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Alternate History: If the N64 had featured a CD-ROM drive...

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iidesuyo

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Apr 20, 2006
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Do you read every word of every clause of every EULA or licensing agreement you agree to?

I really can't tell if you are serious anymore. We are talking about a multi billion buisness here (even back then), this is not about some end user software. Lawyers and tons of people were involved.


It would be great if we did have the text, and Nintendo's explanation for how they didn't reject the contract back before it was first signed, but famously reticent Nintendo has, as you might expect, never shared either one. It is kind of annoying, they could have made the whole issue go away if they'd just explained the whole situation... but I don't think they did.

Or maybe they have no interest at all because it would make them look really bad. You make it sound like it's a fact that Nintendo oversaw that one part in the deal, The only actual FACT we have is that Nintendo signed it. You sound like someone who wants to defend Nintendo at all cost...

Here's my take. Nintendo saw the PC Engine and Mega Drive CD add ons fail, and lost interest in the SNES CD-ROM, and that backstab was Yamauchis ugly way to shut the project down. If they really had wanted to produce a SNES CD, they would have. But that's just my feeling, I don't say that's a fact.


And by the way, thanks for introducing me to Sega Saturn emulation. From what I've seen it runs very fine. Now if only one could adjust resolutions...
 
Aug 6, 2006
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I really can't tell if you are serious anymore. We are talking about a multi billion buisness here (even back then), this is not about some end user software. Lawyers and tons of people were involved.
You'd be surprised to know how many lawmakers never read the entire text of the bills they sign, then. All KINDS of stuff gets snuck through in those things!

Or maybe they have no interest at all because it would make them look really bad.
I imagine people who have it in for Nintendo would think that regardless of what it says, though, so would the actual text actually help all that much? I mean, I hope we see it someday... but while it should end the argument, this is the internet, so it probably wouldn't, now that I think about it. Ah well.

You make it sound like it's a fact that Nintendo oversaw that one part in the deal, The only actual FACT we have is that Nintendo signed it. You sound like someone who wants to defend Nintendo at all cost...
I don't defend everything Nintendo did, no. Their monopolistic practices during that period were perhaps to be expected -- when they have a chance companies inevitably will almost always do such things -- but they are unfortunate, and hurt Nintendo a lot in the end. The licensing system wasn't too bad of an idea, because it kept another crash from happening (because the first party made money off of all game sales, instead of only their own, and also they could block really broken games), but the 5-game limit, the restrictions on publishing on other platforms, etc. there's no defense for that stuff.

Here's my take. Nintendo saw the PC Engine and Mega Drive CD add ons fail, and lost interest a SNES CD-ROM, and that was Yamauchis way to shut the project down. If they really have wanted to produce a SNES CD, they would have. But that's just my feeling, I don't say that's a fact.
I think that that's pretty much the reason why the Phillips drive never released, yes -- Nintendo saw the other CD addons not do as well as they feared.

However, neither the PCE CD nor the Sega CD were really "failures" by all measures. The Sega CD sold okay in the US, and the PCE CD sold decently in Japan. The PCE CD probably sold better worldwide, but both systems sold a million or two systems, and the Turbo/PCE CD had a fairly long life too. It had its niche... but for Nintendo, they saw that even without a CD drive, they were crushing the PCE CD in Japan anyway, and didn't need a CD drive because the PCE CD was slowly fading without them needing an equal response. And in America and Europe, selling expensive addons was a harder proposition, and Nintendo hit on a better strategy in '93-'94 with the Super FX and then Donkey Kong Country.
 

The Shadow

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Do you read every word of every clause of every EULA or licensing agreement you agree to?

Failure to read a contract does not preclude you to the legal holdings of that contract. I literally had a discussion about this with a first-year law student last week.

I really hope you're not suggesting a company that was a leader of a billion-dollar industry at the time couldn't be bothered to read a contract that they signed, and shouldn't be held accountable when it's disadvantageous to them. At best, that's negligence. At worst, that's stupidity.
 

encephalon

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Do you read every word of every clause of every EULA or licensing agreement you agree to?

If you don't, and nobody does, you have no grounds to claim that Nintendo missing that was somehow their fault, not Sony's for being so greedy as to sneak it in there.

But regardless, you're blaming the victim for the actions of the perpetrator! Someone who was poisoned isn't guilty because they didn't think to poison-check their food that a "friend" of theirs gave them...


