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16bitter
09-21-2010, 04:09 PM
This is about a year old. Apologies if it's a re-post.

The Rise And Fall Of The Dreamcast
By Douglass C. Perry

[In this ten-year Dreamcast retrospective, Gamasutra looks back at Sega's last effort in the console market through interviews with former president of Sega of America Bernie Stolar, former Sega of America COO Peter Moore, former SOA Vice President of Communications Charles Bellfield, and former vice president of Electronic Arts, Bing Gordon.]

For a console that broke entertainment retail records, made the Guinness Book of World Records, and laid the blueprints for today's online-centric consoles, it's striking to think the Dreamcast's lifespan was shorter than nearly any console in video game history.

Ten years after 9/9/99, the memorable date of the launch of the Dreamcast in North America, Sega's machine has left a lasting legacy in online gaming, retail history, and the sports genre. But the brief, fiery life of the Dreamcast was fraught with conflict, questionable executive decisions, and ultimately, a shocking and abrupt ending.
A Change in Attitude

The video game world into which Sega launched the Dreamcast was vastly different than today's highly connected wireless experience. The arcade market was still successful, 80% of consumers connected to the internet used a modem, and the PC market was at its peak -- and, more importantly, was the sole domain for online games.

After a successful Japanese launch in late 1998, Sega looked toward the North American market to achieve a head-start over its biggest competitor, Sony Computer Entertainment America, by growing a strong install base and by rebuilding excitement for its products.

In 1995, Sonic the Hedgehog was better known than Disney's Mickey Mouse, but the Sega Saturn, from its disappointing launch to its inevitable cancellation, had soured many gamers on Sega products.

In 1997, Sega hired Bernie Stolar, fresh from his role as president of Sony Computer Entertainment America, as the new president of Sega of America. Stolar was a shrewd, successful businessman who knew the games business from his time working at Sony, the arcades, and at Atari.

In a phone call with Gamasutra, Stolar, currently running Getfugu, Inc, explained how it all started. "Saturn, as you know, was a failure. I was brought in to help restructure and rebuild Sega of America. When I started, there were over 300 people; I trimmed the company down to about 90 people."

Among others, Stolar brought in 17-year Reebok executive Peter Moore, former Sony third-party executive Gretchen Eichinger, head of sales Chris Gilbert, and Charles Bellfield, as well as several other important figures.

Stolar's task was to wage an uphill battle with gamers, many who had bought the short-lived 32X, Sega CD, and the Saturn, and retailers, who were still wincing from Saturn sales and an exclusive launch that cut many retail chains out of the picture.

"We had to change the attitude of retail to believe we were a serious player," said Stolar. "And because of the whole Saturn thing, retailers really hated Sega. It took me a lot of work to change their minds. I went to every retailer and told them this was going to be a great system, it was going to have a modem, it was going to have online play, this was the content it was going to have, and this was what it was going to look like. They all bought into that. They all trusted me. Plus, they really liked the team I put together. They felt this was the right team."

Before Stolar could change anyone's minds, however, Sega had to make up its own mind.
Dueling Designs

In 1997, Sega of Japan tasked two engineering teams to compete for the design of the Dreamcast. Internally, Sega's President Shoichiro Irimajiri assigned Hideki Sato, who had designed the Saturn, to come up with a chipset design. Externally, Irimajiri created an 11-man "skunkworks" team outside of Sega to create a competing design, led by IBM alumnus Tatsuo Yamamoto; that project was codenamed Blackbelt.

Sato chose the Hitachi SH4 CPU architecture and VideoLogic's PowerVR2 graphics processing unit, manufactured by the Japanese company NEC. "The first version of the Dreamcast was water-cooled; they had a non-moving part, water-based cooling system. It was called Dural," said former Charles Bellfield, former Sega VP of communications (1998-2000) and VP, strategy & corporate affairs (2000-2003).

Yamamoto, based in the U.S. and initially kept secret from Sato's team, chose the IBM/Motorola PowerPC 603e, but was later asked to use the Japanese-made Hitachi SH4, and entered into a contract with the American graphics card maker, 3Dfx, to use a custom version of its Voodoo 3 card as the graphics processor.

