Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

The Sad Story of Sega's Many Mistakes 119

Via Press the Buttons, an interesting interview at the Sega-16 site with former Sega president Tom Kalinske. The company's former head burns bridges by laying blame for failures in the company, discussing the ways in which the Japanese office tried to run things, and revealing some of the phenomenally bad ideas the company somehow managed to overcome. From the article: "He was selling the Genesis with Altered Beast as the pack-in [instead of Sonic], and he was selling it at $189.99. There was also very little software activity going on in the U.S., and he hadn't built the company up (gotten permission to hire or didn't have the budget to), so there was no progress being made. If you remember, Sega sold the 8-bit machine - the Master System - prior to that against Nintendo, and it managed to get a 2% share of the market."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Sad Story of Sega's Many Mistakes

Comments Filter:
  • by Square Snow Man ( 985909 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @05:46PM (#15708710)
    You can make almost anything a succes by just marketing a product down peoples throat. This may sound weird but its true because most things are not even worth before you bought them. (just think of a game you recently bought, was it worth it?)
    • make almost anything a succes by just marketing a product down peoples throat

      Actually if it's a consumer product that depend on repeat purchases, you drastically shorten the product lifecycle when extra-heavy marketing is applied to inferior goods.

    • by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @06:06PM (#15708832) Homepage Journal
      One quote stood out: "you've got to advertise against Nintendo, you know, make fun of them. Ridicule Nintendo and make kids think that the NES is absolutely the uncoolest machine to own."

      Marketing is essential in getting a product out there, but counter-marketing never seems to work. "Genesis does what Nintendon't" was Sega's counter to the NES, but then the SNES came around with a lot of things that Genesis... didn't do. Likewise, I remember the Atari Jaguar's ads "Why spend $300 on a 32-bit PlayStation when you can get a 64-bit Jaguar for only $199?" Even Apple's "switch" ads didn't produce any perceptible benefit for the company.

      It seems like the best marketing is positive, marketing features that others may have but touting yours above all else. The commercials for the Genesis could have been done even better without the anti-Nintendo slaps and with 30-60 solid seconds of gameplay with a Genesis logo in the corner.
      • by penguinstorm ( 575341 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @06:16PM (#15708897) Homepage
        If you're only hook is negative, it's tough to market.

        Chances are your market has experience with what you're up against -- they've used it, maybe they've bought it, they've certainly heard of it otherwise you wouldn't be running up that hill.

        Mac OS 9, to cite an example, got no traction with "Switch" because Mac OS 9 was a somewhat dated dog. Mac OS X has some...how much traction has yet to be determined, but it does have some traction.

        Until Sega had Sonic, Nintendo's little plumber kept winning the battle. Sonic is still a Sega star, he just doesn't play on their hardware anymore.
      • Even Apple's "switch" ads didn't produce any perceptible benefit for the company.

        Offtopic, I know, but I see a lot of posts about the Apple "switch" ads and how they are stupid or don't have any benefit for Apple. I don't know about anyone else but almost every non-geek I talk to that has seen them loves them. I personally know several people (friends' parents, my mother-in-law) who have even gone into the Apple store and played with a Mac because the commercials got their attention. My in-laws are now

        • The problem I have with counter-marketing is that it causes the target market to see the promoted product only in the context of another, more well-known product. By saying "a Mac is just like a PC, only better" Apple keeps the notion of a Windows PC as standard in the customer's mind. By contrast, Apple has never made any sort of comparison with iPod -- they rarely refer to it as a "music player" or "MP3 player" like so many of their competitors do. Even though the iPod had fewer features than its perce
          • Buy an Apple iPod! It's Apple's version of the, uh, iPod!

            Apple (currently) is defining the MP3 player market.

            MS took that away from Apple a long time ago in the computing market, and has it still. Apple isn't "reinforcing the idea" that Windows PCs dominate the market, they're accepting reality (RDF non-withstanding). There's nothing wrong with marketing something as better than the competition. Companies do it successfully all the time.
          • To swing this thread back on-topic, Sega made the same mistake. Nintendo distinguished itself from Atari before it by redesigning even the look and feel of the console's hardware, never even acknowledging Atari's existence. Had Sega marketed the Genesis on its own merits without mentioning Nintendo, perhaps they could have gained more traction and goodwill.

            Did you RTFA? According to the interview the negative marketing WORKED and made Sega the #1 hardware in the console business. It was the stubborn japan

      • I think you make a really good point, but not all advertising is supposed to get new customers -- a significant portion is targeted at the base -- existing customers (corny marketingism -- it's much cheaper to keep a customer than to find a customer).

        In Apple's case, even if they produce no "switchers", they do very effectively send the message to existing Apple users that "PCs are Scary and Uncool. Don't buy a PC. Pay more for another Mac."

