292: Ad Wars

Ad Wars

Today's system wars are waged in internet forums, but in days gone by, they played out in smack-talking magazine ads and TV commercials.

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Ah, what a nice trip down memory lane. It really is incredible thinking back on it all. I was in late elementary school during the Console Wars of the early 90s. It really did feel like a deep divide. I had a Genesis first, so obviously that was the shit and the SNES was for losers. Then I actually got a SNES later on, way late to the party. All of the sudden, I realized what I was missing by picking one side or the other. Games like Super Metroid, Final Fantasy 6 (3 at the time), Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and Super Mario World. It was honestly really revelatory looking back on it now. I don't think I realized at the time how much it shaped my views on gaming.

I had a similar experience during the CD Wars of the late 90s. I had an N64 first, followed by a PlayStation after. Final Fantasy VII was the catalyst, as I'm sure it was for many other people as well. But I still got games for both, and I realized that both had unique experiences and by that point, I wasn't interested in the ridiculous vitriol of both camps. Ever since the 16 bit days, I've owned almost every major console.

I thought Crash Bandicoot was fucking awesome. I still have all the original PS1 games, all in perfect working order.

Way back when, I begged and begged and begged for an N64 and my parents kept looking at me funny and saying "don't you want a Playstation?" This was all year that I asked for an N64, and they got me a fucking Playstation. I was mad as hell, until I played the damn thing.

I never once complained after that. I did get my Gamecube before PS2, and Metroid Prime was one of the greatest games ever. In fact, where have all the good games gone? This generation hasn't produced much beyond Call of Duty - I can't see anything from this generation being remembered 10 years from now like FF7, the original Half-Life, Halo, or Super Mario 64 is remembered now...

believer258:
I thought Crash Bandicoot was fucking awesome. I still have all the original PS1 games, all in perfect working order.

Way back when, I begged and begged and begged for an N64 and my parents kept looking at me funny and saying "don't you want a Playstation?" This was all year that I asked for an N64, and they got me a fucking Playstation. I was mad as hell, until I played the damn thing.

I never once complained after that. I did get my Gamecube before PS2, and Metroid Prime was one of the greatest games ever. In fact, where have all the good games gone? This generation hasn't produced much beyond Call of Duty - I can't see anything from this generation being remembered 10 years from now like FF7, the original Half-Life, Halo, or Super Mario 64 is remembered now...

The sad thing is that it's there, but it's probably not going to be a AAA title. It will be part of one, like Portal.

Console wars make me sad. Really, defending any console over any other is just another way of saying that you're poor. I own a Wii. It's collecting dust. So is my Xbox 360 and PS3, seeing as how they're inanimate objects and such. I have just as many Wii games not getting played as I do on any other system. I could go on and on how dumb it is that xbox live charges monthly fees, but really all it says is that I don't really want to pay it for a variety of personal reasons. And the PS3's hacking and firmware problems will get worked out, and I don't even utilize the features affected.

I almost feel like an entire generation of people have been brainwashed thanks to corporate BS like this. Do movie lovers argue over DVD players? When the HD format war was going on, I don't remember anyone being too upset, besides being willing to wait a few months for it to end. How about music fans getting all pissy about what digital music store is the most comprehensive, or why CDs are better? The only reasonable comparison would be politics and/or religion, which like the console wars, have the benefits of years of indoctrination on their side.

Well, there's the bulletstorm ads.

Dorkmaster Flek:
I had an N64 first, followed by a PlayStation after. Final Fantasy VII was the catalyst, as I'm sure it was for many other people as well. But I still got games for both, and I realized that both had unique experiences and by that point, I wasn't interested in the ridiculous vitriol of both camps.

Looking back on it this way, I have to feel a bit badly for some of the developers who had great games that were exclusive to only one system at the time. I wonder how many potential fans to their product they lost because those people were convinced that system wasn't "their thing."

L34dP1LL:
Well, there's the bulletstorm ads.

Yeah, but Bulletstorm isn't criticizing any particular console or it's exclusives, it's making fun of shooters like Call of Duty that can be found on all platforms. I do agree their ad campaign has the same tone as the ones perpetrated by the console makers of yesteryear.

Tim Latshaw:

Dorkmaster Flek:
I had an N64 first, followed by a PlayStation after. Final Fantasy VII was the catalyst, as I'm sure it was for many other people as well. But I still got games for both, and I realized that both had unique experiences and by that point, I wasn't interested in the ridiculous vitriol of both camps.

