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back to article Wii got it WRONG: How do you solve a problem like Nintendo?

We dedicated gamers are a plucky bunch, happy to scream from the rafters that graphics aren’t everything and that gameplay is king. Trouble is, you need only look to Nintendo’s current plight to see that 95 per cent of our fellow games players – those who fill server upon server with online Call of Duty and Battlefield sessions …

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Anonymous Coward

How do you solve a problem like Nintendo?

Call in the receivers.

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Re: How do you solve a problem like Nintendo?

except they carry no debt and still have a mountain of cash from the wii/ds. they've survived before, they will survive again.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How do you solve a problem like Nintendo? @ G 14

Didn't they once say the Titanic was unsinkable ?

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Wii failed

I remember when this thing came out, was supposed to be the hottest thing in the universe, the must have Christmas present. Typically in Nintendo stylee there were none to be found, I ended up paying £100 over the odds and having to drive 100 miles to meet a bloke in a carpark to obtain one for my Son in time for Xmas. I was a good Dad, I had succeeded where others had failed.

Come the 25th, he unwrapped it, with excitement waved it about and wanted to have a go. Success! However after plugging it in two things became apparent, 1) it looked awful, really bad, the SD analog composite-video output didn't play well with a modern digital HD TV, it looked all blurred and smudgy. 2) he looked really disappointed with it, standing up to play a game was a bit naff and the games were largely hopeless, at least he could play his Game Cube games on it. After 15 minutes it was switched off and the 360 fired up. The only game that got any mileage on the Wii was the Sports game that got bundled with it.

The SNES was epic, it had loads of killer games on it, the N64 looked dated at launch, the GC was great providing you imported your games as none of the interesting titles ever got a UK release. The Wii, just didn't work, was little more than a gimmick and with the HD games on the PS3/360 spoiling you for eye-candy and great titles Nintendo just lost the game.

They should go the way of the Sega and license their back catalogue so they can be played on other systems and remind people how great they once were.

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Re: Wii failed

N64 dated at launch? What? Super Mario 64 is the most influential 3D platformer of all time, and OoT was one of the most epic and playable Zelda games.

Not to mention Goldeneye 007, which was basically the only game in town when you had 4 people around a screen, followed up by Perfect Dark. There were some key games on the N64 that made it stand out.

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JDX
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Re: Wii failed

The Wii was a massive success. It's the Wii U we're talking about.

Randomly, I just started playing on the Wii again recently. I wanted a tennis game utilising motion sensing technology and went for EA's Grand Slam Tennis. The graphics are not good but the gameplay is excellent - it's the first game I've played where it actually feels like I'm involved rather than pressing buttons.

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Re: Wii failed

The N64s visuals were remarkable compared to the PS1 and the Saturn.

Goldeneye was a watershed moment in console gaming history.

Super Mario 64 showed that you could take an old franchise, turn it 3D without losing the fun.

Pilotwings 64 was a thing of beauty that still gets the occasional play.

WaveRace was the showcase for water effects.

What the N64 didn't have was the breadth of games that the PS1's licensing allowed.

The cartridge format restricted the size of games, and were expensive to produce (and sell) compared to CDs.

The PS1 struck a cord with the 90s 'lads' era, gaming was no longer Manic Miner in the bedroom, it was Fifa and Gran Turismo in the living room.

The Gamecube similarly failed against the PS2 and Xbox, the Wii was basically Gamecube with a motion controller. Some fun games - WiiSports, Mario Kart Wii, but once the gimmick wore off it was back to the 360/PS3 for BioShock / GTA4-5 / Forza-GT / Cod-Battlefield / Fallout etc.

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Re: Wii failed

No, I'm pretty sure he was talking about the Wii.

While a financial success for the box shifter in Nintendo, the console itself was an epic fail. Mainly due to the reasons already given; looked AWFUL on a HD LCD telly, gutless and substance lacking games, kiddy visuals, non-gamers bought it (that should have said it all)... the list goes on.

I bought one - I admit it. I got caught up in the hype, and wanted one purely for the gimmicky controller. I played some Wii Sports (tennis and bowling) but that was about it. After 10 minutes, it then sat and gathered dust for the rest of its warranty lifetime, whilst I played some real games on a real console (PS3 and PC).

