Product Facelift

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The original NES and the 1993 redesign. Same system, different shell.

The system has been out for awhile. What was once new hotness is now yesterday's headlines. The system has built up a great library, but everybody already has the best games. You've dropped the price, but maybe the next generation is starting to horn in on your sales. What's a video game company to do?

Easy: Send the console in for some reconstructive surgery — keep the functionality, but repackage it into a slick new design.

In order to move ageing product and take advantage of late adopters whose primary concern is price over all else, as well as advancements in manufacturing, it's a common practice to put out a new version of its old products, especially video game consoles (which are half the size, fix any technical issues that arose with the original design, and costs half as much to manufacture as the original) three to five years after launch.

Thus the company gets those late adopters who want to dive into a huge established library without paying the sometimes-exorbitant prices of a brand new console. On the other hand, they run the risk of alienating those fans who bought the old version six months before the spiffy new model came out.

Not just limited to consoles, Product Facelifts can happen to many other kinds of goods like cars and toys, often for similar reasons.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Atari 
  • The original Atari 2600 had a wood look to it that was popular in the 1970s. Throughout the 1980s it had various versions that kept the design intact while having slight differences. In 1986 the 2600 was modernized as a smaller, black looking system similar to the Atari 7800 and marketed as a budget console that could play classic games. This model has been given the Fan Nickname of the "Atari Jr".

    NEC 
  • The Turbo Duo was launched in 1992 after NEC's U.S. subsidiary failed to market the TurboGrafx 16 in a satisfactory matter. The Duo was essentially a TG16 with built-in CD-ROM drive and extra RAM required for Super CD-ROM2 discs, which were both sold separately for the TG16. Despite launching at a relatively low price for a CD-based console ($299, the launch price of the Sega CD add-on by itself) and being bundled with a four-in-one game disc, the console unfortunately came out too late during the 16-bit console war to make much of a difference in changing the TG16's sealed fate.
  • The PC Engine, the TG16's Japanese counterpart, never had much trouble finding success in its native country (where it actually outsold the Sega Mega Drive), and thus the console was blessed with numerous redesigns throughout its lifespan. In fact it got not one, not two, but three redesigns two years after its launch in 1989: the CoreGrafx was essentially a recolored version of the launch PC Engine that replaced the RF output port with the now standardized A/V composite (a recolored version of the CoreGrafx was released known as the CoreGrafx II in 1991, which was functionally identical); while the Shuttle was a budget-priced model aimed at kids that removed the CD-ROM expansion port and was shaped like a spaceship (it was even bundled with a futuristic-themed joypad unique to the console); but the third and most noticeable redesign was the SuperGrafx, intended to be an enhanced PC Engine with more RAM and an extra graphic processor aimed at hardcore players, only a total of five SuperGrafx-exclusive HuCards were produced, and the console was otherwise treated as just another model of the PC Engine. There were also two portable models as well: PC Engine GT (which was released as the Turbo Express in the U.S.) and PC Engine LT.
    • The PC Engine Duo, the Japanese version of Turbo Duo, also got two redesigns as well: the PC Engine Duo R was a recolored cost-reduced version of the same console that removed the headphone jack port, and the PC Engine Duo RX, which had a different chassis and came bundled with a six-button controller (as fighting games were becoming more popular at the time).

