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The fifth-generation era (also known as the 32-bit era, the 64-bit era, or the 3D era) refers to computer and video games, video game consoles, and handheld gaming consoles dating from approximately October 4, 1993 to March 23, 2006.For home consoles, the best-selling console was the Sony PlayStation, followed by the Nintendo 64, and then the Sega Saturn. The PlayStation also had a redesigned version, the PSone, which was launched on July 7, 2000.
Some features that distinguished fifth generation consoles from previous fourth generation consoles include:
This era is known for its pivotal role in the video game industry's leap from 2D to 3D computer graphics, as well as the shift from home console games being stored on ROM cartridges to optical discs. This was also the first generation to feature internet connectivity, some systems like the Sega Saturn's Sega Net Link, had add-ons to add connectivity to existing devices, and the Apple Pippin, a commercial flop, was the first system to feature on-board internet capabilities.
For handhelds, this era was characterized by significant fragmentation, because the first handheld of the generation, the Sega Nomad, had a lifespan of just two years, and the Nintendo Virtual Boy had a lifespan of less than one. Both of them were discontinued before the other handhelds made their debut. The Neo Geo Pocket was released on October 28, 1998, but was dropped by SNK in favor of the fully backwards-compatible Neo Geo Pocket Color just a year later. Nintendo's Game Boy Color (1998) was the winner in handhelds by a large margin. There were also two simply updated versions of the original Game Boy: Game Boy Light (Japan only) and Game Boy Pocket.
There was considerable time overlap between this generation and the next, the sixth generation of consoles, which began with the launch of the Dreamcast in Japan on November 27, 1998. The fifth generation officially ended with the discontinuation of the PlayStation (namely, its re-engineered form, the "PSOne") on March 23, 2006, a year after the launch of the seventh generation.
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The 32-bit/64-bit era is most noted for the rise of fully 3D polygon games. While there were games prior that had used three-dimensional polygon environments, such as Virtua Racing and Virtua Fighter in the arcades and Star Fox on the Super NES, it was in this era that many game designers began to move traditionally 2D and pseudo-3D genres into 3D on video game consoles. Early efforts from then-industry leaders Sega and Nintendo saw the introduction of the 32X and Super FX, which provided rudimentary 3D capabilities to the 16-bit Genesis and Super NES. Starting in 1996, 3D video games began to take off with releases such as Virtua Fighter 2 on the Saturn, Tomb Raider on the PlayStation and Saturn, Tekken 2 and Crash Bandicoot on the PlayStation, and Super Mario 64 on the N64. Their 3D environments were widely marketed and they steered the industry's focus away from side-scrolling and rail-style titles, as well as opening doors to more complex games and genres. 3D became the main focus in this era as well as a slow decline of cartridges in favor of CDs, due to the ability to produce games less expensively and the media's high storage capabilities.
After allowing Sony to develop a CD-based prototype console for them and a similar failed partnership with Philips, [ citation needed ]Nintendo decided to make the Nintendo 64 a cartridge-based system like its predecessors. Publicly, Nintendo defended this decision on the grounds that it would give games shorter load times than a compact disc (and would decrease piracy due to a certain chip in the ROM cartridge). However, it also had the dubious benefit of allowing Nintendo to charge higher licensing fees, as cartridge production was considerably more expensive than CD production. Many third-party developers like EA Sports viewed this as an underhanded attempt to raise more money for Nintendo and many of them became more reluctant to release games on the N64.
Nintendo's decision to use a cartridge based system sparked a small scale war among gamers as to which was better. The chief advantages of the CD-ROM format were (1)larger storage capacity, allowing for a much greater amount of game content, [ citation needed ](2)considerably lower manufacturing costs, making them much less risky for game publishers, (3)lower retail prices due to the reduced need to compensate for manufacturing costs, and (4)shorter production times, which greatly reduced the need for publishers to predict the demand for a game. Its disadvantages compared to cartridge were (1)considerable load times, (2)their inability to load data "on the fly", making them reliant on the console RAM, and (3)the greater manufacturing costs of CD-ROM drives compared to cartridge slots, resulting in generally higher retail prices for CD-based consoles. A Nintendo magazine ad placed a Space Shuttle (cartridge) next to a snail (a CD) and dared consumers to decide "which one was better".
