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/  Forum Index
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      /  AmigaCD32 30 years on
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Poll : AmigaCD32 main issue was
Limited Game Library
Marketing and Distribution
Legal Issues / Commodore Bankruptcy
Timing
Lack of Exclusive Titles
Underpowered
Pankcakes were not included
 
PosterThread
Turrican3 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 13-Sep-2023 11:10:22
#41 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 20-Jun-2003
Posts: 386
From: Italy

Quote:
The Hombre/CD64 would have been more flexible for 3D than the PS1 hardware. It's difficult to say what the performance and power use would be if integrated but it would need integration and being new it would need marketing which Sony was very good at while C= was not. Ok, so C= was not good at licensing, integration or marketing. That was a handicap that was rarely overcome, especially for a technology business.


@matthey

I really should have phrased better.

My point was supposed to state that regardless of the performance, I'm 99.9% sure Hombre would have had no chance against the PSX (but I'd argue this would have been true for the Saturn and the N64 as well) simply because of the lack of decent software support.

Maybe a few ports here and there would be made but I can't really see major western publishers supporting this hardware. Heck, in the post-Sony world even a major player like Nintendo has always been treated as a second class citizen by most publishers, how could Commodore even _hope_ to survive against such a behemoth?

Last edited by Turrican3 on 13-Sep-2023 at 11:11 AM.

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BigD 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 13-Sep-2023 11:45:20
#42 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 11-Aug-2005
Posts: 7136
From: UK

@Turrican3

Maybe if Sony had courted Commodore rather than Nintendo a Sony CD32 might have seen the light of day with Psygnosis/Sony Liverpool support and 3D chips! Other than that, if Sony had bought Commodore and PlayStation/CD32 hybrid with Amiga 2D capabilities added and OS support?

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pixie 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 13-Sep-2023 12:38:27
#43 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 10-Mar-2003
Posts: 2917
From: Figueira da Foz - Portugal

@BigD

Weren't Playstation 2D Capabilities far ahead of Amiga? What would they need that for?

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Turrican3 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 13-Sep-2023 12:42:00
#44 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 20-Jun-2003
Posts: 386
From: Italy

@BigD

Naaaah Sony is smart* and IMHO had almost nothing to gain seeking a partnership with Commodore.

There's a reason they tried to secure a partnership with Nintendo instead: software back then definitely wasn't what they excelled at, while the Kyoto-based giant had a relatively long history of huge success in the videogame field. They needed a totally different partner than Commodore I think, their choice was right.

* = perhaps a bit too smart, as the licensing terms were what made the deal utterly fail XD

Last edited by Turrican3 on 13-Sep-2023 at 12:56 PM.
Last edited by Turrican3 on 13-Sep-2023 at 12:42 PM.

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matthey 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 14-Sep-2023 4:38:39
#45 ]
Super Member
Joined: 14-Mar-2007
Posts: 1752
From: Kansas

Turrican3 Quote:

My point was supposed to state that regardless of the performance, I'm 99.9% sure Hombre would have had no chance against the PSX (but I'd argue this would have been true for the Saturn and the N64 as well) simply because of the lack of decent software support.

Maybe a few ports here and there would be made but I can't really see major western publishers supporting this hardware. Heck, in the post-Sony world even a major player like Nintendo has always been treated as a second class citizen by most publishers, how could Commodore even _hope_ to survive against such a behemoth?


C= had a bad reputation left by Jack Tramiel who made wars instead of alliances. This is a major reason why the Amiga launch did poorly in North America even after he left C=. It carried over to the AtariST and Jaguar console which had worse developer support than the CD32. The post Jack Tramiel C= wasn't good at forming alliances and licensing either but probably seemed somewhat more professional from the outside other than their lack of R&D investment, slow development pace and inept promotions and advertising. C= isn't the only console business making mistakes in the CD32 era and beyond.

