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Was not releasing with CD at launch the biggest mistake Atari made with the Jaguar?

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On 7/23/2021 at 9:22 PM, CyranoJ said:

Why would Atari spend money on CD audio for Cybermorph when they wouldn't even bother getting a MIDI or MOD file for it?


Lots of games with spot effects and no music would have been the result.

This doesn't mesh with the real-world CD games that we did get, though, which did have music.

 

I mean, I don't think it's crazy to say that if the Jaguar was released with a CD drive, we could have gotten a game more like Battlemorph than Cybermorph.

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I can't wait to get BattleMorph soon. Just played a game of CyberMorph recently. It was a blast!

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44 minutes ago, Keatah said:

We were confused by 64-bit power. What did it all mean? Any dive into tech specs was confusing. The Jag's internal workings didn't make sense to us. With the PlayStation we only had to know about 1 or 2 chips. The PC, essentially 1, the CPU. And later the graphics card.

 

Like it or not it's how myself and other consumers in my area saw it.

 

Absolutely 100% correct.

 

We were just developing an awareness of what a liability, a trojan horse, custom chips were becoming. And the Jag was no exception. The many system blocks seemed to have too many rules of what could and couldn't be done. 

 

The system felt like it was patched together. And each patch added performance, only to be limited by the exceptions caused by how that chip/patch was inserted in to the overall system. You can now do this, but not this this and this. Lots of internal friction.

 

The seemingly scattershot arrangement of RAM, memory on the custom chips, the varying bus widths, multiple processors running at different speeds.. none of that was creating a clean architecture.

Yes, 99.9% of people who buy video games consoles understand and care deeply about the internal architecture of the machine. That's why everybody bought the Dreamcast instead of the PS2. And the even quirkier architecture of the PS3 was obviously a total commercial failure.

 

Those fantasy threads are amazing. Truly amazing.

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57 minutes ago, Zerosquare said:

Yes, 99.9% of people who buy video games consoles understand and care deeply about the internal architecture of the machine.

Clearly I was more typical than I thought 😋

 

I did care deeply about the internal architecture, though to say I understood it would be a lie. Regardless, it was this pursuit of specs that always left me with the "wrong" consoles: SNES instead of Genesis, Saturn instead of Playstation, then Riva TNT instead of Voodoo 2 on PC. That last one worked out OK in the long run, but everyone else was playing Unreal with smooth framerates while mine jumped all over the place because I chased windowed 3D and 32-bit color support.

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Anything Atari released after the 2nd or 3rd iteration of the 8-bit lineup was unnecessary and redundant. That's where the innovation seemed to slow down or stop entirely. Business was finally getting in the way of artistic expression through technology.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Spider-Dan said:

This doesn't mesh with the real-world CD games that we did get, though, which did have music.

 

I mean, I don't think it's crazy to say that if the Jaguar was released with a CD drive, we could have gotten a game more like Battlemorph than Cybermorph.

 

That's possible, but to be honest if the Jaguar system overall (including its games) had another 6-12 months in the oven, so that they released in mid to late 1994, then Cybermorph itself would have been more polished. As cool as the game turned out, it was still rushed to make the system launch in 1993.

 

Battlemorph not only benefited from the CD format, but also from the additional time. The developers could look back on their previous work, and apply new techniques. This, along with a longer development schedule, led to a greatly improved sequel.

 

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2 hours ago, Zerosquare said:

Yes, 99.9% of people who buy video games consoles understand and care deeply about the internal architecture of the machine.

I'm sure they do.. Woot!

 

1 hour ago, cubanismo said:

Clearly I was more typical than I thought 😋

 

I did care deeply about the internal architecture, though to say I understood it would be a lie. Regardless, it was this pursuit of specs that always left me with the "wrong" consoles: SNES instead of Genesis, Saturn instead of Playstation..

I didn't understand half of it either. Just kinda knew when something was "right" in the market and when not. If it felt right, we got into it. If not, ohh well.