It would be great if we did have the text, and Nintendo's explanation for how they didn't reject the contract back before it was first signed, but famously reticent Nintendo has, as you might expect, never shared either one. It is kind of annoying, they could have made the whole issue go away if they'd just explained the whole situation... but I don't think they did.


No, the idea that Nintendo would ever agree to a deal which gives Sony the rights to all SNES CD licensing fees, AND the right to make their own SNES+CD units which they would pay Nintendo nothing for, is far more implausible than that they somehow missed it... I cannot imagine any circumstances where Nintendo would have said 'yeah, that's a fine clause, leave it in'. It's like the opposite of '80s Nintendo thinking! Which is, of course, part of why they got back at Sony as publicly as they did, Yamauchi was angry...

This is extremely late, but regardless, it would have been nothing like an EULA for Nitnendo. In fact, Nintendo's legal team was probably involved with the writing/wording of the contract itself. After months of negotiations between the two companies and several drafts in order to tailor it to each company's liking, a contract would be made. Then Nintendo would be forced to read over every word before being allowed to sign the contract by their legal team. Failure to do so would be a complete and utter failure on the part of their legal team.

The reason why it doesn't make sense is because it's probably inaccurate.
 

nampad

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You'd be surprised to know how many lawmakers never read the entire text of the bills they sign, then. All KINDS of stuff gets snuck through in those things!

Lawmakers as in politicians? LOL, how is that suppose to help your argument?
Barely a week passes without news about something really stupid a politician said or did. A lot of parliamentarians have idiotic views and opinions, just look at the Tea party ones.
Besides that, many of them are lobbied to hell or just go by the party line. That's when they actually show up to the parliament.

Yeah, I can see those people not reading the texts well. But corporations are a different beast and they surely get a lot of assurance done before they sign a contract.

Don't kid yourself, Nintendo knew what they were signing with a probability of 99.99%.
 

iidesuyo

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You'd be surprised to know how many lawmakers never read the entire text of the bills they sign, then.

But then it's their fault. In this case, the fault of Nintendo.

But like I said, I don't think Nintendo wanted the CD-ROM at that point anymore.
 
Aug 6, 2006
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But then it's their fault. In this case, the fault of Nintendo.

But like I said, I don't think Nintendo wanted the CD-ROM at that point anymore.
I don't know, when they switched over to Phillips maybe they were still interested at first... but their interest didn't last long, which is why the system never released.

This is extremely late, but regardless, it would have been nothing like an EULA for Nitnendo. In fact, Nintendo's legal team was probably involved with the writing/wording of the contract itself. After months of negotiations between the two companies and several drafts in order to tailor it to each company's liking, a contract would be made. Then Nintendo would be forced to read over every word before being allowed to sign the contract by their legal team. Failure to do so would be a complete and utter failure on the part of their legal team.

The reason why it doesn't make sense is because it's probably inaccurate.
The problem with this is that there is absolutely no possible way that Nintendo would ever knowingly agree to a contract which allowed the company they were partnering with to steal their console from them. That. Would. Not. Happen. It HAS to be an oversight.
 

Ishida

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Do you read every word of every clause of every EULA or licensing agreement you agree to?

If you don't, and nobody does, you have no grounds to claim that Nintendo missing that was somehow their fault, not Sony's for being so greedy as to sneak it in there.

But regardless, you're blaming the victim for the actions of the perpetrator! Someone who was poisoned isn't guilty because they didn't think to poison-check their food that a "friend" of theirs gave them...

A company should ALWAYS read contracts they make with other companies.

You are basically saying Nintendo is run by a bunch of retarded monkeys.
 

Josh5890

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Nintendo might have been in a different position in the generations that followed. Regardless they still had a great round with the N64.
 

iidesuyo

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Nintendo might have been in a different position in the generations that followed. Regardless they still had a great round with the N64.

No, compared to the expectations the N64 was a huge flop. It did relatively well in in the US, but even there it lost against the Playstation 1.
 
Aug 17, 2006
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Nintendo had to negotiate with Sony because they made their sound chip for the Super Nintendo and could potentially hurt the production of new SNES consoles. Not only that, but Sony technically still had the rights to create their own machine that could play SNES games. After some random crap, Nintendo, Phillips, and Sony came together to after the requests of having an industry standard CD (opposed to Sega's, Sony's, Phillips, etc) and both parties wanting to not entirely burn bridges. Their machine never came to fruition, due to the SuperFX chip being good enough to have them rework their project, as well as the time and development costs. But in the end, Nintendo pulled some high-class lawyering that left them faultless with Sony even after the Phillips backstab, and also left Sony somewhat happy with them getting the profits of non-game CD software like movies, music, and edutainment. Even if it never came to be.