The Sega Saturn had many CPUs and not as specialized of hardware that could be used for both 2D and 3D uses. It was kind of like older consoles that were difficult to program and extract performance from while there was enough hardware to raise the cost above PS1 levels. It had a successful launch in Japan and may have outsold the PS1 for a short time but the PS1 cheaper price, better and easier development system and work Sony put in to gain developers quickly turned this around. Sega launched the Saturn early before the PS1 in North America but with fewer games and some retailers did not receive stock like Walmart, Best Buy and KB Toys which refused to then sell the Saturn. Production and marketing of the cheaper and popular Sega Genesis was reduced so there were shortages as they killed off a still successful product. The followup Sega Dreamcast lost EA support partially because Sega chose the more "Japanese" designed less powerful PowerVR2 3D chipset which had manufacturing delays over the more powerful 3dfx Voodoo 2 3D chipset which EA was already familiar with. The hardware was a more standard unified and off the shelf design with Windows CE using DirectX API and dynamic-link libraries. Sega didn't have 3D hardware or an OS so had to go out and buy it but chose poorly for both. The PS2 ended Sega's console attempts but these weren't complete failures with both the Saturn and Dreamcast selling over 9 million units each. C= would have been happy with 9 million CD32 units sold but the Japanese leveraged up risk with hardware subsidization, mass production stock buildup before launch and massive add campaigns.

Nintendo also made mistakes but their marketing prowess, focus on game play and loyal customer base kept them alive often with inferior hardware. The SNES had a good console chipset but suffered from a poor CPU choice used for compatibility with NES and low divided memory (separate CPU, video and audio memory). The N64 added one of the most powerful console CPUs of the time in the MIPS 64 bit NEC VR4300@93.75MHz and 4MiB of unified memory which is more like modern versatile systems which are easier to program. SGI helped reduce the CPU power and designed the chipset. Everything looks good except they went with the old cartridge system instead of adding a CD-ROM drive. Newer ported CD-ROM games were reduced to cartridge which was less competitive but later many were not ported. The number of games for the N64 was lower than the competition and low for a Nintendo console but there were still about 33 million units sold. Nintendo had fallen behind the competition which the follow up PPC Nintendo GameCube with 21.74 million units sold could not correct but Nintendo reinvented themselves with the Wii and innovative game play again. Amiga Corporation had the Joyboard in 1983 but the Wii sold over 42 million Wii Balance Boards.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joyboard

BigD Quote:

Maybe if Sony had courted Commodore rather than Nintendo a Sony CD32 might have seen the light of day with Psygnosis/Sony Liverpool support and 3D chips! Other than that, if Sony had bought Commodore and PlayStation/CD32 hybrid with Amiga 2D capabilities added and OS support?


C= didn't need Sony. They had the 2D Amiga and 3D Hombre on their fast track 7 year technology upgrade cycle (OCS to AGA is 7 years). Competitive GPU manufacturers had about a 1 year tech upgrade cycle and sometimes as little as 6 months for minor upgrades when 3dfx went out of business while trying to keep up. That was with Moore's Law in full swing which brutalized many tech businesses that were much better than C=.

pixie Quote:

Weren't Playstation 2D Capabilities far ahead of Amiga? What would they need that for?


The PS1 used 3D hardware for 2D. It was high enough performance in most cases but tricky to program. Modern 3D GPUs also use 3D versatile shaders for 2D processing.

Turrican3 Quote:

Naaaah Sony is smart* and IMHO had almost nothing to gain seeking a partnership with Commodore.

There's a reason they tried to secure a partnership with Nintendo instead: software back then definitely wasn't what they excelled at, while the Kyoto-based giant had a relatively long history of huge success in the videogame field. They needed a totally different partner than Commodore I think, their choice was right.


Sony made some big gambles that payed off with the PS1 including using 3D only hardware, moving to an expensive state of the art chip process and acquiring developer Psygnosis in 1993 for $48 million U.S. which produced 70% of its launch titles. Did the Sony execs watch a video of Shadow of the Beast on the Amiga?

