Game Market 1983 - Chapter 43
“Uh~ Luxury hotels are expensive for a reason.”
After waking up from the hotel room, I fixed my disheveled hair and headed to the bathroom. I finally began to wake up from my half-sleep state after brushing my teeth and washing my face with cold water.
There were several bottles of beer rolling around on the hotel table; it seemed as if I had taken a few drinks while watching TV last night. I’d overslept by quite a bit, so I swiftly dressed myself and left the hotel after checking out.
“I can’t go on an empty stomach, I should have breakfast before meeting up with Kawaguchi.”
I unfolded the newspaper I brought from the hotel while I ate a modest bowl of soup in a tiny restaurant where I could eat alone without any stress. The only source of information I had of this era was through the news or newspaper, so I went through them every once in awhile, and there was a pretty interesting story today.
-NEGA’s first home console, the NEGA Disk, admits defeat to Mintendo. However, they are announcing their newest 16-bit handheld device, the NEGA Drive!!-
‘In the end, they’re preempting into the 16-bit field.’
After meeting with Kawaguchi in Pentagon’s Tokyo office, I headed back to Kyoto with a leisurely mind. However the state of affairs in the Mintendo HQ wa sin chaos.
“Director Kang, why are you coming back now. President Yamauchi’s been looking for you all morning.”
The informations receptionist at the headquarters lobby wildly clamored as soon as he saw me.
“I mean, my business trip to Tokyo should’ve been recorded in the attendance list, what’s the problem here? Would I be teleported back the moment you look for me?”
“This is not the time to make jokes sir~ Anyways, please hurry to the President’s office.”
I’m tired as hell from riding the subway for such a long time, and what’s happening here… I grumbled in my mind as I headed to Yamauchi’s office.
As I lightly knocked, President Yamauchi’s choleric voice rang out.
Oh oops… His temper is reaching the boiling point. I can tell just by hearing his voice. I took a moment to take a big breath in and turned the door handle to head in. In the office was a gathering of Mr. Gunpei, Mr. Shige, as well as other core employees.
“Kang Junhyuk~!! You bastard, why are you coming back now~!!”
“Haven’t you checked the checked the records? I just returned from handing the illustrations and cartridges to several game magazine companies.”
“Hey bastard, you became a director so why are you wandering around Tokyo like that. Sending those items by mail would be good enough~!! The monthly travel expenses that you bastards self request is comparable to the average employee’s salary~!! Why don’t you just rent out a personal spot in the subways?!!”
“How, you didn’t say anything before so why are you being like this now?”
“Have you seen the morning papers?”
“I did. Are you all perhaps gathered here like this because of the NEGA Drive announcement?”
“That’s right you bastard. Our competitor NEGA announced an innovation, and you’re not feeling anything?”
“Why would I? Isn’t it better for us?”
“What did you say?”
In response to my nonchalant reply, the expressions of the people in the conference room instantly crinkled. At that moment, Mr. Gunpei who was staring at me sitting next to President Yamauchi spoke.
“You said it’ll be better for us?”
“Of course. They’re going to be inspecting the market response to the 16-bit device for us, what else can top this?”
“However, you can’t ignore them being the innovator, can you? If it goes on like this, the contrast between our current games and NEGA’s new games running on the faster machine would widen…”
“Mr. Gunpei, Do you think it’s a set rule that the capabilities of a device with upgraded specs will be displayed to it’s full potential? There will be no software companies that are able to fully take advantage of the change in hardware from the beginning. They would have to conduct research on the new specs at least and experiment with the extent of how many objects can be added.”
“That’s true, all that would take a minimum of 1~2 years. For example, there is a clear difference between the graphics of Shigeru-kun’s Super Marigee 1 and Super Marigee 3, even though they’re both in the same device…”
“Correct. My ‘Psychic Battle’ currently in development, would’ve been impossible to make at the start of the Family’s launch. But we’re making these games which are nearing release. Following this logic, even if the NEGA Drive is released, there won’t be many differences from the current games.”
Ensuingly, the heads of the people in the conference room automatically started to nod.
“NEGA has already announced their plans for the 16-bit device. That means it would be released a year later at the quickest. I think this would have the converse effect of squeezing NEGA instead.”
Mr. Shige tilted his head and asked.
“Your Super Marigee 3 is nearing completion, is that correct?”