So they were able to negotiate, but Nintendo wanted nothing to due with their old deal and went behind Sony's backs to do some shifty shit. Which brings me to this load of crap:



Nintendo is a company of adults that were allegedly highly litigious at the time, it is their fault that they did not read the contract they signed. This was the same contract they were okay with for three years. Here is an abridged timeline.

198X - Kutaragi buys his kid a Famicom, is disappointed with cartridges and the sound chip. He decides to approach them independently and make a new sound chip. Sony didn't know this at first and was pissed, but they eventually were brought on board. This is the SNES sound chip.
1988 - Nintendo and Sony sign a contract that Nintendo should have read/not signed.
1991 - Nintendo realizes said mistake, goes behind Sony's back and stabs them with the most painful knife that is Phillips, their competitor and a foreign company.

So as you can plainly see in the timeline, Nintendo stabbed Sony in the back. Sony had some hilarious clauses in there that Nintendo just apparently was okay with or only saw dollar signs. Furthermore, they only wanted to use Phillips as a bargaining tool to get Sony on board with more reasonable terms. Nintendo could have avoided this whole mess by reading that contract more carefully. Even if they couldn't come to terms with that agreement in 1988, there is a good chance that Sony wouldn't have entered the the gaming space. That was almost entirely Kutaragi's idea for the direction of Sony. I wouldn't go as far as saying that they screwed over Phillips, but using them to get back at Sony is a pretty lousy thing to do.

.... Damn at this history lesson. Thanks!
 

iidesuyo

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What exactly was the deal with Philips? Does anyone know? Some weird Zelda games were released after all.
 

encephalon

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I don't know, when they switched over to Phillips maybe they were still interested at first... but their interest didn't last long, which is why the system never released.


The problem with this is that there is absolutely no possible way that Nintendo would ever knowingly agree to a contract which allowed the company they were partnering with to steal their console from them. That. Would. Not. Happen. It HAS to be an oversight.

No, you're right. It wouldn't happen. It doesn't mean that it "has to be an oversight." It being an "oversight" is just as unlikely as Nintendo willingly handing their console away. The answer is that the narrative that's been passed on regarding the deal between Nintendo and Sony is likely inaccurate.
 

Clockwork

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Jun 7, 2007
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Here is my take on the deal:

You have to realize that in 1988/89 that Nintendo had the following contracts with third parties:

- 20% royalty per cartridge based on wholesale price

- $14.00 manufacturing fee per cartridge with an initial minimum order of 10,000 units (later 30,000). The catch with this is that Nintendo actually contracted this work out, and it only cost them $4.00 per cartridge giving them $10.00 instant profit.

With the introduction of CD's Nintendo would lose the main benefit of their cartridge businesss which is control. Not only do they lose the ability to implement things like lockout chips (which were not only around to prevent piracy, but also to maintain manufacturing control) but the manufacturing can be done almost anywhere that could press CD's for pennies on the dollar versus the outrageous price they assessed for cartridge manufacturing. That's a scary proposition for a company who at the time benefited from both the manufacturing (due to fees involved) and the selling of said games (royalties). However, at the time CD media was thought to be the next big thing on the horizon. In order to get their foot in the door they had to find a partner that was already experienced in the development and manufacturing of this technology as Nintendo did not have their own.

When we take the above into account we can see several ways in which a deal could have been made with Nintendo that is not as outrageous as initially thought. A couple examples could be:

- Nintendo gets manufacturing fees. Sony gets the royalties.

- Sony gets the manufacturing fees. Nintendo gets the royalties.

- Sony and Nintendo split a % on both manufacturing and royalties.

Perhaps at the time Nintendo signed their contract they felt any of the above were acceptable and went forward with the deal, only to decide later on (when CD based systems were not doing as well as they may have projected and their cartridge business was still booming) that they could get by just fine with their existing business model. Still not ready to abandon the idea of CD's they brought in Philips who likely offered them better terms, but also gave them leverage to dictate a possible renegotiation with Sony.
 