        I can't recall the Genesis ads, but they could have been trying to
        • The most overtly negative Genesis ads were targeted squarely at the NES since the Genesis beat the SNES to market. There were also a few negative ads that Sega ran against the Game Boy when the Game Gear came out. The interview suggests that this was the strategy from day 1: the Sega Master System was not at all successful in the US, so they led a full-scale assault to make the NES seem uncool.

          Later Sega ads were less extremely negative, but no less extreme (the "SEGA!!" scream was their trademark for yea
          • Hey, the "SEGA!" screem was quite possibly some of the best marketting of our age. It was new, it was unique, it was edgy, it was memorable, and it was done using JUST the company's name! As an advertisement producer, myself, if I could figure out a memorable quip that simply used the company's name, I would use it in a heartbeat. I mean, people started saying it in public, it was so popular... kids would yell it at each other in jokes. One guy I know even yelled it in the middle of the movie theatre! It's

      • by jwilcox154 ( 469038 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @10:16PM (#15710015) Homepage Journal
        SNES came around with a lot of things that Genesis


        Actually, that bit of information is one of the biggest urban legends out there. The Sega Genesis was far superior to the SNES, the Mode 7 effects were nothing more than smoke and mirrors, as the processor could only perform those tasks on a sprite when the background is one solid colour, usually black. The Genesis had a superior processor. True the SNES had more colours than the Genesis, but the Genesis could keep up with the same number of colours while the SNES had trouble with flickering.

        The Genesis could do Vector graphics without a hardware add-on, while the SNES relied on the expensive Super-FX chip. The 32X also allowed the Genesis to utilize effects like Mode 7 on the the SNES as well as using all 32K colours, the SNES never used more than 200. The SegaCD was capable of the Mode 7 like effects as well.

        Comparing the Turtles games no both systems, the Genesis blew the SNES out of the water. The only advantage the SNES had was more colours, while the Genesis game has more characters, less flicker, more background layers and more animation.

        In TMNT IV the Turtles are capable of a flipping slash attack, that will also carry you further, just after reaching the peak of a jump, and are also capable of throwing footsoldiers into the screen. Also contrary to popular belief, the screen throw animation is not using any kind of scaling technique, but is animated in three simple sprite changes. This same approach could have been used in the Genesis version, and both systems could have animated the throw with more frames. The reason why the SNES game does not scale the sprite for the screen throw is most likely due to the speed of the game, and the necessary 3-6 characters on screen at once. The SNES never did exceptionally well with action games, and throwing scaling sprites into the mix would very likely have caused slowdown, and possibly couldn't have been done well in such a quick animation.

        The SNES was inferior hardware wise, but both had an equal number of memorable games, depending on who you ask.
        http://www.gamepilgrimage.com/TheSegaGenesis.htm [gamepilgrimage.com]
        • Spec for spec, MegaDrive couldn't touch SuperFami. How can you possibly compare the ancient even at that time MD's Motorola 68000 cpu with the SFC's custom 65816? Oh wait-let me guess-it's because since it's running @7Mhz vs 3.16, it's gotta be superior, right? I believe AMD shattered that myth long time ago. I also suppose having double the amount of system RAM doesn't really mean anything either. Ever hear a soundtrack as epic as the Final Fantasy II or III on MD? Nope, due to a flat out superior so
          • Again, that is wrong. According to the site Game Pilgrimage [gamepilgrimage.com]

            StarFox was not the first polygon based console game as people might think, thanks to the multi page spreads in many popular gaming mags describing the game as such. Hard Drivin', Race Drivin', F15 Strike Eagle and several other Microprose simulators had all been out on the Genesis in 1992 and 1993. Moreover, they all ran straight off the Genesis hardware, rather than a special on cartridge chip like StarFox's SFX chip. Gameplay wise, StarFox might

