Hey guys, this is my first article of many for RSBANDBInformer! I’ve been working with Shane as the editor for the articles for almost a year now, and I’ve been wanting to write an article, and now seemed like the best time to do it. If you like it, please let me know by leaving a comment or sending me a PM on the forums. I won’t always be working with the same topic, hopefully I can diversify so everyone can read and enjoy the articles. 🙂
1995 – The Year of Gaming
Many people nowadays don’t realize that many of the games they know and love have evolved from concepts that started way back more than 15 years ago. Lots of the greatest games of that time evolved into beloved series that in many cases are still going strong today. Therefore, it is very important to note those new and fragile beginnings.
For me, gaming started way back in the mid 90’s, when I was just a young kid enchanted with all the pretty lights on the screen, whether it was the TV playing old SNES games or our brand spanking new Macintosh Performa computer. I was about 5 then, and little did I know, the gaming industry was under a fully fledged transition from a purely console based market to one that also included personal computers, and great battles were taking place not just in the Mushroom Kingdom, the Warcraft universe, and other iconic gaming settings, but also in the business and digital world.
At that time, Apple and Microsoft were heavily competing, with Apple fully committed to the “AIM Alliance” with IBM and Motorola and promoting the Apple made Power PC line-up with IBM chips. Apple was hoping that the PowerPC build would overrun Microsoft’s PC brand, but that was not to be. The newer PowerPC required more cycles than the equivalent Intel x86 chip in a Microsoft computer needed for a similar task, and thus had to work harder and ran hotter. This had a huge impact on what brand consumers would decide to get.
Apple was going through a very dark time, and Microsoft was just releasing their new OS “Windows 95”, which spelled the end for Mac games, and Mac gamers were forced to switch over to a console or a Microsoft computer if they wished to play newer games. Even Microsoft’s older platform DOS became completely obsolete within a year or two, as developers switched en masse from both Mac and DOS to program for the new Windows 95 system, effectively ending the competition between Apple and Microsoft. Though Apple would be rejuvenated later by a guy called Steve Jobs, Microsoft took a very dominant monopoly in the computing market that still exists to this day, the likes of which have hardly ever been duplicated in business.
In consoles, there was a continuing market share battle between the then 7 year old Sega Mega Drive (known as the Sega Genesis in North America) and the then 5 year old Super Nintendo Entertainment System, hereafter referred to as the SNES. While Sega tried making the transition from the 16 bit Mega Drive to the 32 bit Sega Saturn console as opposed to Nintendo who stuck with the 16 bit SNES, the SNES would be later boosted by some of the best selling and iconic games of the era in 1995, which I will talk about later in the article.
Sega, who was relying on the “Sonic the Hedgehog” brand to keep their sales afloat, never did achieve the penetration into Europe and Japan with the Mega Drive that the SNES did. Compounding Sega’s problems was the fact that the Saturn was released in Japan in 1994, and so Sega was then supporting 5 consoles, and 2 add-ons (Saturn, Mega Drive, Game Gear, Pico, Mega CD, 32X and Master System). Since the Saturn was performing well in Japan (even selling more than the SNES) the Mega Drive was soon canceled, in anticipation for the Saturn’s launch in North America (NA). This was absolutely disastrous for the company, as the Saturn simply did not sell in NA, leaving Sega in a tight bind. The Saturn would be later canceled in 1998, marking a disastrous turn of events for Sega. While they were in a tailspin, the rest of the market was soon lapped up by the SNES until a new challenger arrived to upset the balance…
Sony’s new and flashy 32 bit console, the PlayStation, was released in May of 1995 in NA. Retailing at $100 cheaper than the Sega Saturn, the PlayStation was immensely popular in both Japan and NA, and had games in almost every genre. Some of these games have turned into some of the best known game series we know today. The PlayStation was revolutionary, in that it was the first mainstream disk-based system, and systems today are still disk-based. Also, the controller that was released then is still being mimicked in form today, as the controller for the modern PlayStation 3 has not changed a great deal since that first controller pad for the PlayStation.
The PlayStation would ultimately drive Sega from the console market, and competed heavily with the by then “outdated” but still very popular SNES, until the Nintendo 64 was released in 1996 to return Nintendo to prominence alongside a very dangerous new rival in Sony. Sony would later wrestle the lead in the market away from Nintendo due to the N64’s limited 3rd party support and the cost of game cartridges, which was a sound financial point of the disk based PlayStation.
The transition to 32 bit consoles in 1995 marked one of the most turbulent years in video gaming, with companies rising and falling, consoles being released and remaining popular for years to come, and great games being released.
And as if all that wasn’t enough, there were a few other monumental events that happened in 1995 that truly has shaped the gaming industry as we know it today. For one, the gaming company Bioware was founded in Edmonton in 1995. Though they were a fledgling company at the time, they’d become well known in the late 2000’s for releasing such games as Mass Effect 1 and 2, Dragon Age: Origins, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, among many others.
As well, the website GameFAQs debuted on the internet in 1995. GameFAQs was designed to allow users to submit information, reviews, cheat codes, and screenshots about games from almost any generation into one gigantic database. It is one of the top 500 most viewed sites in the world, and is still going strong today as a hub for gaming related information.
And finally, we come to E3. The name is well known among gamers worldwide as a trade fair for games. Many might not know that E3 (or the formal long name Electronic Entertainment Expo, say that three times fast) had humble beginnings, way back in…you guessed it, 1995! Most of the expo’s events actually chronicled much of what I described to you all in the above paragraphs – including the PlayStation launch, the Sega Saturn, and the anticipation of the Nintendo 64. E3 would grow bigger and bigger with each year, as more developers, producers, and media were invited. The event is now a staple for gamers, as many new innovations in the industry are first unveiled at E3.
In my next article, I’d like to go over some of the best games released in 1995, and why even now we can still look back on them and continue playing them. After all, some experiences are absolutely timeless. I’ll see you then!