CONSOLE WARS BOOK
Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation is a non-fiction novel written by Blake J. Harris. It follows businessman Tom. A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: NPR, Slate, Publishers Weekly, Goodreads. Following the success of The Accidental Billionaires and Moneyball comes Console. Editorial Reviews. myavr.info Review. Ben Mezrich. Ben Mezrich, bestselling author of Add Audible book to your purchase for just $ Deliver to your.
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Console Wars: Sega Vs Nintendo - and the Battle that Defi e mais milhares de . A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: NPR, Slate, Publishers Weekly, Goodreads. Console Wars book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Following the success of The Accidental Billionaires and Moneyball co. The new book Console Wars tells the story of Sega's surprising transformation from underdog to—for a little while anyway—number one.
Rather, this book is so lo I was a little hesitant to read a page autobiography of Tom Kalinske, the marketing guru who reinvented Barbie and shepherded the SEGA Genesis through its release in America, but I dove in because the guy is a genius, right?
Rather, this book is so long because the author includes thought narratives of all his favorite characters in practically every scene. These internal monologues became insufferable for me as the book wore on. Not only do they stall the story, they are, without fail, completely self-serving and self-congratulatory.
To give just one example, Kalinske repeatedly insisted via thought bubbles that he was uncomfortable with the violent direction SEGA's video games were going. Full-blood Mortal Kombat, Sewer Shark, and on and on. Kalinske approves them at every turn, even while wringing his hands mentally.
In line with allowing his interviewees to basically give a voice-over to their actions, the author casts every action by SEGA of America in the most positive possible light.
Kalinske did not make a single mistake during his tenure there. His lieutenants were consistently brilliant, hard working, and loved their jobs. And yet, SEGA flopped. After gaining market share in the early 90s the period this book is focused on , SEGA flounders with the release of the Saturn and then the Dreamcast, losing first to the second wave of SNES games and then to the consistently superior Playstation, N64, and PS2 consoles.
How could this possibly be, if Kalinske and his American compatriots are throwing perfect games? The answer: SEGA of Japan is consistently cast in an incredibly negative light throughout this book. And yet, almost unbelievably, there is no evidence that the author was actually able to get an interview with ANY of the principals in Japan notwithstanding the fact that SEGA, Nintendo, and Sony are all Japanese companies. In my opinion, it is terribly irresponsible to publish a book that purports to be about the battle between SEGA and Nintendo without interviewing any of the top brass at those companies.
SEGA of Japan is a complete black box throughout this book. Their motives are impenetrable, and even critical figures like the inventor of Sonic are mentioned only in passing. Of course, these are all smart businessmen, and I am absolutely positive they had reasons for, e.
And yet, their point of view is given no airtime. One last objection. The author is concerned almost entirely with the marketing side of the war between the companies. It should come as no surprise at this point that the author completely buys and recites as truth all of SEGA's marketing hype much of it meaningless drivel and exaggeration. The worse part, in my opinion, is that the author largely ignores many other aspects of the battle between the companies.
Chief among them are the games. He certainly doesn't demonstrate any of the loving nostalgia one would expect when discussing these topics. Of course, what he means is that Nintendo released Super Metroid, one of the most popular games of , which went on to become one of the most acclaimed video games of all time, and which is still devotedly played by many thousands of people to this day.
None of this historical awareness is present in his sterile accounting of the marketing strategies Kalinske was obviously obsessed with. This book is about an amazingly interesting topic, but the author sheds practically no new light on the subject. Instead, he slavishly repeats marketing lines and puts forward an extremely biased viewpoint based on an incomplete set of interviews.
A major disappointment. May 30, DiscoSpacePanther rated it it was ok Shelves: The fact that I finished this book is the only reason it gets more than one star. The subject matter should be fascinating - the rise and fall of Sega in s America - yet Blake Harris manages to turn it into an endless parade of dull imaginary conversations about sales and marketing, with naught but a brief look at the actual games that made the struggle between Nintendo and Sega so defining a part of popular culture of that era.
It also doesn't help that Harris' prose style is workmanlike at b The fact that I finished this book is the only reason it gets more than one star. It also doesn't help that Harris' prose style is workmanlike at best, and for most of the book reads like a rushed essay produced by a less-than-talented journalism student. The book shows no love for the subject matter, and barely any research into what makes a gaming experience memorable or compelling. There is simply the bare assertion that the revolutionary "speed" of Sonic the Hedgehog was all it took to trump the evolutionary gameplay of Super Mario World.
