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Commercially successful Jaguar

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Hey guys. The consensus online seems to be that while, yeah, Atari made some mistakes with the Jaguar it was absolutely doomed to failure no matter what. I want to offer an alternative history where the Jaguar could have found commercial success as a niche console, similar to the 7800, if Atari had a different business plan.

 

This alternate plan requires that before anything else, Atari recognizes right out of the gate it does not have the resources to compete with Nintendo and Sega head on and instead needs to carve out it's own small corner in the gaming industry but that this could still be profitable. With that in mind, here is what I think Atari should have done:

 

1. On the hardware front, add a dust guard to the cartridge slot and remove those stupid looking buttons from the controller. Those changes wouldn't cost the company any extra money and would be easy fixes to implement. The lack of a dust guard was just a bad design and those buttons are really lame and made the console seem like a throwback to the 2nd generation.

 

2. Dump the Lynx and the CD add on. There was never any room in the hand held market for anything besides the Game Gear and Gameboy so the Lynx was a terrible idea and in my plan the Jaguar is only mean to be a niche console anyway so there will never be enough sales to merit add ons. Both the Lynx and the CD add on were a waste of scarce resources.

 

3. Drastically reduce the advertising budget. We're not competing with Nintendo, Sega and Sony so no need to advertise on TV slots. Use (relatively) cheap adds in gaming magazines since our target market is hardcore gamers only.

 

4. A lot of money have been saved with less advertising and getting rid of the Lynx and CD; some of these resources can be put back in to game development. The most important thing is to develop a quality, 3d knock off of Virtua Fighter which should be sold as the system's pack in game. Virtua Fighter was huge in 93 and so many people wanted to play the game at home, even if it wasn't a perfect arcade port. It would also be a good demonstration of the systems capabilities.

 

5. Do not sell the system at a loss. Again, we aren't Nintendo, Sony or Sega and there is no hope of us every recouping our loss through game sales because our market just isn't big enough. We aren't fighting for market share so no need to get in to price wars. Now maybe somebody can correct my numbers but I believe that the system could be sold with a pack in at 500 dollars a unit and break even so lets go with that.

 

6. Since the console is selling at cost, Atari can afford to adopt a liberal licensing policy with lower fees which means a bigger library and cheaper games.

 

 

Okay, so Atari does all these things, but I think the question you all will now have is "if it's selling at 500, why even buy it?". Here are the reasons:

 

1. When it's released it is only in competition with the 3DO and NeoGeo as 5th generation consoles. The Saturn and Playstation won't be coming out for two more years. The Jaguar is at least as good a piece of hardware as the 3DO and NeoGeo, with a better library of games and is even a tad cheaper. The 3DO and NeoGeo literally sold millions of units, no reason the superior Jaguar couldn't have taken at least half of their sales.

 

2. It's cool and "quirky". It is made in the US and has the iconic Atari name.

 

3. It has a unique library that other systems can't match. Just like today people buy inferior Nintendo hardware because they want to play Nintendo games, Atari could have done the same thing on a smaller level. Also, due to cheap licensing, the games are cheaper and more developers are willing to program for it. And since Atari doesn't have the need to be "family friendly" that the big 3 do, it can allow companies to program "adult" games like they did for the 2600.

 

4. There was still a strong interest in quality 2d games all the way into the late 90s, and the Jaguar as a tweener system between the 4th and 5th generation can do 2d better than the Genesis or SNES. For gamers looking for new, high quality 2d games the Jaguar will be the best option available to them.

 

 

If Atari had done all of this I could see the Jaguar selling around 2 million units and being profitable for Atari although I think that Atari would probably decide to forego developing consoles and thereafter focusing on its gaming division like Sega would do less than a decade later.

 

What do you guys think?

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You, sir, have done it. These suggestions solve everything. Had you been running Atari, we would be playing the Jaguar 4 right now.

 

;)

Edited by akator
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:-) Before i comment properly....i assume your looking for European views as well?.