          • by Akaihiryuu ( 786040 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @12:29PM (#15713191)
            The SNES is superior to the Genesis in some ways, but it depends on which component you're talking about. The m68k in the Genesis was FAR FAR FAR superior to the 65816, it's a night-and-day difference, there isn't even any competition there. However, the SNES did have far superior video and audio co-processors...it's the other way there, the Genesis's video and audio processors couldn't touch the SNES's. So once again it's a tossup...the Genesis had a far superior main CPU, the SNES had far superior co-processors. It all depends on what you're doing and what kind of game it is. I've seen Genesis games that do Mode-7 style rotation/scling, but they have to do it entirely in software (unlike the SNES where it was done in hardware on the video processor). The Genesis CAN do more in software because of the stronger CPU, but it can't match a lot of the background and rotation/scaling effects the SNES can do. However, this was really only advantageous in RPG's, which don't have a whole lot happening on screen (usually). Once you get a lot happening on the screen, the limitations of the SNES's CPU come into play and you get a lot of slowdown. Look at a game like Chrono Trigger...there really isn't that much going on on the screen at once, but it has a lot of nice background effects. Super Metroid was an exception...but you do get a lot of slowdown when there's a lot going on (drop a power bomb in a room full of enemies to see). The Genesis had a fairly weak video processor in comparison...fewer colors, no hardware rotation/scaling abilities. The sound processor was weak too, it used a pretty much standard Z80 for sound and didn't have any hardware effects. The SNES's sound processor on the other hand was quite advanced. It could do 8 channels, plus it had lots of hardware effects (like surround and echo). It used a format similar to MOD files, but it did it entirely in hardware. It was night and day compared to Genesis sound, blew it away. Amazingly enough, the SPC sound processor in the SNES was designed by Sony! I almost couldn't believe it...they made one of the best console sound processors for Nintendo, but they can't make a decent sound processor for their own systems to save their life.
        • Actually, that bit of information is one of the biggest urban legends out there. The Sega Genesis was far superior to the SNES, the Mode 7 effects were nothing more than smoke and mirrors, as the processor could only perform those tasks on a sprite when the background is one solid colour, usually black. The Genesis had a superior processor. True the SNES had more colours than the Genesis, but the Genesis could keep up with the same number of colours while the SNES had trouble with flickering.

          You've over sim
        • I don't know if it's the hardware or the development team, but the Genesis version of "Jurassic Park" is also amazing compared to the SNES version. There's no doubt that the SNES had a lot of good games, and probably more good games than Genesis, but don't sell the Genesis hardware short-- it was damn good hardware.
      • It must do something since Apple's at it again [apple.com]...
      • "Marketing is essential in getting a product out there, but counter-marketing never seems to work."

        When competition is fierce, counter-marketing is often the best option. When I think of which crappy american beer is winning the advertisement wars, I don't think of the generic "our beer is light and refreshing" crap, I think of the humorous ads that put down the competitors. Frankly, as a young 20-something, I think negative marketing is a lot edgier and often funnier. Perhaps it's an age thing, but I would
      • I still think one of Sony's best Playstation ads must've been; " If you still want Saturn, your head is in Uranus ". I can't give the exact source for this, because I can't remember, but this is an ad I saw in a gaming magazine..
      • The thing is, if you denounce your opponent in an advert - you're still giving them screen time. Your opponent still gets free publicity, and we all know that line about publicity.
      • Actually it did work (Score:4, Interesting)

        by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @09:33AM (#15712091)
        Actually it did work for the Genesis; before SEGA stopped supporting the hardware, the Genesis had a 51% market share. The problem is then that they dropped the support and concentrated on the 32X/Saturn, instead of just focusing on the Genesis until the Saturn was ready to launch. Consumers did not need that whole 32X diversion. The marketing for the Genesis is practically what saved SEGA from obscurity in the U.S. Everyone remembers the SEGA Scream commercials.

        On your other point, the Genesis did a bunch of stuff the SNES could not either, so your point is moot. The SNES was pretty much a NES with extra graphics and sound co-processors. The SNES could do a bunch of pre-set effects that looked nice and were easy to implement so they were used all over the place.

        The Genesis had a much more powerful core, so it could still accomplish quite a lot, and more in some situations, but with more programming. Check out Adventures of Batman & Robin on Genesis, it's filled with effects done in software. Same with Mega Turrican, Gunstar Heroes, Contra: Hard Corps, and Vectorman 1 & 2.

        The advantage that the Genesis had was that you could use the effects in any way you want, since they were programmed though the software, instead of being limited to a few pre-set hardware functions like the SNES, so you could have multiple rotating/scaling elements like in many of the games mentioned above, whereas on the SNES you could only do one scaling or rotating background at a time and not individual sprites (so you couldn't do the multiple enemies zooming at you in the elevator shaft like on the first level of Mega Turrican, and you couldn't do the rotating helicopter against a rotating sky background like on the boss in the Airship level of Gunstar Heroes), and you could apply transparency only to an entire background at a time, or not, so you couldn't have multiple transparent objects (like the flashlights the enemies hold in Batman & Robin), etc. Don't kid yourself, the Genesis could do a helluva lot. On the other hand, the only game with software mixed with hardware effects that were used to such a good extent on the SNES was probably DKC2: Diddy's Kong Quest.
        • That's true...but don't knock hardware graphic effects too much. You could easily apply that same statement to more modern systems and say something like "Why bother with the limited hardware functions of 3D accelerators when you could just do it all in software and be able to do more?" In general in software, if you can do something in hardware it's better to do it in hardware. Software sprite scaling/rotation will never be as efficient as doing it in hardware, and thus it won't look as good as a hardwa
    • It certainly works for a lot of companies like Nike, Bose, Sony, Coke, Ford, AOL, need I go on? Its sad how people buy for the name and not the quality, since all of the aforementioned companies lack it so greatly.
  • That was the best game ever where you were commanded to rise from the grave and rescue that guy's daughter.