For a kid, who had a 360 or PS3 (or even a PC) I could very well understand the disappointment they had when seeing the awful migraine inducing graphics for the first time.

Alas with my Wii, I really tried to make it work. I even bought a Sega game (Sega on Nintendo is a sacrilege in most gamers opinion despite the fact I was always a Sega fanboy growing up) - Madworld. Fun game, but again after about half hour, I was bored of mindlessly swiping my chainsaw to kill blurry black and white cartoons.

All in all, Wii was a prolonged, elongated path to failure for Nintendo.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wii failed

Standing up to play a game was a bit naff??

I assume your son is a couch potato then.. I thought finally actually being able to get off your arse to play a game was excellent! the Kinect brought that to a new level, and nintendo went backwards with their new controller...

My Sons love playing on the wii, but I do agree the gfx were a bit shit even for back then

Personally I would never have an XBOX One, because it phones home to daddy I.E. M$, I am very cautious about any connected device in my home, if it NEEDS the internet to work, I get worried...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wii failed

I agree on the Wii being a 'core gamer' failure. Everyone I know has a wii, the box sold well. Everyone I know has the following games. Monster Hunter tri, Smash Bros, Mario Kart. One or two have Mario Party and another couple have wii Fit.

The last time any of us played the wii was... 5 years ago? And that was playing Mario Kart. Now I'm not saying me and my friends are the norm (we're far from normal), but that's about all we had. OH and a couple SNES games downloaded, forgot about those.

It was a massive hardware shifter. But the games people bought for it tended to be few and far between, I can't count the amount of shovelware I saw being released (one of the culprits that killed off the first gaming bubble if I remember correctly).

So in summary.

Console wise, it outsold everyone, and it made a profit on each console. It also sold well on accessories since you normally only played with at least 2 people. Game wise, it didn't do nearly as well.

And bringing it back to the WiiU topic, the WiiU has the problem that casual gamers don't need to replace their wii. Why buy a new one when mariokart is just as fun for parties? And the hardcore market just dont' care. The remainder of 'inbetweeners' will be put off by the shovelware. And the remaining console sales will be 1: Parents thinking they're doing something nice for their kids. 2: The guy that has to have every console. I used to be that guy.

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Re: Wii failed

"he SD analog composite-video output didn't play well with a modern digital HD TV, it looked all blurred and smudgy."

And what did you expect exactly? Composite video was only ever any use as an improvement from RF. I have 30 year old games consoles and guess what, they look crap if plugged in via composite video as well!

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Re: Wii failed

Possibly, he'd rather play COD or what ever with a pad than stand up waving his arms about. If you want exercise then you go outside.

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Re: Wii failed

I had one and those games, they looked awful, Nintendo were hoping to release the PlayStation as a plug in to the SNES but the deal went sour and they had to cobble the N64 at the last minute, it's the Atari ST of consoles. Being a Cartridge system with the low ROM capacity that brought made it the poor cousin to the DreamCast and PS1. The N64 was another machine I wasted money on only for it to sit under the telly forgotten.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wii failed

There is an official Wii Component cable (and 3rd party equivalents), and if you have it, you can also actually tell the Wii to output at a slightly higher res (480p) in the settings. (Or if you play the Wii games on a Wii U with an HDMI connector, you'll get a similar improvement).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wii failed

> Console wise, it outsold everyone, and it made a profit on each console. It also sold well on accessories since you normally only played with at least 2 people. Game wise, it didn't do nearly as well.

That seems to be the common perception, (a very similar claim is made in the article) but the actual tie-rate (games per console) is only slightly below the Xbox360 and PS3, while the Wii has sold more software and hardware units.

I think a slightly more interesting problem for Nintendo was how many of those units were Nintendo's own games, which is good for them, but bad for 3rd party support of the platform.

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Re: Wii failed

But isn't that the point?, 30 years ago, we only had that option. In fact my ZX48k connected by RF, but given that the Wii was apparently at the forefront of technology at that time, why not ship with HDMI ?