Kikujiro

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Wow, A Black Falcon bias is so strong he's reinventing reality.

How in the world is Sony's fault if Nintendo didn't read a contract? We are talking about huge companies with millions cash, they have team of lawyers who dissect every single sentence of a contract, especially a paranoic company like Nintendo. How on earth can you compare multi-millionaire companies to forum posters? Madness.

The idea that Nintendo signed an important business deal without reading the whole contract is so afar from reality it hurts.

- Hey Nintendo, I wrote the contract, just sign it and the deal is done!
- Oh my dear friend Sony, thanks for your hard work, now let me get the pen and tell me where do I have to sign!

Straight fanfaction.
 

Rich!

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Wow, A Black Falcon bias is so strong he's reinventing reality.

How in the world is Sony's fault if Nintendo didn't read a contract? We are talking about huge companies with millions cash, they have team of lawyers who dissect every single sentence of a contract, especially a paranoic company like Nintendo. How on earth can you compare multi-millionaire companies to forum posters? Madness.

The idea that Nintendo signed an important business deal without reading the whole contract is so afar from reality it hurts.

- Hey Nintendo, I wrote the contract, just sign it and the deal is done!
- Oh my dear friend Sony, thanks for your hard work, now let me get the pen and tell me where do I have to sign!

Straight fanfaction.

Yep. Its bewildering how anyone can seriously assume otherwise. Its even worse when said assumption is being presented as fact.
 
Jul 7, 2014
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Not really.

They had a succesful story in Nintendo consoles.

A CD Rom based N64 would have ruined Sony's party.

Sony have had good lucky strikes the times they have become market leaders. For example, Nintendo opting for cardtridge based media or MS failed plans and incorrect prioritization of features for the 8th gen consoles.

You don't sell a product like PlayStation does every generation by luck. PS3 had no luck and still sold over 80 million. PlayStation was already on the upswing again before the PS4 launched.
 

Harmen

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Funny how this thread becomes a "who backstabbed first thread" now.

I do not know what happened back then, but I'll say this: it seems unlikely to me that after several years in development they did not make the proper agreements regarding the moneystreams. Making the right agreements in time and base the contracts on that seems pretty crucial to me for major projects.


As for the topic itself: I think Sony would not have been as big if Nintendo went for the discs. Some big PS exclusives would probably multiplat too. And I think the devs would be capable enough of making workarounds to make OoT and Mario 64, for example (sure, the games would be a bit different here and there. But not only for the worst). I think it is very difficult to predict where we would be now though. I honestly have no clue.
 

Clockwork

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Funny how this thread becomes a "who backstabbed first thread" now.

I do not know what happened back then, but I'll say this: it seems unlikely to me that after several years in development they did not make the proper agreements regarding the moneystreams. Making the right agreements in time and base the contracts on that seems pretty crucial to me for major projects.

Going back to my earlier post, I'm sure at the time the agreement seemed good and proper. Unfortunately how things looked at the onset of the agreement and how things looked when they were ready to bring the hardware to market were likely different in a very drastic way.

Unfortunately for something like this, forecasting and projections of market trends and sales had to be done very far in advance. At the onset of this deal it's likely that what was planned would be essentially a license to print money. We know that that did not end up being the case and although CD based hardware was not a failure, at the time it was not as successful as people wanted to believe it would end up being.

When that reality set in, I am not surprised Nintendo went into panic mode (backstab or not) to try to find a solution to the situation they were now in if the original contract was no longer favorable to their business.
 

Dreamwriter

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One thing to note - Nintendo had totally pissed off Square long before the N64 was announced to be a cartridge-only system. Nintendo canceled the SNES CD-ROM as a surprise move without warning anybody, when Square was almost done making a complete CD-based game, The Secret of Mana / Seiken Densetsu 2. So all of the game's music had to be redone, large parts of the game had to be dropped and thus the story rewritten, and they had to ship a $70 cartridge game with most of that going to manufacturing rather than a $50 CD game where manufacturing would have only been $1. Square was NOT happy with this move, and the games they made on Nintendo platforms after that were ones they had already started or were contractually obligated to make.

So I don't think an N64 with CD drive would have kept Square on Nintendo's side, unless the N64 became the dominant console.

Also, think of this: Majora's Mask would have never been made on a 64 with CD Drive, because the game came about from Nintendo trying to make use of the rewritable nature of the 64DD disks, with a town full of people on schedules that could have their schedules altered by the player's actions. If the system had never had rewritable disks, Ocarina of Time's development would have gone in a different direction entirely, greatly affecting any sequels.
 