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Turrican3 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 14-Sep-2023 9:03:13
#46 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 20-Jun-2003
Posts: 386
From: Italy

@matthey

Quote:
C= had a bad reputation left by Jack Tramiel who made wars instead of alliances. This is a major reason why the Amiga launch did poorly in North America even after he left C=


Strongly disagree here. The Amiga failed first and foremost because it was unproven, moderately expensive and very very badly marketed.

Moreover, when the CD32 launched almost 10 years had passed since Tramiel had left Commodore. His management of the company is well known for having burned bridges very badly especially in the US market, sure, but at least from a purely theoretical point of view there had been plenty of time to revert that, so I find it hard to blame him for the CD32 fiasco (or the potential Hombre one)

On the other hand I believe very strong competition from both newcomers (Sony) and long estabilished players (Nintendo, Sega, and later Microsoft) would have left very little space in the market, if any, for an uncompetitive Commodore.

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BigD 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 14-Sep-2023 9:34:27
#47 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 11-Aug-2005
Posts: 7136
From: UK

@Turrican3

The product itself was remarkably good considering the problems that you mention! The expansion port was genius and the cheap 2 x speed CD-Rom was just what the market needed in 1992/93. 2x speed was too slow for C&C by 1995 but for that early 90s time-frame it was great!

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agami 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 14-Sep-2023 11:34:25
#48 ]
Super Member
Joined: 30-Jun-2008
Posts: 1400
From: Melbourne, Australia

@Turrican3

Quote:
Turrican3 wrote:
Quote:
The Hombre/CD64 would have been more flexible for 3D than the PS1 hardware...

@matthey

...Heck, in the post-Sony world even a major player like Nintendo has always been treated as a second class citizen by most publishers, how could Commodore even _hope_ to survive against such a behemoth?

The same hope 3Dfx had for personal computer gaming, plus the CD64 could've been an Xbox play before MS even worked with SEGA. The CD32 was also very much an Xbox play, just poorly and desperately executed.

You know what, I take back my original response and I'm changing it from Underpowered to Lack of Marketing/Distribution.

I know when most people think of "marketing", they think of advertising, i.e. outbound marketing.
Don't get me wrong, Commodore for the most part sucked at this too, but what killed the CD32 before it was ever a glint in a C= team member's eye, was just how colossally bad C= was at all aspects of marketing, and sales:
- general market research
- consumer trends analysis
- competitor analysis
- industry trends analysis
- partner programs
- community outreach
- product-market fit

Not only was the CD32 set up for failure from the start, but everything as far back as the A3000.

They were given tech from the future. The kind that could've broken new kinds of records.
But the management team over there at the time, all seemed to be stuck in the past. Any one of them with an MBA, should be ashamed to print that on their business cards.

What a f#@&ing waste.

Last edited by agami on 15-Sep-2023 at 07:24 AM.

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BigD 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 14-Sep-2023 12:13:11
#49 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 11-Aug-2005
Posts: 7136
From: UK

@agami

Quote:
They were given tech from the future. The kind that could've broken new kinds of records.


C= were a dongle and widget company. C= in the 90s had no direction from the point the CDTV failed to take off IMHO! It completely blindsided Gould who probably thought that the Amiga had no value from that point onwards.

They didn't view the Amiga as a computer platform just a kludge to bolt extra things onto! It might as well have been a piece of Independence Day alien tech that they only could only re-engineer up to a point until DirectX came along and showed them what they should have been doing!

The VideoToaster while the saviour of the Amiga in the USA didn't help them change there view! AGA was a bonus/miracle, RTG never came during their lifetime. Hombre was too little too late and engineer led. The marketing team didn't know what the custiomer wanted but they bet half their company on it being expansive Commodore rebadged PCs! They were wrong!

The Amiga did have value but they let the tech wither. It's like they actively tried to disprove Moore's Law by thinking the 68000 was good enough forever!

