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Does "Test Market" count as a release?

Does "Test Market" count as a release of a console?  

33 members have voted

  1. 1. Does "Test Market" count as a release of a console?

    • YES, It's the start of the system and therefor should be considered as the start of the console.
      24
    • NO, It's just a test to gauge public interest and the official release is the only true release.
      9


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I'm asking this question out of pure curiosity. I personally don't consider the "Test Market" stage as the release of a console. So to me NES came out in 1986 and the Atari 7800 came out in 1986. I see people all the time go back and forth on when a console is released. I find that most NES people consider the "Test Market" as the release of the console, I'm not sure why but they do. On the other hand other consoles, the "Test Market" is treated differently (I'm thinking the Atari 7800).

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Yeah, it's always a different topic depending on the console. PAL Turbgoraphx are easily found (for now) yet everybody consider it was never released since there was only a "test market" release.

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To me you count a release as official if it was available to anyone to purchase publicly.

So even if its release area was small if anyone could go to where it was available and purchase it then that would be the initial release date.

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Yes, test market releases do count as retail releases and any games titles that were part of those also count toward part of a full set for whatever the system in question happens to be.

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Like for the astrocade....anyone could order 1 by mail originally. So even though they were not in stores yet, anyone could feasibly order 1 and get 1.

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Test market is just a marketing term for feeling out the space, but it's still officially released when they do such things.  Whatever region(s) they go with they'll ship systems, an accessory or few, and a selection of games.  It's not like it's some mail order test (online only limited numbers these days), or where you can only go to one place, line up, and wait situation and that's it.

 

If it's at retail, people can buy it, see it, touch it, and then it's released.  I find it ridiculous someone would consider the NES as released in 1986 when they shoveled out a quarter million or more of them in the later months of 1985.  I got one of them for Christmas that year my mom picked up and that wasn't imagined, and she didn't go through some weird hoops to get it because it didn't exist even though it did.  Nintendo called it a test market only to cover their butts if their lie of the ROB scheme pitching the system as a toy failed considering the zero confidence after the 1983 fall out.

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Had nintendo cancelled the nes after the new york test market, the nes would have still existed.  People bought it and nintendo would have to provide warranty service according laws and regulations like any product.  Even in 1986 there wasn't a national release, nintendo slowly introduced new markets over the year.  Some areas still didn't get it until 1987.  You could also say the nes was released in 1983 as the famicom.

 

People don't count the atari 7800 test market of 1984 because there's no evidence it happened.

Edited by mr_me
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The AVS (later NES) was test market at the CES in 1984, no one showed any interest. Later CES 1985, test marketing as NES with kids, they said 'this is shit'. Test market says 'TEST'. A test is not a sale...

NY saved their butt, Nintendo 'gave' the NES to shops like Toys r Us, Sears, Macy's and others for sale. 

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A test market is not product testing, market research, focus group testing, public display/demonstration, or a press release.  It's none of those things.  It means a market where end users can buy the thing, whether that's direct or through resellers.  The atari 7800 was publicly announced and shown as a product in 1984 but it may not have gone to market until 1986.  The only difference between a test market and any other product launch is scale.

Edited by mr_me
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I think hindsight really affects these systems. In the case of the NES, it was a hit & availability opened up shortly after its 'test run'- so there's no real need to mark a separate release date. The 7800 didn't stay available after its test run, so there was a 2-year period where you couldn't get the thing. I think that makes the difference there.

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9 hours ago, Tanooki said:

 

If it's at retail, people can buy it, see it, touch it, and then it's released.  I find it ridiculous someone would consider the NES as released in 1986 when they shoveled out a quarter million or more of them in the later months of 1985.  I got one of them for Christmas that year my mom picked up and that wasn't imagined, and she didn't go through some weird hoops to get it because it didn't exist even though it did.  Nintendo called it a test market only to cover their butts if their lie of the ROB scheme pitching the system as a toy failed considering the zero confidence after the 1983 fall out.

 

I voted "yes" as well but this part of your statement can be tricky.