"I was at that meeting on July 4, 1997, in Haneda, in the Sega Tokyo offices, where we were sent to present the PowerVR technology," explained Bellfield who, before working at Sega, was a brand manager at NEC Electronics.

"We lined up a series of games running on the PowerVR technology on PCs, which included Tomb Raider, a game called Ultimate Race from Kalisto, and Looking Glass' Flight Unlimited. The presentation basically messaged that the PowerVR technology would deliver high performance at a low cost."

According to Bellfield, part of the selling point of PowerVR was its tile-based rendering solution. Polygons that were not seen on the screen were not rendered, which reduced CPU overhead. The PowerVR solution, unconventional for developers at the time, in theory was a high performance and low cost solution. Bellfield added: "Sega's relationship with NEC, a Japanese company, probably made a difference too."

The Dreamcast also included a modem. However, Sega executives internally argued over whether or not to include it. Sega's decisions on the system architecture and the modem were based on a number of factors ranging from industry ties with chip manufacturers to the ratio/cost from a given manufacturer.

"It turned out they had two different projects going on, but they didn't tell us that," said Bing Gordon, now a partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; from 1998 to 2008, he was chief creative officer at EA. "They told us they were trying to decide if they would include a modem or not. Our advice was, 'You've got serious competition [referring to Sony and Nintendo], so a modem is a really good idea. If you do a modem, we'll build a whole product line for it.'"

In 1996, 3Dfx began building wide acclaim for its powerful graphics chips, one of which ran in arcade machines, including Atari's San Francisco Rush and Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey. In 1997, 3Dfx went public, announcing its IPO. In the process it revealed the details of its contract with Sega, required by U.S. law. The announcement, however, had undesired effects. It publicly revealed Sega's blueprint for a new, unannounced console, and angered executives at Sega Japan.

Numerous reports indicate Yamamoto's Blackbelt chipset using the 3Dfx chips was the more powerful of the two. Sega executives, however, still fuming at 3Dfx, severed their contract with the chip maker. (Soon thereafter, 3Dfx sued Sega and both companies settled out of court.)

In the end, Sega of Japan selected Sato's design, codenamed it "Katana," and announced it publicly on September 7, 1997. To this day, it's unclear whether Sega would have chosen the Blackbelt 3Dfx solution, had 3Dfx not revealed Sega's plans publicly.

"They said they looked at 3Dfx, but decided against it," said Gordon. "They went with some other 3D chip that we had never heard of, and they went with a weird processor. We looked at this and asked ourselves, 'Why did they make these choices? It's gotta be some kind of political thing because these are dumb choices.'"

"I felt the US version, the 3Dfx version, should have been used. Japan wanted the Japanese version, and Japan won," said Stolar. "I lost that argument."
Why Electronic Arts Shunned the Dreamcast

With games like Madden NFL, Road Rash, NHL, and a slew of other popular titles, Electronic Arts successfully teamed with Sega to compete against Nintendo in the 16-bit era. The Redwood City publisher supported all of Sega's short-lived systems after Genesis, from the 32X, Sega CD, Game Gear, to the Saturn.

"EA had a deep love affair with the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, because it was the platform that brought EA into the big time," said Gordon. "EA leaders shared loyalty and affinity with Sega and it over-invested to help Sega make Sega CD and 32X into winners."

But Electronic Arts didn't support Sega's Dreamcast. At EA, there were three groups that had a stake in voting on whether to support a console: developers, sales, and business. They would get together, collect information on any given console, and discuss its virtues and weaknesses.

"We would get together and say, 'Okay, are we going put 10 games together and be there at launch, and put our corporate will behind this, or not?'"

At the time, EA had invested stock in 3Dfx. Did EA's investment in 3Dfx influence its decision? Gordon says it didn't. "If Sega had picked the direct competitor to 3Dfx at the time, it would have been fine. But they picked someone we had never heard of. It was somebody's friend of somebody's friend at a Japanese country club. It was a head-scratcher, like, 'What are they doing?' That was mostly it."

According to Gordon, Sega had flip-flopped over whether to include a modem, but it also picked the wrong chipset. "I remember our CTO (chief technology officer) talking about the processor and going, 'Oh my God, I don't know anybody who has even heard of this chip. It's non-standard and there are no libraries for it.' It was kind of a slap in the face. But even then, at first blush, EA is thinking, 'It's Sega. We've got to support them.' You know, we went to war with them on Genesis and did great things. So the chipset alone was not enough to stop EA from working on it."

