Product Facelift
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.


    open/close all folders 

  • 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 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, 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. 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.
  • 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 support 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 among Nintendo's consumers. 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.
  • 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 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).

  • The PlayStation received a smaller model in 2000, rechristened the PS one, that was designed to reduce the overheating issues that the previous models occasionally ran into. It was so small (it was just barely large enough to fit in a CD) 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. 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 XMB (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 original "PLAYSTATION 3" logo with the uppercase spelling and Spider-Man-style fonts in favor of the abbreviated PS3 logo that newer game packaging ended up using from this point on. However, support for PS2 discs was dropped, though players can still create internal PS2 memory cards (even if it doesn't do anything on the Slim). 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 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 PlayStation Vita also got a slimmed down version, though it 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 (by now obligatory) PS4 Slim, a slightly thinner and rounder model with a quieter ventilator and no support for optical audio. The second model is the PS4 Pro, 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.

  • 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 Mega Drive/Genesis 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.
  • The Sega Saturn received an updated white model in Japan to replace the original gray one. This model didn't really have much going for it aside from a reduced price and a toy-like design that would better appeal to casual audiences. Because the Saturn was a tremendous flop in North America due to Executive Meddling, no such equivalent ever made it to international shores.
  • 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.

  • 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), and a newer version of that, the Xbox 360 E.
  • 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.