    Close seconds (although you didn't get to rise from the grave or necessarily rescue that guy's daughter).
      * Final Fight
      * Bad Dudes
      * Gun Smoke
      * River City Ransom (GTA for the 80s yo!)

    Oh and if you don't recall, in Altered Beast, you changed from a dead man into a beast... awesome!
    • Weren't all of your "close seconds" NES titles?
      • Actaully Final Fight and Bad Dudes existed in the arcade first. I have vivid memories of playing Bad Dudes at the local skating rink with my brother. Then jumping up and down a few months later when we saw it in Nintendo Power. You know, back when NP had something worthwhile to write about every month!

        And Final Fight was ported to SNES, but I believe it was a PC Engine title over in Japan. I know Final Fight 2 is on NEO-GEO and a friend of mine claims it's just short of a 10 on his scale.

        • Well, if we're talking about their original systems, Altered Beast was an arcade title before it was ported to the Genesis. :P

          The point I was trying to make is that, of everything he listed, only one title was a hit for the Genesis...and this is an article on Sega. It seemed incredibly out of place.
          • Wasn't aware of that, thanks! Well, your post was definately more back up for your original post. And agrees with mine. The point being that most (well, now all) the games the OP stated he loved weren't originaly (or ever) Genisis titles.
    • Even as a kid I found Final Fight a little disturbing, at least the arcade version. The more you beat up the female baddies, the more you were rewarded with titilation in the form of their shirts lifting up and cleavage coming out from underneath.
    • Dude, have you played Altered Beast?
    • I liked how the very end (at least in the arcade version) it was shown to you that the whole thing was just a movie, rubber suits, props, cameras and all.
    • That was the best game ever where you were commanded to rise from the grave and rescue that guy's daughter.


      Second best. ;) The best game where you were commanded to rise from the grave and rescue someone's daughter[0] was the original "Rygar" :)

      [0] If you see "Dorago" tell him to "release my daughter!"[1]
      [1] I always wondered why that was in quotes... was that a euphemism in the 80s I was too young to get?
    • Whenever I'm hooking up one of my many Genesis's in any locations. Such as after a move, or after I just bought it, the very first game I put in is Altered Beast. Something about the opening music is very comforting. It also has the advantage of being the oldest game SEGA Genesis title I own (although I bought Phantasy Star II at about the same time). (The oldest game? Well, it used to be Pong, but I think I no longer have that...)

      Oh, and as to this comment, "you can't have this title in there, call

    • When I got a Genesis, I made sure it was the one with the Altered Beast pack-in, not Sonic.

      I first played AB at Wiers Beach in NH - you know, the funspot! where all the new retro-gaming records are made. :)

      "Rise from your grave"!!!
  • I remember we had a document that Olaf and Mickey took to Sony that said they'd like to develop jointly the next hardware - the next game platform, with Sega, and here's what we think it ought to do. Sony apparently gave the green light to that. I took it to Sega of Japan and told them that this was what we thought an ideal platform would be - at least from an U.S. perspective - based on what we've learned from the Sega CD, and our involvement with Sony and our own people. Sega said not a chance. Why would it want to share a platform with Sony? Sega would be much better off just developing its own platform, and it's nice that we had some ideas on what that platform ought to be and they'd consider it, but the company would be developing its next platform itself.
    Wow... So the entire reason that the Playstation is as big as it is now is because both Sega and Nintendo turned down agreements with them?!

    I knew about Nintendo's part, but I had no idea that Sega was involved with Sony as well.

    This is insane! Someone mod the interview +1 Insightful.
    • I was even more flabbergasted that they turned down SGI, whose chipset later became the N64.

      So Sega could have rolled out a CD-based system as powerful as the N64, and also been first to market. Too bad about those childish execs at Sega Japan.
      • In all fairness, I'd rather have the last system Sega ended up producing over the N64 ...
        • That would be becuase the generation of console the Dreamcast was competing against was the PS2/Gamecube/Xbox and not the PS1/N64. Sega believed (so I understand) that being first to market with the new generation was what had made the PS1 a success.
      • by Kuukai ( 865890 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @11:39PM (#15710371) Journal
        So Sega could have rolled out a CD-based system as powerful as the N64, and also been first to market. Too bad about those childish execs at Sega Japan.