Having been part of the target demographic at the time, I can assure the author that I not only had no inclination to purchase Sonic or a MegaDrive based on the gameplay, which was limited and linear, but having re-played both Sonic and SMB4 beginning to end in the past year, it is the Nintendo title that remains a fresh and exuberant experience to this day.
And then there are the factual errors, or at least the misunderstanding of the technology. Additionally, there is a reference to a megabyte cartridge - no MegaDrive or SNES cartridges were ever that capacity.
Also, Harris refers to the impact of the videogame crash on the UK market. There was no videogame crash in the UK, as the electronic gaming market was dominated by home computers. There was a hardware crash in , but that simply had the effect of removing the least successful brands from the market, leaving the BBC Micro, ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 to continue to benefit from thousands of software titles being published there were fewer barriers to entry into the UK game market, as distribution of software was on cassettes as opposed to more expensive floppy disks or ROM cartridges, as well as a profusion of small or even one-man software development studios, the so called "bedroom coders".
SEGA Vs Nintendo 'Console Wars' Book To Become A TV Show
Not only does Harris get the impact of this event wrong, he also lists successful home computer brands as "Apple, Amiga and Commodore", which would be like referring to successful games consoles as "Nintendo, Genesis and Sega". Other reviewers have pointed out the insipidly sexist descriptions of women - do we really need to know if a new employee is a brunette, or if another is doe-eyed?
Also, there is one early scene where Harris has his allegedly "smart" marketing team asking "Who the hell knows what a hedgehog is? I mean, come on!
That would be like a European adult not knowing what a raccoon is - no functional member of society is that ignorant. Anyway, things that rankled me were: Jul 15, Karen Mead rated it really liked it Shelves: A very interesting book, but I can see why the reviews are somewhat mixed here.
For most of the people chronicled here, video games are a means to an end; we hear very little from the game developers themselves. It's kind of like a Game-of-Throne A very interesting book, but I can see why the reviews are somewhat mixed here. It's kind of like a Game-of-Thrones power struggle, only instead of beheading each other, the principle players come up with evil marketing campaigns and yell at each other at conferences a lot.
At its most basic, it was two companies competing for market share, but it was also a clash of philosophies that manifested on several different levels. There's surprising depth here; at least, it surprised me. Still, even though I like the concept, there are some significant flaws.
Plus, this tome could use some editing; while the insight into the lives of all the major players is nice, some extraneous information could definitely be trimmed.
I think Harris had great respect for all the people he interviewed for the book and wanted to do them all justice, but not everyone's story is all that relevant to what's going on. All that said, if you're interested in video games, you should read this book. A lot of what went on between Sega and Nintendo and Sony, lurking in the background of this book like a smirking Cheshire Cat during this time period is crucial to understanding the business of games as it exists today.
Nov 18, Cale rated it really liked it. Considering this is a book about business more than video games themselves, this is an impressively entertaining read. Lightly fictionalized, this tells the story of Tom Kalinske's years at Sega, which roughly parallel the Genesis era, when Sega actually took leadership in the console wars.
Told mostly from Kalinske's perspective, it's predictably pro-Sega, although it does take a moderate view of Nintendo's perspective at the time. Harris does a good job of couching everyone's stories with pers Considering this is a book about business more than video games themselves, this is an impressively entertaining read.
Harris does a good job of couching everyone's stories with perspective and relevant detail without getting too bogged down. The biggest problem is the end - it just sort of peters out with the release of the Saturn, resorting to telling rather than showing the decline. With something this recent and that is still ongoing in some ways, it is understandably hard to find a good end point, but it really kind of feels chopped off.
But otherwise, the fact that a book that is predominantly about management and marketing, albeit in the video game industry, manages to be as entertaining and engrossing is a testament to Harris' ability to really push a narrative through, supporting it and highlighting central causes while also giving notice to related factors without getting too sidetracked.
