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).
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.
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.
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?
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.