Almost every other contemporary system used the new CD-ROM technology (the Nintendo 64 was the last major home video game console to use cartridges, until the Nintendo Switch in 2017). Consequent to the storage and cost advantages of the CD-ROM format, many game developers shifted their support away from the Nintendo 64 to the PlayStation. One of the most influential game franchises to change consoles during this era was the Final Fantasy series, beginning with Final Fantasy VII , which was originally being developed for the N64 but due to storage capacity issues was shifted to and released on the PlayStation; – either the NES or Super NES, with the only other entries being on the Wonderswan, or computers like the MSX.prior Final Fantasy games had all been published on Nintendo consoles
There was no prevailing consensus on which fifth generation console was superior. More competing consoles comprised this generation than any other since the North American video game crash of 1983, leading video game magazines of the time to frequently predict a second crash. [ citation needed ]The increased complexity of the systems also made it ambiguous how their technical capabilities would improve the games.
The FM Towns Marty is considered the world's first 32-bit console (predating the Amiga CD32 and 3DO), being released on February 20, 1993 by Japanese electronic company Fujitsu. Never released outside Japan, it was largely marketed as a console version of the FM Towns home computer, being compatible with games developed for the FM Towns. It failed to make an impact in the marketplace due to its relative expense and inability to compete with home computers.
NEC, creator of the TurboGrafx-16, TurboDuo, Coregrafx, and SuperGrafx, entered the market with the PC-FX in 1994. The system had a 32-bit processor, 16-bit stereo sound, a 16,777,000 color palette and featured the highest quality full motion video of any console on the market at the time.[ citation needed ] The PC-FX was a tower system that allowed for numerous expansion points including a connection for NEC's PC-9800 series of computers. Despite its impressive specs, it was marketed as the ultimate 2D side-scrolling games console and could not match the sales of the 3D systems released a short time later.
Despite massive third party support and an unprecedented amount of hype for a first-time entrant into the industry, the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer's $700 price tag hindered its success.
The Amiga CD32 was sold in Europe, Australia, Canada and Brazil, but never in the United States due to Commodore's bankruptcy.
The 32X, an add-on console for the Genesis, was launched a short time before the Sega Saturn. The Sega Neptune, a standalone version of the 32X, was announced but ultimately canceled. Sega failed to deliver a steady flow of games for the 32X platform, and with the Saturn and PlayStation already on the horizon, sales were poor.
The Sega Saturn was released as Sega's entry into the 32-bit console market.It became Sega's most successful console in Japan. In America and Europe however, a disastrous launch and an MSRP of $399 compared to the PlayStation's $299 caused it to be a commercial failure, selling far fewer units than the Master System and Mega Drive/Genesis before it.
The Atari Jaguar was released in 1993 and was marketed as the world's first 64-bit system. However, sales at launch were well below the incumbent fourth generation consoles, and a small games library rooted in a shortage of third party support made it impossible for the Jaguar to catch up, selling below 250,000 units. The system's 64-bit nature was also questioned by many. Its only add-on, the Jaguar CD, was released in 1995 and was produced in limited quantities due to the low install base of the system.[ citation needed ] The 32-bit Atari Panther, set to be released in 1991, was canceled due to unexpectedly rapid progress in developing the Jaguar.
The PlayStation was the most successful console of this generation. With attention given by 3rd party developers and a more mature marketing campaign aimed at the 20–30 age group enabling it to achieve market dominance, it became the first home console to ship 100 million units worldwide.[ citation needed ]
Because of many delays in the release of the Nintendo 64, in 1995 Nintendo released the Virtual Boy, a supposedly portable system capable of displaying true 3D graphics, albeit in monochromatic red and black. Despite being marketed as a portable system, it is not actually portable in practice due to the lack of head strap.Also, because of the nature of its display, the system reportedly caused headaches and eye strain. It was discontinued within a year, with fewer than 25 games being released for it. Although it sold over 750,000 units, Nintendo felt that it was a failure compared to consoles such as the Super Nintendo, which sold over 20 million.