It's a long book, but worth the read. I've reached a point in my life that I can no longer justify wasting my precious time forcing myself to finish something I'm so actively disliking. So that's it for Console Wars. It doesn't surprise me to learn that the author considers himself a filmmaker, because the cheesy and clearly fake dialogue throughout this book feels like it was taken directly from a short-lived 90s sitcom. The author also has the frustrating tendency to interrupt his characters' inane witticisms with pages of tediou I've reached a point in my life that I can no longer justify wasting my precious time forcing myself to finish something I'm so actively disliking.
The author also has the frustrating tendency to interrupt his characters' inane witticisms with pages of tedious backstory, such that when you finally reach the response to that witticism, you've forgotten what the characters were even discussing.
The author insists on concentrating on the most tedious aspects of the titular "console war;" scene after scene involves businessmen making decisions about how to market and sell games, but we get no perspective from those who design or even play them. The book provides little insight or even interesting factoids about what should be a fascinating time in game culture. I could go on to explain how unpleasant an experience it is reading this book, but I already wasted a month of my life trying to get through its uncalled-for pages.
Jul 18, Andrew Obrigewitsch rated it it was amazing Shelves: This book was surprisingly excellent.
It's about the battle between Nintendo and Sega for video game dominance. I thought it would be a rather dull dry book about facts and figures, boy was I wrong.
Superbad collaborators Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are producing the TV show.
If you like stories about people succeeding through pure brilliance, this is for you. If you like videogames and their hist This book was surprisingly excellent.
If you like videogames and their history this is for you. If like to read about marketing and business activities, this is for you. Apr 02, Michael rated it it was amazing Shelves: This book was great! I would recommend this for anyone who even enjoys videogames. Apr 15, Peter Derk rated it liked it. Lots of controversy on this one, eh? The problem most people seem to be having is that Harris takes what are certainly some liberties with the story, at least with the scenery and exact dialog.
Think of it like this. It's the story of Sega, but the dramatized version. Not necessarily with made up, added-in stuff. But with elements that, though they might be difficult to remember, clear up the story or make it into less a catalog of events, more a coherent narrative. Maybe Kalinsky didn't look out Lots of controversy on this one, eh? Maybe Kalinsky didn't look out the window when he thought about leaving Sega.
Maybe someone from Nintendo wasn't wearing that exact shirt as described in the book. Frankly, I appreciate it. So many non-fiction books, especially ones like this that cover a long-ish period in history with a lot of people and moving parts, engage in the mortaring of narrative bricks without being forthcoming about it. They cobble together lots of interviews and data, but then they are certainly filling in a lot of other stuff, or at best, filling it in with what the people profiled remember of everything.
I didn't feel like it was a device used to heighten the drama or manipulate the reader. I felt like it was a new way to tell this kind of story, and I'm cool with the acknowledgement that history will only ever be as good as a collection of human memories, which is a pretty sorry machine when you get down to it.
This will change in the future, I'm sure. I can look back at email, Twitter, Goodreads, all kinds of shit, and backfill my diary if I want to with exact words and dates and even times and locations. But the time period of this book just doesn't allow for that. The rating I gave this book is because it seems like I can't get a book about video games without hearing the same handful of stories about Nintendo's origins.
They're great stories. But I got it. If you know what that means, skip to the asterisk on page X" That said, lots of Sega history. Lots of it is focused on the marketing, and I would say that's because Sega rose to power because of its great marketing and business strategy, and it fell when all of that fell apart. Fun fact, if it weren't for the inability of the companies, and some individuals at the companies, to get along, Sony would have made a new console in conjunction with Sega instead of making the Playstation.
Which ended up being one of Sega's downfalls. A cool book that explores a different niche of video game history. And now I'm going to engage in something I abhor, complaining about the product of this book as opposed to the narrative. I paid for the audiobook. Is it just me, or is that kind of an outrageous price for an audiobook?
It's shorter, but c'mon. What's going on with this goddamn thing? Fred Berman fucking kills it. That guy was great. Big load to handle in this book, and I thought his voices were really good, differentiated enough, and he really knocked it out of the park.
May 13, N. Pfeifer rated it liked it. Assembled as a series of long reads up for anyone to read on the internet, Sam guided us through the histories of SEGA and Nintendo up through their high-friction war for the console market in the early nineties.
Then, his reign would end when his Japanese benefactors decided to relieve Sega of America of their success, ultimately dooming the company with botched releases, like the 32X and the Saturn, that failed to impress against stiffer-than-ever competition from a revitalized Nintendo and newcomer Sony. Harris's book was a flashback to those days, reading about the rise and fall of Kalinske's American branch, but in ways better and worse.