 

Part of the problem with specs on consoles is manufacturers know how to play the game and appeal to the 1% of gamers that do make decisions based on them.

 

I made that exact mistake, playing specmanship, when I got a 3D0. Another waste of $500. For what? A load of FMV? No thanks.

 

1 hour ago, cubanismo said:

..then Riva TNT instead of Voodoo 2 on PC. That last one worked out OK in the long run, but everyone else was playing Unreal with smooth framerates while mine jumped all over the place because I chased windowed 3D and 32-bit color support.

Yes. The Riva TNT felt like a bastard to me. I got one as a gift for a relative. And thank god they only used it in Windows 95/98 and not any 2D DOS gaming. The TNT (or the BIOS on the specific card I got) was kinda lame and had some sort of weird issue with wanting to use 15BPP instead of 16BPP in some games - resulting in too many pixels being pink. I like to think it was the BIOS. But that's all rotting in a landfill now.

 

The TNT could  compete with a Voodoo. But not a Voodoo2. Though a TNT2 Ultra could. No problem. Windowed 2D/3D on the same board, 32-bit support, 32MB RAM, VIVO, fast DOS.. Nvidia kicked the shit out of 3DFx. Because of those very features. And not gamerz raw FPS or anything.

 

Some 30 years later, today, it's still best to look at features and capabilities rather than speed and hard numbers. So don't feel bad about lesser framerates. Ha!

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1 hour ago, Keatah said:

Anything Atari released after the 2nd or 3rd iteration of the 8-bit lineup was unnecessary and redundant. That's where the innovation seemed to slow down or stop entirely. Business was finally getting in the way of artistic expression through technology.

You're not counting the Lynx here, right?

The Lynx was an incredible piece of hardware with an amazing feature set.  The fact that the Lynx and original Game Boy were released within 6 months of each other is frankly shocking.

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Hadn't even thought about it. Handhelds are pretty much in their own category away from consoles & computers.

 

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6 hours ago, Spider-Dan said:

You're not counting the Lynx here, right?

The Lynx was an incredible piece of hardware with an amazing feature set.  The fact that the Lynx and original Game Boy were released within 6 months of each other is frankly shocking.

The Lynx thing is interesting. Putting aside its external origins, it's the last time Atari released a system that was unequivocally the most technically advanced in its category in all ways. It's interesting to consider what a "better" videogame company could have done with the hardware software-wise (and it can be argued that the quality of the software was uneven post Epyx-originated launch titles), but of course it can also be argued that the size and form factor were as much its downfalls as the lack of big-name software. In other words, its well-known that the Game Boy had a ton of shortcomings, but besides having the ideal software catalog, it also had the ideal portability and battery life for its time. The Game Gear line sold roughly 1/10 of what the Game Boy line (through the Color) sold, while the Lynx line sold roughly 1/3 of what the Game Gear line did. They sold in a way that was an inverse of the relative hardware power and more directly correlated to their relative portability and of course depth and breadth of the software libraries. 

 

To tie this back to the Jaguar, we know that Atari's strategy of forcing the type of 3D it couldn't handle on the hardware was not a winning one. Would it have fared better pushing mostly high-powered 2D stuff, a la the Neo Geo, which, despite its high price sold 4 times as many systems in it AES and CD forms? Maybe a little better, but then that goes back to the Atari Lynx thing. Was Atari even capable of developing and publishing such games? Probably not. Was the Jaguar capable of even generating such 2D content given some of its inherent technical limitations? Maybe not.

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8 hours ago, Keatah said:

Hadn't even thought about it. Handhelds are pretty much in their own category away from consoles & computers.

 

Not sure why graphic cards like Vodoo and TNT are mashed up with consoles then. Handhelds are portable consoles.

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14 hours ago, Keatah said:

We were becoming interested in PC's. Machines that were seemingly infinitely expandable and simple to understand. It was all about MHz then and for the next decade. A simple metric. And real 3D acceleration was getting under way. So our attention was there. Between PlayStation and PC.