Looking back on it this way, I have to feel a bit badly for some of the developers who had great games that were exclusive to only one system at the time. I wonder how many potential fans to their product they lost because those people were convinced that system wasn't "their thing."

Totally. Add to that the fact that there were actually very few multiplatform releases back then, because developing for two different consoles was actually a real challenge. These days, it's pretty easy to have a 360 and a PS3 version, especially if you license a pre-made engine like the Unreal Engine. This is the single biggest path for third party developers these days. The development environment has become a lot more homogenized.

There are a few cell phone operators here in Brazil. The oldest, and largest, is called Vivo. My mom has a Vivo cell phone and for years has bugged me to get one as well. If I had one, not only could I talk to her essentially for free, and would probably get better reception as well. But I don't. Why? Because back when a few other operators came out, five, six years ago, Vivo did a series of ads talking about how the other ones were bad. It indisposed me with the company to this day.

I don't think I ever saw this kind of banter - the Nintendo magazines I read during most of my life kept their mouth shut about their Playstation opponents unless it was to celebrate how one of their alledged exclusives would migrate - but if I saw those ads I'd probably buy Nintendo systems to everyone just to keep whoever did those ads down. Saying that your competion is bad doesn't make me think you are better - it makes me think you are less worse.

The Random One:

I don't think I ever saw this kind of banter - the Nintendo magazines I read during most of my life kept their mouth shut about their Playstation opponents unless it was to celebrate how one of their alledged exclusives would migrate - but if I saw those ads I'd probably buy Nintendo systems to everyone just to keep whoever did those ads down. Saying that your competion is bad doesn't make me think you are better - it makes me think you are less worse.

It was surprisingly difficult to find much "return fire" from Nintendo, and whatever ads there may have been just weren't as memorable as those from other companies. The best jab I found from Nintendo was an ad for Donkey Kong Country that simply stated the game wasn't on the Genesis; and for that game back then, that was all Nintendo needed to say.

Tim Latshaw:

The Random One:

I don't think I ever saw this kind of banter - the Nintendo magazines I read during most of my life kept their mouth shut about their Playstation opponents unless it was to celebrate how one of their alledged exclusives would migrate - but if I saw those ads I'd probably buy Nintendo systems to everyone just to keep whoever did those ads down. Saying that your competion is bad doesn't make me think you are better - it makes me think you are less worse.

It was surprisingly difficult to find much "return fire" from Nintendo, and whatever ads there may have been just weren't as memorable as those from other companies. The best jab I found from Nintendo was an ad for Donkey Kong Country that simply stated the game wasn't on the Genesis; and for that game back then, that was all Nintendo needed to say.

But that was the thing, wasn't it, that the other companies had to prove themselves to the public that they weren't just NES (and successive console) mimics, right? If Sega had shown up, doing exactly what Nintendo did, we'd have laughed them out. We already knew what Nintendo could do, and what they offered. And we liked what they gave us. Sony and Square had a bit of leverage over the more expensive, less capable cartridges with their discs, but Nintendo could still respond in kind with tightly wrapped games that were better than ever, and just as capable of delivering what we wanted. Sony and Sega had to fight for their appeal, and did they ever. As the new sheriff in town, you don't prove that you're just the same as the previous guy, you show that you're a little better, that you can take care of the outlaws that put the previous sheriff in a pine box out behind the old church.

The main difference between today's "console war" and yesterday's war was that the competition in the 16-bit era actually drove innovation. I think Donkey Kong Country would be radically different if there was no Sega Mega Drive, assuming there would be a Donkey Kong Country game regardless...

What has all the online vitriol from fanboys online produced? Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are marketing their systems towards very different market segments and all have very idiosyncratic features they wish to promote over others.

As for which console was better during the early 90s - the Genesis or the SNES... Well CLEARLY it was the PC. I can't play Little Big Adventure on a 16-bit machine.

What is a/the console war? The only advertisement war(in Germany at least) i remember was McDonals vs. Burger King around 1999 or 2000 which got stomped pretty fast in court.

Tim Latshaw:

Dorkmaster Flek:
I had an N64 first, followed by a PlayStation after. Final Fantasy VII was the catalyst, as I'm sure it was for many other people as well. But I still got games for both, and I realized that both had unique experiences and by that point, I wasn't interested in the ridiculous vitriol of both camps.