I bought the Wii when it was first released, spent about a week playing with it until the novelty wore off and now it's just a soft-modded coaster.

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JDX
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"While a financial success for the box shifter in Nintendo, the console itself was an epic fail"

Being a financial success is the only thing that really matters.

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Re: Wii failed

Sour grapes. That's all you people trying to hate on the Wii have, Sour Grapes. It didn't pander to your personal tastes so you want to try and pretend that it was a failure when it really wasn't.

The problem isn't that the Wii failed. The Wii succeeded and completely reshaped console gaming.

The problem is that the followup console was not nearly as interesting by comparison.

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Re: Wii failed

> While a financial success for the box shifter in Nintendo, the console itself was an epic fail. Mainly due to the reasons already given; looked AWFUL on a HD LCD telly, gutless and substance lacking games, kiddy visuals, non-gamers bought it (that should have said it all)... the list goes on.

Define epic fail.

Millions of people bought them and we still use ours at home.

Wii created a whole gaming niche all to itself, from people who wouldn't previously have thought about gaming: in a sens it brought gaming to the masses in a way that consoles had not done in the past.

How on earth you call that an Epic fail is quite beyond me.

The Wii U has failed because the bulky clever game pad solves no problem that anyone has. It doesn't open any significant edge in terms of gaming that anyone cares about. There is just no compelling reason to buy one. That's why it has tanked.

The problem that Nintendo has as a company is that no-one there has any imagination. They obviously have no vision for the future.

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Anonymous Coward

Trotters independent traders

Meet a bloke in a carpark? To obtain? All very cloak and dagger. How do you know it wasn't nicked? Still, just imagine the disappointment you saved somebody from, how's that for a warm glowy Christmas feeling.

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Boffin

Re: Trotters independent traders

That's it, I'm buying a Wii U right away.

If all you trolls and commentards hate it, then it must be the best console ever.

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Re: Wii failed

WiiU also tanked because the world had moved on.

Now many people have phones and tablet for casual gaming and they look much better.

The Wii has a lovely retro/cartoon feel to most of it - golf is probably where the graphics go really bad.

I suspect this sort of thing would work best as MAME-with-updated-graphics. Take the old simple games, many of which run in 64k and re-write them for multiplayer/party use. Keep the cartoon look but it needs to look good on HD. No-one was ever going to get a Wii for CoD, but as an alternative to watching NCIS repeats, I'm there! Horace and the Spiders, DigDug, Sword of Kadesh. Ahhh, such memories. Perhaps the nice people at Valve will take note, for their Steambox.

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Re: Wii failed

How can anyone forget that moment in Mario Kart 64 when you fly through 3D space for miles over a river.

I swear that's where my Vertigo started...

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Re: Wii Component cable

I bought one of those, hoping for an improvement in the graphics. Granted, things got a little less blurry, but it still looks like arse on an HD Ready TV (just about passable on the kids 23" telly, unbrearable on the larger telly in the living room - and that's only 32"), and some of the games purchased through the online store refuse to work with it!

Our Wii is due to be replaced soon (2nd hand, knocking on a bit, and not seeing the latest releases) - tempted to get a U so that we can finish off any old Wii games, but a cheap PS3 is more appealing. Think I agree with everything in the article.

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Re: Wii failed

Yeah I can swallow that - there was a lot of personal opinion in my post.

However, the epic fail comes both in terms of the impact on Nintendo's image as a core gamer company, and impact on what it will be able do next. People that liked the Wii and still play it (those casual "non-gamers" I mentioned) have absolutely no reason to upgrade to a new overpriced console, which is being shunned by 3rd party devs. The only thing that will keep Ninty going will be its portables (DS, DS 3D etc).

As for the Wii's success - sales figures are one thing, but I know that most of the Wii consoles sold over the years got used for a few days/weeks, then spent the rest of their lives in the attic gathering dust (like mine). I wouldn't dare speculate on exact figures, but at a complete random guess, I reckon it would be over the 50% mark.

I could be wrong though. They might come up with a new gimmick that will pull them from the abyss.