    Nintendo (home consoles) 
  • Nintendo Entertainment System - Pictured above, the NES-101 model launched in 1993, which converted the system from a side-loading VCR pastiche to a top-loading console with Super NES-style controllers (also known as the dogbone controllers). The top-loading design made the cartridge insertion much more robust, cutting down on the old "flashing light'" problem caused by bent connector pins (though the video quality is somewhat poorer, with faint vertical lines covering the screen), but the Nintendo's poor timing in releasing it so late in the console's lifespan meant that the new design saw little success and was soon discontinued.
    • Three years after its debut in Japan, the Famicom got a facelift of its own: produced by Sharp under license from Nintendo, the Twin Famicom was a console that combined the Famicom and its Disk System add-on into a single device. It had greater audiovisual quality than the original Famicom due to it trading in the RF adaptor for RCA connectors. It was only released in Japan.
    • The Famicom AV (also known as the New Famicom), a redesign of the Famicom released near the end of the system's lifespan, has the same design as the NES top-loader, but features a flatter surface on the cartridge port (allowing the Disk System's adapter to be plugged in), an expansion port next to the standard controller ports for specialized peripherals and controllers, and AV output ports instead of RF (a huge selling point, as the original Famicom only used RF). The fact that the controllers were detachable instead of wired to the console was also a plus and added the unintended side-effect of making the console compatible with NES controllers due to having the same ports. On the other hand, this also meant the second controller lost its microphone functionality, which a few games supported.
  • Super NES - Likewise, Nintendo's 16-bitter got the SNS-101 redesign late during its lifespan (known as the Super Famicom Jr. in Japan and simply marketed as the Super NES in the U.S.). Besides its smaller compact design, the main differences between it and the original SNS-001 model was the removal of the expansion dock at the bottom of the console (which only the unreleased Super NES CD-ROM Drive and the Japan-only BS-X Satellaview add-on ended up using) and the fact that the SNS-101 only accepted composite video.
  • Sharp, the company responsible for the Twin Famicom, also released two types of CRT televisions licensed by Nintendo: one with a built-in Famicom, and another with a built-in Super Famicom.
  • The Nintendo 64 received a Pikachu-themed model with a redesigned body shape and button layout and the expansion port for the failed 64DD dropped.
  • Later releases of the Nintendo GameCube removed the plug for digital component cables (well, digital-to-analog component cables... CRTs were still the norm, mind you), due to the low demand for them (resulting in these cables highly sought after among collectors in the secondhand market). A third-party version of the GameCube by Panasonic known as the Q was also released in Japan several months after the original console; this control deck featured the ability to play both GameCube discs and video DVDs (among other hardware revisions), but was commercially unsuccessful due to it costing much more than buying a regular Gamecube and DVD player separately; because of its failure, it never made it to international shores, much to the west's derision (as the ability to play DVD videos was a big selling point for the highly-popular rival PS2).
  • The Wii got updated to a black version with the Wii Motion Plus integrated into the Wii Remotes. This led to a Console Wars gag on Penny Arcade where Sony says the PlayStation Move is nothing like the Wii because it's black, only to be informed that black Wiis exist now. "WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?!"
    • The "Family Edition" of the Wii is smaller and designed to sit horizontally, but all GameCube backwards compatibility is absent. The pin connectors for GameCube memory cards and controllers are still present, they're just tucked away behind the plastic shell.
    • Eventually, after the Wii U was released, there was a new version of the Wii called the "Wii Mini" released in certain markets; this red and black model was, appropriately enough, significantly smaller than the original Wii and was a top-loading console rather than a slot-loader. In addition to not being backwards-compatible, the Wii Mini also had no online capabilities (However, as of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection's shutdown, the latter technically only means a lack of ability to download games). This budget-model version of the Wii is often overlooked due to its late release date and minimal quantity of features.
  • The Wii U quickly received a black "deluxe" model with four times the storage space of the original white model; this version often comes bundled with a digital download code for a single retail game, usually a first-party one, but standalone deluxe models are purchasable on their own. The white model was quickly discontinued in mid-2015, less than three years after its release, leaving the deluxe model the only one on the market. Given the deluxe model's significantly larger internal memory, this is somewhat beneficial for the console.