I have no nostalgia for the 'actual' C= company beyond Chuck Peddle, MOS, the A1200 case badge, my C= mouse mat and the memory of C= Gaming's PC cases and what the brand could have represented!

Last edited by BigD on 14-Sep-2023 at 12:17 PM.

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Turrican3 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 14-Sep-2023 12:38:05
#50 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 20-Jun-2003
Posts: 386
From: Italy

@agami

Quote:
Not only was the CD32 set up for failure from the start, but everything as far back as the A3000. They were given tech from the future. The kind that could've broken new kinds of records. But the management team over there at the time, all seemed to be stuck in the past. Any one of them with an MBA, should be ashamed to print that on their business cards.


Yup, totally agree (unfortunately)

Best tech in the possibly worst imaginable hands.

@BigD

Quote:
The product itself was remarkably good considering the problems that you mention!


I really don't think it was, and god knows how much I love the Amiga, so definitely not a hater here.

Perhaps had they chosen to adopt a different architecture (we've already talked about the lack of Fast RAM in this very thread) it could have been a decent, albeit late, gaming machine.

But we all know what happened: they just did a quick&dirty re-adaptation of an existing hardware design, slapped a cdrom on it (plus a chip almost nobody exploited) and called it a day.

You mentioned the CDROM which was nice but... basically nobody leveraged that huge space (and no, cd-quality audio isn't what made the PSX a success), it was just an A1200 with a physical support not suited (yet!) for mass piracy, but released at a time where the Amiga games market was already collapsing, not to mention its own manufacturer.

That's the crude reality this machine had to deal with. Meanwhile, Nintendo and Sega were selling tens of millions of hardware AND software, while Sony was just around the corner.

That's the definition of Dead on Arrival if you ask me.

Last edited by Turrican3 on 14-Sep-2023 at 12:40 PM.
Last edited by Turrican3 on 14-Sep-2023 at 12:39 PM.
Last edited by Turrican3 on 14-Sep-2023 at 12:38 PM.

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BigD 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 14-Sep-2023 13:26:44
#51 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 11-Aug-2005
Posts: 7136
From: UK

@Turrican3

Quote:
That's the definition of Dead on Arrival if you ask me.


The Amiga itself was a dead piracy machine that ALL the developers had pretty much decided to drop after 1992! The CD32 was the only chance to eek out the platforms survival until a C= buyer revealed themselves. The CD32 was what the UK market needed in 1993, I couldn't care less that the rest of the world was still buying SNES and MegaDrives! This could be upgraded to a full Amiga at a time where A1200 stock was about to crash. CD32 multi-button support and CD-Audio, plus FMV and extra storage capacity WAS required for a market that had stagnated with 1-button joysticks and up for jump!! The fastram omission could be corrected with a SX32 and more damaging was the decision to include a frankly ridiculous 1kB of non-volatile memory for game saves rather than a memory card slot! Cannon Fodder was also known to overwrite ALL other saves even if they were locked! Disaster that one of most popular games would do that!!! This I found out today could be corrected with NVRam_Tools on a SX32/SX-1/Pro Module!

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BigD 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 14-Sep-2023 13:30:12
#52 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 11-Aug-2005
Posts: 7136
From: UK

@Thread

I used to use CD32 Disksaver to save the NVRam saves to a floppy!

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Turrican3 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 14-Sep-2023 15:00:31
#53 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 20-Jun-2003
Posts: 386
From: Italy

@BigD

Quote:
The Amiga itself was a dead piracy machine that ALL the developers had pretty much decided to drop after 1992! The CD32 was the only chance to eek out the platforms survival until a C= buyer revealed themselves. The CD32 was what the UK market needed in 1993, I couldn't care less that the rest of the world was still buying SNES and MegaDrives!


I think you should have cared about that, simply because somebody had to write software, and as you yourself admitted, the Amiga market was basically dead.