Ultimately, Sega's various hardware and business decisions lined up like a row of red flags for EA. According to Gordon, the indecision over the chipset was one thing, the flip-flopping over whether to include a modem was another, but the final straw was Sega's hardball tactics during negotiations over licensing.

"There was a push from Sega, which was having cash flow problems, and they couldn't afford to give us the same kind of license that EA has had over the last five years. So EA basically said, 'You can't succeed without us.' And Sega said, 'Sure we can. We're Sega.'

"And at that point during negotiations -- when someone is trying to call your bluff -- you have to question whether you want to knuckle under or not. And because of the way they had flip-flopped on the configuration, and because the Dreamcast became the system that EA developers least wanted to work on the in the history of systems at EA, that was pretty much it. In the end, it felt like Sega was not acting like a competent hardware company. I was the person who got quoted in the press as saying, 'Dreamcast can't succeed without EA.' The Dreamcast people hated me for that."

Contrary to Gordon's account, however, Stolar said there was a much simpler reason EA denied the Dreamcast. And licensing negotiations, chipsets, and modems, while somewhat relevant, didn't play a significant role.

"Sega didn't play hardball," Stolar countered. "I was the one who led the negotiations between EA and Sega. The royalty licensing deal was done between me and [EA's then-president] Larry Probst, and nobody else. And there was a real significant reason why it didn't happen. That reason was never really public. You ever hear of a company called Visual Concepts?"
The Sports Situation

To launch a console in North America in 1999, console manufacturers had to lead with their own sports games. EA was used to competing with a host of other sports products made by Nintendo, Konami, Namco, Acclaim, and eventually Sony.

To launch the Dreamcast in North America, Stolar had done his due diligence on a company called Visual Concepts. With Sega of Japan's approval, Stolar bought Visual Concepts for $10 million.

"Visual Concepts was a very, very key part of this because they made all the sports titles," said Stolar. "And if you looked at the sports titles on Dreamcast, they far surpassed EA's sports titles. Our football game at the time, NFL 2K, was far superior to Madden. Everybody agreed to that once they came out."

In 1999, during a lunch meeting on neither Sega nor EA turf, Stolar and Probst discussed terms of a potential EA and Sega deal.

"This is what happened, very clearly," explained Stolar. "Larry came to me and said, 'Bernie, we'll support Dreamcast, but this is what I want.' And I thought, 'Great, I know Larry, I know the company real well, I can negotiate this,' I thought he was going to ask for smaller royalties. I would have given him smaller royalties, no question about that."

In the late 1990s, EA was a keen observer of console launches. It knew that striking a deal with hardware companies while they were building their system -- when, according to Gordon, they were worried about costs and putting the company at risk -- was to EA's advantage. "That's when you strike your five-year licensing deal," Gordon said. Probst saw a field of competitors going against EA's growing sports franchises and wanted something more.

"'We want to be the only sports brand on Dreamcast,'" Stolar recalled Probst saying. "'We want the exclusive rights to be the only sports brand on Dreamcast.'"

This surprised Stolar, whose strategic planning included Visual Concepts as a key element in making Dreamcast a success.

Stolar countered. "I said, 'Larry, I'll tell you what. As a third party, I'll agree to that. But I'm not going to agree to that for first party. I bought Visual Concepts for $10 million. So you can compete with Visual Concepts. We'll have Visual Concepts sports titles and we'll have EA sports titles, and that will be it.'"

Probst didn't budge.

"No, I don't even want to compete with Visual Concepts," Probst told Stolar, who replied, "'Forget it then, end of story.' That's what it was all about, right there."

Weeks after Stolar's and Probst's lunch meeting, Japan tried to change EA's mind, but it didn't work, said Stolar. "Sega tried to lower royalties but EA wouldn't budge."

Considering EA's built-in customer base, did Stolar make the right decision?

"Look what Visual Concepts brought to the table, look what they brought to Sega. If you look at those games today, everybody will tell you those games looked better than EA's games. So I would not have changed my opinion."