 

Only reason's i ask are that we never had much, if any TV advertising from what i can recal.I never saw a UK TV ad, recal folks asking why it had'nt been advertised on TV, Darryl Still (Atari UK PR guy saying due to cost, they'd spent budget on radio+magazine ads instead, i think..)

 

Also despite what resident Jaguar fans 'elsewhere' might tell you, the ST was not still selling well, nor was the Lynx when Jaguar was shown to press let alone released...development had switched to showcasing Amiga hardware sometime around 1991 off top of my head, kinda point then when Amiga owners wanted games written for the Amiga hardware, not ported from ST...

 

 

And regarding issue of a quality Virtua Fighter clone-All i'd ask is how well did Sega's answer to Street Fighter 2 do at retail? (Eternal Champions) i ask as it seemed to get good press?.

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Dumping the CD Add-On would def.been a smart move from Atari, i feel...better never to have annouced it in the 1st place, as if your (as they were initally) going after the SNES/MD (As Tramiel said..'Rip the guts out of your 16 Bit Rivals') then you need to stat focused on concept of being a far more powerful Cart based machine.Mentioned it before, but A)Psygnosis commented that Jaguar was either an over-priced cart machine or an under-specced CD machine, they'd had dev.kits for 12 months and were not impressed, plus Ocean were looking for a cart based machine to 'replace' aging SNES/MD.

 

As it was Atari PR in UK was hyping the CD Add-On as the 'saviour' of the Jaguar, soon as it arrived it'd be a level playing field etc, it arrived late and without the much needed wide range of Triple-A software. Press had a field day with rod Atari made for themselves...

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Why can't we stop with the "what if" about the Jag, we all know that 20-20 is a gift of hindsight.

 

Where I grew up we have a saying: "if my grandmother had balls, she would have been my grandfather".

 

That Jag failed because it had nowhere to go, too little to entice the audience it was supposed to target, mismanagement and a whole lot of other reasons .... none of which is important anymore.

 

It FAILED, and of course if now we try to say "if blah blah blah didn't happen" = "if it didn't fail" -> it would have been successful .... sure, do you see the uselessness of it.

 

Can we still enjoy it today as a niche console? sure .... does it matter what could have been .... not so much.

 

Do I really care to what evil empire I give my money today (or I gave yesteryear)? ... somewhat but they are/were all sons of bitchex one way or another so there's not much to differentiate. They wanted money and went to quite some lengths to get it, in return some gave us better products than others (better can mean more powerful, or more marketable or simply better suited to the taste of the time) ... and that's it.

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If nothing else, if via your revised history :-) Plan, Atari sticks with marketing campain based on the '64-Bit' nature and i assume Panther would of been canned far earlier in history version B? ) and wants 'wow' games, then i'd not be launching it with likes of Raiden, Crescent Galaxy, Dino Dudes etc.Basically anything that could feasibly be done on MD/SNES with just minor cosmetic differences (ie less colours etc) is not what you need to showcase the hardware...

 

Give it more games that you could only get on Jaguar, things like Tempest 2000, AVP were great adverts for the Jaguar, even at preview stages...do a compare and contrast type marketing campain...AVP on SNES or AVP on Jaguar?

 

And once you've established even a niche market, do not knee-jerk and try and get your hardware to compete with newer, more powerful hardware and tell your developers to put in lots of polygons, texture-mapping, light-sourcing etc as Sony/Sega/3DO are doing it.

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You could take basically 'any' of the platforms from that era and do a What If..scenario:

 

What If...Sega had'nt gone the route of MCD, then 32X..let alone the Twin SH2 bodge on Saturn, instead waited and gone for the single-chip design offered?.

 

What If Sony had said..Ahh, to hell with the Games Industry, Nintendo F**ked Us over big time by going with Phillips, let them fight it out with Sega etc.

 

What If..Nintendo had gone for CD's and had'nt lost Square and FF7 etc?.

 

History could of been re-written so many times over during those years if different decisions had been made.