Unlike Pettus's controversial "unofficial" tale, Harris had access to all the big players at Sega and Nintendo. This is a very thoroughly researched and pieced together work. At times, it seems a bit overwhelming as Harris spends chapters explaining things for the layman, or, later on, barely editing transcripts from Nintendo's first online chat or Kalinske's rah-rah-rah speech in advance of Sonic 2sday, the world's first nearly global release for a video game.
This bloat also carries over to the exposition, which Harris immediately identifies as largely recreated. The accuracy of the improvised story-telling doesn't seem at fault, it's the prose itself: This book serves as a complement to a documentary of the same title featuring those same movers and shakers, but will also serve as a backbone for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's film of the same name.
To that end, the book also feels irregularly paced - like the compressed latter half of Sega of America's empire - and scripted - like when Kalinske and Nintendo of America's Howard Lincoln are about to get into a fist-fight in a descending elevator.
All the while, the story of the decision makers back at Sega of Japan, the ones ultimately sewing the demise of their own company, is left largely untouched as Kalinske receives his orders at a distance through intolerant masters.
The book leaves a lukewarm first impression in Rogen and Goldberg's foreward, a "humorous" word ramble about random gaming memories of the past two decades. The trailing end isn't much better as Harris spends most of his Acknowledgements section chatting about how great the documentary and movie are going to be and how much Hollywood help he had. It serves to me as an acknowledgement that while this thing has some solid bones, they're just not in the right places.
Jan 11, Daniel Solera rated it it was amazing Shelves: Are you between the ages of 26 and 40? Are you male? Did you play video games as a kid? Then you will likely love this book, all pages. Blake Harris treats Sega like the underdog they were at the start of the 90s. The Master System was successful in Japan but had made few waves sta Are you between the ages of 26 and 40? The Master System was successful in Japan but had made few waves stateside. Under Kalinske's leadership, Sega came close to toppling Nintendo over the next three years thanks to his innovative mindset and brilliant team of marketers, strategists and idea-men.
Harris also talks about Nintendo but in more historical terms, leaving the human element to their competitors. I didn't know what it was, but my parents bought it presumably on a hunch or advice from their peers. My cousin Pin was visiting us for the season and he freaked out when I opened the box. From that day forward, I've had every single home console the Big N has released and have never flirted with Sega.
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That said, I still loved this book. Every commercial this book painstakingly details, every new tagline, every blockbuster game release, I remember fondly. I lived through the console wars, had many friends who were diehard Sega owners, clenched my jaw when Nintendo censored Mortal Kombat on the Super Nintendo and then dropped it when I saw the visuals from Donkey Kong Country. Along the way, Harris details Sony's slow and shadowy rise to prominence, the conflicts of culture between Sega's offices in America and Japan and Nintendo's humble origins as a clandestine playing card company.
With the video game industry growing every year and the top two players virtually nonexistent in the 90s, this book was a great trip down memory lane and a loving ode to the halcyon bit era. View all 3 comments. Nov 26, Nick Jones rated it really liked it Shelves: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, whoever they are, provided the worst foreword in the history of literature for Console Wars , and I actually considered not reading the rest of the book because of those two idiots.
Luckily I persevered, and quite enjoyed this examination of Tom Kalinske's time heading up Sega of America. Yes, I would have liked more attention to have been paid to non-Kalinske topics, especially the period when Sega's Master System was going head to head with the Nintendo Entertainm Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, whoever they are, provided the worst foreword in the history of literature for Console Wars , and I actually considered not reading the rest of the book because of those two idiots.
Yes, I would have liked more attention to have been paid to non-Kalinske topics, especially the period when Sega's Master System was going head to head with the Nintendo Entertainment System, which got short shrift, and Sega's eventual exodus from the video game console business after the Dreamcast, a system that wasn't mentioned at all.
Yes, I would have liked this to have been more even-handed, rather than a love letter to Sega of America at the expense of the apparently out-of-touch Nintendo and the ostensibly villainous Sega of Japan.
Yes, there were a shocking number of typos for a book released by a major publisher.
