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  1. #1

    Most powerful console is never the best-selling

    Hi everyone,
    This article published on The Verge got me thinking about Project Scorpio, how it might be a bridge between PC and consoles and how a certain rule seemed to be true throughout console generations. I've noticed that for each of the console generations (console generations defined here) the most technically powerful is never the sales leader. I am defining technical power by tech specs like CPU, GPU and memory. Examples below:
    1st generation
    Created the industry, but game consoles were not popularised until 2nd generation. Therefore, excluding the 1st gen from this discussion

  2. #2
    2nd generation
    Most powerful: ColecoVision
    Best seller: Atari 2600
    3rd generation
    Most powerful: Sega Master System
    Best seller: Nintendo Entertainment System
    4th generation
    Most powerful: Neo Geo
    Best seller: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
    5th generation
    Most powerful: Nintendo 64
    Best seller: Playstation 1
    6th generation
    Most powerful: original XBox
    Best seller: Playstation 2
    7th generation
    Most powerful: Playstation 3
    Best seller: Wii
    8th generation (results to be determined)
    Projected most powerful: XBox project scorpio
    Current best seller: Playstation 4

  3. #3
    When the 8th generation first started, I thought it would break this pattern since the first gen PS4 was slightly more powerful than the first gen XONE. However, it seems that Project Scorpio will keep this pattern holding throughout the current generation.
    Reasons for this pattern may be that powerful consoles usually are more expensive or come out late in the cycle. An extreme example of this is the Neo Geo. It was the most powerful but cost as much as a PC.
    Any other thoughts? Do you think that there have been exceptions to this rule, and if so, which ones?

  4. #4
    That is true. Hardware specs do not matter, outside to the hardcore techie niche. People don’t care which hardware is more powerful, and at some point the law of diminishing returns kicks in.
    Especially if the more powerful console has market issues, such as being much more expensive at launch (PS3, NeoGeo), or having an expensive and developer unfriendly game storage format (N64) or was the victim of anti-competitive behaviour (Sega Master System).

  5. #5
    The definition of generations of consoles may be technically correct, but when each gen covers consoles that launch 2, 3 or more years apart, it is obvious that there will be huge differences in power. Like the original PlayStation and the Nintendo 64 – the latter launched 2 years after the first, so of course it would be more powerful but sell less.
    This time around, presumably Scorpio and PlayStation 4 will be the same gen, but again years apart. Meaning Scorpio will be more powerful, but the PS4 has a 50 million head start in sales…

  6. #6
    Jaguar, You raise some very good points. I’ll go over my interpretation of reasons why the powerful systems weren’t the best sellers below:
    2nd gen: Colecovision came out 5 years later than the 2600
    3rd gen: In Japan, Sega came out two years later than Nintendo (they came out at the same time in the US). This enabled Nintendo to develop relationships with 3rd parties which they used to prohibit third parties from supporting Sega. (At that time, Japan dominated the industry)
    4th gen: Neo Geo cost too much and NIntendo was the most popular established brand.
    5th gen: N64 came out later and not only was the cartridge format expensive and low storage, but the N64 was harder to program. Ben Heck has a more detailed explanation. The N64 was definitely capable of better graphics than the PS1, but not all games utilised this power. This video shows the differences.
    6th gen, the XBox was easier to develop for and wasn’t significantly more expensive; however it released one year later. Just as importantly, it was a new console going up against the established Playstaiton brand.
    7th gen: The PS3 was insanely priced at launch and definitely harder to develop for. The Wii did come out later than XBox 360, but it was targeted towards the mass market.
    8th gen: The Wii U was a flop and the XBox One initial launch annoyed consumers with DRM and restrictions about tying each game to the specific console.
    What do you guys think are the reasons why these sales turned out the way they did?

  7. #7
    Jaguar, You raise some very good points. Iíll go over my interpretation of reasons why the powerful systems werenít the best sellers below:
    2nd gen: Colecovision came out 5 years later than the 2600
    3rd gen: In Japan, Sega came out two years later than Nintendo (they came out at the same time in the US). This enabled Nintendo to develop relationships with 3rd parties which they used to prohibit third parties from supporting Sega. (At that time, Japan dominated the industry)
    4th gen: Neo Geo cost too much and NIntendo was the most popular established brand.
    5th gen: N64 came out later and not only was the cartridge format expensive and low storage, but the N64 was harder to program. Ben Heck has a more detailed explanation. The N64 was definitely capable of better graphics than the PS1, but not all games utilised this power. This video shows the differences.
    6th gen, the XBox was easier to develop for and wasnít significantly more expensive; however it released one year later. Just as importantly, it was a new console going up against the established Playstaiton brand.
    7th gen: The PS3 was insanely priced at launch and definitely harder to develop for. The Wii did come out later than XBox 360, but it was targeted towards the mass market.
    8th gen: The Wii U was a flop and the XBox One initial launch annoyed consumers with DRM and restrictions about tying each game to the specific console.
    What do you guys think are the reasons why these sales turned out the way they did?

  8. #8
    There are very good reasons for this.
    1. As pointed out, often it is the system coming out later so that is why it has higher specs and has already missed part of the cycle.
    2. The higher price
    3. Just because a system can do more doesn’t mean the programmers of the software utilize it’s power. Often, especially for games that are multi-platform, game developers don’t fully utilize the system. Even when they do its often later in the life-cycle of the system.

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