 

Basically those in power rolled the dice, played the cards they had and we, the consumers paid our money, made our choices.With hindsight i'd of done things different regarding the Jag-no Day 1 purchase, but it was and i can accept it for what it was good at, what it was'nt and now simply look into why a lot of it's games either never arrived or turned out way they did.

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Too bad about the Lynx, I think it stood a better chance than the Jaguar when it first came out. Atari did a lot right with that system and they still lost badly.

 

Maybe if they continued support of the 7800 and carried some of the user base over the Jaguar it might have helped. Then they'd have 7800 and Lynx fans who would've hopefully been easy to sell the system too.

 

It's hard to say whether the Atari brand itself hurt or helped the Jaguar.

Edited by Willard

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It's true you could do a what if with any hardware but the reason I think it is worthwhile to do with the Jaguar is because the Jaguar really was a good system that was ahead of it's time, had a great brand name and still failed beyond miserably. We aren't talking like the way the Dreamcast failed where it still sold over 10 million units but rather what probably is the biggest failure in the history of gaming consoles.

 

And like I said in my initial post, there is a wall to wall consensus now that there was no possible way the Jaguar could ever have been a commercial success. I think it could have because the Atari 7800 sold horribly and was still a commercial success.

 

 

As for the European angle: growing up in America in the early 90s I actually never even heard of the Jaguar. I didn't know about it until a few months ago when I saw an old AVGN about it. But I know from reading about it that they did advertise heavily in the States, I just must have missed it, along with apparently 100s of millions of other people.

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Thing is though, you look at say Retro Gamer Magazine, EDge or Gamestm a few years ago-you'd often hear of the PC or Amiga version of a 'Classic' being talked about or the C64/ZX Spectrum or Amstrad CPC version of a game, or earlier still the 2600 version, but you'd be forgiven for thinking the A8 range (400/800/XL/XE) never existed, let alone the 7800 and it used to frustrate so many of us the ST versions of games (even when they appeared before the Amiga version) were never mentioned in an article...

My point here is the 'Atari Brand' simply was'nt that strong.
If you said:Atari? to your average person in the street, changes are it'd be the 2600 they'd be aware of, possibly ST..but....well, you get my point.
The A8 was over priced so never got the market share it 'deserved', the 7800...pfff....the ST was just over-taken by the Amiga (and then sadly forgotten by UK Press).
Lynx was great but buried under GB, let along Game Gear which folks would remember for Sonic etc.

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... I think it is worthwhile to do with the Jaguar is because the Jaguar really was a good system that was ahead of it's time, had a great brand name and still failed beyond miserably....

I cannot disagree more.

Sony betamax, big name, very good quality, superior to VHS and .... FAILED.

Philips CDi, big name, ahead if its time, superior to 1991 contenders ..... FAILED.

 

Superior is a relative concept, so no point in beating a dead horse.

By the way "ahead of its time" is a hindsight reflection and as such it is normally used when things do not pan out ... or we would say "right time, right place, right cost, right features".

 

 

I think we keep on circling around the Jag because we have free time to do it and somewhat we like Atari more than say SNK .... I am still stumped they are no longer in business (I mean serious business) but then again no real new hardware for 20 years kind of does it ;-)

[bTW the same kind of "what if" comes in waves on the 7800 forums, but for example not really on the 800/XE/XL forums or the Coleco forums, or the Intellivision forums]

 

I guess "atariage.com" is a dead giveaway the we do hold dear the Atari name and bring in all sorts of bias on any conceivable discussion ;-)

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I really hated the Game Gear whereas I loved the Gameboy. I think the Lynx (which I also never heard of until the aforementioned AVGN episode) looked like a poor man's game gear. Just a bad idea.

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Long story short for anything of that era to have a different turn of events, you'd simply had to of had Sony decide to call it quits over the SNES CD fiasco/Nintendo getting into bed with Phillips.They did'nt and from that day on the industry was changed for ever.

 

Sony swept in with the right hardware (wooing developers on 30% complete chipsets, housed in machines size of photo-copiers), industry seemed 'hungry' for change, 3D was rightly or wrongly seen as THE next big thing and the rest as they say was history.

