Console wars Sega, Nintendo, and the battle that defined a generation

Blake J. Harris

Book - 2014

"In the tradition of The Accidental Billionaires and Moneyball, a behind-the-scenes business thriller about how the small, scrappy Sega, led by one unlikely visionary, took on the juggernaut Nintendo and changed the face of entertainment"--

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2nd Floor 794.8/Harris Due May 20, 2022
Subjects
Published
New York, NY : It Books 2014.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xv, 558 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations ; 24 cm
ISBN
9780062276698
0062276697
9780062276704
0062276700
Main Author
Blake J. Harris (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* At the dawn of the 1990s, Nintendo was the Goliath of the video-game industry. The company's strictures on third-party development and its policy of understocking retailers contributed to the stranglehold on the market. But Tom Kalinske, who had rejuvenated Barbie and created He-Man for Mattel, was about to change that as the president and CEO of Sega. Like the pixels that together create a larger picture, Harris presents the various elements of the business in vivid color, from research and development to marketing, to show how Sega went from a joke to a market leader in just a few years. Along the way, Harris reveals the forces behind such decisions as Nintendo changing red blood to gray sweat in Mortal Kombat; the origin story of the nickname for Sonic's sidekick, Tails; and even how Mario was supposed to be a certain spinach-guzzling sailor, in a manner that will engage both Gen X gamers and business-minded readers. Harris defines the players immediately, honing in on their most notable characteristics, and puts the reader in the thick of the meetings and deal-making with a confidence stemming from hundreds of interviews. Pegged for both documentary and feature-film adaptations, Console Wars is remarkably detailed and fast paced, pitting speedy Sonic against more-of-the-same Mario in a blow-by-blow account of the battle for supremacy in the burgeoning video-game industry. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Anyone who grew up in the late 1980s and early 1990s and had an interest in video games has likely some awareness of the console wars, which author and filmmaker Harris (12 Dates of Christmas) briefly covers here with verve. What such readers may not be as familiar with are the details of the business dealings, risky maneuvers, and all-out corporate warfare underlying so many staples of childhood. This book will either ruin memories or shed new light on them, but either way Harris's well-researched volume is compulsively readable, even if his portrayal of the people involved stays relatively superficial. While the book will appeal most strongly to those who cut their teeth on the classics of the 8- and 16-bit era of video games, Harris's robust discussions of the origins of such pop culture icons as Mario and Sonic—and the complex theater of business machinations—make for equally captivating reading, though at least a passing knowledge of the industry is necessary to appreciate truly the story he tells. VERDICT Nostalgic twenty- and thirtysomethings will likely devour this book, but it's also a solid pick for anyone interested in the video game industry.—M. Brandon Robbins, Goldsboro H.S., NC [Page 110]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In this engaging narrative, film director Harris (Such Great Heights) recounts one of the fundamental pop culture rivalries of the ‘90s, the so-called "Console Wars," which saw Sega and Nintendo vying for market dominance in the early days of the home entertainment console industry. Harris portrays Nintendo as the distinguished incumbent, obsessed with quality control and perfection, while Sega is painted as the ambitious upstart willing to rewrite the rules of engagement. At the heart of it all is underdog businessman Tom Kalinske. While not the only primary character, it's his efforts to make Sega of America into a viable operation and a serious contender that drives much of the book. Harris covers all sides of the ongoing conflict (including the arrival of third party Sony) with cunning thoroughness, turning hundreds of interviews into a riveting story full of colorful characters. While the story is presented as a series of contrasts—Nintendo Entertainment System vs. Sega Genesis, Mario vs. Sonic, 8-bit vs. 16-bit vs. 32-bit—it's also a fascinating, even illuminating, history of the video game industry as seen through the experiences of two influential companies and a host of participants, ending with the advent of the fifth generation consoles, and Kalinske's resignation in 1996. This is an essential read for any interested in the evolution of video games, and the rise and fall of Sega as a console contender. Agent: Alex Glass, Trident Media Group. (May) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by PW Annex Reviews