Now, unless the CD32 alone shifted at least 10 million units (that is, double the amount of units the whole Amiga family sold during its lifecycle combined!) do you really believe there was going to be a single chance someone was going to invest the massive amount of money needed for a decent "true" (i.e. not filled with nice but ultimately useless high quality audio, but actual data) cdrom game?

Scratch that: do you think the market was there to move 7 figures units of the CD32 ? Because I frankly don't...

Quote:
The fastram omission could be corrected with a SX32


Sure, but the console market is well known to be usually quite cold regarding add-ons. And an SX-32 (or equivalent expansion) would have increased the price even further, for a console that wasn't exactly affordable in the first place. Doesn't sound like the recipe for success, does it?

There's no doubt a Fast RAM-equipped CD32 would have made things way easier for developers, both for the development process itself and the support it would have likely gained being the default HW configuration. But we didn't get it, unfortunately.

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BigD 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 14-Sep-2023 16:43:02
#54 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 11-Aug-2005
Posts: 7136
From: UK

@Turrican3

I still think that the dodgy NVRam 1kB of save game memory was a worse design choice than the lack of Fast Ram. The CD32 was a console for computer game lovers not 'video game' cartridge lovers! The games were different and more varied. No, it didn't get anywhere near 7 figure game sales levels but it was fun and pandered to indie UK titles with some AGA and CD sound upgrades. That was worth the upgrade to AGA whereas the floppy AGA offerings weren't until RTG, CD-Rom titles arrived later! The CD32 was reborn with THEA500 Mini! It has more in common with the AGA console without a keyboard than the OCS 1987 machine IMHO!

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bhabbott 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 14-Sep-2023 18:03:33
#55 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 6-Jun-2018
Posts: 263
From: Aotearoa

@matthey

Quote:

matthey wrote:

C= didn't need Sony. They had the 2D Amiga and 3D Hombre on their fast track 7 year technology upgrade cycle (OCS to AGA is 7 years). Competitive GPU manufacturers had about a 1 year tech upgrade cycle and sometimes as little as 6 months for minor upgrades when 3dfx went out of business while trying to keep up. That was with Moore's Law in full swing which brutalized many tech businesses that were much better than C=.

OCS/ECS was the past. Commodore's hardware development cycle was much faster in AGA times, due to better chips and tools for them.

It's a bit disingenuous to suggest there were no changes made to the chipset in 7 years. The maximum number of bitmap colors was soon doubled with EHB mode. ChipRAM addressing increased to 1MB and 2MB. ECS provided VGA scan rates with flicker-free hires output and bigger blits. Sprites could now be displayed in the border area, and 50/60 Hz frame rate was software selectable. This was accompanied by radical changes to the OS to support the new screen modes etc., and to make it more 'professional' and easier to expand in the future - paving the way for AGA and Amiga OS 3 which was released 2 years later.

For sure these improvements were mostly only 'incremental', but big changes were not really needed during this time. Maintaining a large user base of like machines was more important. Game developers were still wringing more out of OCS even in 1993 after AGA came out, because that's where the main market was. Some of those later OCS games were so impressive that it was hard to tell they weren't AGA!

VGA modes should perhaps have gotten more attention, but Commodore made the curious choice of introducing ECS with the A3000 which had a flicker fixer built in. A2000 owners also were using flicker fixers, and A500 users were not that interested in running monochrome 'productivity' applications that benefited from the VGA display.

In 1993 Commodore was planning on a yearly product update cycle, first with AA+ and DSP in 1994, then Hombre in 1995. They also planned to continue cost-reducing the existing design with greater integration like they did with the CD32. By early 1995 they expected to have a 'system on chip' including integrated CPU to maintain backward compatibility, freeing future designs from the limitations of the original chipset without compromising performance.

