It's a question I'm sure has been on thousands of retrogamers' minds. Let's say that the Nintendo 64 had been a CD-based console. Nothing else has changed about the system, it still has the same processor, controller, etc. It still launches on September 29, 1996, into the same console market. How does this change the outcome of the console race in its generation? What are the effects on later generations?

In reality, the PS1 sold 102.49 million units, the Nintendo 64, 32.93 million, and the Sega Saturn 9.26 million.

I think it would have greatly benefited Nintendo; Sony would have still been successful but not market-dominant, and the Saturn would have still failed. The optical drive probably would have necessitated a launch price of $299, matching the PlayStation's launch price, thus making the N64 more expensive than the PlayStation or Saturn for a time. Both of those consoles were at $199 by September 1996. Stuff like Final Fantasy would have stuck with Nintendo, in fact, there would have been A LOT more third party games coming to N64. Also, imagine Super Mario 64 with more levels, even more expansive Zelda games, Perfect Dark perfected, all thanks to the 700 MB CDs. Plus games at $40-50 like PlayStation instead of $60-80.

Sony had a year's head start over Nintendo and loads of third-party support. I feel like the PlayStation would have still been very successful against a CD-based N64. My guess is that both PS1 and N64 would have ended up selling 65-75 million units, being superseded by new consoles around 2001 but still getting games until 2003-2004. If anything, things would have been even more difficult for Sega, and they probably would have canned the Saturn in 1998 like they did in real life. Microsoft would have still probably entered the console market with moderate success. Nintendo, seeing that piracy wasn't the system-killer they made it out to be, would probably go with DVD's for the GameCube, and indeed their future consoles would probably be more similar to others on the market, with them differentiating themselves primarily through their unique IPs. Would wii have seen the motion controls of the Wii? Not really sure.