Stolar may have been right about Visual Concepts' talents as a sports developer, but even before the Dreamcast launched in the US, Sega was found itself in third-party trouble. The largest independent third-party publisher wasn't going to support Sega? When Gordon unequivocally said, "Dreamcast can't succeed without EA," the press jumped on the story.

The message couldn't have been clearer. Sega would struggle on without its long-term software partner and confront Sony and Nintendo with a giant question mark associated with its new system.

Bellfield put the loss into perspective: "The fact that EA didn't support us was a ding against us. But I'm not sure what breakthrough game EA would have given the platform from September 1999 through January 2001 that we hadn't already got in the same genre," said Bellfield. "Sports, the power of the Madden brand, sure. But NFL 2K had a breakthrough experience."

"I'm very proud of what we built with the 2K series," said Moore. "I think it actually made the sports genre bigger and healthier. It created a lot more interest in the genre because of the ferocious competition. That was the flip side of EA not supporting the Dreamcast."
Marketing the North American Launch

In March 1999, Stolar hired Peter Moore, a vice president at the successful shoe company Reebok. Aside from fathering an 11-year old boy who owned a Genesis and a Saturn, Moore knew little about video games; but his enthusiasm, confidence, and vision while at Reebok was exactly what Stolar was looking for.

"I was a great fan of the Sega brand before I joined the company," said Moore. "I loved Sega's attitude. Do you remember the Sega scream? Sega was part and parcel of what video games were. In those days we talked about Sega and Nintendo and Sega was the pre-eminent brand. Going back to the movie Swingers, I always remember seeing Vince Vaughn playing NHL '94 and the social impact that games were having."

While Stolar was busy building support among retailers, Peter Moore, hired just six months before the Dreamcast launch, dove head-first into his first console launch.

"There was a lot of negativity with how the Saturn went down," said Moore. "But there was still an incredible love for what the Sega brand was, its irreverent attitude, and everything we stood for."

In his first week at Sega, Moore sat at his new desk and researched how to develop the console's ad campaign. By week's end he met with the advertising team, Foote, Cone, & Belding, and PR team Access Communications.

"We needed to create something that would really intrigue consumers, somewhat apologize for the past, but invoke all the things we loved about Sega, primarily from the Genesis days," Moore said. He landed on the ad campaign, "It's Thinking," which started with a series of 15-second TV ads.

"We tried to catapult gamers into thinking that this was going to be a new level of artificial intelligence, a new level of hardware power, and would generate games that were really different than what you were seeing on the PlayStation or the N64," said Moore. "It was mysterious. First of all, if you didn't know, maybe we didn't want to talk to you. And if you did know, you were absolutely intrigued to be inside the core group of people who knew what was coming."

Sega followed the "It's Thinking" ads with the innovative "In the Box" ads, which blended professional athletes (including NFL and NBA pros Gary Payton, Penny Hardaway, Brian Grant, Allen Iverson and Randy Moss) with models and assets from actual Dreamcast games. Moore and his teams won awards for the ad series.
9/9/99: Dreamcast Lands in North America

Leading up to the North American launch, Sega worked every angle. It teamed with retailers so consumers could pre-order the Dreamcast. Pre-ordering a console, like pre-ordering a game, ensured you could pick up a console the day it launched, an idea that has perpetuated itself.

North America retailers successfully pre-sold a record 300,000 hardware units. Some, such as Babbages, posted press releases before the launch, announcing their own pre-order records to hype the machine.

"We've passed the 100,000 mark in Dreamcast pre-orders," said Dan De Matteo, Babbage's Etc. president in a press release a week before launch. "We are expecting the biggest single day in our chain's history on September 9 and want to open early to accommodate the many gamers who can't sleep until they own a Dreamcast."

On September 9, 1999, Sega released a highly advanced console with graphics far beyond what the PlayStation could do, the potential for online gaming out of the box, and a lineup of 18 games. At the inexpensive MSRP of $199.99 ($100 less than the PlayStation launch price), gamers could buy Soul Calibur, NFL 2K, Sonic Adventure, Power Stone, Hydro Thunder, and Trickstyle, among others.

The system, the games, and the combined sales culminated in a remarkable moment in video game history. In 24 hours, Sega had sold more than 225,132 units (an industry record), raking in $98.4 million dollars.

