For those of us who have been gaming since at least the late 1980s, we remember emergence of games that utilized CDs rather than cartridges. It was something that offered up a lot more in the way of possibilities for the look and sound of a game due to heavily increased memory capacity. So we got things like the Sega CD, which was plagued by quite a few bad games. Still, these systems and add-ons were the precursor to more successful disc-based consoles like the Playstation.
So when rumors started flying around the possibility that an add-on for the Super Nintendo (SNES) console was in the works that would bring disc-based games to the SNES, it grabbed the attention of a lot of people. After all, it probably would’ve meant that Nintendo would have decided to make the jump to disc-based consoles before the Gamecube. Yes, the Nintendo 64 was a fine system in its own right. However, far more could have been done on it if its games didn’t have to deal with the constraints of cartridges.
It held promise for far bigger things to be done with Nintendo’s hardware. It would have helped the company make the jump to disc-format with the Nintendo 64. Nintendo would’ve also kept some of its biggest series if they figured the technology out and and ran with it. So…
Nintendo signed two different deals. One was with Sony. The other was with Phillips. Nintendo also eventually backed out of both deals. In terms of the deal with Sony, there was a reason for backing out of the agreement.
The reason for backing out of the agreement with Sony was that, sometime after they signed the agreement, Nintendo decided to review it. Apparently, at least according to the agreement, Sony would control the CD game releases for the SNES. Fun stuff. So Nintendo secretly backed out of the agreement agreement with Sony, which actually caused Sony to decide to develop and release the Playstation. That lead to Nintendo losing some of the core franchises to its consoles (eg. Final Fantasy and Metal Gear to name two).
The reason why the agreement with Phillips just happened to fall through. It happens quite a bit. Anyway, Phillips did have the CD-I, which didn’t perform all that well having sold a grand total of 570,000 from 1991 to 1998. Phillips retained the rights long enough to make some of the worst versions of franchises that stuck with Nintendo (eg. The Legend of Zelda CD-I game).
Still, since the first generation of disc-based consoles – or at least add-ons for consoles – were plagued by poor quality games so you really can’t blame Nintendo for not continuing to pursue the idea then. They actually made the right choice. Yes, it was a missed opportunity, but it was one that’s forgivable for missing. After all, we probably wouldn’t have had the respect and hope for Nintendo that we continued to have. Yes, it created one of the biggest thorns in Nintendo’s side. Then again, since the gaming industry is a business, competition is a good thing. If it wasn’t for the competitive nature of business, we probably wouldn’t have half the tech and games that really made us to continue to love gaming while being pulled just a little further into the worlds designed for us.