Yet this book does a very good job of getting inside the mindset of the people working for Sega of America between and , with more than five-hundred and fifty pages devoted to that period providing an unusual amount of detail. Having been on the other side of the marketing efforts described in Console Wars as an adolescent and teen, it was interesting all these years later to discover how the sausage was actually made. I don't know that anybody who didn't have the Sega scream burned into their brain will find the corporate politicking of Sega employees as interesting as I did, but if your formative years were spent playing Super Mario Bros.
Apr 07, Alex Daniel rated it it was ok Shelves: This book has problems.
Pitched as a book about Sega and Nintendo, it's predominantly told from the perspective of Sega executives. This can be excused to a degree -- I'm assuming author Blake Harris got most of his information from Tom Kalinske, so it makes sense that the book would be mostly about his experience there. The story is told in a way that aims to bring the characters to life, and let history leap off the page. The problem is that these very real people are given really cliche and trite things to say.
Conservations are fabricated, and with many, many eye-rolling punchlines and stock phrases. Additionally, with the exception of a few people working for Nintendo who we spend almost no time with , absolutely none of these characters care at all about games. They care about image. Considering the job over sake at a hostess bar in downtown Tokyo, Mr.
Not long afterward, trying to persuade the buyers at Walmart Stores to carry the new Sega Genesis console, Mr. Kalinske and his colleagues plaster Bentonville, Ark. In front of a Senate committee convened by Joseph I. Really, this could be a heck of a movie. Harris has interviewed more than employees of Sega and Nintendo, and they tell plenty of war stories.
Dustin Hoffman wanted to play Mario, but Nintendo vetoed him. Image Blake J. HarrisCreditKatie Wanner In other amusing chapters, the American and Japanese divisions of Sega bicker over whether Sonic, the video game hedgehog that a Sega of Japan employee dreamed up by putting the head of Felix the Cat on the body of Mickey Mouse, should have fangs, an electric guitar and a busty human girlfriend.
The Americans win and all three elements are stricken. Kalinske is enthralled, especially when he spots a man playing a Game Boy while drinking at a geisha club. However, when Kalinske arrives for his first day as CEO, he finds Sega of America to be in complete disarray: his predecessor, Michael Katz, has driven the firm to near-bankruptcy by overspending on unpopular titles like James 'Buster' Douglas Knockout Boxing , the company is unable to source third-party games due to Nintendo having exclusive contracts with most developers, and the staff is rife with infighting and finger-pointing.
The Genesis, hampered by poor marketing and a shoddy game library, has sold fewer than , units, only half of the sales needed to keep Sega of America afloat. Taking charge, Kalinske assembles a new leadership team and decides to adopt the "Gillette model" , demanding complete control over marketing for the Genesis, which includes replacing the game originally bundled with the Genesis, Altered Beast , with a new, little-known title, Sonic the Hedgehog.
Sega's Japanese executives politely refuse to authorize his plans, but Nakayama overrules them and gives Kalinske the green light. Following a successful demonstration of Sonic at the Summer Consumer Electronics Show , the Genesis quickly outsells Nintendo's SNES , marking the first time since that the company does not dominate the home console market.
Bolstered with confidence, Kalinske and Sega decide to further establish their newfound dominance by promoting the Genesis and by extension, Sega , as a cool, edgier alternative to the "family-friendly" games of Nintendo, targeting teenage gamers and adults.
For example, when Nintendo decides to release a censored version of Mortal Kombat following a public outcry over the game's violent content, Sega of America puts out its own version on the Genesis with a special "blood code" that bypasses such restrictions.Amazon Renewed Refurbished products with a warranty.
Also, while the Genesis did pull-ahead of SNES for a bit, Nintendo did make a comeback and ultimately won the console wars. Editorial Reviews Amazon.
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But the real story here is the one that takes place on a wider, structural level. The manufactured dialogue is cringeworthy at times, and the bad writing extends to awful metaphors, confusing analogies, and segways that are laughable at best.
Harris does a good job of couching everyone's stories with perspective and relevant detail without getting too bogged down. He even directed a live-action trailer for Destiny 2. Kalinske, Harris tells us, orchestrated partnerships that would have essentially put the technology behind these into Sega products instead, but his Japanese bosses dismissed the plans with little to no explanation, forever dooming Sega into a distant third and, we're left on our own to conclude, ultimately out of the hardware business entirely.
If you're a Sega fan, you might come away differently.
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