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bhabbott 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 14-Sep-2023 18:25:49
#56 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 6-Jun-2018
Posts: 263
From: Aotearoa

@BigD

Quote:

BigD wrote:
@Turrican3

I still think that the dodgy NVRam 1kB of save game memory was a worse design choice than the lack of Fast Ram.

But how much of a problem was the small NVRAM size in practice? Not much I reckon, since most games could accommodate it and many didn't need much space just to save high scores etc. Most consoles of the time didn't have much or any NVRAM either, and most gamers didn't care. I had a Sony PlayStation with 'huge' game save memory, and only used it for one game.

If NVRAM size really was a problem then 3rd party solutions would have been developed to address it. Were they? Not that I know of (apart from from full expansion systems).

Quote:
The CD32 was a console for computer game lovers not 'video game' cartridge lovers! The games were different and more varied. No, it didn't get anywhere near 7 figure game sales levels but it was fun and pandered to indie UK titles with some AGA and CD sound upgrades. That was worth the upgrade to AGA whereas the floppy AGA offerings weren't until RTG, CD-Rom titles arrived later!

This is true. It also continued the Amiga tradition of a powerful computer that was used like a gaming console and priced accordingly.

RTG, CDROM and faster CPUS etc. implied much more expensive machines and a fractured user base - which was where the PC was. There was little point going down that path with the Amiga unless you were a dedicated fan - might as well just buy a PC (and keep buying a new PC every 2 years or so forever!).

Last edited by bhabbott on 14-Sep-2023 at 06:27 PM.

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BigD 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 14-Sep-2023 18:40:04
#57 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 11-Aug-2005
Posts: 7136
From: UK

@bhabbott

Other than the user experience being poor until at least Windows XP!

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matthey 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 14-Sep-2023 18:53:07
#58 ]
Super Member
Joined: 14-Mar-2007
Posts: 1752
From: Kansas

Turrican3 Quote:

Strongly disagree here. The Amiga failed first and foremost because it was unproven, moderately expensive and very very badly marketed.


The Amiga 1000 was unproven and buggy when it fist launched but the CD32 was a conservative, mature and reliable platform. The Amiga in general was moderately priced and offered the most hardware value of any personal computer when launched. The CD32 was introduced at a relatively high price for the hardware value but the 3DO was the only console on the market that had better hardware and it had a significantly higher price. The Saturn and PS1 were a year later than the CD32 in Japan but closer to 2 years later for the rest of the world. The CD32 has a fraction of the chipset hardware of the 3DO, Saturn and PS1 and could be produced for much less but C= timing was good enough for once to allow a fat profit margin which they were taking to try to keep the C= ship from sinking. I agree that the Amiga was very badly marketed but C= was in financial trouble shortly after they acquired the Amiga and then at the end with the CD32. There were a few CD32 commercials but I expect console competitors were spending at least 10 times and likely 100 times as much on advertising and promotion. Still, the CD32 would have likely been a success had C= not failed because it had less hardware and could be cost reduced in the budget console market. It's closer to the Sega Genesis which survived until 1997 selling over 30 million units but was then licensed and sold over 4 million more units (Tectoy in Brazil may still be selling in 2023). That doesn't count the Sega Genesis Mini and Sega Genesis Mini 2 either. Both the Sega Genesis and Amiga CD32 could leverage large game collections but the CD32 standard had a CD-ROM drive, more powerful CPU and more memory as standard for playing some of the newer games. The CD32 was also more versatile with the AmigaOS and expansion.

Turrican3 Quote:

Moreover, when the CD32 launched almost 10 years had passed since Tramiel had left Commodore. His management of the company is well known for having burned bridges very badly especially in the US market, sure, but at least from a purely theoretical point of view there had been plenty of time to revert that, so I find it hard to blame him for the CD32 fiasco (or the potential Hombre one)


North America was still a horrible market for the Amiga when the CD32 was released. The only stores selling the Amiga were specialized desktop video stores and that was probably about an average of 1 per major city. Recall how the Sega Saturn lost Walmart, Best Buy and KB Toys after their early launch excluded them. That is nothing compared to the Amiga.