    Nintendo (handhelds) 
  • Game Boy - The original model was succeeded by the Game Boy Pocket, which was smaller and proportionally thinner than the regular Game Boy (allowing it to more easily fit in pants pockets, hence the name), required two AAA batteries rather than four AA ones, and replaced the 2-inch greenscale screen with a slightly larger (and slightly easier to see) grayscale one. Two years later, the Game Boy Light came out in Japan and only Japan; similar in design to the Pocket, this model featured a backlight for the first time. However, it required two AA batteries rather than two AAA ones and would have its runtime shortened by 40% with the backlight on. The Game Boy Color is also officially counted as a new model of the original Game Boy (similar to the later Nintendo DSi and New Nintendo 3DS), despite being released years later and having its own lineup of exclusive software.
  • Game Boy Advance - The original model was succeeded by the Game Boy Advance SP, which utilized a rechargeable 700mAh Lithium Ion battery rather than requiring 2 AAs and featured a clamshell design similar to dual-screen Game & Watch titles and the Nintendo DS. The SP also brought back the backlight and introduced it to the West for the first time in Nintendo's history; unlike the Game Boy Light's backlight, this one had both a frontlight and a backlight, both of which could be toggled (a model with just the frontlight was released first, followed by a dual-light revision). However, similarly to the Game Boy Light, activating these lights would shorten the SP's runtime from 18 hours to a mere 10. Two years later, the Game Boy Micro would come out. Unlike the GBA and SP, the Micro lacked backwards compatibility with Game Boy and Game Boy Color game paks, utilized a 460 mAh Lithium Ion battery that ran for 10 hours, and featured a backlight that could be toggled between five different brightness levels. As the name implies, it was also significantly smaller than the original GBA, being roughly the size of an NES controller. Aside from the lack of backwards compatibility, the Micro's main issue was that its design made it incompatible with most GBA add-ons and accessories; most of these devices had to be redesigned in order to work with the Micro.
  • Nintendo DS - The original NTR-001 mode was followed by the DS Lite, which was a smaller and more energy-efficient (albeit slightly more fragile) version of the same thing. Then came the DSi, which was about the same size as the DS Lite but had different features and lacked backwards-compatibility with Game Boy Advance game paks. Finally, there was the DSi XL, which is a larger version of the DSi, made predominantly for use by seniors who could benefit from a bigger screen and different lighting. It's an interesting sign of the change in Nintendo's target demographic from the time of the DS Lite release to the XL's.
  • Nintendo 3DS has also gone through this, first with a bigger version called the 3DS XL and then with a kid-friendlier, hingeless version called the 2DS, as it removes the capability for the 3D effect (and regarding kids whose eyes could be damaged by staring at the effect for too long, yes, that's a feature). They then went on to the New Nintendo 3DS, which is like the DSi in that it has some better tech under the hood, specifically a faster processor (which helps cut down on load times), stereoscopic 3D that can be viewed at a wider amount of angles, a C-stick to accompany the circle pad, and ZL & ZR triggers. Because of the New 3DS's faster CPU, some games (both at retail and on the eShop) are able to run on it, but not on the original 3DS, or have certain features disabled when played on the original model (such as Hyrule Warriors Legends, which can only display 3D on the New 3DS).

    PlayStation 
  • The PlayStation received a smaller model in 2000, rechristened the PS one (aka the SCPH-100 series), that was designed to reduce the overheating issues that the previous models occasionally ran into. This was done so by replacing the internal power supply that the original SCPH-1000 series used with an external power supply. This resulted in the PS one becoming so small (only slightly larger than a CD case) that, with a portable LCD screen add-on, it makes for a decent portable system, assuming you can find an outlet for the AC adapter.
  • The PlayStation 2 received a slimmer redesign as well starting with the SCPH-70000 series launched on 2004, which was even smaller than the PS one, but didn't have a portable screen add-on and lacked the expansion bay for the Hard Disk Drive from the SCPH-30000 and 50000 series (although, it did have a built-in ethernet port for online gaming). In Japan it also got a "media hub" makeover as the PSX (no relation to how to the original PlayStation was abbreviated before it was numbered), which featured an internal hard drive, digital video recording capabilities, and an early version of the XrossMediaBar (the same OS later used for the PSP and PS3).
  • The PlayStation 3 had numerous models. Successive models following the launch CECHA00 model upgraded the hard drive capacity, but at the same time reduced some features that some users didn't take too kindly to. This affected backwards compatibility for PS2 discs (PS1 discs still work on all models), media card slots, USB ports, among others.
    • The CECH-2000 series was eventually launched in 2009, which featured a smaller form factor (hence the "PS3 Slim" nickname) and added support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio bitstreaming, as well as synchronization with BRAVIA TV sets with the XMB. It most notably replaced the all-caps "PLAYSTATION 3" logo with the Spider-Man-style fonts in favor of the abbreviated PS3 logo (which was adopted for every PS3-related product released from this point on). However, support for PS2 discs was dropped though, with backwards compatibility limited to downloadable games available on the PS Store. PS1 disc support is still present, though.
    • The CECH-4000 series was even smaller than the Slim models (hence the "PS3 Super Slim" nickname) and replaced the motorized disc drive in favor of a top loading design with a sliding disc cover. Some versions of the super slim (specifically the CECH-4XXXA models) feature 12GB of flash memory instead of a hard drive as its default memory storage.
  • The PlayStation Portable was redesigned as the PSP-2000 (aka the "Slim & Lite"), gaining a better screen and TV-Out capability along with losing some weight. The PSP-3000 was later announced, the main changes apparently being a better analog stick and a microphone for Skype. PSP Go, which removed the UMD slot, making it the first portable gaming console that does not use physical media. But after a couple years of lackluster sales, PSP Go was finally discontinued in 2011. Sony did try to get into the mobile market with the Xperia Play, but that also fell short.
  • The PlayStation Vita also got a slimmed down version, the PCH-2000 series, which dropped the OLED screen for an LCD.
  • The PlayStation 4 has had not one, but two new models announced on September 7, 2016. One is the CUH-2000 (nicknamed the PS4 Slim, but simply marketed as the PS4), a slightly thinner and rounder model with a quieter ventilator and no support for optical audio. The second model is the PS4 Pro (the CUH-7000 series), a roughly 50% thicker model (as in, three slate-like structures instead of two) that outputs 4K video and improved quality for PlayStation VR, among other hardware revisions (such as a faster CPU); in a sense, it can be considered the PlayStation line's counterpart to the New Nintendo 3DS.

