It’s hard to believe that in 1983 the concept of “video games” was quickly dying. There was a large scale recession in the video game industry that occurred for two years, predominantly in the United States. Revenues throughout the industry peaked at roughly $3.2 billion in 1983, but by 1985, fell to around $100 million. That’s an inconceivable drop of around 97%. As a result, several gaming companies went bankrupt. It was a common belief that video games were never to be relevant again.
However, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a company known as Nintendo entered the market. Established in 1889 as a toy company in Japan, they attempted to make a name in the video game industry. However, they knew they were not able to advertise themselves as a video game company, as they knew the American public had moved on; video games were considered a dead concept. So in 1985, they released the Nintendo Entertainment System, a carefully worded video game system advertised as an “entertainment system”. Following the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System, the industry saw a rapid recovery, with annual sales overreaching $2.3 billion just three years later. More than half of the market was controlled by Nintendo.
These books go into detail about the dynasty Nintendo created globally, and the competition it subsequently faced over the years.
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Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America is a very interesting perspective on how Nintendo quite literally, conquered America. Jeff Ryan, the author of the book, goes in depth into how Super Mario, the icon of both Nintendo and all video games, rose to stardom and saved Nintendo, as he cleverly says “The first princess Mario saved was Nintendo itself”. He focuses exclusively on Mario games, which is a bit strange considering the Pokémon series is one of Nintendo’s powerhouse franchises, selling over 200 million copies. However, Ryan still provides a detailed overview of the strategies Nintendo utilized to make it to the top.
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Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation still incorporates Nintendo’s dominance in the industry, yet talks about the rise of a new beast in the market: Sega. What followed was a vicious battle between the two video game powerhouses, igniting an international corporate war. Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog and Nintendo’s Super Mario became household names that both kids and adults would feel connected to; it became a part of their identity. What resulted from this showdown was the birth of a $60 billion industry. Written by Blake J. Harris, he incorporates many viewpoints with over two hundred interviews with former Sega and Nintendo employees. It portrays an interesting contrast from the modern day industry, and all video game fans should give it a read.
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