Never Amiga: Walmart, Best Buy, KB Toys, Toys "R" US, Circuit City, CompUSA
Amiga 500/CDTV: Babbages, Software Etc, Sears, Kmart?

None of these stores were selling Amigas at the time of the CD32 launch and I would be surprised if C= had any plans for the CD32 to be in any of these major store chains. How important was North America?

Brand/Console | Japan | North America | Europe
Sega/Genesis 3,590,000 20,000,000+ 8,170,000+
Nintendo/SNES 17,170,000 20,000,000+ 5,280,000+
C=/CD32 ? ? ~100,000
Atari/Jaguar 3,000 250,000+ ?
Sega/Saturn 5,800,000 1,800,000 1,000,000
Sony/PS1 19,411,000 40,780,000 40,120,000
Nintendo/N64 5,540,000 ~20,630,000 4,500,000

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_game_consoles_by_region

North America was only the most important console market. The Japanese market was trendy and unpredictable. The European market was more budget and value oriented.

Turrican3 Quote:

On the other hand I believe very strong competition from both newcomers (Sony) and long established players (Nintendo, Sega, and later Microsoft) would have left very little space in the market, if any, for an uncompetitive Commodore.


The CD32 hardware was competitive when it was released in late 1993. It's kind of the same argument with the Amiga 1200 and AGA which was also still competitive when released but then technology started to accelerate. The CD32 could be improved easily in performance and cost reduced with minimal loss of compatibility. Yes, C= needed to accelerate their development and they would have had a hard time competing with Sony for performance consoles with their budget. Nintendo wasn't about performance and still isn't about performance but is niche. The original Xbox didn't sell well outside the U.S. and was a financial failure by bringing x86 desktop hardware to the console market which didn't work until later when improved chip processes could lower power requirements (MS went PPC for the next gen losing compatibility but it was a success as the PS3 was a disappointment from Sony). It's difficult to say how the CD32 could have been upgraded to compete with a PentiumIII@733 MHz and Nvidia 3D chipset by that time but it likely would have been a small, low power and low cost versatile console competing in the budget console market if it had survived. It's surprising that no other budget console has survived long after 2000. There was the Ouya ARM based console which raised a record setting $8.5 million U.S. on Kickstarter and sold for $99/99 but only sold around 200,000 units.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouya

An ARM based system is a good candidate for a budget console but it is difficult to attract developers to create games for a budget console. Ideally, backward compatibility with retro games is what is working as can be seen by retro Mini and FPGA hardware. A lot of the consoles with large software libraries do not have very upgradable hardware. The Amiga could be upgraded to a 2GHz 68k CPU and 2GiB of memory while retaining good compatibility (emulators do this) and this would have applied to CD32 upgrades as well. As far as cost reductions, a 68060 and AA+ chipset could fit in a SoC with a production cost less than a cup of coffee costs today.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AA+_Chipset

The 68k Amiga had and has good scalability but scaling up performance to modern levels is expensive. Most modern hardware has trouble scaling down to the 68k Amiga simplicity and small footprint where there isn't as much competition. This is why the Amiga and CD32 may have been able to find a niche in the budget market much like the Raspberry Pi has today. Some people have tried to create a Raspberry Pi console standard but it mostly relies on emulation of retro hardware. It would be interesting to see the Raspberry Pi Foundation create an "official" budget console but even with their good reputation it may not succeed. They may want a higher performance GPU first. Something like the new Imagination Technologies scalable hybrid ray tracing GPUs with low enough power for mobile devices could be good and fits with the British developed Acorn and ARM. Ray tracing could be pretty good for marketing on the Amiga as well since the Amiga was one of the first personal computers for ray tracing even though the modern real time ray tracing is different. It took hours to ray trace a scene on a 1985 Amiga that was considered amazing and now mobile devices can do it in real time.