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Re: Wii failed

I guess the opposing answers comes from the fact the wii succeeded, it's long term plan failed. It was a bit of boom and bust? While presumably the Nintendo could not compete with the same type of offering that MS and Sony provide, it could have played it's strengths, instead of trying a new gimmick. While the XboxOne an PS4 have hardware the WiiU could never compete with (for a profit/costing comparison) they probably should have saved on the hand held screen, and put more into the main unit and controllers. That would have probably kept existing consumers, and gained a few new ones.

But trying to strike "gold" with a massively popular console twice in a row was a mistake. They could not have hit the sales numbers of the original Wii with the WiiU, as the market had become saturated. They needed to just keep going until another opportunity presented it's self. Though I guess some "risk" is needed in investment, but I don't see such home runs/lucky strikes happening that often to put all the cash in that basket.

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Re: Wii failed NOT

Calling the wii a failure is dumb. if you say that, you're bad and you should feel bad. This is a console that made more for its maker than any other in its generation, and still gets use years later. It got our parents to play games, hell our great-grandparents to play games.

The problem with the wii U is that nobody who has a wii needs one - they're still using the wii just fine to play the games they like, the component video is plenty good enough for the cartoony graphics that work well in those games, and the hardware was pretty bombproof (if you didn't throw your wimote through your monitor). Does wii sports bowling HAVE to be in HD? I don't think so, it looks good enough on a 50 inch set with the right cable.

Anyone who wants games in HD probably has an xbox or a playstation too, and there's no reason to upgrade both, especially with the cross-platform developers dumping the wii ports.

I would love it for nintendo to survive, because they do understand how to make games fun for everyone. But it's going to be rough sledding for a while.

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Game-wise, fantastic

Sit the plastic box next to a PS1.. well one of them looked 'a bit less cool'

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I don't think the motion controller was the worst idea in the world, and certainly it made the Wii a good party console.

But the Wii U's expensive-to-include gamepad certainly is a bad idea, and it's making the Wii U too expensive compared to other options, with little room to reduce the price in the future. Some of that money could have been spent on the lacklustre CPU in the Wii U.

The PS4 is simply so much better, but not vastly more expensive. The Wii U is this generation's Dreamcast ... but will it even sell 10 million in the end?

Maybe it's not too late for Nintendo to release a Wii U sans Gamepad but with a classic controller, drop the price, and ensure popular games can run without the Gamepad present.

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I hear this "Dreamcast" comparison, but I'm never sure where it comes from.

The Dreamcast was the first practical online console (first with a built in modem), it was the first with analogue triggers, it was the first with a screen on the controller, it was notably more powerful than other consoles at launch (launched before PS2, and even compared to PS2, all output was progressive so it holds up better today, supported hardware AA), and is fondly remembered with a quirky line up. It also has a far better name than "Wii U".

The Dreamcast and Wii U have completely different mindsets behind their design. The Dreamcast was from a powerful arcade manufacturer who wanted to cleanse the palette of the misguided 32X and Saturn, and get back to a solid gaming experience with a powerful machine (the arcade version, NAOMI, lived on for a very, very long time). Games were varied, and often as good looking as it was possible to make them (Shenmue for example).

The Wii U on the other hand is everything a cookie-cutter Wii sequel should be - gimmicky and underpowered. Thing is, it's not that interesting second time round (or arguably, the first time round).

The Wii U is innovative in what way, exactly? PlayStation has had remote play with the PSP and PS3 before the Wii U, and still has it now with PS4 and Vita. Motion controls were popularised with the Wii, but were around before that (Dreamcast fishing controller can be used like a crude Wiimote).

The only shame is that Nintendo won't develop or port their games for other platforms.

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I thought you could connect a GBA to the Gamecube or is my memory failing me?

Agree with the articles sentiments about the Wii and the controller. I bought Twilight Princess for the GC as i couldn't be bothered with the whole waving my arms about in the air malarkey on the Wii.

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You can with a link cable, yes. It is most excellent in Pacman Vs. Also there's Zelda : Four Swords where you can team up with three other GBA players!

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With you on the Dreamcast thing.

I am still, to this day, baffled as to how this did not save Sega from oblivion. The console was so far ahead of its time, clearly, even gamers didn't realise what they were missing out on.

