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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.


Examples:

  • Nintendo is well known for their console redesigns, with its late-life redesigns of the NES and SNES, and raised it to an art form with the Game Boy (Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Light [Japan], Game Boy Color), the Game Boy Advance (GBA SP, GBA Micro), and the Nintendo DS (DS Lite, DSi).
    • Pictured above: The Nintendo Entertainment System's Model NES-101 (1993), which converted the system from a side-loading toaster to a top-loading console with Dogbone controllers.
    • The DS systems are a rather bizarre form of this- first, the DS was released, then it was updated to 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 with different features- and finally the DSi XL, which is a larger version of the DSi. So, is bigger better or not?
    • The 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).
    • The Nintendo Wii has been updated to a black version with the Wii Motion Plus integrated into the Wiimotes. 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.
  • Sony also likes to do this to an art form.
    • The PlayStation (rechristened PSone) 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.
    • 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, 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.
    • 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.
      • And now, 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 Sega Megadrive/Genesis went through more versions than any other console, according to The Other Wiki (and miniaturized ones are still being released today). Its Sega Mega CD add-on also went through one, which somehow effectively doubled its size.
  • Sega's first multi-game console, the SG 1000, received a facelift that replaced the hardwired first-player joystick controller with a detachable Famicom-style pad.
  • The Sega Master System had three versions, similar to the NES. The first two were ordinary consoles; the third was portable, retitled the Game Gear, and it coexisted with the Genesis as a Daddy System.
  • The Xbox360 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.
  • Non-video game example: 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 Eighties 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.

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