Console Wars – Blake Harris – Scribd Audio Book

Console Wars
Console Wars – Blake Harris

Console Wars is a Scribd Audio Book that is similar to the Super Mario – How Nintendo Conquered America – Jeff Ryan book that I had reviewed previously.  It even shares some of the same historical facts.

Nintendo was created in the late 1800s as a play card company.  They looked to diversify the business when most people already bought playing cards in Japan.  They had some failed ventures.  The most fascinating being an hourly love hotel.  Eventually, they settled on electronic gaming.  Their Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy was extremely popular and gave them 80% of the industry.

I believe this Console Wars falls under the category of semi-fiction.  It most likely uses many facts, but adds certain fictional elements for humor.  Tom Kalinske, is vacationing with his family in Hawaii.  On the beach, he is approached by a Japanese man.  Kalinske is a former successful toy executive and the Japanese guy is trying to get him to join an unknown Sega.

Kalinske’s prior accomplishments include improving performance on Barbie Doll, creating He-Man, and improving child nutrition by creating Flintstones Vitamins.  Kalinske does like to work more than the beach, so he joins Sega.

Tom’s first strategy is a campaign.  He starts touring shopping malls.  Asking people to blindly try out Sega and Nintendo, so they can compare the two products.  Kalinske soon realized that money was to be made in the games not the consoles.  Only one console would be sold per family, but the amount of games sold could be limitless.

Sonic the hedgehog was created at a Sega contest.  The office contest was to create a mascot for the company.  The original Sonic was an evil looking Hedgehog with large fangs.  Kalinske used his marketing talent to create a friendlier looking hedgehog that would appeal to everyone.  Initially, Tom dealt with lots of anguish in approving his Sonic.  But, much to the Chagrin of Japanese executives, Tom’s version was approved.

With Sega Genesis and Sonic the hedgehog, Tom created his next move.  He would allow Sega to lose millions of dollars by adding the Sonic game to the console package.  The assumption was the long run profits of this move would be favorable.  The risk paid off, that holiday season more Sega Genesis units were sold to customer than Nintendo units.

Another large risk that Sega took was to include more adult themes in their video games.  This helped them amass another fortune during production of Mortal Kombat.  Unfortunately, this also gave them some bad press with parents and politicians.  Non-stop thinking Tom was able to put out the fire by creating a rating system on video games.

Sega would continue to do great after they hired marketing experts Goodby Silverstein.  Those are the marketing geniuses behind many super bowl commercials including the Budweiser Frogs.  Goodby Silverstein was intelligent enough to send their team to work with young kids that actually

This review of Console Wars talks about specific facts in the Scribd audio book.  What makes Console Wars such a great book is that it’s very comical.  The audio book is funny with its makeshift Japanese accents.  The other reason why it’s so funny is the crazy things that go on behind the scenes with marketing teams in large corporations.  Another large selling point to this book is that Seth Rogen plans on creating a movie based on this book in 2016.