        Well, Sega wouldn't even have gotten the chance if it wasn't for the same foolish mistake being made at Nintendo. That entire generation of management pretty much proved it needed a new competitor in order to force it to get its shit together, and in doing so they brought in Sony... The irony is that now Sony's execs are screaming "we don't derserve to stay in the console business" even louder than Sega or Nintendo ever did. This industry has no learning curve.
        • Foolish? How so? Nintendo saw that the Sega CD was failing badly and there was little demand for CD-based systems at the time so they abandoned the SNESCD project and anyway Sony was getting way too cocky and started demanding that they get the license fees from SNES CD games instead of Nintendo. Had Nintendo agreed they'd have lost anyway but they'd have given Sony access to Mario and Zelda.
      • So Sega could have rolled out a CD-based system as powerful as the N64, and also been first to market. Too bad about those childish execs at Sega Japan.

        Yup, not only that they could have had Sony's backing them up as well... Taking half the burden of the development costs and helping out with the disc media tech, sound processing, and games.

        I think the N64 processor with Sony supported CD based media even if Sega messed up the launch they would have annihilated Nintendo that round... the gaming would w

    • A little off topic here (hi Mom!), but the Sony/Sega/Nintendo Playstation story is similar to 2 other stories I've heard lately.

      Microsoft, who had more Mac programmers than Apple, only created Windows when Jobs refused to license their OS more broadly. (Gates was a big booster of what Apple had done and so literally Windows was intended to be a copy of the Mac OS with different licensing.)

      Apple approached Creative about co-branded MP3 players and a joint venture and only created the iPod when they were rebu
  • Sega Genesis... Who wants to get something that has a biblical reference?

    Sega Saturn... Named after a car? A planet? How about something original.

    Sega DreamCast... Perfect name for it. They had a dream and it was so bad they went broke and needed a cast.

    Poor Sega....
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Sega Genesis... Who wants to get something that has a biblical reference?

      Sega Saturn... Named after a car? A planet? How about something original.

      Sega DreamCast... Perfect name for it. They had a dream and it was so bad they went broke and needed a cast.

      Poor Sega....

      Don't quit your day job.
    • Actually it's a contraction of "dream broadcast". Interestingly... back in the day, I was so addicted to Sonic Adventure that I once dreamt that I was Sonic, running down Speed Highway!
      • Had a similar day dream after Halo 2 came out. I spent all night playing through the game on a 42" Hi-def with surround. I was at a friends house and it was a two hour drive home the next evening. While I was on the freeway I was having day dreams (the kind that take over your conciousness completely) that I was in the tank and I was blowing up all the Warthogs on the road. Once I realized that my head was indeed NOT a turret, I snapped too, pulled off the freeway and got some coffee.
    • Sony once ran a Playstation ad that said, "If you still want a Saturn, your head is in Uranus".
  • So the President of America gets approval to make changes against Japans better judgement, makes Sega millions upon millions of dollars, and it's a sad story? WTF?
    • Before any wise crackers jump in, "President of America" means "President of the American Arm of Sega". But you already knew that. Countdown to trolls in 5... 4... 3...
    • Oh, Sega of America killed in those days. 2 to 50% market share is almost unheard of.

      Sad because Sega of Japan actively sabotaged SoA in revenge, and nearly killed Sega as a whole by ignoring SoA and the strategies that built the company.
    • Theres a page 2 and 3 you know.
    • Read the rest of the interview. In short, Japanese Sega became jealous of the American division (which at that time was doing much better; Sonic was a hero in America, and not very popular in Japan), and their executives began to sabotage all of American Sega's plans. For instance, the hardware that became the Nintendo 64 was offered to Sega first, but the Japanese Sega executives turned it down, despite American Sega's recommendation. Ditto with the hardware that became the Sony Playstation.
  • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) * on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @06:06PM (#15708828)
    'tis a more worthy name, sir.
  • Many? Two. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @06:07PM (#15708833)
    1. Pulling support for consoles before they even have a chance to fight on the market (SegaCD, Saturn, Dreamcast)

    2. An utter disregard for advertising. I've said it a thousand times; I'll say it again - you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a PS2 or X-Box commercial. Even Nintendo had their share of marketing blitz. The Dreamcast? Word of mouth does not work well in console sales.

    Okay, maybe three.

    3. 32X.

    Seriously, the only DC commercials I remembered seeing were for a Sonic game, months after hardware production for the DC had been terminated. Erm, what - the - hell? I hope nobody at Sega is wondering why they were the first true casualty of the modern console industry.
    • Re:Many? Two. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by RoadDoggFL ( 876257 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @06:52PM (#15709115) Homepage
      Sega's 9-9-99 ad blitz was all over the TV during the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards. I was quite the Sony fanboy at the time and disregarded it all, but I remember seeing the "it's thinking" ads for several weeks/months prior to launch and actually raising an eyebrow to the in-game models imposed on real-life settings.