I found the Jaguar on clearance.   At $49, it was worth a look.   Another $49 for the CD unit.   But this was also at the time I was getting into PC.

 

I had a few fun games for the Jag,  some mediocre ones.   The biggest problem I had was space.   I was engaged but not married yet, not living on my own yet.    The Jaguar was in the way.   So I started seeing which Jaguar games I could get on PC and sold the Jaguar.

 

14 hours ago, Keatah said:

8- We were confused by 64-bit power. What did it all mean? Any dive into tech specs was confusing. The Jag's internal workings didn't make sense to us. With the PlayStation we only had to know about 1 or 2 chips. The PC, essentially 1, the CPU. And later the graphics card.

Atari told us to "Do the Math".   Well I did the math and I could not make it add up to 64-bit,  and I was in a Computer Science program learning about about system architectures at the time!   I could make a more convincing argument that the ST and other 68000-based computers were actually 32-bit than I could for the Jag being 64-bit.  

In general, measuring computing power in bits is snake oil, it doesn't mean much because different system components use different bit-widths. 

Atari was arguing the bus width made it 64-bit,  but for everything else we measure it based on the CPU.   There's no standard on this.

 

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13 hours ago, Zerosquare said:

Yes, 99.9% of people who buy video games consoles understand and care deeply about the internal architecture of the machine. That's why everybody bought the Dreamcast instead of the PS2. And the even quirkier architecture of the PS3 was obviously a total commercial failure.

Normally I'd agree here.   But Atari made "64 bit" such a big part of Jaguar marketing that it's a fair critique in this case.

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, zzip said:

Normally I'd agree here.   But Atari made "64 bit" such a big part of Jaguar marketing that it's a fair critique in this case.

You missed the point here. Ataris marketing failed because consoles are not sold by specs and numbers on paper. Unlike a PC. 99% buy consoles to play the games they want to play. Most people don't care about the internals and how they work. The Jaguar did not live up to the 64 bit hype because there were not enough great games to justify a purchase. 

PC and consoles are like apples and oranges, and consumers are totally different. Consoles are entertainment products, you don't need to be tech savy to use them and have fun. Nobody bought a NES or SNES because of abstract specs and ideas, but to play Mario games. 

While the Jag was 4x more powerful than a stock SNES, the SNES delivered more spectacular games like Donkey Kong Country and Yoshis Island. Specs do not matter, unless you have the better games to prove it.  

Edited by agradeneu
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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Bill Loguidice said:

The Lynx thing is interesting. Putting aside its external origins, it's the last time Atari released a system that was unequivocally the most technically advanced in its category in all ways. It's interesting to consider what a "better" videogame company could have done with the hardware software-wise (and it can be argued that the quality of the software was uneven post Epyx-originated launch titles), but of course it can also be argued that the size and form factor were as much its downfalls as the lack of big-name software. In other words, its well-known that the Game Boy had a ton of shortcomings, but besides having the ideal software catalog, it also had the ideal portability and battery life for its time. The Game Gear line sold roughly 1/10 of what the Game Boy line (through the Color) sold, while the Lynx line sold roughly 1/3 of what the Game Gear line did. They sold in a way that was an inverse of the relative hardware power and more directly correlated to their relative portability and of course depth and breadth of the software libraries. 

 

To tie this back to the Jaguar, we know that Atari's strategy of forcing the type of 3D it couldn't handle on the hardware was not a winning one. Would it have fared better pushing mostly high-powered 2D stuff, a la the Neo Geo, which, despite its high price sold 4 times as many systems in it AES and CD forms? Maybe a little better, but then that goes back to the Atari Lynx thing. Was Atari even capable of developing and publishing such games? Probably not. Was the Jaguar capable of even generating such 2D content given some of its inherent technical limitations? Maybe not.

The Jag was designed to be good for 2D and 3D. The focus for 3D was gouraud shading and CRY color mode, not texture mapping.

