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The Rise and Fall of Sega 104

Posted by Zonk
from the not-lost-in-a-day dept.
jayintune writes "2old2play has a look into Sega's past, examining where they went wrong in the console wars. What did they do to lose their competitive edge, and how did they fall victim to the PS2 and Xbox?" From the article: "Sega started as a small business from which spawned a gaming giant. As with all great Empires, they eventually rot, crumble, and fall from their own ever-grasping hand. After the Genesis they tried to go in too many directions at once and spread their resources too thin. They knew they would have major competition from other game developers, but I bet when they started, they never imagined they would be their own worst enemy."
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The Rise and Fall of Sega

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  • by oberondarksoul (723118) on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:07PM (#15564922) Homepage

    Had Sega not even considered, not for a single moment, the disaster that was the 32X (and to a lesser extent, conveniently skipped over the Mega CD) and instead concentrated on the Saturn, we could well still have Sega in the running today. Sega post-Mega Drive (Genesis) had no real focus; if they had really tried, they could have stayed in the running against Sega (it was, after all, their market with Nintendo to lose). Souring both customers and retailer's pallets, they really were the architects of their own destruction.

    It would have helped a great deal had Sega known how to market at all. So many great computer/gaming companies are prone to this: Sega, Acorn, Commodore, SNK...

    • by Ant P. (974313) on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:40PM (#15565121) Homepage
      The 32X itself wasn't a disaster, it was Sega's trying to push a billion pieces of hardware at the same time that was.

      In fact had they not released the Saturn and held on to the 32X/CD combination (which was technically almost as good as the Saturn, plus it was backwards-compatible) for longer they'd probably still be in business now.
      • by goodcow (654816) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:22PM (#15566375)
        The 32X was nowhere near as powerful as the Saturn.

        The biggest problem wasn't the 32X itself, but rather the infighting between Sega of America and Sega of Japan. Sega of Japan, in my opinion, has always been completely inept at running the company, and yet they've always had the power of final say, despite being a company founded by an American.

        Sega of America, smartly, IMO, wanted to use the 32X as a bit of a stop-gap between the generations, because they knew it would be a lot more affordable than a PSX or Saturn, and it had decent enough power. Sega of Japan, however, shoved the Saturn down Sega of America's throat. An early and forced launch, no software ready, etc. Not only was America not ready for the Saturn, but of course this alienated retailers like KayBee which didn't stock the Saturn at all as they didn't get stock at launch, and developers as well. All the while, SOJ but B and C-list developers on 32X titles, and didn't devote production facilities to it as they were busy making the Saturn.

        Then you have issues like Naka threatening to quit because Bernie Stolar took the NiGHTS engine without his "permission" for SOA to make Sonic Xtreme. SOJ has always been run like shit, and the only reason they managed to stay afloat so long was Sega's American and European successes and Okawa bailing them out as he was a billionaire. In fact, had he not died, he probably still would've been funding them for new R&D.
        • by NeMon'ess (160583) * <flinxmid.yahoo@com> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:18AM (#15567131) Homepage Journal
          You either forgot or didn't know that the head of SOA helped kill the Saturn too. By implementing a 5-star-games-only policy, many good but imperfect Japanese games were never ported to North America. So an already anemic library was reduced even further.

          Furthermore, the 32X as a stop-gap was a horrible strategy. Yes a Genesis+32X would cost about $220, or less than a Playstation, but there's no CDROM drive! Worse, the 32X had dual Hitachi chips running at 23 MHz, while the Saturn had dual 28MHz chips. Meaning that the 32X wasn't nearly as good as the Playstation for doing 3D.

          It's simple really, the Sega CD sold 6 million units world-wide. Compare that to Sega later stating it would continue to support the Dreamcast if 5 million units sold. Now consider how many more units would have sold in 1993 and 1994 if Sega hadn't distracted the public and itself with the 32X. There would have been more games produced for the system, and more machines sold. Developers wouldn't have been screwed from the debacle, and more likely to support the Saturn. Finally, developers who wanted to develop for the next-gen console would have had an extra year to ready their titles for the Saturn instead of the 32X.

          Alternatively, Sega's biggest blunder was not having the Genesis display 128 or 256 colors instead of 64. NEC's PC Engine/TurboGrafx 16 could do 512 at once, at it was released in Japan in 1987. With 128 or 256 colors, the SNES would not have had such a visual advantage, and the Sega CD video would have been much more enticing.
        • by Nazo-San (926029) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @05:55AM (#15567775)
          You know, I think I recall having read an article a while back about the histories of various consoles, and one of the things I recall having read was that the guy in charge of SEGA of America intentionally chose to not bring many RPGs in to America because he thought they wouldn't sell well. I don't remember if this was around the time of the Dreamcast or the Genesis/Megadrive, but, in either case, RPGs were selling like hotcakes on SNES or Playstation. I believe the culprit was Dreamcast though because I seem to recall only two or three RPGs (one of which I never found a legal copy of -- frankly, it strikes me that a huge part of their problem with people downloading the games might have been just due to the fact that they simply wouldn't sell them to begin with...)

          Don't misunderstand me. I still agree that one of their biggest downfalls has been the inability to work properly together. I just disagree that we can blame any one side.