    Sega 
  • The SG-1000, Sega's first game console, received a facelift known as the SG-1000 II (a.k.a. the Mark II). It had a design much closer the later released Sega Mark III, replacing the hardwired first-player joystick controller with a detachable Famicom-style joypads. The SG-1000 itself was consolized version of Sega's short-lived SC-3000 range of personal computers.
  • The Master System had three versions. The first was the original Sega Mark III model launched in Japan. It was restyled into the Master System (known internally as the Mark IV) for the international market and re-released in Japan in attempt to reinvent the system's image. The third model, the Master System II (aka the Mark IV Jr.), was released specifically for the western market as a budget console.
  • The Sega Genesis (aka Mega Drive) underwent through four basic designs, not counting the various minor revisions. The original console featured the words "16-BIT" printed in large letters in front of the cartridges and had a headphone jack with volume slider for stereo sounds and a third controller port on the back for additional peripherals that was never utilized. The second model, known as the Mega Drive 2 in Japan and Europe and sold simply as the Genesis (without the Sega prefix) in North America, was launched in 1993 and featured a smaller form factor for a more compact design. The third model, the Genesis 3, was released in 1997 as a budget console by Majesco and had even smaller form factor thanks to the removal of the expansion slot, which made it incompatible with the Sega CD add-on, although it's incompatible with certain games, as well as the 32X, due to certain internal revisions. The fourth and currently final model, the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Classic Game Console, was released an unspecified amount of time after the Genesis line's discontinuation; this model is much more compact than previous versions (being approximately the same size as a Genesis controller) and comes with multiple built-in games (the exact amount ranges anywhere from 20 to 90), allowing it to be marketed as a plug-and-play device. Like the Genesis 3, the Classic was developed by a third party developer, AtGames, and is incompatible with the Power Base Converter, the SEGA CD, and the 32X. It is generally considered by SEGA fans to be a budget version of the Genesis for those who wish to collect games for the console but lack the money to buy a "proper" SEGA Genesis.
    • The Sega CD add-on itself was released in two models, a large front-loading model that is placed under the console and a smaller model with a top loading tray that is placed next to the console. Despite the advertising only showing the Model 2 Sega CD with the Model 2 Genesis, the Model 2 Sega CD was compatible with the Model 1 Genesis and likewise for the Model 1 Sega CD and Model 2 Genesis (which results in a bit of empty space on top of the CD drive). Of course, for the Model 1 Genesis to fit neatly into the Model 2 Sega CD, a plastic extender that came with the add-on was required.
    • There were also two hybrid Genesis consoles that had the Sega CD built into the hardware: the third-party JVC X'eye (aka the WonderMega) and the first-party Genesis CDX or Multi-Mega, which was compact enough to also serve as a portable CD player.
  • The Sega Saturn had two main models released: the launch HST-3200 model featured oval-shaped power and reset buttons along LEDs for power and access, while the HST-3220 model released in 1996 removed the LEDs and replaced the oval power and reset buttons into round ones. In Japan these two models were distinguished by the color of their cases: the Model 1 consoles have gray casing with blue power/reset/eject buttons, while the Model 2 consoles have white casing with a red eject button and gray power/reset buttons. The controllers were also changed to match the consoles, with the Model 2 controller having color-coded ABC and Start buttons similar to the later released Dreamcast controller. The release of the Model 2 console coincided with the start of the Segata Sanshiro ad campaign. In the U.S. and Europe, Sega made no distinction between the two models, having released both of them in black casing, although the Model 2 consoles in the west did come with the original Japanese-style controller instead of the earlier redesigned controller.
  • The Sega Dreamcast received a limited-edition black "SEGA Sports" model that came prepackaged with two games, and another model, the Diver 2000 CX-1, could best be described as a CRT television with a Dreamcast built into it.