The Nintendo 64, originally announced as the "Ultra 64", was released in 1996. The system's delays and use of the expensive cartridge format made it an unpopular platform among third party developers.[ citation needed ] Several popular 1st party titles allowed the Nintendo 64 to maintain strong sales in the United States, but it remained a distant second to the PlayStation.[ citation needed ]
By the end of the 1995 Christmas shopping season, the fifth generation had come down to a struggle between the Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, and the upcoming Nintendo 64. The FM Towns Marty and Amiga CD32 had already been discontinued; the Jaguar and Genesis 32X were still on the market but were considered a lost cause by industry analysts; the Neo Geo CD had proven to appeal only to a niche market; and industry analysts had already determined that the yet-to-launch Apple Bandai Pippin was too expensive to make any impact in the market.Moreover, even the leading fifth generation consoles were still facing sluggish sales. Combined sales for the PlayStation, Saturn, and 3DO barely topped 1 million units for the Christmas shopping season, as compared to combined sales of 4 million for the Sega Genesis and Super NES. Focus groups showed that most children under 12 years old are equally happy playing on fourth generation consoles as they are playing on fifth generation consoles, making the fourth generation consoles more appealing to adults buying gifts for children, since they are cheaper. Industry analysts began putting forth the possibility that the fifth generation of consoles would never overtake the fourth generation in sales, and become superseded by a new generation of DVD player consoles before they could achieve mass acceptance.
1996 saw the fifth generation consoles' fortunes finally turn around. With the Saturn, PlayStation, and Nintendo 64 all showing dramatic increases in sales over the previous year, they claimed a combined 40% of the retail market for hardware and software, putting them in position to finally overtake the fourth generation consoles in 1997.
After the dust settled in the fifth generation console wars, several companies saw their outlooks change drastically. Atari Corporation, which was not able to recover its losses, ended up merging into JTS Corporation on July 30, 1996,causing the Atari brand to fade out of the public view until 1998, when all Atari assets were sold to Hasbro Interactive. Sega's loss of consumer confidence (coupled with its previous console failures) along with their financial difficulties, set the company up for a similar fate in the next round of console wars.
The Sega Saturn suffered from poor marketing and comparatively limited third-party support outside Japan.Sega's decision to use dual processors was roundly criticized, as this made it difficult to efficiently develop for the console. Sega was also hurt by a surprise four-month-early U.S. launch of their console. Third party developers, who had been planning for the originally scheduled launch, could not provide launch titles and were angered by the move. Retailers were caught unprepared, resulting in distribution problems. Some retailers, such as the now defunct KB Toys, were so furious that they refused to stock the Saturn thereafter.
Due to numerous delays, the Nintendo 64 was released one year later than its competitors. By the time it was finally launched in 1996, Sony had already established its dominance, the Saturn was starting to struggle, and the Jaguar and 3DO had been discontinued.[ citation needed ] Its use of cartridge media rather than compact discs alienated some developers and publishers due to the space limits, the relatively high cost involved, and a considerably longer production time.[ citation needed ] In addition, the initially high suggested retail price of the console may have driven potential customers away, and some early adopters of the system who had paid the initial price may have been angered by Nintendo's decision to cut the price of the system by $50 six months after its release. However, the Nintendo 64 turned out to be a commercial success, particularly in the United States, where it sold 20.63 million units, nearly two thirds of its worldwide sales of 32.93 million units. It was also home to highly successful games such as Star Fox 64 , Mario Kart 64 , The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time , The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask , Super Mario 64 , GoldenEye 007 , Banjo-Kazooie , and Super Smash Bros. While Nintendo 64 sold far more units than the Sega Saturn, Atari Jaguar, and 3DO combined, it posed no challenge to the PlayStation's lead in the market.
By 1997, 40% to 60% of American homes played on video game consoles. 30% to 40% of these homes owned a console, while an additional 10% to 20% rented or shared a console.
