash was hitting it's worst, and the low end computer industry (Vic20, C64, TI99, Atari 400/800, etc.) was at the peak of it's own shakeout and just coming out of it by '84 as well.
- Pac-Man and ET in no way, shape, or form caused the consumer crash. They were symptoms, not the problem. What caused it was already well underway at Atari before ET was even started.
- Too many competitors was certainly a part of it, but what caused it and the chain reaction that occurred in the consumer industry was for more complicated.
- The crash was a North American consumer industry crash, not a market crash. The market existed the entire time, product was still being actively sold and purchased during that time, it's just that the companies behind the products still being sold were no longer there or supporting them.
- While Nintendo takes credit for being a major factor in a revitalization of the consumer industry in North America, it was not an instantaneous thing and they weren't solely responsible. The 1985 "instant revitalization" is not accurate, they only test marketed in New York and it went poorly according to the Consumer Electronics industry and retailer coverage (and Nintendo themselves, they only sold about half of the conservatively allotted number of console for the test). Nintendo decided to see it as a positive and go ahead with the Los Angeles test marketing in February which went better. Atari Corp. launched the 7800 in January nationally, and as Nintendo slowly expanded nationally then SEGA through their hat in the ring by the June '86 CES. The press and industry was seeing all three being involved as a sign the consumer video game industry was being revitalized. Nintendo didn't come out as the clear leader of the revitalized industry until after the Christmas '86 season was over.