Last edited by matthey on 14-Sep-2023 at 07:08 PM.

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bhabbott 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 14-Sep-2023 19:20:32
#59 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 6-Jun-2018
Posts: 263
From: Aotearoa

@Turrican3

Quote:

Turrican3 wrote:
@BigD

I think you should have cared about that, simply because somebody had to write software, and as you yourself admitted, the Amiga market was basically dead.

Not dead, but suffering badly from piracy that wasn't so much of a problem on the PC due to it's much larger user base and more affluent (and less savvy) owners. The CD32 - or more correctly the CD-ROM format - was the answer to that. Once CD-ROM became the preferred media it would help mitigate piracy on other Amigas too, making it worth developing more sophisticated titles for the Amiga or porting them to it. Developers just needed a sign that their efforts wouldn't be decimated by rampant piracy, and the CD32 provided it.

Quote:
Now, unless the CD32 alone shifted at least 10 million units (that is, double the amount of units the whole Amiga family sold during its lifecycle combined!) do you really believe there was going to be a single chance someone was going to invest the massive amount of money needed for a decent "true" (i.e. not filled with nice but ultimately useless high quality audio, but actual data) cdrom game?

I do, because that is what I was doing at the time. We would have been very happy with sales in the 100k region, ie mere 1% of the potential market at 10 million installed units.

Quote:
Scratch that: do you think the market was there to move 7 figures units of the CD32 ? Because I frankly don't...

I think combined sales of well over 1 million CDROM-drive equipped Amigas were quite achievable. A more advanced CD32 model would come out in 1994, and another in 1995, to keep the ball rolling. Sales of other AGA(+) machines would also continue. This is proved by the sales that occurred after Commodore went bankrupt. If only they hadn't the user base of A1200s and other models would have grown significantly.

Quote:
the console market is well known to be usually quite cold regarding add-ons. And an SX-32 (or equivalent expansion) would have increased the price even further, for a console that wasn't exactly affordable in the first place. Doesn't sound like the recipe for success, does it?

The CD32 wasn't like other consoles. A significant number of users were expected to expand it to full computer status, and many did. The expansion port would give it an upgrade path like 32x on the Mega Drive but implemented much more elegantly.

You only have to look at the A500 to see where it might have gone. Once games came out that needed 1MB the market for trapdoor RAM expansions exploded. The same could have happened to the CD32 too. A cheap FastRAM expansion with NVRAM or memory card slot and perhaps a floppy drive interface would be very attractive to existing CD32 owners who couldn't afford an expensive solution like the SX1.

Quote:
There's no doubt a Fast RAM-equipped CD32 would have made things way easier for developers, both for the development process itself and the support it would have likely gained being the default HW configuration. But we didn't get it, unfortunately.

As a CDTV and CD32 developer myself I can say that it wasn't needed. The AGA machine most developers targeteed was a stock A1200, which didn't have FastRAM. But the CD32 did have something that made it much better - the 2x speed CDROM drive with virtually unlimited storage, fast loading and 'free' 16 bit audio. That went a long way towards relieving the pressure on RAM usage. FastRAM would have sped up the CPU, but it was already 2-4 times faster than the 68000 in the A500, and AGA had much less DMA contention issues. Any developer who couldn't get something worthwhile out of that wasn't worth the title of 'developer'.

Now sure, for some games a faster CPU was necessary to achieve the desired performance. But once you went down that rabbit hole there was no end. Wolfenstein 3D and Doom needed at least a 50MHz 030 for barely acceptable performance, and Alien Breed 3D was even more demanding. Today we have pretty mundane games that need RTG and an 80MHz 060 or Vampire, simply because they are there. OTOH Dread runs amazingly well on a stock 2MB A1200.

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BigD 
Re: AmigaCD32 30 years on
Posted on 14-Sep-2023 20:18:50
#60 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 11-Aug-2005
Posts: 7136
From: UK

@bhabbott

Thanks for that synopsis!

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