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1990: Nintendo is Confronted with Infidelity
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 26, 2002   |   Episode 2 (Show Archive)  

The Scoop: They say cheating can hurt a relationship, but Nintendo feared it could also hurt their bottom line. In one of the numerous lawsuits filed in the latter part of the 20th century, Nintendo sought to keep the Galoob Game Genie out of American stores. Why?

Well, according to Nintendo it would ruin the longevity of games, and ultimately cut into their bottom line. The Game Genie was an interesting device, it would allow gamers to "hack" the game, and thereby give their character more lives than they might normally have, or more money, or invincibility, etc. Nintendo worried that this sort of device could make difficult games too easy, keeping them rentals only. Nintendo had already unsuccessfully fought to keep Blockbuster and other rental chains from renting out their Nintendo Entertainment Software.

For all of 1990, American gamers were left out in the cold when it came to cheating. The only way gamers in the U.S. could get their hands on this product was by importing it
from our brothers to the North, Canada. In the land of the Maple Leaf cheating rules, just look at their national sport, Hockey.

The Other Side: To be fair, Nintendo had a point, this device really did make games too easy. After all, what would the point be of Final Fantasy if you already had all the items and experience? Or how hard would it be to go through CastleVania III or Super Mario Brothers 3 with infinite lives? Of course, the Game Genie also made it easier to get through extremely difficult and frustrating games like, say, the Mafat Conspiracy.

The Impact: After Nintendo lost their lawsuit, Galoob was free to ruin the world with their cheat device. Soon people learned that their cheat device was making them revisit some of their old games. Occasionally making some of them even more fun. But it wasn't all fun and games. As new systems flooded the market, new cheat devices started to spring up. While Nintendo may have learned the most from this experience, they did later threaten legal action against Galoob
when they made the Super NES Game Genie. To keep themselves out of legal trouble, Galoob named the product the "Super Game Genie".

Where Are They Now?: While the Game Genie no longer helping us cheat, other devices have taken over right where Galoob left off. Oddly enough, Nintendo was the only company that fought these companies early on. Sony did change the configuration of their original PlayStation a few different times, and it has been speculated that this (as well as people modifying their system) was the reason. Of course, Sony is not on the record against cheat devices, and the legal argument is officially moot.


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