Clockwork

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In regards to the original topic:

The N64 would not have been guaranteed to be any more successful had it been CD based. There is more to ensuring success in the console business than what type of media the hardware accepted.

You have to realize that for years Nintendo had ruled with an iron fist over its third parties, maintaining complete and total control over platform. In a lot of ways Nintendo got very greedy and usually it was at the expense of those making games for the systems. This was reflected in shitty royalty rates and manufacturing costs pushed onto these third parties, as well as a lot of bullying (maybe the term would be more nicely put as guidance) during the development and approval process.

In the beginning they got away with it as they were the biggest (and I'm some ways the only) game in town with huge market share and the potential for third parties to make a lot of money (if you played/catered to Nintendo's rules).

By the time the original Playstation hit, Nintendo was beginning to lose this stranglehold. Developers and publishers had choices and other options, many of which chose to take advantage of.

Without Nintendo taking a look at the bigger picture and reinvesting in and repairing those relationships, I don't think it would matter if the N64 had been CD or not.
 

MrCunningham

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What exactly was the deal with Philips? Does anyone know? Some weird Zelda games were released after all.

I think Phillips was already working on some CD gaming system long before they entered the picture with Nintendo. From what I understand they actually started conceptualizing and doing early designs for the CD-i way back in 1984. But I think there original idea was to make an all-in-one multimedia machine that would do more than just play games.

Who knows the details, but I guess Nintendo was looking to opt out of their partnership with Sony but still wanted to get into CD technology, so they partnered with Phillips. I guess the people at Phillips thought it was a good way to get a foothold in the interactive multimedia market by joining forces with Nintendo. The original deal was that Nintendo would make games for the CD-i, but then they took a look at the hardware and decided not to. Apparently the CD-i was just too weak of a system to make games for. So instead they just let Phillips use the Nintendo licenses to make their own games for the CD-i instead.
 

Journey

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- no way Squaresoft would have dared to take the risk to develop for the PS1
- many more developers would have supported it
- Nintendo could have countered the low license fees of the PS1
- with the RAM expansion the N64 would have been on par with the Saturn 2D games

Going with cartridges was a stupid idea. Later ones even had loading times because they had to be decompressed.

If the multiverse theory is not just bullshit, I'd love to travel to a universe where there was a CD-ROM N64.


Since Sony was developing the CD drive, there wouldn't have been a PS1, Nintendo would have crushed Sega Saturn the same, Dreamcast would've launched as scheduled in 1999 with no PS2 hype to destroy its sales. With the Dreamcast dominating, there wouldn't have been an Xbox. GameCube would have launched as scheduled in 2001 and the Dreamcast successor in 2005 with MS working on the operating system and it's online services.
 
Aug 6, 2006
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No, you're right. It wouldn't happen. It doesn't mean that it "has to be an oversight." It being an "oversight" is just as unlikely as Nintendo willingly handing their console away. The answer is that the narrative that's been passed on regarding the deal between Nintendo and Sony is likely inaccurate.

So you're saying that you think everything we've heard about it is all lies? Well, I guess that's possible, but what else could it be? I don't think Nintendo would do what they did to Sony without cause, and the story we have gives them very good cause.

Wow, A Black Falcon bias is so strong he's reinventing reality.

How in the world is Sony's fault if Nintendo didn't read a contract? We are talking about huge companies with millions cash, they have team of lawyers who dissect every single sentence of a contract, especially a paranoic company like Nintendo. How on earth can you compare multi-millionaire companies to forum posters? Madness.

The idea that Nintendo signed an important business deal without reading the whole contract is so afar from reality it hurts.

- Hey Nintendo, I wrote the contract, just sign it and the deal is done!
- Oh my dear friend Sony, thanks for your hard work, now let me get the pen and tell me where do I have to sign!

Straight fanfaction.
Lots of politicians are lawyers. They don't read entire sections of the bills they pass. Not enough time, etc. There are plenty of explanations for this other than 'Nintendo is lying'.

Also, it's Sony's fault because Sony stuck the clause in there. Blame the perpetrator, not the victim, for what happened! Nintendo in that era was usually not a victim (see: how they treated their third parties around this time), but in this case, they were.
 

mrback

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this..
 
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