On May 14, 1999, Hasbro Interactive announced that all the rights to the Atari Jaguar were released into the public domain,thus declaring the platform open. Since then, homebrew developers began to create and publish uncompleted Jaguar games as well as brand new titles, without endorsement or licensing from Hasbro Interactive, to satisfy the system's cult following.
|Name||3DO Interactive Multiplayer||Atari Jaguar||Sega Saturn||PlayStation||Nintendo 64|
|Developer||The 3DO Company||Atari||Sega||Sony||Nintendo|
|Launch price (USD)||US$699.99 (equivalent to $1,239in 2019)||US$249.99 (equivalent to $442in 2019)||US$399.99 (equivalent to $671in 2019)||US$299.99 (equivalent to $503in 2019)||US$199.99 (equivalent to $326in 2019)|
|Best-selling game||Gex , over 1 million||Alien vs Predator , more than 50,000||Virtua Fighter 2 , 1.7 million in Japan||Gran Turismo , 10.85 million shipped (as of April 30, 2008)||Super Mario 64 , 11.62 million (as of May 21, 2003)|
|CPU||ARM60 (32‑bit RISC) @ 12.5 MHz (8.75 MIPS )||NEC VR4300 (64‑bit RISC) @ 93.75 MHz (125 MIPS)|
|GPU||Reality Co-Processor (64‑bit MIPS R4000 based, 128‑bit vector register processor) @ 62.5 MHz|
|Sound chip(s)||13 channel unnamed custom 20‑bit DSP embedded in the CLIO chip||"Jerry" chip: DSP, 2× DAC (converts digital data to analog signals)||Sony SPU (Sound Processing Unit)||Reality Signal Processor (DSP)|
|Memory||3 MB RAM||2 MB FPM DRAM (4× 512 KB chips)||4.5 MB RAM||3587 KB RAM||4 MB RDRAM (8 MB with Expansion Pak)|
|Audio||Stereo audio, with:||Stereo audio, with:||Stereo audio, with: ||Stereo audio, with: ||Stereo audio, with:|
|Online services||None||Jaguar Voice/Data Communicator 19.2k modem (no mass production) (1995–present)||None|
|PlayStation||102.49 million shipped (74.34 million PlayStation, 28.15 million PSone) (as of March 31, 2005)|
|Nintendo 64||32.93 million (as of March 31, 2005)|
|Sega Saturn||9.26 million|
|Atari Jaguar||250,000 (as of May 15, 2007)|
|FM Towns Marty||45,000 (as of December 31, 1993)|
|Apple Bandai Pippin||42,000 (as of May 4, 2007)|
From 1996 to 1999 (when the PlayStation, N64 and Saturn were the major 5th-generation consoles still on the market) Sony managed a 47% market share of the worldwide market, followed by Nintendo with 28% (with a percentage of that figure from the 16‑bit Super NES), while Sega was third with 23% (with a percentage of that from the Dreamcast).
Production of the Sega Saturn was discontinued in 1998. Its demise being accelerated by rumors that work on its successor was underway; these rumors hurt the systems' sales in the west as early as 1997. The N64 was succeeded by the GameCube in 2001, but continued its production until 2004; however, PlayStation production was not ceased as it was redesigned as the PSone, further extending the life of the console around the release of the follow-up PlayStation 2. The PlayStation console production was discontinued in 2006, the same year that the PlayStation 3 was released in Japan and North America.
The Atari Jaguar is a home video game console developed by Atari Corporation and released in North America in November 1993. Part of the fifth generation of video game consoles, it competed with the 16-bit Sega Genesis and Super NES and the 32-bit 3DO Interactive Multiplayer which launched the same year. Despite the system having two custom 32-bit processors –Tom and Jerry– in addition to a Motorola 68000, Atari controversially marketed the system as being the world's first "64-bit" video game system, emphasizing that the system has a 64-bit bus. The Jaguar shipped with Cybermorph as the pack-in game.