          Truth is though, SEGA just plain had issues. Like their hardware choices. The Saturn had a weird SMP system that was almost impossible to program for -- only a tiny fraction of the games made for it were able to fully utilize the SMP setup. I still wonder if Genesis couldn't have competed better with SNES's sound-system, though I'm not sure considering that the Gensis's synthesis did at least beat out the PC-Engine's. (IMO they should have both been watching the way sound systems were working. The PC industry should have already shown them how people were interested in things like MOD files, and the SNES's use of a system that kind of vaguely worked like a GUS makes me think that SOMEONE was paying attention. Remember, consoles were supposed to stay ahead of the PC industry in things like that back then.) Not to mention their determination to go with a graphical acceleration method on the Saturn that very few thought would catch on (and which did not catch on -- frankly _I_ could have told them it would continue in the direction it was already on.) Of course, they managed to get all the hardware more or less right on one system, the Dreamcast (relatively easy to program for, good graphics acceleration, good sound system, and so on,) but, then they made the decision to panic and pull out before properly giving it time to start between the people with downloads (come on, a modded PSX was EASIER to copy and download stuff for, yet PSX hasn't quite stopped production even today) and just because the PS2 was overall better at a few things like raw polygon power (yes, the PS2 could look better as things like Xenosaga showed us, but, Soul Calibur showed us that people were underestimating the Dreamcast.)

          If they had better marketing, better support for game designers (geez, did they even ONCE approach Square for example? Or, better yet, they should have tried Enix...) and most importantly, better decision making in all fields from hardware to company direction, SEGA might be where Microsoft now is. Instead they are hanging by the tips of their fingers over a their final demise.
    • Wow! An article from the future. However, he spell Sony wrong. It is not spelled S-E-G-A.
    • Sega/Mega/Super 32X/CD 32X [eidolons-inn.net] has good information on that.
  • Fluffy (Score:5, Informative)

    by MilenCent (219397) * <johnwh.gmail@com> on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:08PM (#15564926) Homepage
    Basically this is one guy ranting about his childhood love of the Genesis and his opinion over the various mistakes Sega has made. It's just one page, no pictures, no research, and not really well-written. It's basically some guy's blog post.

    Which isn't to dump on it for having those attributes, but don't expect anything like journalism.
    • Re:Fluffy (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:31PM (#15565067)
      I have to agree, there was nothing about SEGA before the Master System, or on their highly successful arcade developments. Nothing much beyond his own experience, either. Nothing about how well Master system did in Brazil, a mere footnote on its success in Europe, not even a mention of how any of its systems did in Japan!
  • X-Box? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DeanCubed (814869) on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:09PM (#15564947)
    The Dreamcast was pretty much a done deal before Xbox hit the market. It sounds like another case of "Oh, Nintendo doesn't matter in the history of video games because they r teh kidd1!" SEGA failed because the PS1 and PS2 overhyped, and Nintendo got out of the CD add-on game early, leaving the SEGA CD to rot in a market that didn't exist: "People who want a $100+ add-on for a system that didn't have Mario RPG, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy and Donkey Kong Country." SEGA then took the rest of their money, and instead of saving it for the next gen, they decided to kick start a new gen early twice in a row with the Saturn and the Dreamcast. These, as I mentioned before, were killed almost exclusively by Sony advertising and promoting the PS1 and PS2 as machines more powerful than God.

    Nintendo had their own fanbase that didn't leave them and didn't buy into the "mature games" fad, mostly because they were actually really young, or really liked FPS games, because the N64 basically only had FPS games and kids games, so that's why Nintendo's still here. That and Game Boy. It was just enough to let Nintendo try again with the Cube, where they got more kinds of games, almost killed the kiddy image, and then still got third place thanks to Microsoft who stole all the FPS games other than Timesplitters (because Free Radical are Nintendo fanboys at heart).
    • Re:X-Box? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Kuukai (865890) on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:35PM (#15565081) Journal
      I agree, it was dead long before Xbox. I bought me a $40 Dreamcast new before Gamecube came out... Their death also kinda contributed to Gamcube's relative success, since it drew a lot of now-third-party Sega games. In fact it still is. At least from the Japanese news I've been following, the Wii has a Sonic game in the spotlight, while PS3 might have one on the backburner or something, but isn't really pushing it...
  • An empire? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Psx29 (538840) on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:10PM (#15564951)
    It seems a little bit of an overstatement to call sega an empire when they never really dominated the market at any one time. Sure they were neck-and-neck with nintendo in the Genesis/SNES years, which was also one of the best console rivalrys of all time. But none of their other systems saw the same global appeal and they certaintly never did anything to monopolise the market as nintendo had with the NES in the 80s.
    • Not true. The Master System was a hit in Europe, as was the Mega Drive/Genesis. Sega lost in Japan where the PC Engine/Turbo Grafx 16 was the main competitor of both the Famicom and Super Famicom, tied in North America, and won in Europe.
  • by KatchooNJ (173554) <Katchoo716&gmail,com> on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:10PM (#15564954) Homepage
    I believe that the Saturn was their downfall. The console was excellent and quite powerful. What they failed to do was market it properly. They charged $399 for it and felt that was justified because you also got three games with it. Sony saw an opening and sold their console for much cheaper and people gobbled them up. The Saturn may have been a better system, but it wasn't marketed the right way. The other thing the Saturn suffered from was that it was complicated to port games to it because of the hardware used. Sure, it made it superior in rendering and all that, but it also made it unfriendly to those third party guys writing for it. The Playstation was easier to deal with.

    In the end, Sony took a foothold that eventually crushed Sega. The Sony name became so big in the console world that years later, then the Dreamcast arrived a full year before the PS2, many gamers said, "We'll wait for the PS2." Wow! That shows you how hard Sony got a foothold. And we all know the rest...

