Nintendo 64 Lost to PlayStation Because Japanese Gamers Prefer "Depressing Games" Apparently
Maybe Mario should have had a darker story and the N64 could have won back its Japanese fanbase.
Nintendo has always brought vibrant worlds to the screens of gamers as well as cute characters to populate them and they’ve only gotten less pixelated and somewhat cuter over the years. PlayStation may have had games with colorful worlds, but even to this day, I remember a theme of greyness, darkness, and stories filled with drama. However, it appears as if the late Hiroshi Yamauchi, who passed away in 2013, had something to say about PlayStation’s Japanese gamers back in the day.
While flicking through old copies of the Gamers’ Republic magazine, Nintendo Life stumbled across a quote from the president of Nintendo. The snippet itself is talking about he planned to resign from his post in 2001 after being president of Nintendo since 1949. In the snippet, it details how he made headlines at the time for claiming that the N64 was less successful in its homeland than the PS1 because Japanese gamers “[like] to be alone in their rooms and play depressing games.”
It seems as if he much preferred the joyful, vibrant worlds that Nintendo created and wasn’t particularly pleased with how games were becoming more serious. These times were also when companies had started to move toward CDs, however, Nintendo was sticking with cartridges and as a result, lost the support of third-parties such as Square.
Nintendo did, however, move to discs with the Gamecube in 2001, and then again with the Wii in 2006. However, the Nintendo Switch, which has recently surpassed the lifetime sales of the SNES, has gone back to cartridges.
Hiroshi Yamauchi was known for his short temper and blunt comments about rival companies and their fanbase, you can learn more about him and these comments through this video from Larry Bundy Jr. The article itself also states that he would often pit internal teams against one another to promote competition.