By | Michael Wayne | www.theceomagazine.com
School playgrounds across the world in the 1990s became battlefields for a variety of causes, but perhaps one of the most brutal wars was the one fought on behalf of Nintendo and Sega. The diehard denizens of teams Mario and Sonic would clash, day after day, over the perceived advantages of the video game consoles they’d chosen (or had been chosen for them).
Much of the advertising material found in trade publications of the day focused not on promoting one’s own products, but rather tearing down the competition’s – and insulting those who had committed the heinous crime of purchasing them. This, in turn, inflamed the player bases and sent them, brimming with piss and vinegar, into those playgrounds armed with the kind of verbal ammunition they’d need to prevail.
The battles were bloody; the toll likely incalculable. While the losers sat in detention, the winners celebrated in distant boardrooms. War is hell.
But one of the spoils of this particular war was an early and high-profile example of the modern boon that is ‘co-opetition’. The beginning of the end of that era of vicious, no-holds-barred corporate pugilism came in 2001, when Sega’s perilous financial situation caused the company to withdraw from the hardware business.
As a direct result, ubiquitous Sega mascot Sonic the Hedgehog’s next game was released exclusively on none other than Nintendo’s then-new handheld system, the Game Boy Advance.