In this engaging narrative, film director Harris (Such Great Heights) recounts one of the fundamental pop culture rivalries of the ‘90s, the so-called "Console Wars," which saw Sega and Nintendo vying for market dominance in the early days of the home entertainment console industry. Harris portrays Nintendo as the distinguished incumbent, obsessed with quality control and perfection, while Sega is painted as the ambitious upstart willing to rewrite the rules of engagement. At the heart of it all is underdog businessman Tom Kalinske. While not the only primary character, it's his efforts to make Sega of America into a viable operation and a serious contender that drives much of the book. Harris covers all sides of the ongoing conflict (including the arrival of third party Sony) with cunning thoroughness, turning hundreds of interviews into a riveting story full of colorful characters. While the story is presented as a series of contrasts—Nintendo Entertainment System vs. Sega Genesis, Mario vs. Sonic, 8-bit vs. 16-bit vs. 32-bit—it's also a fascinating, even illuminating, history of the video game industry as seen through the experiences of two influential companies and a host of participants, ending with the advent of the fifth generation consoles, and Kalinske's resignation in 1996. This is an essential read for any interested in the evolution of video games, and the rise and fall of Sega as a console contender. Agent: Alex Glass, Trident Media Group. (May) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Chronicles how Sega--a small, scrappy gaming company led by an unlikely visionary and a team of rebels--took on the juggernaut Nintendo and revolutionized the video game industry.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"In the tradition of The Accidental Billionaires and Moneyball, a behind-the-scenes business thriller about how the small, scrappy Sega, led by one unlikely visionary, took on the juggernaut Nintendo and changed the face of entertainment"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Drawing on interviews with former Sega and Nintendo employees, an underdog story follows the unconventional man who, despite the fact that he knew nothing about videogames, transformed Sega into a $60 billion industry, took on Nintendo and revolutionized the video game industry. 75,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

NOW A CBS ALL ACCESS FILM, PRODUCED BY SETH ROGEN AND EVAN GOLDBERGA BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: NPR, Slate, Publishers Weekly, GoodreadsFollowing the success of The Accidental Billionaires and Moneyball comes Console Wars'a mesmerizing, behind-the-scenes business thriller that chronicles how Sega, a small, scrappy gaming company led by an unlikely visionary and a team of rebels, took on the juggernaut Nintendo and revolutionized the video game industry.In 1990, Nintendo had a virtual monopoly on the video game industry. Sega, on the other hand, was just a faltering arcade company with big aspirations and even bigger personalities. But that would all change with the arrival of Tom Kalinske, a man who knew nothing about videogames and everything about fighting uphill battles. His unconventional tactics, combined with the blood, sweat and bold ideas of his renegade employees, transformed Sega and eventually led to a ruthless David-and-Goliath showdown with rival Nintendo.The battle was vicious, relentless, and highly profitable, eventually sparking a global corporate war that would be fought on several fronts: from living rooms and schoolyards to boardrooms and Congress. It was a once-in-a-lifetime, no-holds-barred conflict that pitted brother against brother, kid against adult, Sonic against Mario, and the US against Japan.Based on over two hundred interviews with former Sega and Nintendo employees, Console Wars is the underdog tale of how Kalinske miraculously turned an industry punchline into a market leader. It's the story of how a humble family man, with an extraordinary imagination and a gift for turning problems into competitive advantages, inspired a team of underdogs to slay a giant and, as a result, birth a $60 billion dollar industry.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

NOW A CBS ALL ACCESS FILM, PRODUCED BY SETH ROGEN AND EVAN GOLDBERGA BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: NPR, Slate, Publishers Weekly, GoodreadsFollowing the success of The Accidental Billionaires and Moneyball comes Console Wars—a mesmerizing, behind-the-scenes business thriller that chronicles how Sega, a small, scrappy gaming company led by an unlikely visionary and a team of rebels, took on the juggernaut Nintendo and revolutionized the video game industry.In 1990, Nintendo had a virtual monopoly on the video game industry. Sega, on the other hand, was just a faltering arcade company with big aspirations and even bigger personalities. But that would all change with the arrival of Tom Kalinske, a man who knew nothing about videogames and everything about fighting uphill battles. His unconventional tactics, combined with the blood, sweat and bold ideas of his renegade employees, transformed Sega and eventually led to a ruthless David-and-Goliath showdown with rival Nintendo.The battle was vicious, relentless, and highly profitable, eventually sparking a global corporate war that would be fought on several fronts: from living rooms and schoolyards to boardrooms and Congress. It was a once-in-a-lifetime, no-holds-barred conflict that pitted brother against brother, kid against adult, Sonic against Mario, and the US against Japan.Based on over two hundred interviews with former Sega and Nintendo employees, Console Wars is the underdog tale of how Kalinske miraculously turned an industry punchline into a market leader. It’s the story of how a humble family man, with an extraordinary imagination and a gift for turning problems into competitive advantages, inspired a team of underdogs to slay a giant and, as a result, birth a $60 billion dollar industry.