Four days after launch, 372,000 hardware units had been sold, tallying $132 million. The remarkable 24-hour sales numbers put Sega in the Guinness Book of World Records at that time for most revenue generated in the entertainment industry in 24 hours, and thrilled its publishing and retailer partners.

Electronics Boutique stated in a September 14 press release the Dreamcast "resulted in the company's largest single day of sales in its 22 year history." EB President Joseph Firestone added, "Traditionally, our strongest day of the year coincides with the Christmas holiday. To have sales of this magnitude in September is truly an event."

Two weeks after launch, Sega announced at the Intelliquest Brand Tech Forum in San Francisco it had sold more a half million units in less than two weeks, totaling 514,000 units -- well ahead of Sony's original PlayStation, which took four months to the same mark.

Shortly after launch, Sega decided to put its numbers up against the first day releases in the movie and music industries. Comparing its first 24-hour sales with the best numbers Hollywood had put up, Sega compared its launch to George Lucas' Star Wars The Phantom Menace.

"The biggest sales day in movie history was Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. And we beat it," said Moore. "Video games prior to that had either not held themselves up in the same regard, or the numbers didn't warrant it. It was a shot across the bow, not to the industry, but to a broader spectrum. Our success was picked up by the New York Times and the Washington Post and all of the national dailies that this was the biggest 24 hours in entertainment retail history."

"We made this a monstrous entertainment and cultural phenomenon that extended way past just gamers. People were aware of the Dreamcast, and even if they had no intention of buying one, they knew it was coming on 9-9-99. Certainly, the next day we let everyone know about the numbers. And I think it was a wake-up call for the broader popular cultural press, if you will, that video games were big, they were here, and they were here to stay."

The North American Dreamcast launch, by any measure, was a huge success.
The Beginning of the End

Buoyed by its North American launch success, Sega, along with its publishing partners, published dozens of games that ran the gamut of genres and styles between September 1999 and March 2001.

Titles ranged from Visual Concepts' award-winning sports games, to experimental titles such as the quirky Seaman and the artsy Rez, to breakthrough arcade titles, such as Crazy Taxi. Sega dug into its console catalogue and revived Genesis franchises such as Ecco The Dolphin.

The company also innovated with games such as the slick Jet Set Radio, cult maracas-based music title Samba de Amigo, and Shenmue, Yu Suzuki's enormously expensive and ambitious adventure game. During the first year, companies like Acclaim, SNK, Ubisoft, Midway, Activision, Infogrames, and Capcom thrived on Sega's system, cranking out originals and ports from PlayStation, PC, and arcades.

"I would say to you to that companies like Ubisoft, in my perception at the time, were created on Dreamcast," said Bellfield. "Companies like Acclaim survived a lot longer because of Dreamcast; Activision as well. Capcom was hugely successful on the platform. The first year we were widely and successfully supported."

Fulfilling its promises to provide online gaming, in September 2000, Sega launched the online network SegaNet. The first online Dreamcast games included Sonic Team's ChuChu Rocket! and NBA 2K, and were shortly followed by Ethernet-supported games such as Bomberman Online, Phantasy Star Online, Quake III Arena, all of Visual Concepts' 2K2 slate, and Unreal Tournament.

"In September 2000, we had NFL 2K up and running and playing between players in San Francisco and New York," recalled Bellfield. "That, on a console, through a telephone connection, was unheard of at the time."

Before the end of 2000, however, Sega's Dreamcast found itself in trouble. Sony's original PlayStation grabbed a majority of console market share, and the PS2 was building substantial press for its October 26, 2000 North American launch. Even though the PS2 launched in spring in Japan with only six titles -- all of which were unimpressive -- Sony capitalized again and again on Sega's perceived weaknesses.

From trumpeting the PS2's Emotion Engine processor and partnering with Steven Spielberg in trade shows, to getting EA's support, to corralling 29 games for launch day, Sony, most importantly of all, outspent Sega in marketing dollars.

In September of 2000, one year after the North America launch, Sega's American executives came to a realization. Despite initial great sales in North America, Sega lacked the marketing dollars to compete with Sony and Nintendo, and it was witnessing Sony's arrival even before it had arrived, with decreased sales going into the fall season. Additionally, Sega heard rumors that Microsoft, which had partnered with Sega to make its Windows CE platform work on Dreamcast, planned on entering the business.

