The Success Of Sony And Nintendo Consoles Media
In recent years the west has seen Japan become a huge driving factor in the gaming industry, with manufacturers like Sony and Nintendo dominating the industry through unprecedented sales of consoles and games; as a result Japan has become the basis for many of the great franchises and games that exist today in the United States and Europe. Nintendo the company which originally started as a card company, has become one of the most influential companies in the gaming industry, according to Reuters Japan's third-most valuable listed company (Reuters: Takenaka, Kiyoshi, 2007)
Sony and Nintendo both began their eminence of the west in the 90's with the release of their consoles Playstation (1994) and Nintendo's N64(1996),although both consoles proved to be successful the generation also marked the beginning of Nintendo's fall from power as the number one video game system manufacturer (Shaw, 2007). Nintendo had been very prominent in dominating the gaming industry before manufacturers like Sony with its previous generation of consoles. According to (Karen E. Dill, 1998, pp. 407-428) Nintendo, sold an average of three games every second of the 12 years from 1983 to 1995 for a total ofÂ one billionÂ games sold, and franchises such as Zelda and Mario which is its bestselling video game franchise to date helped sustain the company's dominance. However, (Shaw, 2007, p. 4) states that despite these titles and a few other large titles, there was not a large amount of third party developer support which meant there was not a constant stream of games. Sony had launched the PlayStation in both Japan and America a while before Nintendo put out the Nintendo 64, so the company was already establishing a strong library of games with a consistent flow of strong titles (Shaw, 2007) such as Final Fantasy VII (Square Enix).
Nintendos support from third party supporters had declined during the 90's with the launch of the Playstation, as some developers outlined the high cost of making Nintendos 64 bit cartridges compared to Sonys CD-rom. By 1998, the Sony PlayStation outsold the N64 by a ratio of 10 to 1. In addition, whereas Nintendo did much of its software development in-house, Sony used its status in the electronics industry to establish strong relationships developers such as Square Enix (R. Duane Ireland, 2008).
It was only until the release of Nintendo's handheld consoles such as the Game boy and the Game boy colour series, which brought new light to the company with the emergence of the video game Pokémon.
Pokémon created by Satoshi Tajiri not only became the best selling game on the Gameboy console, but it helped drive Nintendo's profits across the board along with other large titles such as Zelda and Mario, making it become its second most lucrative video game based franchise. (Boyes & Independent, 2007)
The franchise has also become one of the most successful Japanese franchises because it has managed to use film, game, comic and web content to tell the story and to interlink the franchise. Pokémon which originally started as a pair of game boy games transitioned to multiplatform such as television shows, feature films, merchandising and internet communities. It has capitalized the western market by the way it has released its content on various media. Pokémon still continues its unprecedented success through transmedia storytelling as (Jenkins, technologyreview.com, 2003) states any product of the franchise gives a point of entry into the franchise as a whole, so new generations of fans can understand the story through the game, the film or any product of the franchise.
(Derusha & Acereda, 2004, p. 10) states that Nintendo seem to have had no plan or aspiration forÂ Pokémon beyond developing anotherÂ successfulÂ Game BoyÂ product, but with the number of game sales increasing in both Japan and America, they decided to the launch an anime. Unlike cartoons in the west, anime in Japan is a mainstream pop cultural phenomenon (Napier, 2001, p. 130) so Pokémon's success was imminent largely due to the fact that it required less cultural adaptation than in the USA.
The original series first aired in Japan April 1997 has since become one of the most successful children's television programs ever broadcast since launching outside of Japan in September 1998.The anime licensed by 4kids entertainment and Pokémon USA has spawned 12 generations and still continues to run, although it has gained success there were a few adaptation problems. Adaptation problems were imminent due to cultural differences between the east and the west, according to (Oehlkers, 2002) Pokemon was not merely a video game but a "cultural phenomenon," so its introduction needed to be planned extremely carefully.
The promotion and marketing for the products had to be altered in order for them to effectively ease on to the American market in order to promote awareness of the brand. Using (Oehlkers, 2002) example the original Japanese games came in two versions, "Red" and "Green."Â The American versions came in "Red" and "Blue" varieties.Â This appears to be due to the more common use of these colours in the U.S. to represent opposition and the perception that blue is a more popular colour than green. This is one forms of adaptation that were applied to the products for the American market.
As for the animated TV show it had to take the same steps to ensure that it would gather the attention of the American audience. The adaptation of an animated cartoon, with cultural differences, between the country of origin and another country involves translation to a new cultural context such as the omission of Japanese references, narration and dialogue. Although the content itself might need changing to some degree, In (Oehlkers, 2002) case study previous 4kids President Norman Grossfeld is quoted saying we looked at Pokémon and said, let's make this an American show for American kids. (National Public Radio, 1999 March 6). So differences would have been expected between the American version and original anime, although few things stayed relatively the same, such as plots and animation style which was still true to its Japanese origins.