 

Regards to the NES at that time frame, I lived in the Chicagoland area (still do) at this time. I caught wind of the NES from a arcade operators publication called Replay - a big writeup on the NES. Around Christmas of '85... we visited a Venture department store that a NES on display. The one where it's enclosed in a plastic bubble displaying the system and ROB. There was no playable demo, just a display. 

 

Anywho, I scoured the Chicagoland area to no avail for one. I only tracked one down (my folks did actually) from relatives on the east coast in Feb. of '86. I didn't realize at the time it was released to limited geographic regions.

 

That's the part I think it can be tricky...

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1 hour ago, HoshiChiri said:

I think hindsight really affects these systems. In the case of the NES, it was a hit & availability opened up shortly after its 'test run'- so there's no real need to mark a separate release date. The 7800 didn't stay available after its test run, so there was a 2-year period where you couldn't get the thing. I think that makes the difference there.

Sure people can write whatever they want to suit their narrative, but you can't say there was an Atari 7800 test market in 1984 without evidence of it happening.

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20 hours ago, CatPix said:

Yeah, it's always a different topic depending on the console. PAL Turbgoraphx are easily found (for now) yet everybody consider it was never released since there was only a "test market" release.

The general consensus is that a test market was planned but never happened. Which is why it isn't considered a release at all.

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3 hours ago, mr_me said:

Sure people can write whatever they want to suit their narrative, but you can't say there was an Atari 7800 test market in 1984 without evidence of it happening.

post-1159-1248983925.thumb.jpg.2d6173b2518a9218f367ac260aff9fe1.jpg

1984 Joust box with price tag.

 

Now, they could have resold leftover inventory from a planned 1984 test market, but not only box scans of games have been found, but system boxes have been found, so the evidence kind of points to there being a test market.

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We all know that Atari 7800s were manufactured in 1984 with a planned release that year but that's not evidence of a test market.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/1984/05/22/business/atari-video-game-unit-introduced.html

 

Here is a quote from a May 22, 1984 article the day after the product announcement.  "The officials cited a highly favorable response to the machine in a marketing survey conducted for the company,"  No mention of a test market.  At this time Atari would have been negotiating the sale of their consumer product assets that was finalised on July 1 only a few weeks later.  And we also know that there was a dispute with GCC that had not been resolved.  At the time GCC controlled the rights to the atari 7800 and cartridges which could not be sold without their permission.

Edited by mr_me
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4 hours ago, Black_Tiger said:

The general consensus is that a test market was planned but never happened. Which is why it isn't considered a release at all.

But if it had happened, you'd consider the Turbografx released, even if the whole point of a test market is to check if you can/want to release the system?

Edited by CatPix

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To me if it was available for sale to the general public then it was considered released.  There are lots of games that never were sold outside of certain stores or regions but they're considered normal releases (just really rare).  Now if something was only given to employees or their families to play with, then that wouldn't count as released because the general public wasn't allowed to buy it.

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12 hours ago, mr_me said:

Had nintendo cancelled the nes after the new york test market, the nes would have still existed.  People bought it and nintendo would have to provide warranty service according laws and regulations like any product.  Even in 1986 there wasn't a national release, nintendo slowly introduced new markets over the year.  Some areas still didn't get it until 1987.  You could also say the nes was released in 1983 as the famicom.

Following the logic set by saying the nes was released in 1983 (because the famicom is basically the same thing). Does that mean the Atari XEGS (and for that matter the Atari 5200) got released in 1979?

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34 minutes ago, pboland said:

Following the logic set by saying the nes was released in 1983 (because the famicom is basically the same thing). Does that mean the Atari XEGS (and for that matter the Atari 5200) got released in 1979?

You can say that, although technically the atari 5200 and 400 are not software compatible.  Atari purposely made changes to the 5200 so they are not compatible although they are similar.  In addition to internal hardware changes, the 5200 has an analog joystick and an extra action button so games can be written that play much different on that system.  Also, the atari 400 was US$550 in 1979, that's over $2000 today and not practical for a video game system.  Other than the lockout, the famicom and nes are completely software compatible.