As far as the 2D content goes, the technical limitations were not the issue here, especially in comparison with the NEO GEO.

The hardware is perfectly capable to achieve similar and better games in terms of 2D shmups, fighting games, Platform games  etc.

Edited by agradeneu
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3 hours ago, agradeneu said:

Not sure why graphic cards like Vodoo and TNT are mashed up with consoles then. Handhelds are portable consoles.

Not sure either. It was mentioned. I responded.

 

Today consoles and PCs are compared. Back then there was more separation, but both were stationary in-home units that sat in front of a monitor or television..

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The issue was the lack of games.  If adding a CD drive from day 1 would have enticed more 3rd party developers to make awesome games, that would have been very helpful.  It seems like that would have helped given what happened with the 3DO.  However in the end, 3DO failed too despite having many cool first party games.  The only thing that would really have saved the Jaguar would have been a ton of awesome exclusive games from Atari.  That's pretty much how every successful console has worked - strong first party titles.

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13 hours ago, Spider-Dan said:

The fact that the Lynx and original Game Boy were released within 6 months of each other is frankly shocking.

I don't think it is. As Bill explained above, Nintendo didn't create the Game Boy less powerful than the Lynx because they were unable to do better. They actually considered a color screen, but realized it would have been a mistake. And they were right.

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1 hour ago, MikeA said:

The issue was the lack of games.  If adding a CD drive from day 1 would have enticed more 3rd party developers to make awesome games, that would have been very helpful.  It seems like that would have helped given what happened with the 3DO.  However in the end, 3DO failed too despite having many cool first party games.  The only thing that would really have saved the Jaguar would have been a ton of awesome exclusive games from Atari.  That's pretty much how every successful console has worked - strong first party titles.

 

Testify. I procured Jag used in August 1994 from friend who fell for my endless Atari hype. The only game that interested him (or me) at that point was T2K and he was tired of waiting. Indeed, I had to wait for October for game that interested me, AvP. Atari released 11 games in first 11 months. That can be summed in two words: Puh Thetic.

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On 7/26/2021 at 11:17 PM, Zerosquare said:

 And the even quirkier architecture of the PS3 was obviously a total commercial failure.

This is funny because the PS3 was literally a commercial failure.

 

7 hours ago, roots.genoa said:

I don't think it is. As Bill explained above, Nintendo didn't create the Game Boy less powerful than the Lynx because they were unable to do better. They actually considered a color screen, but realized it would have been a mistake. And they were right.

Actually they were not able to do better based on what was available but Nintendo didn't know that at the time, and Nintendo was aware of the high costs of color screens, and back lights, Atari only really got that through connections and they still couldn't get the price down fast enough, in fact for some time they raised the price temporarily 

 

11 hours ago, agradeneu said:

You missed the point here. Ataris marketing failed because consoles are not sold by specs and numbers on paper. Unlike a PC. 99% buy consoles to play the games they want to play. Most people don't care about the internals and how they work. The Jaguar did not live up to the 64 bit hype because there were not enough great games to justify a purchase. 

PC and consoles are like apples and oranges, and consumers are totally different. Consoles are entertainment products, you don't need to be tech savy to use them and have fun. Nobody bought a NES or SNES because of abstract specs and ideas, but to play Mario games. 

While the Jag was 4x more powerful than a stock SNES, the SNES delivered more spectacular games like Donkey Kong Country and Yoshis Island. Specs do not matter, unless you have the better games to prove it.  

You shouldn't forget about the N64(in America) just because that strategy didn't work with the Jaguar. 

 

22 hours ago, Agent X said:

 

That's possible, but to be honest if the Jaguar system overall (including its games) had another 6-12 months in the oven, so that they released in mid to late 1994, then Cybermorph itself would have been more polished. As cool as the game turned out, it was still rushed to make the system launch in 1993.

 

Battlemorph not only benefited from the CD format, but also from the additional time. The developers could look back on their previous work, and apply new techniques. This, along with a longer development schedule, led to a greatly improved sequel.