The Nintendo 64 (officially abbreviated as N64, hardware model number pre-term: NUS, stylized as NINTENDO64) is a home video game console developed and marketed by Nintendo. Named for its 64-bit central processing unit, it was released in June 1996 in Japan, September 1996 in North America, and March 1997 in Europe and Australia. It was the last major home console to use the ROM cartridge as its primary storage format until the Switch in 2017. The Nintendo 64 was discontinued in 2002 following the launch of its successor, the GameCube, in 2001.
The PlayStation is a home video game console developed and marketed by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was first released on 3 December 1994 in Japan, on 9 September 1995 in North America, on 29 September 1995 in Europe, and on 15 November 1995 in Australia, and was the first of the PlayStation lineup of video game consoles. As a fifth generation console, the PlayStation primarily competed with the Nintendo 64 and the Sega Saturn.
The PC-FX is a 32-bit home video game console developed by both NEC and Hudson Soft and released in Japan in 1994. Powered by an NEC V810 CPU and using CD-ROMs, the PC-FX was intended as the successor to the PC Engine and its international counterpart the TurboGrafx-16, two successful video game consoles from the late 1980s. It is NEC's final foray into the home console market.
The 32X is an add-on for the Sega Genesis video game console. Codenamed "Project Mars", the 32X was designed to expand the power of the Genesis and serve as a transitional console into the 32-bit era until the release of the Sega Saturn. Independent of the Genesis, the 32X uses its own ROM cartridges and has its own library of games. It was distributed under the name Super 32X in Japan, Genesis 32X in North America, Mega Drive 32X in the PAL region, and Mega 32X in Brazil.
The Sega Saturn is a home video game console developed by Sega and released on November 22, 1994 in Japan, May 11, 1995 in North America, and July 8, 1995 in Europe. Part of the fifth generation of video game consoles, it was the successor to the successful Sega Genesis. The Saturn has a dual-CPU architecture and eight processors. Its games are in CD-ROM format, and its game library contains several ports of arcade games as well as original games.
The history of video games goes as far back as the early 1950s, when academic computer scientists began designing simple games and simulations as part of their research or just for recreation. At M.I.T. in the 1960s, professors and students played games such as 3D tic-tac-toe and Moon Landing. These games were played on computers such as the IBM 1560, and moves were made by means of punch cards. Video gaming did not reach mainstream popularity until the 1970s and 1980s, when video arcade games and gaming consoles using joysticks, buttons, and other controllers, along with graphics on computer screens and home computer games were introduced to the general public. Since the 1980s, video gaming has become a popular form of entertainment and a part of modern popular culture in most parts of the world. One of the early games was Spacewar!, which was developed by computer scientists. Early arcade video games developed from 1972 to 1978. During the 1970s, the first generation of home consoles emerged, including the popular game Pong and various "clones". The 1970s was also the era of mainframe computer games. The golden age of arcade video games was from 1978 to 1982. Video arcades with large, graphics-decorated coin-operated machines were common at malls and popular, affordable home consoles such as the Atari 2600 and Intellivision enabled people to play games on their home TVs. During the 1980s, gaming computers, early online gaming and handheld LCD games emerged; this era was affected by the video game crash of 1983. From 1976 to 1992, the second generation of video consoles emerged.
In the history of video games, the sixth-generation era refers to the computer and video games, video game consoles, and handheld gaming devices available at the turn of the 21st century, starting on November 27, 1998. Platforms in the sixth generation include consoles from four companies: the Sega Dreamcast (DC), Sony PlayStation 2 (PS2), Nintendo GameCube (GC), and Microsoft Xbox. This era began on November 27, 1998, with the Japanese release of the Dreamcast, which was joined by the PlayStation 2 on March 4, 2000, and the GameCube and Xbox on November 15, 2001. In April 2001, the Dreamcast was the first to be discontinued. The GameCube was next, in 2007, the Xbox on March 2, 2009, and the PlayStation 2 on January 4, 2013. Meanwhile, the seventh generation of consoles started on November 22, 2005 with the launch of the Xbox 360.