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Not sure I got your point.

Same was true for the NES 10 years earlier (right time, right marketing, right price, not even need to have the best hardware).

Then it was true again for PS2.

 

The only real difference between Sony and the rest seems to be that they were able to stay ~atop 4 gen of systems.

 

PS1 won hands down, so did PS2, PS3 not really (that was the gen of the Wii, remember), but now PS4 is back on top. At the same time the rest of Sony, all of it, is in deep sh.t .... not sure what that would do the PS itself, but being "only" a console maker these days spells disaster.

Edited by phoenixdownita
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I hate the GB, given one for Xmas as a Retro Gift a good few years back, just cannot get on with it, the screen is wretched etc, but...as a device? it simply 'works' (screen aside).It's truely portable (fits in your pocket)-Lynx by comparison fits in what? a blazer pocket? like how many schools had us UK kids wearing blazers? lol.The battery life is fantastic, Lynx seemed chained to an plug in my house, it had games designed for handheld play (Tetris+GB were a winning combination), Lynx games like Hard Drivin, Dracula, SOTB etc were technically stunning, but i've never felt ideally suited to handheld play.

 

Nintendo seemed to simply understand the Hand Held market in areas Atari (and Sega with G.G in essence being a 'portable' Master System) did'nt.Plus, between Nintendo+Sega they had the publisher support tied up....Atari were left with the crumbs, by and large.

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I cannot disagree more.

Sony betamax, big name, very good quality, superior to VHS and .... FAILED.

Philips CDi, big name, ahead if its time, superior to 1991 contenders ..... FAILED.

 

 

I'm unfamiliar with the betamax but the CDi wasn't really a pure console, it was sort of a console/cd player/pc hybrid. I just looked it up and despite being heavily advertised for it only sold a million units, so maybe my 2 million sales for the Jaguar is unrealistic.

 

I would say one key difference is that 20+ years later most people think that the Jaguar was a cool system with some really good games whereas people think that the CDi basically sucked and nobody would ever waste key strokes talking about it.

 

Also, at best the CDi as a console was a suped up Genesis in terms of capabilities but the Atari was a legit 5th gen console and more like a poor man's Saturn.

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NES in UK? despite what likes of Gamestm/RetroGamer (advertising partners with Nintendo) will tell you in revised history articles, arrived far too late in UK, by that time hardware was dated, games over-priced, UK eyes on ST/Amiga, consoles like MD/PC Engine and Master System.

 

Fact PS1 'won' made things a hellva lot easier for Sony with PS2-A massive userbase to sell to for the upgrade path, established partnerships with retailers, publishers etc, it was seen as the 'safe bet' by pretty much everyone, throw in the imagined power of it etc, just dwarf your rival with meaningless polygon per second claims (what was it? 66 million a second or something? did'nt even that original start at 75 million or something daft?).

 

But by PS3 Sony had grown arrogant and PS3 did struggle, as MS understood that Xbox (Classic) which was loosing money for them, had polayed its role, established The Brand and time to get in with that essential headstart on Sony and got everything 'right' with 360....

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Has Microsoft ever actually made any money in the console gaming business? I have been unable to find a clear answer on that. Sony did lose billions on the PS3, correct?

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Betamax was superior quality to VHS, but more expensive.Porn industry played a big role here as well..but that's a story for another day :-)

 

Phillips also tried and failed with D.A.T, Sony with Mini Disc, UMD's and was it ATRAC? a custom music compression technology and had to finally admit defeat to MP3's?.

 

Then we had the HD DVD VS Blu-ray era...not that that battle lasted long.

 

360 HD DVD Drives were what? £100 on launch, within few months were so cheap i bought 2 and good stack of HD DVD Films (2nd Drive still sat in its box).Going for bargin prices.

 

Format wars can be a real double-edged sword...Bargins to be had, but a nightmare if your an early adopter.