      Hell, my local Hollywood Ave. rented imported DCs and games (with a ~$200 deposit for the console) the summer before launch.
      • Re:Many? Two. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Steve525 ( 236741 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @10:31PM (#15710085)
        Yea, and of all the dumb slogans: "it's thinking" is what I would usually say as my computer pauses and is thrashing away as I switch programs, etc. Not exactly a positive image for a computer/video game.

        Sega built up a reasonable buzz and had a very successful launch for the Dreamcast. But they didn't really keep it up or do a good enough job against Sony's FUD.
      • Durr, I meant Video Ave.

        It was later renamed to Hollywood Video and I just got confused...
    • That may be, but Sega used to have great ads (as the piece touches on). Remember the "Sega Scream"? That was a great campaign. I'll never forget the GameGear ad they ran. A guy and a teen sitting next to each other on a plane playing games. The guy had a TV and a Genesis (plugged in by long orange extension cord). The teen was playing a GameGear. After a second or two they are shown in the air and the guy's TV goes out because it came unplugged (it was plugged in on the ground, after all). The kid is still

    • Advertising (Score:4, Insightful)

      by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @09:23AM (#15712030)
      They couldn't advertise the Dreamcast because they had spent most of their money investing in producing the hardware and games. They put all their money into the Dreamcast hardware launch, what little money they had left after dropping the Saturn and not having any profits for quite a while (save for some declining arcade game sales). Before dropping all their money on the Saturn and then terminating its life early to start work on the Dreamcast (which required $$ for R&D as well), they had spent a lot of money on the ill-fated 32X launch. Sega simply did not have the cash.
       
      As for the 32X being a failure, that was mostly because SOA did not know that SOJ was producing the Saturn at the same time as the 32X, so they launched the 32X as their next-gen 32-bit platform, and then SOJ launched the Saturn as their next-gen 32-bit platform. Consumers were confused and enraged.
       
      The biggest part of this failure was that Sega had released the Sega CD and not produced so many games on it (although enough to satisfy gamers), then produced the 32X with hardly any games on it, then dropped it and left gamers in the dust. Then they had the gall to expect that gamers would jump on the Saturn. They shot themselves in the foot. If they just had never made the 32X, Sega could be in a whole new place right now, but as the article mentions, SOJ wanted to run things without informing SOA, who was trying to do their best according to what SOJ did tell them to do.
    • I'll say it again - you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a PS2 or X-Box commercial. Even Nintendo had their share of marketing blitz. The Dreamcast? Word of mouth does not work well in console sales.

      Really? You don't remember the ads showing a variety of game characters interacting in the "arena" in the interior of a Dreamcast console, or the whispered "It's thinking" tagline? There was a time for a while where I couldn't watch TV for fifteen minutes without seeing a Dreamcast commercial.

      Whether
  • "Mike and I were friends... one of the reasons they brought me in was because they wanted me to get rid of him."

    I wonder how many friends he has after this interview.
  • by 27,000 ( 987534 ) <F27000@noSpAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @06:25PM (#15708964)
    Through the early and mid 90's Sega had two things: the Genesis and Sonic. Yeah, the Genesis died an early death, but hardware won't last forever. The marketing was great though those days, and some lessons should have been learned, but somehow everything Kalinske mentioned worked was forgotten on the Saturn and DC. Because, as he said, Japan hated the American division's success.

    And what have they done with the Japanese/American Sonic property since the days it more or less saved the company? They made it Japanese. And killed it. Since Knuckles' Chaotix, when they started loading in additional characters, piling on fluff at the expense of gameplay, the franchise has been struggling. Sonic Adventure 1 and later continued that theme while adding DESU SUGOI KAWAII SUPER RADICAL AMERICAN ATTITUDE ^___________^ without realizing that in America, the fad had thankfully disappeared in the mid 90's. It's grown more popular in Japan, at the cost of losing North America and European audiences. Now, even as Sega's only household franchise, Sega's made no efforts to save it. A run of OMG ATTITUDE games with poor controls and poor quality, Battle, Heroes, Shadow, has pretty much eclipsed what fond memories American gamers had for the series. The game for the Wii might change public opinion and bring the franchise back, but it's too early to tell.

    So Sega's bludgeoned the American influences from their company and development... and looking at the last five years, can anyone say that was a good move? Can anyone rationally guess why?
    • A lot of (most of?) the recent Sonic games were made in the US (Sonic Adventure 2 certainly was) - don't blame the Japanese.
    • Since Knuckles' Chaotix, when they started loading in additional characters, piling on fluff at the expense of gameplay, the franchise has been struggling.

