(Video) Check out this BBC Archive footage of the N64’s impending release in Europe

by Martin Watts, 29 February 2020

BBC news footage of the N64's launch in Europe.

This weekend marks the 23rd anniversary of the N64’s launch in Europe. To celebrate, BBC Archive has shared news footage from a 1997 episode of Working Lunch, covering the lead-up to its release.

Predicting the future of gaming

It’s interesting to go back and see just how much anticipation there was for the N64. Some of the views people had on how successful the console would be turned out to be rather wrong.

One industry professional believed the N64 would become the dominant platform of its generation, purely because of how powerful the system was.

He also questioned whether there was room for three competitors in the console market. (At this point, Sony, Sega and Nintendo were all producing games hardware).

Mario doing the peace sign after completing a star mission in Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 was one of three N64 launch games in Europe.

Of course, history has shown otherwise. Sony’s PlayStation outsold the N64 by three to one. And while Sega did eventually stop creating consoles in 2001, there has always been three main hardware competitors ever since. (Microsoft entered the console market with its first Xbox in 2001.)

Even more alarming is the prediction at the time that sales of games consoles would peak in 1999. Safe to say, that certainly didn’t happen.

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (N64) title screen
Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was an N64 launch game in Europe.

Fierce competition

One thing that’s clear from this footage is just how cutthroat the industry was at this time. Just as the N64 released in the UK, Sony reduced the price of the PlayStation to £129. The N64 released at £249 – nearly double the cost.

The N64 also faced stiff competition when it came to software prices.

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, which came out 3 days after the N64 release date in Europe
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter sold for as much as £70 when it released on 4 March 1997.

The cheapest N64 game at release was £49. At the same time, Sony introduced its Platinum range of games at £19.99 each – a steal by comparison.

And while the Sega Saturn didn’t receive a price cut in the wake of the N64’s release, every console did come with a free game. Even then, it was still £50 cheaper than the N64.

Do you remember the N64’s launch in Europe?

Share your memories with me on Twitter or Facebook. And if you weren’t around at the time, what surprises or intrigues you the most about this old footage?

Charcoal black Nintendo 64 console with grey controller.

Want to know more about when the N64 came out?

Check out my post on all the N64’s release dates and prices by region.