“Yup, that’s right…”
“Then how would you feel if our Mintendo announced we would be coming out with a new console 1 year from now? Even if you release your game now, it would become buried under the new console in one year? After finalizing the cartridge production, there would only be 10 months left for the game. Would the customers anticipating the release of the new console be willing to buy Super Marigee 3?”
“In the perspective of the developer, there wouldn’t be a worser backstab than that. I’d rather tweak the current game to fit the new console.”
“What about the basic production costs? The current monthly sales for our Family is 300,000 in Japan only. But will these people buy 300,000 units of the new device as soon as it comes out? No way. It’ll be good if it sells 10,000 units in the first month. On top of that, will the 10,000 buyers of the new console necessarily buy Super Marigee 3? Of course, the game has a name value attached so it would sell well; however, you can expect about half of the total device sales to turn into the title sale. The sales of Super Marigee as a whole would be reduced to about half here as well, correct?”
“Fuck… So selling it through either the old device or the new device is…”
“God damn right. The 3rd party game developers for NEGA will be feeling this exact sentiment. I’ll throw out a problem right now. What will be the course of action for these third parties?
Number 1: Fuck it~ We’ll just release it.
Number 2: We’ll release it after 1 year. But for this option, it wouldn’t be possible unless one was a major software company, right?
That leaves option number 3: We will find the closest substitute platform to NEGA’s Disk and publish our titles there. Now~ What option do you think they will choose?”
“Then… could that…!”
“Just in time, the capabilities of our Family console has been upgraded thanks to the specialty chip made from Raitex. Comparing the base models alone, our current Family would fall behind the NEGA Disk but once we add the specialty chip, there would be no issues with coding it to match the specs of the NEGA Disk. This is the time where we would have to open doors for the incoming third party developers.”
“You mean to lower the royalty rates even more?”
“If we lowered our royalty rates even when we required funds to purchase the specialty chip from Raitex, we would be able to gain the preference of the second party developers of NEGA.
If our enemy came out with a strong move, we would counter with the strongest.”
This is the end of my speech. If you guys have anything else to say, go ahead?
But they were all unable to speak as if a spoon was stuck in their mouths. In their minds, NEGA announcing their newest device was turning from the absolute worst situation to a great chance for observation.
President Yamauchi seemed to be trying to scrutinize my logic, but it was to avail as he let a long sigh out.
“This man here, truly can’t be won over with words. I have nothing to say to his speech that he seemed to have prepared beforehand.”
“NEGA did announce their new device this morning, but we weren’t caught completely unaware either. Wasn’t this why I asked for the creation of the New Console Development Department?”
“Right, how is the development for the next gen Family going?”
“The final blueprint for the control pad is finished and starting production.”
“By control pad, you mean the game controllers? You made the control pad first instead of the actual device?”
“The controller is more important than the device specs. It should be the sturdiest part of the gaming device, made with absolute attention. You all will love it. That aside, since NEGA made a splash today, we should also follow up with a drop of our own tomorrow at the newspaper.”
“Let’s pull the release date of Mr. Gunpei’s Gamboy closer. Our focus should not be on the 16-bit console market but the handheld devices.”
At that moment, Gunpei looked at President Yamauchi’s reaction with a worried gaze.
“Ah… But we haven’t decided on the market price for our Gamboy yet…”
“What are the estimates?”
“The expenditures to Sharp, our display maker, is huge so we set the tentative price at 14,800 yen. However, we don’t know if the customers would understand this price…”
“Then pull the release date forward by 1 week and set the price to 12,800 yen. We will start selling it at 14,800 yen starting January 1st of next year. What do you think about this release sale strategy?”
“So we would lose profits in the initial week?”
“When have we made money by selling the Family? Our primary revenue came from the cartridges. As long as the Gamboy itself is popular, we can bring in the cash with cartridge sales.”
“President, Kang-kun’s proposal isn’t bad at all. What should we do?”
“What should we do? Immediately call the daily papers!!”
The instant President Yamauchi laid down his word, the people gathered at the office rose up in a flurry and hustled. Indeed, the marketing department who was calmly waiting for the Gamboy release date should be restless..
Eventually, President Yamauchi and I were the only ones left in the office. Now that I’ve taken care of the general problem, I should head back too.
“Then I’ll be leaving…”
At that moment, President Yamauchi, who was immersed in deep thought with his arms crossed, open his mouth.
“Kang-kun, please stay for a moment.”