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Thread: 3rd party support (or lack thereof) is the number one reason for a consoles demise

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    Pear (Level 6) gbpxl's Avatar
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    Default 3rd party support (or lack thereof) is the number one reason for a consoles demise

    If the system is too hard to develop for (Jaguar comes to mind), if the console embraces old technology (N64), if the marketing is poor (think Saturns "surprise launch"), it seems these are big reasons why third party companies jump ship. a lot of it has to do with oversaturation of the maket of course. presently, there are 3 main console competitors, each offering something different. but look back at 1993 when there were what ten different consoles with games being produced on them? (NES, SNES, TurboGrafx16/CD, Genesis, Sega CD, Jaguar, CDi, 3DO, Laseractive, not to mention all the handhelds.) Most consumers could only afford one console, and some had more than one. My family at that time only had an NES. we borrowed or rented the Genesis during that time and didnt get a SNES until 1995.

    One thing I find interesting is how much third party support Sega had during the 16 bit days. damn near 1/4 of the titles seem to be published by Electronic Arts. By the time the Dreamcast was released, EA jumped ship a long time ago. Capcom seems to have been the only publisher that stayed by Segas side til the very end.

    The N64 is an enigma because almost all of its good games were made by Nintendo
    if it werent for Rare, the N64 wouldnt have had much going for it third party wise.

    Sony was a juggernaut at swallowing up all the 3rd party companies like Square, Enix, and EA.

    Nintendo right now I believe is thriving off the nostalgia bug that hit everyone in the mid 2010s. games on cartridges again, emphasis on local multiplayer, games that harken back to the 'olden days' and just the fact that the Switch is the continuation of the Nintendo lovers' "I GOTTTA BUY EVERYTHING" in the long list of consoles going back to NES. I think also Nintendo tapped into a distrust that gamers have with the competitors forcing things gamers dont want on them; mandatory installs, updates, microtransactions, etc. Nintendo seems to want to avoid that stuff from my perspective at least.

    but going back to the 3rd party discussion... did 3rd parties leave the hardsare manufacturers because they looked at consumer trends, because of disputes with what games can be made on the platform (think Nintendos policy on violence), or because they banked on newer technology that they thought would be the wave of the future? the latter seemed to work for the 3DO as it really did have a solid market for the gamer who had $$$.

    Obviously Sega is a big part of this discussion and most people say that their focus on hardware upgrades killed them but I think losing EA was hugely detrimental to them considering what the best selling Genesis games were outside of Segas IP.
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    That was something I noticed with Sega, the EA Sports games not appearing on the Dreamcast did a lot more harm than a lot of people realized. No matter that the Sega Sports games were, most of the time, just as good as the EA equivalents. EA Sports was just as big in 1999 as it is today. They built up a huge following in the 90's. I feel like EA bowing out for the Dreamcast had a ripple effect and damaged third party support even more for this reason. It's really baffling because EA stood by the Saturn even after the surprise launch and while the system was failing, they released '98 versions of their popular sports franchises in late 1997 months before the Saturn was discontinued. The Dreamcast had a much better launch than the Saturn, it did very well in its first year or so, but EA of that era was too thick to make Dreamcast versions of anything. It hurt them and did a lot of damage to Sega. It's even possible that had EA been on board for the Dreamcast, they wouldn't have bowed out so early and maybe they would still be in the market, or at least survived substantially longer. Hugues Johnson, who worked in video game retail in the 1990s, actually suggested that Madden on the Dreamcast could have saved it: https://huguesjohnson.com/features/nine-games/

    Nintendo was able to get by with the N64 and GameCube because although they didn't have the third party support Sony (or even Sega during the early days of the Saturn and the early days of the Dreamcast) did, they had a sterling brand image, some third party support (including, yes, EA) and carved out the "family friendly" niche pretty well. Not all small children got Nintendo products (I got an N64 for my 6th birthday/Christmas in 1998 and within six months or so it was traded in on a PlayStation that I had for three years until I got a PS2. Go figure) but Nintendo's sort of a special case, as you implied. Some of it's probably that they revived the video game market in 1986 and have a much wider range of IPs than Sony, Microsoft, or Sega.

    Sony did everything right in entering the video game market with the PlayStation, and then following it up with the PS2. I did a thread on video game websites from 1996, Sony certainly emphasized third parties, they pretty much had no IPs when the PlayStation came out and the thing was the most successful console ever made at the time. The PS2 was able to have a DVD player because Sony was able to wait for just the right time to release it in late 2000, when DVD technology was just becoming affordable. Sega had to have something out in 1999 because the Saturn had failed to make it to even then.

    One of the reasons that most of the consoles out in 1993 failed was because of that third party support, there's only so many companies making games and they all want to make money so they focus on the successful consoles, that being the Nintendo consoles and the Sega Genesis then (and to a lesser extent the Sega CD and 3DO). The TurboGrafx systems were in steep decline by then. It was a virtuous circle for the successful companies and a vicious circle for the unsuccessful ones. Third party support -> more games -> more sales -> more market share -> more third party support. Little third party support -> fewer games -> less sales -> lower market share -> even less third party support.

    Of course, as soon as the PlayStation came out, the 3DO got nuked. Also, I'm always amazed at how strong the NES still was when I was born (Christmas Day 1992).
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    I would attribute the success of the NES well into 1993 with the fact that people were just f'in broke at the time. I read that the average person back then bought 3-4 games a year. holding onto the NES for a while was likely an economic reality for most people given that $250 for an SNES at the time is about $500 today. my two cents!
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    Rare's games on N64 were second-party. At that point, Nintendo owned 49% of Rare and funded and published their projects. There are some great third-party N64 games, though, from Konami, Enix, Hudson, etc. It's a shame third-party N64 games so often get overlooked.

    Third-party support is important to a system's success but not the be-all and end-all. For example, the Wii was a massive success, and, yes, it had tons of third-party releases. But a massive amount of its third-party releases are shovelware, and Wii players are often hard-pressed to think of many third-party Wii games they really like. Despite the availability of third-party Wii games, a lot of people bought the system just for the first-party offerings.

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