The history of video game consoles, both home and handheld, had their origins in the 1970s. The concept of home consoles used to play games on a television set was founded by the 1972 Magnavox Odyssey, first conceived by Ralph H. Baer in 1966. Handheld consoles bore out from electro-mechanical games that had used mechanical controls and light-emitting diodes (LED) as visual indicators. Handheld electronic games had replaced the mechanical controls with electronic and digital components, and with the introduction of Liquid-crystal display (LCD) to create video-like screens with programmable pixels, systems like the Microvision and the Game & Watch became the first handheld video game consoles, and fully realized by the Game Boy system.
Homebrew is a term frequently applied to video games or other software produced by hobbyists and amateur developers targeting proprietary hardware platforms that are not typically user-programmable or that use proprietary storage methods. Homebrew can include software made using unofficial, community maintained, toolchains or games developed using official development kits such as Net Yaroze, Linux for PlayStation 2, or Microsoft XNA. A game written by a non-professional developer for a system intended to be consumer-programmable, like the Commodore 64, is simply called hobbyist.
The Sega Genesis, known as the Mega Drive outside North America, is a 16-bit fourth-generation home video game console developed and sold by Sega. The Genesis is Sega's third console and the successor to the Master System. Sega released it as the Mega Drive in Japan in 1988, and later as the Genesis in North America in 1989. In 1990, it was distributed as the Mega Drive by Virgin Mastertronic in Europe, Ozisoft in Australasia, and Tec Toy in Brazil. In South Korea, it was distributed by Samsung as the Super Gam*Boy and later the Super Aladdin Boy.
A ROM cartridge, usually referred to simply as a cartridge or cart, is a removable memory card containing ROM designed to be connected to a consumer electronics device such as a home computer, video game console or, to a lesser extent, electronic musical instruments. ROM cartridges can be used to load software such as video games or other application programs.
A home video game console or simply home console, is a video game device that is primarily used for home gamers, as opposed to in arcades or some other commercial establishment. Home consoles are one type of video game consoles, in contrast to the handheld game consoles which are smaller and portable, allowing people to carry them and play them at any time or place, along with microconsoles and dedicated consoles.
The Super NES CD-ROM System, known as Super Famicom CD-ROM Adapter in Japan, is an unreleased video game peripheral for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). The add-on built upon the functionality of the cartridge-based SNES by adding support for a CD-ROM-based format known as Super Disc.
Nintendo 64 Game Pak is the brand name of the consumer ROM cartridge product that stores game data for the Nintendo 64, released in 1996. As with Nintendo's previous consoles, the Game Pak's design tradeoffs were intended to achieve maximal system speed and minimal base console cost—with a lesser storage space and a higher unit cost per game. Integrating a CD-ROM drive, with its expensive and slow moving parts, would have drastically increased the console's base price and reduced its performance.
The history of Sega, a Japanese multinational video game developer and publisher, has roots tracing back to Standard Games in 1940 and Service Games of Japan in the 1950s. The formation of the company known today as Sega is traced back to the founding of Nihon Goraku Bussan, which became known as Sega Enterprises, Ltd. following the acquisition of Rosen Enterprises in 1965. Originally an importer of coin-operated games to Japan and manufacturer of slot machines and jukeboxes, Sega began developing its own arcade games in 1966 with Periscope, which became a surprise success and led to more arcade machine development. In 1969, Gulf and Western Industries bought Sega, which continued its arcade game business through the 1970s.
Beverly, MA (May 14, 1999) – Leading entertainment software publisher, Hasbro Interactive announced today it has released all rights that it may have to the vintage Atari hardware platform, the Jaguar.
… the tangible connection between the controls in your physical hands and the action of the little toy on screen is a clever semiotic trick that fools you into ever-increasing absorption into the cartoon world. A similar trick is worked by the videogame paradigm of the sniper rifle, introduced by MDK (1997), perfected by Goldeneye (1997) and then cropping up everywhere—for example in Metal Gear Solid (1999) and Perfect Dark (2000). This gadget zooms in on an area and lets you view it in close-up, usually for the purpose of delivering an exquisite head shot to a bad guy. A virtual environment that reveals more detail when viewed telescopically is naturally more convincing than one which only works on one informational scale.
Ryoji Akagawa: If it wasn't for Virtua Fighter, the PlayStation probably would have had a completely different hardware concept.