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... I just looked it up and despite being heavily advertised for it only sold a million units, so maybe my 2 million sales for the Jaguar is unrealistic.

....

Last I checked the Jag is at 250K sold. So the CDi "dominated" it 4 to 1 .... but no point in this petty number game as my actual reasoning is getting diluted.

 

We do not talk about the Jag because it was "ahead of its time", we talk about it because it was Atari and it failed while the "expectation" is that it should not have.

 

Regarding the whole Euro zone, let's all remember that it was the bed of home computers for the whole 80s early 90s, not many consoles were such a success during that time frame, families wanted their money's worth so "little Bobby" can play and study with the same tool ..... as if!!!

Edited by phoenixdownita
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Off top of my head MS admitted putting a HDD in the Classic Xbox was a mistake, hence they were loosing money hand over fist on each sale of the Xbox Hardware, hence poor thing was swiftly killed off when 360 was ready to roll....

 

I think, but don't quote me, Sony might have not been selling PS3 at a loss, even making a fraction of a profit, by time the super slim (ie spring loaded cover etc) version of the PS3 hardware went on sale, but then they'd removed things like B.Compat, USB ports etc when i'd bought my orig. 40G Phat model, let alone the Slim i use now.

 

 

It was always rumoured that when MS saw Sony's plans for PS2-The 1 stop set top box for all your entertainment needs (games, films, music etc, HDD add-on, as well as broadband) they were 'afraid' of Sony winning the race for the living room, hence the Xbox...

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phoenixdownita is spot-on, my friends and myself always used the line...but it'll help with my school work and later, but you can do so much on them...music, art, learn to code..etc to get our folks to buy the 800XL, then C64, let alone the ST....

 

 

Of course we wanted them for THE GAMES :-).

 

But..i did use my ST for help with my C.A.D whilst at tech...so i finally came good on my promise....:-)

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So Microsoft was willing to do something that they knew was going to lose money just to prevent the possibility that Sony would end up using gaming to dominate the non gaming electronics market? If true that would at least make sense. I could never wrap my head around the idea that Microsoft was deliberately losing money for just "prestige".

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I agree that the marketing tactics likely killed the system before anyone could love it properly.

 

I also don't really believe that either is a failure! Whether a system makes a ton of money or has a lot of games really has little bearing in my mind. I think that the fact that people will shell out near original costs for these systems (Lynx and Jaguar) decades after their 'failure' shows that what people want is quite different from what is being 'sold' to you today! In a few years all the Wii systems and PS2's and 3's will all be dead or dying and the Jaguar will still play carts just like it did from day one! The market will flood with remade Lynx systems with new screens and AV/VGA out and people will still pay one and half hundred dollars for one. The games still get between ten to forty dollars a piece (used market value even when the system was out!) and will still get more valuable and sought after when Nintendo finally succumbs to the cloud and gets rid of media while Sony dominates all!!

 

I've paid sixty bucks for a 360 just a few years after they were on the shelves for hundreds! I've had four Wii systems. Only the first did I pay near original cost for, and the rest I got for fifty bucks a piece at a local pawn shop!

 

The Jaguar didn't fail, it's just the only one of it's kind!

The Lynx didn't fail, it's screen pooped out and needs replaced with one of these newer ones that is sharper and can hook up to a monitor AND uses less power!

 

The games are awesome.. the collectors always want them! WIN, WIN!!

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The fact that the XBox (original) had an HDD was "ahead of its time" because 360, one, PS3 and PS4 all come with one (Wii U as well in the form of flash storage) ..... and yet it didn't win .... ;-)

Same thing for the "online" capabilities, it started way earlier (CDi [yeap it tried that as well], MD, Saturn, DC) but it was Xbox (original) to make it right helped by the fact that it was the right time for it obviously.

 

Couldn't resist.

 

BTW the Xbox (original) was a fairly decent DirectX 7.0 "PC" with a slightly underpowered CPU and that should have come std with 128MB (which the mainboard fully supported from day one).

Should we do a "what if" on it ......

Edited by phoenixdownita

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