    Personally, I am sad that Sega isn't in the console wars anymore. I still think they were the best. I still have my Dreamcast and Saturn. :) Heck, I still have my Genesis!
    • Did anyone read that and think of the Xbox360 and PS3?

      I think Nintendo is ready for a nice comeback with the Wii. The graphics looked amazing when I looked at Galaxy Mario and Zelda twilight princess. I encourage those to google for the video's? I dont care if the specs aren't as nice as the ps3 or xbox360. The games look good enough and the price and the way its developed for everyone is going to be a huge appeal.

      The games will return again after the developers will see more Wii than either the ps3 or xbox
      • yup I was hearing those consoles loud in my head there...

        Sony just keeps shooting itself in the foot.... too expensive, bad marketing and overly complicated to program for..

        long live the big 'N' hehe :)

    • The Saturn was the better system for 2D, but only a few dozen programmers world-wide were good enough to program 3D in assembler instead of C to fully use both 28MHz chips. That made a huge difference in the Playstation's win with it's single 33MHz CPU. Programming the Saturn in C made it less powerful 3D-wise than the PS.

      Oh, and don't forget Sony lied and over-spec'd the PS2's performance. Marketing by deceit helped keep people from buying a Dreamcast. If you remember, the Dreamcast version of DOA2 loo
    • The problem, is Sega did 2 blunders in a row. The 32x stuff and then the Saturn. The Saturn was head to head to the PS1, and the PS1 was superior. It was also more elegant. The PS1 had the added advantage of being easy to develop for, and easy to port games to PC.

      The Dreamcast was just too little, too late. It was an AWESOME console. Awesome games, the whole 9 yards... but it never really took off, because customers felt burned by the previous 2 generations... and Sony's hype machine. Lets face it, b
  • Confusion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by soft_guy (534437) on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:11PM (#15564960)
    When your most loyal fanbase is confused regarding the products you sell, you have a very serious problem. Sega found this out the hard way.
  • by EggyToast (858951) on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:14PM (#15564975) Homepage
    Most of the later generation Sega games were very "wet noodle" style of gaming -- let's throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. They obviously had a great number of fans with Sonic, but one franchise rarely "makes" a console, let alone keeps a company afloat. And even then, when Sonic went 3d, it lost what made it unique.

    When I was younger, I'd see Sega commercials on TV, but I never saw much in the way of games that were truly interesting. Looking back, there's still just a handful that were released, and many involved the myriad "peripheral-crazy" systems. I was mildly interested back in the Genesis days, and there were some cross-platform games that were genuinely better on the Genesis. But that was it, for me, until the Dreamcast.

    In hindsight, I personally think the Dreamcast could've done very well if for 2 things -- Sega had added another thumbstick to the right side, and they hadn't thrown all their money and goodwill away in the mid 90's. It's still a damn good system, and given the short amount of time it was on the market it has a surprising amount of good games. But given the bad timing and the lack of popularity of its previous systems, it's not surprising that even a good console fails.

    • I loved the original Sonic games (through Sonic & Knuckles), and, in fact, still play them. For my gaming interests, I would have loved it if they had just kept on making more in that same series, from that same 2D perspective.
      • For my gaming interests, I would have loved it if they had just kept on making more in that same series, from that same 2D perspective.

        They did. Three for the GBA and one for the DS.
    • Sega's problem was Sony corrupted the market from being about fun to "looking cool" saddly.

      The dreamcast in all honesty looks better than the PS2 (Soul calibur anyone?) and has some awesome games, but it was way too far ahead of it's time. It had online play and all the stuff today we consider vital, the problem was Sega brought it out before anyone else and never fully exploited it.
      • Sega's problem was Sony corrupted the market from being about fun to "looking cool" saddly.
        Go and take a look at how Sega promoted their consoles over Nintendo's, then consider what you just wrote.
      • Wow, that is some serious fanboy BS you spouted there. You must not have ever spent a single moment with a PS2 or are just so blinded by mindless internet worshipping of the Dreamcast that you have a very tenuous grasp upon reality.
        • That poster has a point. A lot of Dreamcast games look much better than PS2 games. I believe this is mostly due to anti-aliasing. PS2 is a miraid of jaggies. Every game annoys me with jaggies. DC had great AA. Granted the DC had a much lower polygon count, but each one of them looks better. With time PS2 looked better and better, but I'd rather play Soul Calibur on DC than PS2. Same goes with DOA2.

          I don't own either system, but I have a few games for each because I know people who have them (GT4, Xen

          • So you don't own either one? Well, I own both a Dreamcast and PS2 so I can tell you from first hand experience that to even pretend for a moment that the DC is graphically superior is simply absurd.
            • Just because I can't bust out both systems and line them up right now doesn't mean I haven't played each extensively. I have "first hand" experience. I went to college and lived in the dorms. Perfect Dark, Crazy Taxi, House of the Dead, Timesplitters, Halo, Smash Bros., and Mario Kart all did their parts in helping me ruin my GPA.

              I still play DC and PS2 depending on whose house I'm at. Mostly GT4 or Katamari on PS2, and DOA2 or Rush:2049 on the DC.

              Like I said, PS2 has a lot more polygons, but in genera

      • Sega's problem was Sony corrupted the market from being about fun to "looking cool" saddly.