      As a Sonic fanboy, I think I can speak for the rest of us when I say that while we appreciate the wealth of characters created, even we can only stand the shitty gameplay for so long.
    • I remember back in the day Sonic games had a storyline. Then the Dreamcast one came out and... yeah, everything you said. I've avoided all the 3D games since then.

      As for the question I think Sega fell apart because it was schizo, the way Sony is these days.
    • You've missed a very vital point - although us that have grown up with Sonic games view the current releases to be a joke, they're still VERY popular with kids. I mean, around Christmas I couldn't walk into a game store without someone asking for Shadow the Hedgehog or Sonic Riders. That outdated fad really isn't so outdated, it's just juvenile.
  • by The tECHIDNA ( 677584 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @06:37PM (#15709035) Homepage
    Kalinske, FTFA: "I have some ideas on that.. One of them is: you've got to advertise against Nintendo, you know, make fun of them. Ridicule Nintendo and make kids think that the NES is absolutely the uncoolest machine to own."

    Two words on why this could be an incredibly bad idea in practice: Johnny Turbo [team-coti.com] (also Wikified [wikipedia.org] for your pleasure).

    It can work somewhat well (witness the Game Gear vs. Game Boy battles [youtube.com] and the infamous "Fly Plaything, Fly" [youtube.com] commercial for NiGHTS) when done correctly, but as both commercials show, the "ridicule 'em" method will get you a first down, but not a touchdown; or in the case of NEC's (TG-16) Johnny Turbo, an ejection.

    As an aside, again Kalinske, FTFA: "If you remember, Sega sold the 8-bit machine - the Master System - prior to that against Nintendo, and it managed to get a 2% share of the market."

    Well, it certainly didn't help that the distribution network was provided by Tonka Corporation (yes, the "toy construction truck" Tonka). Heck, my After Burner SMS cart storage box says on the back:

    Disributed by Tonka(TM) Corporation 6000 Clearwater Drive Minnetonka, MN 55543 Sega: From Tonka AFTER BURNER, A FOUR MEGA CARTRIDGE and SEGA are trademarks of Sega Enterprises, Ltd., a CSK Group Company. ©1988 Tonka Corp. All Rights Reserved.

    I'm glad Sega learned their lesson eventually WRT the Genesis/MegaDrive, but it's too bad the cart didn't come with a free Caterpillar Dump truck...

  • Bundled Games (Score:3, Informative)

    by Skayde ( 983249 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @07:32PM (#15709307) Homepage
    "He was selling the Genesis with Altered Beast as the pack-in [instead of Sonic]" Well, it's not like Katz would have had a choice at the time. Altered Beast was indeed the bundled game for the Genesis at release, but Sonic wasn't even out then; it was released in June of 1991, and it replaced Altered Beast as the bundled game around that time as well.

    • The "[instead of Sonic]" seems to be the work of the story submitter, and not an accurate quote.

      Kalinske's point is valid, though -- the pack-in game (remember those?) was an important factor in console sales, especially in its role in providing a mascot, an identity, for the system.

      Nintendo always had Mario, the most successful (and sometimes-overused) mascot in gaming history.

      NEC started out weakly with Keith Courage, but later realized their mistake and replaced him with a much stronger mascot in Bonk.

      Th
      • Did the guy(s) in Altered Beast even have a name?
        I always assumed it was "Altered Beast," I admit it was a bit awkward for him to introduce himself at parties...
  • Great Interview (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mdentari ( 979766 )
    Finally some answers or at least a different view of the inner workings of the once mighty Sega. The N64 event alone was enough to blow my mind. Incredible stuff.
  • by row1 ( 930208 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @10:04PM (#15709956) Homepage
    The Master System was big in Brazil (even up to the 2000's). They even had a Master System VI, including a wirless version and even a port of Street Fighter II. The Master System (II) was also quite big here in New Zealand, I only knew 1 person with a NES (I don't know where they got it from I even seen a NES for sale). Wonder Boy III rocked!!!
  • by master_p ( 608214 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @04:33AM (#15711200)
    Even now, after all these years, those people do not understand what made SEGA in the first place. SEGA was the biggest name in the arcades because it had the most impressive games: Outrun, Afterburner, Space Harrier, Powerdrift, Virtua Racing, Virtua Fighter, Virtua Striker, Daytona USA, SEGA Rally.

    What is common between all these games? they had the best technology for their era, allowing SEGA to present perfectly balanced gameplay and tremendously good content.

    SEGA arcades are divided into two categories: a) superscaler games where bitmaps where scaled and rotated with amazing speed and b) polygonal games.