The graphics were amazing. The online capability worked so well for a lot of games. It had a keyboard and frikkin' mouse you could use to play Quake 3 online with for christ's sake! Powerstone obliterated the playing field for 4-player on-screen fighting action, followed closely by 4 player DOA, and Soul Calibur blew my mind. Metropolis Street Racer bought racing to the streets of London in all its graphical glory (still not sure the PS2 was that much better, if at all!). Crazy Taxi, such an epic game, showed how you were supposed to do arcade ports (for all intents and purposes, it was EXACTLY the same game minus the coin-op).

I could go on. I owned 4 Dreamcasts and played them into oblivion (they slowly died over the years). I still have all my games. I miss Sega :(

Maybe Nintendo were shit scared after seeing what happened to Sega, and decided to release the shitty consoles they do these days. IMO, Nintendo were not worth a rub since the N64. Nothing after that came close to any of their predecessors, or any of the competition.

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How did they die? Do they start shutting down randomly? Open the case up, unscrew the PSU, and pull the PSU up from the contacts, give those contacts a bit of a clean and reseat the PSU. Often this simple trick helps.

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Oh believe me, I know this trick! One of them I killed myself while attempting to use a PS/2 optical mouse to replace my broken Dreamcast mouse - alas PS/2 into a custom USB bus kinda blew the USB controller in the Dreamcast up.

The next one was a terminal PSU failure.

The next a GD-ROM drive failure (yes, I forgot Sega even bought out their own disc format! Gigabyte Disc)

The last another PSU failure. I think. I may have thrown it out not realising it was still working. If I did I will kick myself.

They all lasted well over a year though with a LOT of use.

Oh yeah and I forgot Ready 2 Rumble boxing. Frikkin awesome game.

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"I am still, to this day, baffled as to how this did not save Sega from oblivion. The console was so far ahead of its time, clearly, even gamers didn't realise what they were missing out on."

The trouble was that by the time the Dreamcast was released, the damaged was already done by a string of releases that, at best, were fair and, at worst, were total garbage. Having been assaulted in short order by the 32X and Sega CD extensions for what the Merkans refer to as the Genesis followed quickly (by which I mean only a matter of months) by the Saturn, people were going off Sega.

I totally agree that the Dreamcast was a good machine but Sega had already stuffed themselves. A real shame too. And yes, I can see Nintendo going the exact same way.

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I hear what you're saying there. I owned a Saturn (didnt bother with 32X - what a waste of effort that was) and I have to say as much as I wanted it to be awesome, it was a very lackluster console. I think Sega's main issue with that was lack of decent titles, and Sony releasing the PS1 to a huge marketing campaign. Sega didnt seem to spend a penny on their marketing - or more likely couldnt afford to from what I hear.

Very unfortunate, since the Dreamcast should have turned their fortunes around. I guess we have the fickle gamer mentality to thank for that. And Sony's budget.

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Thumb Up

@Piro

Have a thumbs-up for excellent prose. 'Cleanse the palette...' indeed! However, I sooo want to DV you for the WiiU comments! I love the little black box full of Mario & Luigi goodness. I loved Mass Effect 3 on it, and Arkham City Armored Edition rocks (in unstrained full HD). I still play the console regularly and buy new games for it, it's hooked into my 1080p monitor with an HDMI switch box along with my main PC and PS4 and I flip between all three video sources every day. Just recently got the new Mario 3D land. Oh, and I run Wii mode quite a lot too. Love Mario Galaxy, NSMB, Mario Kart Wii & Wii Tennis, plus some lovely JRPGs like Pandora's Tower.

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The Dreamcast was an awesome machine launched by a company so crippled by the failure of the Saturn (an overpriced 2D machine released at a time the world was going 3D) that it no longer had the financial or marketing clout to fully support the console. There wasn't much optimism even while the SDK was still being developed and the 'Dreamcast is Coming' teasers just baffled everyone.