        Yeah that explains Nintendo's pulling out of the console market. It's not Sony's fault if Sega can't market their products properly. Nintendo even today make a killing off 'fun' games.

        but it was way too far ahead of it's time. It had online play and all the stuff today we consider vital, the problem was Sega brought it out before anyone else and never fully exploited it.

        In other words, they failed to market their prod
  • Ummm.... (Score:1, Informative)

    by schizrade (971389)
    SNES came out in 1991, not 1994.
  • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:24PM (#15565030) Journal
    I think it comes down to two things:

    1) Sega was their own worst enemy. With the release of the Sega CD, then the 32X and the Sega Saturn no one knew what worked with what and those that bought the Sega CD probably felt stupid when they saw the Saturn. Sega splintered their own market by trying to make Genesis into a wanna be PlayStation. Nevermind that the Saturn itself seemed poorly supported and thought out. The upgrade path should have been Genesis -> Dreamcast, but Sega farked that up pretty good.

    2) Sony, the original PS and their PS2 bullshit. Sony piled on the type about the Emotion Engine and the PS2's rendering abilites (note that it was Microsoft and not Sony that made the claim about rendering Toy Story level graphics in real time). The Dreamcast sold well initially and Sega couldn't keep up with demand, but it lost steam after the PS2 announcement and, if I recall, games were hard to come by in the first year. Sega just didn't have the financial strength to support Dreamcast after the failures of the SegaCD and Saturn and it is my understanding that they took a chance with the Dreamcast and the chance didn't pay off. You can still find many used Dreamcast units at your local EB Games store that were traded in for PS2s.
    • "The upgrade path should have been Genesis -> Dreamcast"

      I don't think it's wise to wait ten years between console roll outs. They messed up with the CD/32x/Satrun but something should've come between the two.
      • You're right, I forgot the timeline. The Genesis was released in what, 1989? Ideally Sega should have put more support into the Saturn and dropped the 32X/SegaCD concepts all together. I really don't remember much about the Saturn other than one game, Panzer Dragoon, and that fact that it was apparently extremely difficult to program wtih woefully inadequate developer tools.
    • To this day people think the PS2 is lightyears ahead of the gamecube with graphics capability due to hype and marketing.

      Truth be told real game makes who write hear state that the gamecube has the best graphics and some games look better on the gamecube. Sony knows how to hype.

      However I think the ps3 might go the way of the 3do. Wii is likely to be a hit
    • by Anonymous Coward
      (note that it was Microsoft and not Sony that made the claim about rendering Toy Story level graphics in real time)

      People keep on claiming this, but miss the truth. Yes, Sony never said the PS2 could render Toy Story in real time. They said it could render the cutscenes from Final Fantasy 8 in real time. Final Fantasy 8's cutscenes were about as complex graphically as Toy Story, so it's a completely equivilent claim.

      Yes, Sony never said "Toy Story" but they might as well have. They claimed the same thin
      • People keep on claiming this, but miss the truth. Yes, Sony never said the PS2 could render Toy Story in real time. They said it could render the cutscenes from Final Fantasy 8 in real time. Final Fantasy 8's cutscenes were about as complex graphically as Toy Story, so it's a completely equivilent claim.

        Yes, Sony never said "Toy Story" but they might as well have. They claimed the same thing.


        Render sure.. but at what frame rate?
    • by aapold (753705)
      I had a sega CDX [wikipedia.org], kind of a portable sega/sega CD in a rolled together unit (which by the way could play music for about half an hour on two AA batteries), enjoyed some of the games for it (Dark Wizard and Tomcat Alley were both good), but when the 32x came out I had one on preorder, went to the store to get it, halfway to the car noticed a sticker stating it would not work with the CDX. Though tempted to try it anyway didn't want to risk it, turned around, got my refund. Thought to myself what the heck w
  • Sega Sammy made a profit [gamespot.com] of over $500 million for the 9 months ending December 31st 2005.

    Sega Sammy's arcade and home consumer products were actually boosting a disapointing pachinko buisness.

  • I loved SEGA Channel. It exposed me to lots of different games I never would have played otherwise, such as the "Road Rash" series.
  • 16 bit wars... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Metroid72 (654017) on Monday June 19, 2006 @06:34PM (#15565458)
    I think the writer of the article failed to depict what really marked Sega's doom.

    1. SEGA FAILED TO LISTEN TO THEIR CONSUMERS DURING THE TRANSITION TO 16 TO 32 BITS
    2. EXTERNALITIES FINISHED SEGA

    Let's analyze Sega's success during the 16bit era:

    * Successfully executed a 1st moving advantage move: By the time Nintendo came out with the SNES, Sega was developing their 2nd Generation software (Sonic, Shinobi 3, Madden, etc.). Let's be realistic, their 1st gen stuff (Altered Beast, Super Thunder Blade, Golden Axe was very very bad, they were basically technical showcases. No exciting gameplay whatsoever.) The big exception is Phantasy Star II. It served the purpose of turning heads.

    * Tapped on the American thirst for high end Sports Simulations: EA's lineup (Madden, college and other franchises) were the start of advanced sports franshises (The NES offerings featured many Super Deformed characters, other than Tecmo's entries, there were no serious sports on the NES).

    * Started the successful bashing of Nintendo: While Nintendo NEVER acknolwedged Sega as a competitor (Big example: Nintendo did not Advertise on any Videogame publications, they stuck to Nintendo Power), Sega exploited with "Sega Does what Nintendon't" campaign, the "Blast Processing" campaign against the SNES (which was all Bull... a good lesson that has been applied by Sony in the past generations). This set up the precedent that you can win or slow down a platform on pure marketing speculation.