 

They did release in mid to late 94. 1993 is misinformation, they pushed it back to test launch the console after burning bridges to see if they could convince devs to give them support which sort of worked, but then with how quickly Atari dropped the ball any contracts that weren't already signed for 95 bailed.

 

22 hours ago, Keatah said:

Anything Atari released after the 2nd or 3rd iteration of the 8-bit lineup was unnecessary and redundant. That's where the innovation seemed to slow down or stop entirely. Business was finally getting in the way of artistic expression through technology.

 

 

ST was pretty important, and XE was the third iteration of 8-buts I thought.

 

..

 

...

 

Separately responding to another comment but in general, there seems to be a revisionist belief for japanese games and "expectations" in the past generally, yet every successful multinational console (success being relevance) sans Nintendo consoles has more Western titles in it's top best sellers than Japanese. Ive noticed more people pointing this out, it's strange. I've always wondered in regards to where people get this from, I suppose just loud fans.

 

But when discussing the Jaguar japanese support isn't relevant, this would imply it had great western support in the first place (and it did have some Japanese titles) but when the good games of those kind are scatter shot in release dates so it has little impact on reception, they dont mean much. Issue is the Jaguar had poor support in general.

 

It's actually why it's library is harshly received, because bad games are a 4th of the library and combining that with mediocre games or games that only appeal to nicher tastes that's a bit over half the library.

 

For every Iron Soldier or Japan wise, Raiden, there are 3 or 4 boxcat Club Drives 

 

What's hilarious about Club Drive is it's a pretty ambitious 3D open driving game with platform stunts and exploration, but it fails due to bad texture attempts and a rushed 3D engine with flat ms paint colors that just makes everything look terrible. Also it could lose to a snail in sense of speed. 

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12 hours ago, Editorb said:

 

Testify. I procured Jag used in August 1994 from friend who fell for my endless Atari hype. The only game that interested him (or me) at that point was T2K and he was tired of waiting. Indeed, I had to wait for October for game that interested me, AvP. Atari released 11 games in first 11 months. That can be summed in two words: Puh Thetic.

Nothing would of changed outside, of higher initial price.  This would of made 3D0 a more attractive console, because Atari best case would of launched 500 range, they tried to be price leaders and both Jag and cd launched 249, so believing a cheaper version minus cart slot, and it would have to have cart slot to save games like Saturn.

 

Saying that, your game library would be the same, maybe a few tweaks in games, that Atari forced to downgrade to fit in 2meg carts.  Otherwise it's the same cash strapped Atari, trying to get games out. (Fmv games that were just ports, dragons lair, space ace, maddog) could of popped up in 94, outside of that who is Atari getting to Port games to a cd version of the system.

 

Atari still has the problems of 94, they couldn't produce enough systems to supply, Europe or the early part of launch, once they got rolling and could make systems in late 95, they basically spend all their money on distribution none on advertising get killed by Sony and sega, get everything sent back to them from a Wal-Mart deal that went bad.

 

The only 2 changes are, cds are cheaper to make so hit games they can produce more of, vs money loss on pressing carts nobody wanted.

 

Otherwise, history is the same other than jack getting a fatter pay out with reverse merger.

 

Only way, Atari may of changed things was a Panther launch 92, it wouldn't win, but turbo16 was on way out, sega and Nintendo was duking it out, it could of been cheap 32bit, 3do would launch 700 a year later, Atari would have foot in door, they could of survived 4 years in 3rd place.

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22 hours ago, Editorb said:

 

Testify. I procured Jag used in August 1994 from friend who fell for my endless Atari hype. The only game that interested him (or me) at that point was T2K and he was tired of waiting. Indeed, I had to wait for October for game that interested me, AvP. Atari released 11 games in first 11 months. That can be summed in two words: Puh Thetic.

