The Precursor of Cloud Gaming: The Satellaview


Modern cloud gaming services like Xbox Cloud Gaming, and NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW have revolutionized how gamers access and play their favorite titles. However, the concept of streaming game content remotely is not a new idea. One of the earliest and most innovative precursors to these services was the Satellaview, a Japan-exclusive add-on for the Super Famicom (SNES), developed by Nintendo in the mid-1990s.

What was the Satellaview?

Launched in 1995, the Satellaview was a satellite modem peripheral for the Super Famicom (the Japanese version of the Super NES). It allowed players to download games, magazines, and other content via the Broadcast Satellite network. This service was made possible through a partnership between Nintendo and the Japanese satellite radio company, St.GIGA.

In order to work, the Satellaview connected to the Super Famicom through the bottom expansion port. It featured a satellite tuner, a cartridge slot for the base unit, and an 8M Memory Pack that stored downloaded content. Every day, at specific times, St.GIGA broadcasted data to the Satellaview users, including new games, additional levels, and even live audio dramas that synchronized with gameplay.

What content did it have?

The content available on the Satellaview was varied and often exclusive. SoundLink Games were unique games that synchronized live audio broadcasts with the gameplay, providing an interactive experience. For example, BS Zelda no Densetsu was a soft-remake of the original The Legend of Zelda, with new maps and real-time voice acting.

Alongside these games, the Satellaview also featured weekly downloadable content. Similar to today’s downloadable content (DLC), players could access new levels, items, and challenges for existing games. Also, there were interactive magazines. These digital publications featured the gaming news, reviews, and tips, all right into the player’s TVs.

Impact and Legacy

While the Satellaview was not widely known outside of Japan, its influence on the gaming industry is still remarkable. It introduced the concept of delivering digital content directly to a console, paving the way for future innovations in online gaming and digital distribution. The idea of broadcasting games and additional content over a network would eventually evolve into the sophisticated cloud gaming services we use today.

Despite its innovative approach, the Satellaview faced several challenges. The service required a subscription to both St.GIGA and the satellite broadcasting service, which could be costly. Additionally, the time-specific nature of broadcasts meant that users had to be available at specific times, limiting its accessibility. While the service was relatively short-lived, ending in 2000, its pioneering spirit continues to inspire modern cloud gaming services.

Did you know about the Satellaview? Do you think it has a resemblance to modern cloud gaming offerings? Let us know! Additionally, if the topic interest you, we recommend you this video.

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Marxally is a freelance graphic designer who enjoys playing video games and writing about them. A Nintendo fan at heart that enjoys the benefits of cloud gaming and loves its amazing community. Marxally covers news and review games at Cloud Dosage. Like what he does? Buy Marxally a Pizza!

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