Edited by mr_me

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Yeah the NES was nationally released in test, even if it was a regional bi coastal trickle.  The east got far more than the west as that's where they were originally so it got this NYC and areas push, but some also went to the LA metro area in California and surrounding counties.  At the time my parents had a home in Orange county so somehow she found out in 1985 and got one.  The following year earlier on as they really rolled through them well larger cities got them earlier on and it crept out from there to the smaller and smaller spaces through 1986 and so on.  Had it failed, just NY and CA would have got some, outside of some nut driving a day or flying in to bag one and take back.

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Just my opinion, but I definitely don't count "Test Markets" as a Release.   If I ask people about the NES release or The PS2 release or any other system I'm not talking about something where only a handful of people (in only a few cities) got them.  I'm not saying it didn't happen,...I'm not saying those systems don't exist, but they are Not part of the general release.  

 

The NES quickly becomes a pet peeve of mine because I worked with a guy who lied so much you couldn't believe a word he said, so Of Course, he claimed he had an NES in 1985.  Probably got it "opening day" too.  I notice with people on the internet that there are many out there who actually think the whole country had NESes in 1985.    Sorry, but I was into video games and I graduated high school in 1986....And at that point in time nobody I knew had heard of an NES.  Even people who were really into video games!  

 

It's always an interesting footnote to talk about some kind of pre-order, early adopter, or "test market" situation, but the release date usually refers to a national release IMO.   A national release where there is a shortage of systems is a different story (I.E. PS2 or Jaguar's European release) even if it's contrived and purposefully controlled to get free headlines (Nintendo Wii, PS3)...

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Same.

Else, as I said, if the Turbografx had been test-marketed in Europe, then by that logic, you could say that it was officially released in Europe... Which is, forgive me to say that, stupid, since the point of a test market is to gauge the opportunity to RELEASE a system in a given region. (and it's a strange thing to do for Europe since the PC-Engine was widely available from local gray importers but heh).

Which make me think, was a system not released in a region after an existing but "failed" test market? Or delayed?

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9 hours ago, GoldLeader said:

the release date usually refers to a national release IMO

The nes didn't have a national release or north american release.  They gradually introduced new markets and new york was the first.  In those days coordinated national releases were logistically difficult.  When did the last us or canadian market receive the nes, anyone know?

Edited by mr_me
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On 1/3/2020 at 4:55 AM, GoldLeader said:

Just my opinion, but I definitely don't count "Test Markets" as a Release.   If I ask people about the NES release or The PS2 release or any other system I'm not talking about something where only a handful of people (in only a few cities) got them.  I'm not saying it didn't happen,...I'm not saying those systems don't exist, but they are Not part of the general release.  

 

The NES quickly becomes a pet peeve of mine because I worked with a guy who lied so much you couldn't believe a word he said, so Of Course, he claimed he had an NES in 1985.  Probably got it "opening day" too.  I notice with people on the internet that there are many out there who actually think the whole country had NESes in 1985.    Sorry, but I was into video games and I graduated high school in 1986....And at that point in time nobody I knew had heard of an NES.  Even people who were really into video games!  

 

It's always an interesting footnote to talk about some kind of pre-order, early adopter, or "test market" situation, but the release date usually refers to a national release IMO.   A national release where there is a shortage of systems is a different story (I.E. PS2 or Jaguar's European release) even if it's contrived and purposefully controlled to get free headlines (Nintendo Wii, PS3)...

 

Here's the problem, this is a classic generalization fallacy. (ie. "Nobody I knew voted for Nixon.") Just because nobody you knew personally bought one, doesn't mean that there weren't items on the market being sold in 1985/1986. We have verified data from a plethora of newspaper reports, retail outlets, Nintendo internal sales reports that suggest otherwise. Nintendo alone sold over 1.1 million NES consoles in by Christmas 1986 through their rolling test market and very short advertising campaign. This is why we must discount anecdotal evidence, like yours, as hearsay in the face of objective facts.

Edited by empsolo

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