    * Capitalized on a Mainstream Platform: The SNES featured a slower more processor that was more tailored for games, while the 6800 on the Genesis was a more general-purpose and well known platform- This allowed many western developers from Amiga and Commodore to jump and put out impressive software - up to that point, many people thought that American/European developers were not capable of putting out quality products.

    * Played ball with 3rd parties: This is partly Nintendo's own making (Read "Game Over"). Once Sega became a "friendlier" player with 3rd parties, the "crown jewel" developers started publishing games on the Genesis. Nintendo managed to hold off Capcom on Street Fighter II (The main Reason why the SNES caught up with the Genesis), but ultimately SFII made it to the Genesis.

    After all this success, it was a dogfight, Sega started preparing for the next generation, and Nintendo tried to defuse Sega by speculating on a Nintendo CD (The Phillips/Sony debacle that interestingly was the root of the creation of the Playstation)

    At this point Sega put out probably their best technological lineup (examples: Vectorman, Treasure's Gunstar Heroes, Sonic 3 etc.) but Nintendo had the goves off with Starfox, FFIII, the upcoming Donkey Kong, etc. Sega thinks they can replicate 1st mover advantage with a CD platform. Sega CD comes out, and other than Silpheed and Sonic CD and Starwars, the platform is plagued with FMV Crap. So they started developing a next gen 2d platform (Saturn). (ERROR 1: Instead of looking at the future, they decided to fight Nintendo on 2D - They didn't see Virtua Fighter at the arcades???).

    At some point during Saturn's development, the biggest mistake is made. For some reason somebody thinks that they can release an 32 bit "add-on" to capitalize on the Genesis installed base. The 32x is born. Sorry Sega, no add on has been successful!!! (Interestingly, some people have not learned this lesson yet; read: Microsoft's Xbox 360's HD-DVD rumored add on).

    At this point, the consumer must be very confused. Should we wait for Saturn or buy 32x??? I would have paid money to see those marketing staff meetings.

    Final Nail in the coffin: Sony unveils the PlayStation (externality) and Sega rushes to add 3D capabilities to their pure 2D platform. With an overpriced platform that is very hard to program for, Sega manages to release many beautiful games (some of which never make it to our shores). The rest is history, Nintendo blunders again by undermining 3rd parties and ignoring the media leap, and it's all Sony.

    Let's hope that we have a dogfight again soon... we will stand to win like we did during the 16bit days.
    • Re:16 bit wars... (Score:5, Informative)

      by batkiwi (137781) on Monday June 19, 2006 @09:25PM (#15566155)
      (Interestingly, some people have not learned this lesson yet; read: Microsoft's Xbox 360's HD-DVD rumored add on).

      1. It's not rumored, it was offically announced long ago. http://www.xbox.com/en-US/community/news/events/e3 2006/articles/20060507-hddvdexplained.htm [xbox.com]

      2. It's a movie addon, not a game addon, so it doesn't matter at all to the overall xbox 360 strategy whether it succeeds or fails. Microsoft has said that they will not have hd-dvd games. Compare it to buying the dvd remote for a ps2 or an xbox 1 (or that whacky silver gamecube put out by some third party which also played dvds), don't compare it to the 32x. It simply allows you to watch hd-dvd movies, nothing more or less.
    • Genesis vs. SNES wasn't really a dogfight. What made these consoles so successful is that they peaked at different times. If the average console cycle is 5 years, then the Genesis and SNES were fully out-of-phase, Genesis peaking in 1991-92 just as the SNES was being released. Had Sega pushed hard for a next-gen console in 1995 instead of half-assing it with a bunch of RISC processors, the Nintendo/Sega leapfrogging could have continued to this day.

      What was the selling point for upgrading from the 16 bit
    • Let's be realistic, their 1st gen stuff (Altered Beast, Super Thunder Blade, Golden Axe was very very bad, they were basically technical showcases. No exciting gameplay whatsoever.)

      Can't really fault the console division for that. A lot of the Genesis/Megadrive launch titles were just near-perfect translations of popular Sega arcade games.

      • "Can't really fault the console division for that. A lot of the Genesis/Megadrive launch titles were just near-perfect translations of popular Sega arcade games."

        Yeah, he's pulling "very very bad, they were basically technical showcases. No exciting gameplay whatsoever" straight from his ass. I bought the Genesis (as with many others) specifically FOR those titles, I loved the arcade titles and the Genesis did a bang-up job of capturing the gameplay. Nintendo had very little of that arcade-y feel with their
      • Yeah, Golden Axe was awesome. I can still hear the sword-hacking sound and the death rattle now, and I haven't played it in a decade.
    • Capitalized on a Mainstream Platform: The SNES featured a slower more processor that was more tailored for games, while the 6800 on the Genesis was a more general-purpose and well known platform

      The 65816 (a 16-bit kludge of the 6502) in the SNES was *not* more tailored for games, and was probably the most inferior component of the SNES. The SNES had better sprite graphics hardware (with cool effects like scaling) and better sound hardware (most games implemented something similar to MIDI synthesizer with s

  • Sega was NEVER a real contender, except for a very brief period in the early 1990's, and even then was only #1 in the US.
    • Bullshit. As I understand it, the Master System completely trounced the NES in the UK.
      • The genesis also beat the SNES in Europe and is still massively popular in South America. The US games market is not the be-all and end-all - it's actually spent most of it's life out-of-step with what's been going on in the rest of the world.
        • Seconded, the Genesis was a HUGE success in the middle east (along with the original Famicom, it was hard really to tell who truimphed), up till the Playstation became affordable in 1997 and 1998 onwards.
        • Who said it was the "be-all and end-all?" It doesn't matter haow significant the games of the US games market are (or whether they're "out-of-step", whatever that means...).

