>> Wednesday, March 1, 2006
When you are interested in Retro Gaming in general or being a Nintendo fan particularly you have certainly heard about what they call the SNES CD add-on system. As a result, after browsing through some internet stories about the subject (just type SNES CD in google and feel lucky), it really surprises me how many articles have been written about this. However, when you compare the stories it becomes clear most of them are copied files from each other, which is a shame, because over and again the same stubborn mistakes are spread into the world without any respect to what has happened in these years. It seems like every story adds their own details which are sometimes laughable. Do you really think CD-I was meant to be compatible with the SNES CD? Do you really think the use of Nintendo's characters in CD-I games was purely an exchange for the SNES CD development?
Obviously the content of these stories is a little superficial to its nature. I understand most of them are told from Nintendo's perspective. I'm going to highlight the perspective of Philips which will shed some other light on the material than Google does. Let's journey back to some very important happenings in the lifetime of Philips:
1972: Philips established PolyGram
1974: Philips acquisited Magnavox
While PolyGram was the first step in entering the entertainment business, the acquisition of Magnavox was mainly meant to get feet on the ground in America. However, Magnavox was more than just a manufacturer of audio and video, and it's no surprise they put out an early game system called the Odyssey in the States (The Videopac in Europe). The Magnavox game system was the start of an important library of patents. And this is the start of the fire. These patents were so significant that later when Philips applied pressure to other companies, concessions were made. For example at one point Philips owned 10% of Activision (the software company). Activision had its roots on the original Atari 2600 unit which really started off the videogame revolution in the US. The Odyssey might have been first, but it was poorly marketed (just like CD-I). The Atari 2600 was the king of the scene, and it was all way before the Nintendo and Sega era. Just think of the history of Donkey Kong …
Something else that might be of high interest is the fact that Nintendo's first venture in the console world was selling the Magnavox Odyssey in Japan, before the company introduced its own consoles. The essence why Philips was granted the use of Nintendo's characters is merely a result of this war of patents and patent violation, rather than negotiations of the SNES CD-ROM deal (which, indeed, erupted the bubble). Sony was in a weaker position, and it was "probably" why Philips got to do the job instead of Sony. These pressure issues contributed to a break-up as well, and Nintendo was likely worried about the results after this (To name an alternate result: The fee of every compact disc produced because it was a product of Philips).