Our entertainment industry is a fickle thing, and few areas prove this quite as effectively as the wide world of video games and game development. The multi-billion dollar video game industry is plump full of studios and companies that always seem to be at each other throats. Each one wants to innovate before the others and deliver fresh, unique experiences to the gamers whose money keeps the industry going. In this article, we’re going to look at three of the biggest names–Sega, Nintendo, and Capcom–and examine how they fit together over the course of game development history. This is going to be more than a “one vs. one video game deathmatch” between developers; instead, we hope to shed some illuminating, informative light on three of video gaming’s most traditional companies.
More than most other developers currently producing games and game hardware, Sega, Nintendo, and Capcom have lasted the test of time. Each of them has been in the industry since the console revolution in the 1980s, and each has been carving out a wider and wider niche with respective independent properties. Their characters are beyond trademark; more than that, they’re cultural icons.
Nintendo has Mario and Luigi. Sega has Sonic the Hedgehog. Capcom arguably has the most, but if you’re a fan, you’ll recognize Mega Man immediately. These recognizable names, faces, and brands are only the very tip of the iceberg. Sega, Nintendo, and Capcom are behemoths when you glance beneath the surface of the water.
It would be indirect and misleading, however, to position each of these three companies as constantly at each other’s throats. There’s competition, sure, but by and large, they’re overlapping in interesting ways that only stand to benefit gamers in the long run. Especially with recent developments in the past several years, these companies have actually benefitted one another in unexpected ways.
In the following article, we’ll break each company down and provide a concise history of what they’ve contributed to the video game industry. In the historical sense, you’ll get a respect for how profound each one’s impact has been. In the immediate sense, you’ll get an idea of what kinds of games these companies are making right now and how they affect one another.
Hopefully, by the end of it, you’ll have a better idea of the gaming industry landscape, and how each of these gigantic, important companies occupies it.
Between the three companies that we’re examining today, Nintendo is the only one that’s currently manufacturing its own hardware, on which its games are almost exclusively played. This has been the case for more than two decades, reaching all the way back to the original Nintendo Entertainment System that has gained such an iconic status in our culture.
Most recently, Nintendo has capitalized off the success of two separate device families. On the home console end, Nintendo has the Wii U, the successor to the Nintendo Wii. It’s a console that has provided some interesting innovations in terms of game interactivity, primarily in that its controller features an entirely separate touch screen, though, which users can interact with games. “Dual screen” gaming has been Nintendo’s schtick over the past generation, especially since Nintendo’s two most recent handheld consoles have also featured it. The Nintendo 3DS (a clever combination of 3D and dual-screen) replaced the Nintendo DS that came before it.
The game consoles that came before those have left a lasting place in gaming culture. The Gamecube, Nintendo 64, SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System.) The Game Boy! Each has featured a few different innovations and offshoots, but these have been major players in gaming history, in that they’ve hosted the memorable titles that people will remember for lifetimes.
Of course, Nintendo’s relevance extends far beyond the company’s hardware. Mario, Luigi, and the entire cast of characters that occupy their cartoony mythology are recognizable in almost every corner of the world. As is Donkey Kong, and dozens of other characters and intellectual properties that are owned by Nintendo. Have you heard of Pokemon? I thought so.
It’s this combination of hardware and memorable games that has allowed Nintendo to not only stay relevant but remain near the head of the pack in terms of gaming culture around the world.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Sega used to manufacture video game hardware. Younger gamers might not have any recollection of Sega’s heyday, but the Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, and Sega Dreamcast were very important gaming consoles for a large number of people! They were immensely successful in the respective years of their relevance, but their time has come and passed.
Sega’s time spent manufacturing game consoles came to an end when the Dreamcast didn’t come close to meeting sales expectations. Rather than consolidating capital and beginning work on a new piece of hardware, Sega instead decided to shift its focus entirely to software and clever management of its popular intellectual properties. The Dreamcast died out, but Sonic the Hedgehog lived on!
The games and characters popularized through Sega have since been featured on a slew of major consoles. Though many thought that the end of Sega consoles was going to be the end of the company and its properties altogether, that’s not been the case at all. Platforms from Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft have given Sonic a new breath of life, and you can even purchase classic Sega games through the popular online gaming market, Steam.
All in all, Sega has the potential for a robust, meaningful future. It simply won’t take place on hardware of the company’s own design, any longer.
Whereas Nintendo and Sega have had extensive experience with manufacturing their own hardware (and developing games exclusively for it) Capcom has always been a master of software and excellent intellectual properties. The company has never delved into having its own console in this way and instead has remained fully devoted to the development and distribution of great games.
They’ve been around for a long time, too! Reaching as far back as the original NES, Capcom has been developing and evolving its IPs in interesting ways. Surely you’ve played Mega Man. Street Fighter? Resident Evil? Monster Hunter? Dead Rising? They’ve been some of the most successful titles in the past two decades, and have spawned a host of sequels, each performing as well as the games that have preceded them.
Capcom is one of those top-tier development companies, packing a reputation that ensures each game the company releases will be up to the standards expected by the current generation of gamers. In this way, at least, Capcom is similar to Nintendo and Sega. There’s no sign that they’re slowing down, either, as evidenced by the current slate of eagerly awaited Capcom games being developed for current generation consoles.
How Do They All Fit Together?
So, where’s the “vs” that’s part of these three companies’ interactions? Well, in the obvious sense, there has always been a large amount of competition between companies that are producing content for gamers. If you look at Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario, for instance, it’s incredibly easy to construe that as a “Sega vs. Nintendo” scenario since the games attached to each intellectual property are somewhat similar.
Both have roots in the 2D platformer genre, and each character–Sonic and Mario–are integral parts of their respective companies’ face values. Heck, when the Sega Genesis hit the market, it was directly competing with the Super Nintendo. Each boasted top-of-the-line hardware for its time. Similarly, the Dreamcast was released ahead of the Gamecube, in order to beat Nintendo’s console to the market; a move that was notoriously ill-fated for poor Sega.
Capcom, on the other hand, has always had a finger in every pie that it can. Nintendo’s consoles, Sega’s, Sony’s, and Microsoft’s have always featured games from Capcom, eager to play host to the newest titles from one of the most prolific and respected game development companies in existence. It’s hard to find any lines of comparison between them, apart from those made during the early days of popular gaming. Mega Man was quite a contender when you stacked him up against Sonic and Mario, but even that series has evolved in markedly different ways, making it less similar in style when compared to anything from Sega and Nintendo.
What does this mean for the three companies? Nothing dire, and nothing that will steer them from their current courses, for now. Capcom has always been a master of the software arena, and Sega is gettings its IPs onto as many consoles as possible. Nintendo, on the other hand, recently debuted its upcoming Switch console, a hybrid at-home and mobile system that has a lot of people talking.
In a way, there is no “Nintendo vs. Capcom vs. Sega,” simply because the companies co-exist and overlap almost constantly. However, they’re never far from competing against one another, and each one has a respectable history. When it comes to making a big splash in the game development landscape, you can usually rely on these three companies to lead the charge!