          The point is the US market is the single largest games market in the world. Being #1 in the US qualifies you as a contender in fiscal terms, matters of taste are irrelevant.

          • US is number 1, but No 2 is Japan and No 3 is EU or UK (depending on how you want to split the market) - and the US market isn't that much bigger than the other two. As an example, if MS take the US market with the 360, and Sony wins Europe and Japan with the PS3, Sony will be in a much better position.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I always thought Sega bailed out on Genesis too quickly. They had a giant usebase and were creating fantastic software. I think it was Donkey Kong Country that spooked them. That year they saw Genesis demand shrinking a little bit and knew Donkey Kong Country was going to be huge. Instead of making a killer Genesis application they pushed the 32X as a stop gap. Bad idea. They should have stuck with Genesis until 1996 and released a technically superior Sega system on par with PSX or N64.
  • by APLowman (968256) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @12:08AM (#15566795) Journal
    I'm suprised nobody even mentioned that the Playstation, which was what killed SEGA, was originally a joint project with Nintendo to make a SNES/Super Famicon CD system to compete with SEGA CD. Nintendo saw how bad SEGA CD was doing and bailed on Sony, causing them to lose game developers who had already begun working on games for the new add-on(like Squaresoft's Final Fantasy 7). If SEGA never tried the CD bit then Sony would not be making systems today.
    • I'm a little worried your post got modded informative because as far as I can tell it's almost completely wrong. About all you got right was that Nintendo and Sony worked on a CD add-on to the SNES which led to Sony releasing the Playstation. The reason that project got canned was because of various contract disputes between Nintendo and Sony. AFAIK, the project was nearly dead by the time Sega CD was released, let alone before it proved to be a disaster.

      I also don't know of a single game that spent any tim
      • Yes, the main cause of the breakup of the SNES CD project was due to contract terms, however the project was initiated when SEGA started devloping the SEGA CD, by the time the project was cancled SEGA CD was already doing poorly. Square had started working on other projects for the SNES CD and was about to start making FF:7, like you said it would take a massive cart to hold such a game and Nintendo did not intend on trying again for a CD system after the failure with Sony and Philips.
  • 1) Dreamcast piracy: Sega said their systems were selling well enough, but the software wasn't. And since you could download and burn pretty much any game out there, that's probably not a surprise.

    2) Shenmue: $20,000,000 on one video game. Still the record as far as I know. There was no way ANY game, especially for the Dreamcast, could ever have made that much money back then. This is seen by some as the biggest single reason for Sega's buyout by Sammy.
    • by NeuroManson (214835) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @01:02AM (#15566950) Homepage
      Actually, it took a couple of years after the GD-ROM was introduced that some clever guys figured out how to rip them. Sega more or less tossed the gauntlet into the ring when they made the claim that it was unhackable (which of course was a challenge).

      The reason Sega failed was (1) Their VMUs were almost useless, due to short lived batteries, and (2) They pissed their pants when facing another Sega VS. Sony scenario, which wasn't helped by Microsoft entering the fray, and (3) They went with GD-ROM instead of DVD as a storage medium. Sony and Microsoft both capitalized on their abilities to act as "all in one" entertainment systems, complete with DVD playback.

      The biggest problem, however, was that Sega didn't learn enough from the Master System's failings, they came close to success with the Megadrive, until Ninendo released their Super Famicom system. Then it went back to reinventing the wheel, waiting to see if market share was available (despite a reluctance to properly promote their consoles), then bailing on it when the bean counters couldn't see why the systems weren't selling. The 32X was an *okay* addon peripheral, but there was so much backing behind the Saturn, that pretty much everyone who bought it were left in the dark with a high tech paperweight. There was so much potential in the Saturn, but they failed to claim their niche, losing to Sony, which resulted in the same. There was even potential in the SegaCD, but again, they failed to market it sufficiently/properly. When you have that many gamers buying into that much hardware, eventually your gamers will give up on you when you fail to support it, if at all. Even Atari demonstrated this fact.

      In the end, Sega's failing is simply explained: They lost their focus, and gave up far too easily at the slightest sign of adversity.

      And before anyone mods me troll, I put in a few months at Sega of America as a QA tester, and watched as all of the above took place, back in the Genesis days. You wouldn't believe the time they wasted on the SegaCD as a "FMV Box", when it's overall graphical prowess was on a par with, if not obviously superior to the Super Famicom in the day. It was downright embarassing to see how they operated.
      • Sir, if I had mod points... you would have some :-|

        kudos !
      • Sega was only one of MANY companies to waste time with FMV. They thought the games would be fun, and in fact some of them were. Of course the Sega CD was superior to the SNES. The Genesis alone could handle more sprites before slowdown than the SNES.

        The fundamental problem was the Genesis' 64 color limit. Eventually developers alternated colors on the odd and even frames to fake more colors, but that doesn't work on fast moving games or FMV. The TurboGrafx 16 could do 512 colors. If the Genesis had th
        • Technically, if Worlds Of Wonder (makers of Teddy Ruxpin) and Hasbro stuck with their guns, Sega would still have lost. almost 5 years before the SegaCD made its debut, they were working on a project called Isix Nemo, which involved an interleaved frame system (24 FPS split into 4 6 frame chunks in the frame buffer for every sequence), footage of which was fed from a conventional VHS source, the frame buffer was not much more advanced than a Colecovision (in fact, the controller system was based on it). The
          • Isix was the company, but yeah. I was wondering how their InstaSwitch technology would have worked. I suppose for Night Trap the limit was that no more than four videos could be happening in the rooms at one time?