The release of the first Pokémon movie in 1999 further underlined Pokémon's success and established it as a global phenomenon. The film earned an impressive $52 million in five days upon its release (The Anime Underground, 2000),the release of the film brought another form of participation for fans with the introduction of trading cards. The cards promoted more involvement for kids and they became an important factor in sustaining the franchise but, the emergence of Yugi-oh and Digimon was largely due to Pokémon's success in the west in pioneering the way for them to follow. Although Digimon was not well received by America, Pokémon and Yugi-oh earned comparison in similarities in their ability to invite children to collect, acquire, recombine, and enact stories within their peer networks, trading cards, information, and monsters (Sefton-Green, 2004). Upon the release of the second Pokémon film there was a evident that the Pokémon fan base was in decline as the films struggled in continuing to gain much success globally. Pokémons decline was largely due to the fact that each new release did not alter the experience, each new medium in the franchise did not seem to have a drastic change. The success of Yugi-oh was established by capitalizing on a much older audience than Pokémon. (Ito, 2002) e.g. states that unlike Pokémon, the monsters in Yugi-oh inhabit the everyday world of Yugi and his peers in the form of trading cards that the players carry with them in their ongoing adventures.
Nintendo's marketing for Pokémon was largely to focus on young children; (Derusha & Acereda, 2004)states that they targeted a sector with less competition with their rival Sony who was excluded by market appeals with titles such as Final Fantasy who were for a much more mature audience. This became much more evident with Nintendos' continuous success with sales of the Game boy driven by the Pokémon franchise. They primarily focussed on attracting new fans rather than trying to satisfy previous generation of fans e.g. (Oehlkers, 2002) By focussing on children parents become indirect targets, being influenced by their children to buy Pokémon related products. This in turn sustains sales of merchandise and products. This was incremental to sustaining the franchise given that the films were no longer sustaining popularity, although they still managed to produce success and receive income on the Japanese box office.
Although the arrival of Yugi-oh in 2001 was said to have overtaken Pokémon in popularity (Paula S. Fass (Foreword), 2008) it is unknown whether it had taken a majority of Pokémons fan base. Yugioh however relied on cross referencing between the serialized manga, a TV anime series, a card game, video games, occasional movie releases, and a surplus of character merchandise according to (Ito, Mobilizing the Imagination in Everyday Play:The Case of Japanese Media Mixes, 2006). This later led to the decline of the franchise as it failed to gain success on various platforms such as movie releases and games.
It continued its success as a card game with total sales of the Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game announced to have exceeded 22.5 billion cards, making it the top selling trading card game in the world. (Konami, 2009)
Since Yugioh was originally a manga the actual card game was established from the central content of the narrative itself. In comparison to Pokémon, as a video game based franchise the games are only loosely tied to the narrative media by character identification, which makes any single medium an entry point into the franchise. (Ito, Mobilizing the Imagination in Everyday Play:The Case of Japanese Media Mixes, 2006) states that Yugi-oh in addition to its narrative and character development. It follows some of the formulas established by Pokémon, which upon its release made some perceive Yugi-oh and its counterpart Digimon to have borrowed heavily parts of the concept of Pokémon.
Although Yugi-oh still continues to gain popularity as trading card game, it has since discontinued with its production and running of its TV Anime series and along with Digimon launching online trading card games to sustain previous generation of fans. Pokémon now in its twelfth generation continues to run as the longest running television series based on a video game and the longest running show ever on American network (WB, 2006).
With the release of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl in September 2007 for the Nintendo DS platform with estimated sales 17.39 million (Nintendo, 2008), the games are still proving to be successful in drawing in new generation of fans. Pokémons transition into the west and becoming a global phenomenon has helped Nintendo overcome competitors like Sony and continued to establish its dominance in the game industry by holding a strong share in the handheld market place since 2001. With the success of release of the Nintendo DS Lite (August E. Grant, 2006) states the transition from the sixth to seventh generation era video game is being characterized by the development and universal application to the handheld unit.
Nintendo has driven the marketing for its products such as Pokémon for its primary audience which are children. In comparison to other video game based franchises such as the RPG Final Fantasy, the release of each new game just adds a few advancing functions while introducing a given number of new Pokémon, but the concept remains the same making it easier for both new and old generations to play (Derusha & Acereda, 2004). Each new release does not alter the experience while memorabilia still remains of high value particularly among first generation of fans.
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