I was trying to wait to buy an N64 when choosing a console to follow the Mega Drive. As much as I loved Sega, and still do, the Saturn had such a terrible looking lineup and I remember seeing videos of BUG! and Clockwork Knight and wondering why I’d bother when the Ultra64 promos looked so damn good.
I even played the N64 at Tomorrow’s World Live months and months before it came out, queuing for over an hour to get 15 minutes on Mario, which was fantastic. In the end though the lack of a launch date for the UK forced my hand and the PS1 looked mighty impressive, so I saved up and got one on launch day.
The N64 wasn’t released for another year and a half which was absolutely ridiculous. Sony took the UK market in that time, using their teenage-focused campaigning and games to push Sega to the fringe. When Nintendo finally arrived with expensive cartridges, blurry textures and no room for the kind of flash that CDs were showing for they couldn’t make much of a dent.
That set the stage for the UK market for a long time. Where before it had been a roughly equal bout between Sega and Nintendo here (unlike the US) the UK became a Playstation place. The Dreamcast died miserably, helped along by Sega Europe’s fucking atrocious ad campaigns that did things like advertising Soul Caliber, at that time the prettiest game on anything, by showing a woman writing an e-mail. The Gamecube and Xbox did decent business but not nearly as much as the juggernaut that was the PS2. It was only partway into the 360’s life that the market opened up again, thanks to Microsoft selling the 360 for the converted price as opposed to Sony who just replaced the dollar sign with pounds.
Nintendo resurged with the Wii, and the gameboy and DS line ensured they were never truly gone, but I’ve always wondered what the market would have been like here if the N64 had released when the PS1 did. On the english-language side of the internet the realities of the UK market are often ignored, or assumed to be the same as the US, but it’s been quite different.