            The NEMO was an interesting idea. Load times would have stunk, but I assume the tapes would have had data capabilities too, meaning lots and lots of graphics, limited only by whichever 1.72MHz or 3.58MHz chip ran the box. Getting third party developers would have been the greatest challenge, an
            • Pretty much, yeah, and as a result of the tape's limitations, the video was relatively choppy. However, considering this system was developed almost 5 years before CD-I, 3DO, or SegaCD even made it to market, was nothing short of amazing. And (at least at the time) the target market wouldn't have to purchase any new hardware, that is, if they had a VCR handy.

              I played the NEMO prototype (which was a monstrous wirewrap board) back in 1990 or so, and it was a fairly impressive experience. The data took up a sm
        • Don't forget how much better the SNES's sound chip was when compared to the Megadrive's
  • by master_p (608214) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:59AM (#15567277)
    It was not the 32X, Saturn or Dreamcast that led to SEGA's fall in the console business. It was its policy: SEGA forgot that their best arcade games where 3D superscaler affairs (and later polygon affairs). Neither the Megadrive, 32X or Saturn could scale, rotate and polygonize graphics like the SEGA arcade boards did. At the time that 3D was all the rage, SEGA pushed 2D beasts.

    What did the arcade player see when he hit the arcades? Space Harrier, Outrun, Powerdrift, Afterburner, Thunderblade, Galaxy Force, Super Hang On, Super Monaco GP, Virtua Fighter, Daytona USA (along with a stream of other mostly inferior 2D affairs). But any of those games really suffered as home conversions, because SEGA's home consoles could not afford the twin-68000 supercaler and polygonizer graphics of SEGA's arcade boards.

    What SEGA should have done, instead of 32X, is to release a powerful home console with 2x68000 plus custom chips that could do all the effects of the arcades. Yes, it would have been an expensive console, but yet again it would be the only console that one could play a decent game of Outrun. And later they should have released a polygonal beast like the PS1.

    SEGA did a similar mistake with Commodore: when the world was going 3D, both SEGA and Commodore insisted on powerful 2D graphics without any support for 3D. Meanwhile, the PC world got Wolfestein 3D and Doom, while the console world got PS1.

    Nintendo did not do the same mistake. After their best console ever (the Nintendo SuperNES) which had a limited number of special 3D tricks (mode 7, superfx chip), they released a proper 3D console, the Nintendo 64, which had some awesome games.

    • had arcade perfect ports of Space Harrier and Afterburner, so did the Saturn. Arcades were dying in the states, only the fighting game crazy kept 'em breathing. Commodore's mistake (I assume you mean the Amiga32) was trying to sell hopelessly old tech at a high price because it had a CD drive attached. Sega's mistake was infighting, rushing their next gen console to get it out first, and trying to market the Dreamcast as hip instead of for the technological marvel it was.
      • The 32X had arcade perfect ports of Space Harrier and Afterburner

        No, the 32X ports of Space Harrier and Afterburner where much less than 'arcade perfect'. I know it not only because I own the systems and I was a frequent arcade player, but because I can run those versions side by side with the arcade version (emulated on my PC) and see the differences. The 32X versions have smaller sprites and no so smooth animation.

        Furthermore, the 32X versions came long after the games were arcade hits.

        so did the

    • 3D or not 3D... (Score:3, Informative)

      by cr0sh (43134)
      ...and Commodore insisted on powerful 2D graphics without any support for 3D. Meanwhile, the PC world got Wolfestein 3D and Doom...

      I think you are confused about what happenned to Commodore (by which, I assume you mean the Amiga line). The Amiga always had superior 2D graphics, from the start in 1985. The PC wasn't able to touch it until about 1993 or 1994, when VGA cards became ubiquitous in the PC scene. Even then, you were limited compared to what the Amiga could do, because the VGA card was essentially

      • I think you are confused about what happenned to Commodore (by which, I assume you mean the Amiga line).

        It is funny that you think I am confused with so many mistakes/innacuracies from your side. Read on. By the way, I own an Amiga 500, 600 and 1200.

        Amiga had the best sound - 4 channel FM stereo as well as digital sample playback - since 1985

        Amiga had 2 channels of stereo sound and 4 channels of mono sound. It did not have an FM sound chip (like the Atari ST, for example). The maximum hardware pla

        • Amiga had 2 channels of stereo sound and 4 channels of mono sound. It did not have an FM sound chip (like the Atari ST, for example). The maximum hardware playback sampling rate was 22 KHz, 8-bit. More KHz could only be done by software, although Amiga did not need it because it had excellent sound filters and very low noise.

          Thanks for the clarification here - I didn't mean to imply that there was an FM sound chip, which I know there wasn't - everything else you wrote is correct.

          Wrong. It is the other way

          • Interestingly, in the CD32 game console Commodore did make, they had a CD-ROM drive along with an extra custom chip (can't remember its name or purpose, but it was "exclusive" to the CD32, and made cross-platform Amiga/CD32 titles that used it unlikely). The rest of the system, though, was basically an A1200 inside (just like the CDTV was an A500 on the inside)...

