Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation
Author: Blake J. Harris
Length: 576 pages
Date Read: 7/2/2019
My rating: 5/5
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As a kid who grew up in the 80s and 90s, I owned a Nintendo, a Gameboy, and a Super Nintendo. This book brought back memories of those hours my friends and I spent trying to stomp turtles and launch Hadouken attacks at a green Brazilian beast.
Console Wars pulls you into the behind-the-scenes battle of two businesses and how the underdog Sega briefly surged past the dominant Nintendo in market share.
Tom Kalinske is the star. He’s the mastermind behind He-Man (one of my favorite toys as a kid). Making a male version of Barbie and creating a TV show to drive sales. He thinks outside the box and seems to be the perfect fit for a fledgling company like Sega who is poised to take on the established juggernaut Nintendo.
As I read, I kept thinking Sega is to Google, as Nintendo is to Apple.
Apple enforces high standards around what apps get published to the AppStore. Google’s Play Store, on the other hand, is the Wild West; anything goes. Nintendo didn’t let just anyone produce games for its system. Approval standards were in place to maintain quality. Sega wanted to beat Nintendo on quantity and choice over quality. Let the customers decide which games win out.
Readability – 5/5
A really enjoyed Blake J. Harris’s style of writing. I feel as though I’m watching a documentary film only better because I’m emersed in the middle of conversations and events as a first-hand observer.
You might enjoy this book if you…
- Played video games in the 80s or 90s.
- Like underdog stories
- Like business strategy
- Slow and steady wins in the long run
- Thinking outside the box can differentiate and surprise the competition.
- Not everyone is meant to go long at a company. Some, like Tom Kalinski, are meant to stop by, remodel, and move on.
My favorite part of the book
90 day return policy? Did you keep your receipt? Not in 1991…
In 1991, someone could walk into a store with no receipt and no original packaging—they didn’t even have to have all the parts (“Um, I don’t remember this NES coming with a controller”)—and receive a full refund by claiming there was a defect.– Blake J. Harris
Why did I read this book?
What other books did this inspire me to read?
I wanted to read The History of the Future even more.
The only thing it takes to sell toys, vitamins, or magazines is the power of story. Kalinski realized that…when you tell memorable, universal, intricate, and heartbreaking stories, anything is possible.– Blake J. Harris