I lived in SF as a kid and I received my childhood Jaguar for Christmas 1993 along with Cybermorph and Trevor McFur.  I remember being bummed that no other games were out yet.  I bought Raiden as soon as it came out as I loved the arcade version.  It was the first awesome Jaguar experience I had.  I remember Dino Dudes trickling out a little bit later but being impossible to find.  I bought that and liked it as a Lemmings style game, but it was the most shocking game yet in that the graphics were undoubtedly 16 bit quality. I recall waiting for Tempest 2000 to come out, but believe it or not I passed on it, thinking I didn't want to play some retro 80s game in the polygon heavy 90s.  Christmas 1994 I received AvP.  It blew my mind.  It was the best FPS I had ever played, even though it has aged very poorly.  I thought that the visual of the Alien creature were the single best video game graphic I had seen up until that point in my life. I knew that although it had been a tough first year, the Jaguar had great things to come.

 

1995 was tough.  Nothing interested me that was released.  Us Jag fans were dreaming of Defender 2K, Battlesphere, and the sure to be mind blowing Fight For Life.  Super Burn Out, Power Drive Rally, and Atari Karts were roundly panned by gaming media as 16 bit looking imitations, so I never bothered to play them back then.  Funny how now I think those are 3 of the best games on the console! 

 

September 1995 came and the PS1 was the hottest thing on the market.  I took all my Jaguar stuff and traded it away to pay for my PS1.  I wish I had saved up for the PS1 and saved my Jaguar, but alas I did not.

 

Looking at the console's entire library now is a bit misleading to how it felt at the time.  Many of the games were released at the very end or weren't highly regarded at the time but have aged quite well.  The CD player or lack thereof had little to do with it.  The investment of money, time, and energy into the CD drive might very well have been part of the problem in that it took away from game development.

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On 7/22/2021 at 9:11 PM, Leeroy ST said:

Atari Jaguars failure is directly responsible for the success of the 3DO.

20 hours ago, Leeroy ST said:

This is funny because the PS3 was literally a commercial failure.

I see. Say, what color is the sky in your world?

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Posted (edited)
On 7/27/2021 at 11:50 AM, zzip said:

I found the Jaguar on clearance.   At $49, it was worth a look.   Another $49 for the CD unit.   But this was also at the time I was getting into PC.

 

I had a few fun games for the Jag,  some mediocre ones.   The biggest problem I had was space.   I was engaged but not married yet, not living on my own yet.    The Jaguar was in the way.   So I started seeing which Jaguar games I could get on PC and sold the Jaguar.

 

Atari told us to "Do the Math".   Well I did the math and I could not make it add up to 64-bit,  and I was in a Computer Science program learning about about system architectures at the time!   I could make a more convincing argument that the ST and other 68000-based computers were actually 32-bit than I could for the Jag being 64-bit.  

In general, measuring computing power in bits is snake oil, it doesn't mean much because different system components use different bit-widths. 

Atari was arguing the bus width made it 64-bit,  but for everything else we measure it based on the CPU.   There's no standard on this.

 

Well... It had a 64bit programmable Blitter; not neccessarily a full fledged processor in the truest since, but can be controlled by any of the other 32bit processors... According to Atari, because of the Blitter being 64bit sitting on a 64bit BUS, "The Jaguar is 64bits when it needs to be and 32bits when it needs to be" with the "Motorola 68000" to give the programmer a "Warm and fuzzy feeling..." for those who are familiar with just programming with the M68K... One could just use the Motorola and the Object processor to just make 2D games thus it would directly compete with the SNES and Genesis that way.

Edited by philipj

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On 7/28/2021 at 5:34 AM, Leeroy ST said:

This is funny because the PS3 was literally a commercial failure.

Yeah 87.4 million units sold is a failure, coming in 7th in all time sales ( sandwiched between the Wii and the Switch ). I still have two as blu-ray players, media service clients  and for a bit gaming (black ops 1 & two and battleield :) ).

 

Atari would have loved that kind of failure.

 

Back to the original question i'd say the jag didn't have a CD at release due to price and CD not being a console 'thing' when the jag was initialy designed.

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