            The custom chip was called the Akiko, which was responsible for two things:

            1. Handling the data coming in from the CD drive and also assuming f
  • Dreamcast (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @03:18AM (#15567343) Homepage
    As somebody who has owned and sold his PS2 (with about 15 games) and who has recently bought a Dreamcast (second hand with about 20 games) I can safely say that the Dreamcast kicks PS2 ass!

    It's only sad that the last commercial games for the DC were created in 2001 or so.

    I would have loved to see how a recent game developed for DC would compare to a recent PS2 game; I dare bet the DC's version would have blown away the PS2's.

    I guess the most imporantly reason for Sega losing out on the (IMHO) inferior PS2 is the piracy; you could use burned CD's without any expensive hardware modification. They may have failed at marketing, but from what I can see they just didn't make enough money from the games to throw at marketing anyway.
    • Re:Dreamcast (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Hitto (913085)
      You should google around for the dreamcast homebrew scene, as it is easily one of the most dedicated and talented scenes out there. Games, apps, linux, divx & MP3 player, you name it.

      I bought a used DC for about 40 bucks back then, just for Jet Set Radio and Soul Calibur, and boy were those two games worth it. I do fail to understand the hype surrounding Shenmue, though.
      • Check out Under Defeat, it was released recently as a commercial title in Japan, it's akin to Zero Gunner and it's pretty fun! ^^
    • I can safely say that the Dreamcast kicks PS2 ass!

      I totally agree, even now I still much prefer the DC over the PS2. I dunno what's going on (maybe it's something in the water) but everyone seems to be in Dreamcast nostalgia mode. IGN has relaunched their DC section and I keep seeing Dreamcast nostalgia threads all over the web. I guess people are now starting to realise that they really miss the "Old" Sega.

      Sadly "New" Sega aren't much cop IMHO. They've had a few classic titles, particularly OutRun2 and the

  • Sega has certinly fallen from where they are, but coming out here to Japan, all over Im seeing these Sega Arcades that seem to be pretty popular, AND big. Are they really on the ropes, or was the exit strategy of leaving Consoles just a smart business move (not being rhetoric, im seriously asking)
    • Part of their decreased console offerings is due to being basically taken over by Sammy. Also, they might be doing less because of the console transition, but I haven't read anything like this.
  • by szembek (948327)
    And now they even lose their great football game franchise because of the NFLPA's deal with Madden. That sucks, sega has a much better football game.
  • "It was the pinnacle of Segas Pax Romana."

    Hmm it seems someone doesnt know what Pax Romana means. The console war was hardly peaceful , Sega was not on top and it has nothing to do with Romans.
  • The fact that you can buy Sonic for the GBA, PS2, GCube and probably the 360, means the "Sega Userbase" is enormous compared to the best days of the 16bit wars. Plus the constant stream of engineering outlay for new consoles, new controllers, new media instantly disappeared.

    I loved the Master System, Genesis, Game Gear, and Saturn hardware as much as the next geek. But Sega is in a much better place now. Everyone's living room. May it always be so.

    What really loved was the Games anyway, Now we can all l

  • It just seems to me that SEGA wanted to 'get rich quick' with their gaming systems. Offering system after system to the public, even though the systems weren't that good. If you think about it, they offered multiple systems that they new people were going to buy before the market got flooded with other companies such as Sony and Microsoft that they might not be able to keep up with financially and technologically.
  • is that Sega had a lot going for them, they did indeed lose their "focus", and when they did apply it well, in the DreamCast, it was too early. There was no competition and OMG, the controllers...

    The DreamCast had crazy great capabilities, well beyond that of anything else in that gen, but people weren't ready to plunk down hard earned cash to make it happen. We had a DreamCast in our home, and we loved it. But can you imagine if the DreamCast came out when downloadable or online play was possible a
  • SEGA's biggest problem was releasing their next generation consoles too early. More than a few months jump just gives the competition too much time to build up the hype machine, even if the hype simply isnt true. Sony built up a fan base with the psx that caused fanboys everywhere to latch on to every word. Emotion Engine, Built-In hard drive, bazillions of textures, higher poly counts...in the end most of the hype ment nothing but people bought into it. In hindsight SEGA should have waited about a year
  • I find SEGA Base to be very informative:

    SEGA Base [eidolons-inn.net]

    Essentially, I get from this that a lack of co-operation between the American and Japanese branches were it's biggest problem. (Oh, and Nintendo screwing them over with the Congress didn't help either.)

    The Dreamcast would have had to have been a spectacular success to pull SEGA out of its financial doldrums, and the people at SEGA seemed to know it was a longshot (see the following article):

    "Come on, Mr. Yukawa, get up!" [slate.com]

    The ads star an actual seni

  • I'm not totally sure now newsworthy this article is. No, I am totally sure. It's not. As a personal anecdote it's an interesting read for the author's friends, I'm sure. As a pre-mortem eulogy for a company with a long and complicated history, marked with strange politics and even stranger bedfellows, this isn't news. It's almost entirely conjecture.
  • If you're looking for more information about Sega in all of it's many incarnations, take a look at http://www.sega-16.com/ [sega-16.com].

    It has many articles on what various factors led to the downfall of Sega, as well as what made it so great and which games were worthwhile on all of the various systems (with a reasonable bias towards the Genesis).

    I think that the single greatest achievement of the Genesis-era Sega was The Sega Channel. It provided me with years of entertainment as a rambunctious kid, and no facet o

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