    Xbox 
  • The Xbox 360 received a few model refreshes over its lifespan. The first was the Xbox 360 Elite, which included a larger hard drive and different livery. Subsequent models included the CPU and GPU being made in smaller transistor sizes, so as to curb the overheating and red-ring issue. It eventually got a downsized version, the Xbox 360 S (which dropped the Memory Unit slots and came with built-in Wi-Fi). The final model, Xbox 360 E, resembles a mini version of the launch model Xbox One.
  • Its successor, the Xbox One also received a facelift at E3 2016 as the 'Xbox One S', a white, 40% smaller system that includes 4K resolution support and an internal power supply (rather than requiring a bulky power brick), among other improvements.

    Non-video games 
  • This is common practice in the automotive industry, where cars will have their appearances "refreshed" every few years. Many cars (the Ford Mustang, the VW Beetle) have gone over a decade on the same platform, having their body work periodically updated.
    • Sometimes this works in reverse to the console version. For example, the VW Golf has got progressively larger over the years. According to some, this is deliberate: the idea is that someone fond of the Golf brand started out in The '80s with a small cheap fun hatchback, then every five years as they grow more prosperous and settle down they can keep buying the new Golf but every time it's bigger, more family-friendly and more sensible. In turn, VW releases new smaller cars to replace the older Golf as the first-adopter option, such as the Polo and Lupo.
    • In a direct aversion of the trope, Lada 2107, first introduced in 1982, is still producednote  with essentially zero external changes, despite quite a few internal tweaks, like a completely new engine lineup, for example. Ironically, 2107 is itself a restyle of a 1979 Lada 2105, which was a deluxe version of Lada 2101, a Soviet license-built copy of Fiat-124.
    • The Networker Classic was an attempt to do the same for trains: a new 1990s body on the original 1960s chassis.
  • When Amstrad ran out of 3" floppy drives for their PCW wordprocessors, they switched to 3.5" drives. The 9512 case didn't need many tweaks to accommodate these, and the result was called 9512+. The older 8000-series models were redesigned to match the 9512, the result becoming the 9256.
  • Both graphics processing unit manufacturers NVIDIA and ATI/AMD have released older GPU architectures in current generation lineups. Probably the most infamous is NVIDIA's usage of the G92 chip, which spanned three generations (and accounted for an entire generation).
  • Intel turned to the Pentium III architecture to create the Pentium M. On the surface, both are practically the same, but the Pentium M performed so well that it became the Ensemble Darkhorse in the days of the Pentium 4.
  • This is common with books, especially if they have a movie coming out. Many books get a movie tie-in cover to entice people who saw the movie first to buy the book, or, once the book has gone out of print once, it'll get re-issued with a new cover to make it look like a new and exciting book to draw in new readers.
  • This happened twice with Thomson 8-bit computers:
    • The TO-7/70, introduced at the same time as the lower-end MO-5, was a minor upgrade and face-lift to the original TO-7 model. Along with more built-in RAM, improved colors and better light pen support, the case was mechanically improved, with the most obvious difference being the removal of a dangerous protruding heat sink.
    • The MO-5E was an upgraded version of the MO-5, with the power supply and joystick expansion built-in, as well as a full-stroke keyboard instead of the MO-5's ZX Spectrum-like rubber keys. The E originally stood for "export," since the model was first released in West Germany, with a QWERTY keyboard layout instead of the AZERTY layout used by most French keyboards, including the French version of the MO-5E.


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