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Anonymous Coward

Didn't Sega nerf a metric f-tonne of finances in football sponsorship, also? I remember reading an article about this shortly after it's European demise (as I recall it still had a loooooong life in JP, well into the late 2000's) which stated the budget on in-house releases and other marketing was washed up on this. Memory could be faulty on this one though.

Was (IMHO) a way ahead of its time console - still got mine with some tape covering the fan duct as that got a bit whiny with age. Not smart but worked!

Worth noting that the XBox was the spiritual successor in lots of respects (that controller just felt right, y'know?!) so it still lives on in the gaming bloodline, albeit somewhat diluted by grey/brown FPS's and not enough Space Channel 5's, Rez's or StarLancers....and Sonic should just die already, getting embarrassing for everyone involved.

But, like I said, Dreamcast always seemed like a well thought-out (in terms of tech, if not marketings - always the way) gambit for Sega. And begs the question - is it better to burn out or to fade away? As Ninty is really looking like the latter of these options, which is a shame. But, as we know, stale IP eventually turns rotten.

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If I dare challenge the received image: Sega makes most of its money from manufacture and distribution of coin operated entertainments — not just video games but a bunch of things. It's always had a very profitable business in that. It had a successful foray into home entertainment but was losing money every year by the time the Dreamcast was on sale. It was therefore smart and pragmatic severely to scale down the home entertainment side while continuing to enjoy the coin op profits. It's impressive that such a company went for broke with the Dreamcast rather than hedging on the escape strategy but the latter was always a safe option.

No oblivion, none coming. Just a gamble that didn't pay off.

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The Dreamcast was wonderful. Its failure was a tragedy as it has a superb catalogue of games that are just plain fun in the good old seafront arcade style.

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Drive failure can usually be fixed. There's a pot on the board that you you adjust to give it a little more juice. Eventually it won't take anymore but good results have been had from this method.

If I threw away every old computer that had a PSU failure I wouldn't have much left! Usually a few caps and half hour with a soldering iron (the caps in BBC micro PSU blow in a most entertaining manner).

Caps don't last forever so its always a case of "when" not "if" they blow.

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What failed the Dreamcast was a combination of bad timing and strong competition. By the time the Dreamcast came out, Sega was already perceived as on its last legs. They were desperate enough to try to jump the gun AND not use the new DVD format for its games. Both were gambles and in this case they didn't pay off.

Meanwhile, Sony went the other way and decided to wait. By using DVD media, they could paradigm shift gaming expectations away from whatever Sega could produce (and though Sega could produce superior graphics, the TVs of the time—HDTV wasn't even out yet—meant it wasn't easy for the average gamer to see it). Not to mention it also meant it could double as a DVD player at a time when the format was novel and in demand, fueling a synergy between the two. Furthermore, they chose to include PS1 backward compatibility, which meany anyone who missed out on the PS1 generation and its large number of great games could buy in with one purchase. Plus, in gaming terms Sony really is the gorilla in the room because it's not just a gaming company. It's a media company as well; they could perform media tie-ins none of the other companies can achieve. Only Nintendo with iconic decades-old franchises could come close to that level of media power. The deathblow probably came when EA (THE most-demanded sports gaming company) pretty much snubbed Sega. EA is considered the third party to watch when it comes to support. When EA snubs a platform, pretty much everyone else realizes it's a lost cause. Like it or not, when it came to sports gaming then and probably now, EA blazes the trail.

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Sega spent a huge proportion of their UK Dreamcast marketing budget sponsoring Arsenal instead of the massive amount of TV advertising Sony did for the Playstation.

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Re:

Nintendo could go the same way as Sega. Just hope that Zelda, Mario, Kirby etc have enough value to be made for any remaining consoles. There are some great games there...

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You want to loose weight?

Read the label - if it says 'Fructose' on it and it ain't fruit put it back. Damn stuff makes you HUNGRY!

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Re: You want to loose weight?

If you're prone to "loosing" weight you'd be advised to wrap yourself in a protective silicone sleeve like a Wii Remote.

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Re: You want to loose weight?

Wouldn't that just be one step towards no longer gaining weight? My understanding is that the most recommended way to lose weight is to eat a healthy mix of food in a minimum safe quantity and exercise to create a moderate daily energy deficit.

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