Nintendo and Sony: what could have been

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You can consider this photo (if indeed real) a turning point in videogame history of disastrous proportions. Remember when Nintendo and Sony were holding hands, and doing even more behind the scenes concerning a joint console that never saw the light of day? Well if you somehow forgot, allow me to refresh your memory a bit. The year was 1989, and it was the day that Hiroshi Yamauchi was to announce to the world that Sony and Nintendo would be working together on a project to bring a CD-ROM add-on to the Super NES.

Unfortunately for Sony, Yamauchi had just read over the previous legal agreement and was stunned to see that it basically called for Nintendo to relinquish all control over any titles written on the SNESCD-ROM format. It wasn’t long after this that the contract with Sony was canceled, and it was the surprise of the century — even to Sony — when it was announced at CES that it was now Phillips Electronics that would be working with Nintendo. 

Fast forward a few years later to 1995, and it is obvious that Sony is the clear winner on the failed deal when it releases the original PlayStation to much applause. The PlayStation brand would secure two generations of gaming consoles as the clear cut winner, while the Phillips CD-i (with a few Nintendo spin-offs of its own) was but a distant memory.

Nintendo managed to survive (they are experts at remaining profitable), but found itself in the unfamiliar position of not being the market leader any more. It could be argued that they never truly recovered until recently, thanks to the DS and Wii. The rest, as they say, is water under the bridge. However, take another look at the picture and think about what could have been if Nintendo had not backed out of the deal on that fateful day.

Would Sony and Nintendo have ruled the console market together, or would the relationship have self-destructed over time regardless, considering how starkly different the two companies view the videogame market? One thing is certain … the videogame landscape might very well be a lot different than it is now.

[Thanks MJK and D

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