Looking back on it this way, I have to feel a bit badly for some of the developers who had great games that were exclusive to only one system at the time. I wonder how many potential fans to their product they lost because those people were convinced that system wasn't "their thing."

Well, we have Nintendo's tyrannical business practices at the time to thank for it. I had an NES, but my favourite games were all third-party, including Tengen's Sega Master System ports. I liked the first three Super Marios and one or two other Nintendo games, but never got into Zelda, Metroid, or Kid Icarus.

I often wonder what might have happened if Contra, Megaman and Castlevania had been available for the Master System. I likely wouldn't have been an NES owner in that case.

Marketing was, and possibly still is, the worst part of the video games industry. Because of marketing, some poor fools actually bought Shaq-Fu.

zelda2fanboy:
Console wars make me sad. Really, defending any console over any other is just another way of saying that you're poor. I own a Wii. It's collecting dust. So is my Xbox 360 and PS3, seeing as how they're inanimate objects and such. I have just as many Wii games not getting played as I do on any other system. I could go on and on how dumb it is that xbox live charges monthly fees, but really all it says is that I don't really want to pay it for a variety of personal reasons. And the PS3's hacking and firmware problems will get worked out, and I don't even utilize the features affected.

I almost feel like an entire generation of people have been brainwashed thanks to corporate BS like this. Do movie lovers argue over DVD players? When the HD format war was going on, I don't remember anyone being too upset, besides being willing to wait a few months for it to end. How about music fans getting all pissy about what digital music store is the most comprehensive, or why CDs are better? The only reasonable comparison would be politics and/or religion, which like the console wars, have the benefits of years of indoctrination on their side.

Well... many music buffs will argue that vinyl is the superior format.
While I don't think it has anything to do with poverty, I do think it has something to do with the pride of being a savvy consumer. Few want to admit that the console they paid hundreds of dollars for is crap because they think it makes them look foolish. However when you only have 3 set-top consoles to choose from you can blame the selection more easily. Especially if it's a selection like what we've had this generation.
I may be a bit different, I think I'm probably a lot harsher with my ps3 than I am with its competition.
It has been pretty disappointing.

Michael O'Hair:
Marketing was, and possibly still is, the worst part of the video games industry. Because of marketing, some poor fools actually bought Shaq-Fu.

I can find no valid argument against this point. It truly is man's indecency to man.

I think the root of the change in this kind of thing lies in the internet - as many of these things do. Originally, word of mouth was the best way to hear about good games, but then decent advertising and magazines (many sponsored by the gaming companies themselves and thus biased) came into being and took over.

Then came the internet, and all of a sudden it's a whole lot easier to talk to people, and word of mouth is again king.

The Imp:
What is a/the console war? The only advertisement war(in Germany at least) i remember was McDonals vs. Burger King around 1999 or 2000 which got stomped pretty fast in court.

your avater, it, it makes me want to kill kittens!

Where adverts all that wierd back then 0_0

Fantastic article, really enjoyed the read. Man, I remember some of those commercials, they were great! Funny that the fat kid from the Game Gear ad went on to become a moderately successful film/tv star.
Ahh memories. You know I kind of do miss those days, when the companies themselves were engaging in the antics, and it was more than just pointless forum posts calling everyone "fags" if they have a ps3 instead of an xbox. So many people have multiple platforms these days that it really doesn't matter though. The only real differences to tout are console exclusives (Uncharted vs Halo, etc), but it's not the same. Back in the day you were gung ho about whatever ONE system you had. Except for that damn kid down the block who had all of them.

Hmm, I think the problem here is that all three consoles don't have as many exclusives as they use to. Even when there actually is an exclusive they seem to look and seem similar to their counterparts.
Alan wake= heavy rain
Halo=resistance
Gears=killzone
Kinectamals=eye pet and to am extension of the cute factor little big planet=nintendogs
Xbox live=playstaion plus(give or take ten dollars)
And exclusives are having sequels across multiple platforms
Then there's dlc... I don't think anyone give two shits about them....
P.s. Kevin butler= major - nvm he's not as funny... Or good

I remember the "Genesis DOES" ad campaign. I loved it. Sega took their first-mover advantage and ran wild with it. It was a great time to be a Sega fan and Genesis owner... until Nintendo woke up.

I wonder if anyone in a Sega meeting room ever quoted Admiral Yamamoto...

 

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