Product Facelift

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/NES_versions.jpg
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".

    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 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: developed by Sharp and licensed by Nintendo, the Twin Famicom was a console that combined the Famicom and the Famicom Disk System into a single device. It had greater audiovisual quality than the original Famicom due to it trading in the RF adaptor for RCA connectors, and had extra controller ports to allow certain games to support more than two players. It was only released in Japan.
  • Super NES - Likewise, Nintendo's 16-bitter got the SNS-101 redesign late during its lifespan. 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 SNES CD-ROM drive and the Japan-only Satellaview add-on ended up using) and the fact that the SNS-101 only accepted composite video.
  • Later releases of the Nintendo Gamecube removed the plug for digital component cables, due to the low demand for them among Nintendo's consumers. A second version of the Gamecube known as the Panasonic Q was also released in Japan several months after the original console; this model 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 flopping, it never made it to international shores.
  • The Wii has been updated to a black version with the Wii Motion Plus integrated into the Wii Remotes. 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.
    • Eventually, after the Wii U was released, there was a new version of the Wii called the "Wii Mini" released in certain markets, which in addition to not being backwards-compatible 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).
  • 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.

    Nintendo (handhelds) 
  • Game Boy - The original model was succeeded by the Game Boy Pocket, which was smaller in size (allowing it to more easily fit in pants pockets, hence the name), required two AAA batteries rather than 4 AA ones, and featured a grayscale screen rather than a greenscale one. Two years later, the Game Boy Light came out in Japan and only Japan; 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.
  • Game Boy Advance - The original model was succeeded by the Game Boy SP, which utilized a 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, then 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 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 — and finally the DSi XL, which is a larger version of the DSi, which was 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 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.

    PlayStation 
  • The PlayStation received a smaller model, rechristened the PS One, that was designed to reduce the overheating issues that the original model occasionally ran into. It was so small that, with a portable LCD screen add-on, it makes for a decent portable system.
  • The PlayStation 2 received a slim version as well, which was even smaller than the PSOne, but didn't have a portable screen add-on. And 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).
  • The PlayStation 3 had numerous models. Successive models upgraded the hard drive capacity, but at the same time reduced some features that some 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.
    • After 2 months as the industry's worst-kept secret, the slimmer, cheaper PlayStation 3 was officially announced. Then a few years later, an even slimmer (dubbed Super Slim) version came out. This includes a cheaper version of the Super Slim model that drops the hard drive in favor of 12 GB of flash memory, but a hard drive may be installed and used in place of said flash memory.
  • The PlayStation Portable was redesigned as the PSP Slim & Lite, gaining a better screen and TV-Out capability along with losing some weight. A second revision was 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 console that does not use physical games. 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 Play Station Vita also got a slimmed down version, though it dropped the OLED screen for an LCD.

    Sega 
  • The SG-1000, Sega's first game console, received a facelift (the confusingly named SG-1000 II, a.k.a. the Mark II) that replaced the hardwired first-player joystick controller with a detachable Famicom-style pad.
  • 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 Genesis/Mega Drive underwent through three basic designs, including a third design exclusive to North America (the Genesis 3) manufactured by Majesco. That's not counting the hybrid X'Eye and Genesis CDX models, which had built-in CD players, nor the Sega CD add-on itself, which had two models.

    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 also came with built-in Wi-Fi), and a newer version of that, the Xbox 360 E.
  • Its successor, the Xbox One was also announced to receive a facelift at E3 2016 as the 'Xbox One S', which decreases the size of the system by 40%, includes 4K resolution support, an internal power supply; 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.
  • 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.


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