    At the time of SEGA's height (from '86 to '96) which SEGA home console could reproduce SEGA's recent arcade hits with 100% the same quality? the answer is simple: NONE.

    I went to the arcades and saw Outrun...cool! I want to play it at home. Could I? nope. Megadrive's Outrun version was mediocre. Same goes for the other superscaler games.

    Then after a few years I saw Daytona USA. Great! but the Saturn could not play it! Although the Saturn could easily play SEGA's previous generation of games (the superscaler ones), it could not play the polygonal arcade monsters SEGA had in the arcades.

    In other words, SEGA created its fame with a certain style of games and then destroyed itself by denying people to play those games...

    What SEGA should have done is for Megadrive to be Saturn and Saturn to be Dreamcast. SEGA's consoles were always a generation technologically behind what people wanted, and thus developers went with Sony and Nintendo, and then consumers followed.

    • I was a big Soul Calibur fan and, while it was still popular in the arcades, the Dreamcast comes out and there's this perfect port of it...I was literally stunned at the prospect of being able to play *exactly* what I had in the arcade at home. Same with Crazy Taxi, House of the Dead, Sega Rally 2, etc. I was able to directly translate slogging through all of SR2 on the DC to wowing people at a fancy arcade in Time Square.

      The Dreamcast was the machine you wanted...it had all of Sega's great games (I know, S
      • The funny thing was, SEGA was very aware of it [slate.com]:

        The ads star an actual senior managing director of the company, a man named Yukawa Hidekazu, who looks much like what you imagine Japanese salarymen look like. In the first, Yukawa eavesdrops on two kids saying, "Sega video games suck. Playstation is much better." Melancholy, Yukawa heads to a bar, gets drunk, and on his way home scuffles with some thugs, who beat him up. The commercial ends with him collapsed in the doorway of his house, as an offscreen voic

      • The Dreamcast was the machine you wanted...it had all of Sega's great games

        The Dreamcast was too late. I bought one as soon as it reached my country... If it was out in place of Saturn, then SEGA would be much more successful.

  • FTA:

    Sega was founded by some American G.I.s after the Korean War. Their initial idea was that there was a whole lot of G.I.s over here in the Far East, so let's bring American pinball machines and jukeboxes to little parlors around the military bases so they'll feel more at home, and this stuff will be terrific. That's what they did for a number of years and then after a while, a light bulb went on, and they said "wow, we've got this all wrong. We should be designing and manufacturing this stuff here in Jap

  • by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @09:25AM (#15712042) Homepage Journal
    First there was the SEGA Master System against the NES. Fine.

    Then there was the SEGA Genesis against the SNES. Fine.

    But then, we got the CD-ROM extension. And then the 32X extension. And then the Saturn.

    Then there was the Dreamcast (with games that look better than most PS2 games).

    The problem here is that SEGA killed their own customers with the CD-ROM, 32X and Saturn. People were tired of paying for new SEGA hardware. People didn't buy the Dreamcast not because it wasn't a good console, not because there wasn't any games. They were wondering if the Dreamcast would last even one year, given SEGA's habit of releasing new hardware too fast before that.

    New hardware every 4-5 years is a good thing. New hardware every year will simply destroy the credibility of your current system.... unless that new hardware can play the old games too.

    • The new hardware COULD play the old games, though. I have a 32x and a Mega CD, and I can still drop a Sonic the Hedgehog or Phantasy Star II cartridge into the top of the console and it plays just like it did when I bought it. In fact, I can remove the 32x and put on a Power Base Converter and play Master System games, as well.
      • Except that the MegaCD and 32X are extensions of the SEGA Genesis/MegaDrive, so of course one would assume you can still use your games in the exact same console. But that's still a lot of add-ons (consoles aren't computers) and the Saturn wasn't backward compatible with older SEGA consoles.

        Too bad about the mix-up between SOA and SOJ with the 32X and the Saturn. SEGA shot themselves in the foot. Customers can't be expected to buy new hardware every year.

        Nintendo are the ones who get it right: one console,
  • Come on Zonk! We know you're a total XBox 360 fanboy but do you _really_ need to post so many articles slamming Sony? It's not like... er, wait, _Sega's_ many mistakes? Sorry, my bad, nevermind.
  • Sega-16 [sega-16.com] has a ton of fantastic interviews and historical pieces on what Sega did and did not do right during the 90's that led to the company dropping out of the hardware industry.

    I'd recommend reading their many interviews with the more prominent names from Sega Of America, including Tom Kalinske [sega-16.com], Scott Berfield [sega-16.com], and Steve Woita [sega-16.com].

The end of labor is to gain leisure.

Working...