Although Sega's arcade business was still thriving, the company, as a whole, was strapped for cash. "I wasn't privy to the numbers at the time, but Sega announced it would spend $100 million in marketing from day one, and I don't think it was half of that," speculated Bellfield.

As a result of its financial issues, Sega bought fewer advertisements in magazines and on TV, let innovative games come and go with little marketing support, and couldn't spend money to get publishers to make exclusive levels for games or to put their games exclusively on Dreamcast.
Moore's Manifesto of the Future

In September 2000, well before the year's biggest sales months had taken place, Peter Moore and Charles Bellfield wrote a report called the "Manifesto of the Future," which they presented to all of Sega of Japanese executives and the studio heads in Japan, including creative heavyweights such as Yu Suzuki (AM2), Yuji Naka (Sonic Team), Rikiya Nakagawa (AM1/Wow Entertainment) and Toshihiro Nagoshi (AM4/Ausement Vision) among others.

"As you can imagine, what was happening was that we were very close to the business," said Moore. "The writing ultimately was on the wall regarding the challenges to sustain the hardware business in the face of the financial difficulties Sega had at the time and the impending launch of the PS2. So we went over there as responsible business people should do and presented what was going on in North America."

"I remember it like it was yesterday," said Bellfield. "We presented a strategy in September 2000 that said we were not viable as a hardware player in the States beyond Christmas 2000 and that we needed to get out of the hardware business. That meeting was the first time Japan had ever heard that we could not be successful against the power of Microsoft, who had not yet announced their intention to come into the space, but we knew they were."

"They were hearing from the one region, the US, that had been successful with the Dreamcast launch, that the future of the Dreamcast was not going to be rosy. North America was the one lifeline that they had left -- that maybe success in the US would allow them to bridge doing another hardware platform, or to extend the life of this platform, or allow it to be reinvented in Japan and Europe."

"When we told them that staying in the hardware business was not our advice, the next thing that happened was all of the heads of all the studios got up and walked out without saying a word. That, in the Japanese culture, is pretty rude. But they were shocked."

Moore's document stated that Sega was arguably one of the greatest software companies ever, and it should focus on its major strength: software. The industry was going through a significant transition which created a quandary: Japanese content was becoming less and less relevant to the West, and Western developers were growing in stature.

One of the major keys was mature games. As the video game player aged, so did his tastes. Game development was less about Sonic the Hedgehog and more about upcoming games like Grand Theft Auto III.

Moore argued that the new generation of hardware enabled gamers to play more realistic-looking games. "Video game companies like ourselves needed to be in line with gamers' tastes, and quite frankly, that meant creating more mature content that was a reflection of what they were watching in the movies and TV."

In a meeting that shocked even those who suspected Sega was in trouble, on January 31, 2001, Sega announced it would end manufacturing Dreamcast by March 2001, and transition into a third-party software publisher. Approximately 50-plus titles would still be published, capped by Visual Concepts' March release of NHL 2K2.
Lessons Learned From the Dreamcast

In the short span of 19 months, Sega went from an industry-leading, record-breaking console comeback to company that would halt production of its final console and transition to a third-party publisher. Sega would ultimately publish Sonic the Hedgehog on its former rival's hardware. Sonic the Hedgehog on a Nintendo system? How did such a prominent, creative and thriving company meet with such heartbreaking results?

Looking back at Sega's Dreamcast, Stolar, Moore, Bellfield, and Gordon each offered the lessons they learned from Sega's final console.

Peter Moore: "The presentation Charles and I presented wasn't something that was purely my opinion, it was what the data was leading us toward. From the moment we shipped, we faced stiff competition. At Sega of America, we did our utmost as a team to drive the business forward and keep the momentum going, but in the end, it was too little too late. It may hinge on timing. You have to have the right combination of technology, be ready with the right software, the right price point, and maybe be ahead of the curve from a tech point of view, rather than somewhat behind the curve."

Bernie Stolar: "Great content drives hardware."

Bing Gordon: "I think there is a lesson to be learned about inappropriate overconfidence by creative people. So there is a difference between people who have been successful once and people who have been successful twice. The emotion at Sega was that people who were successful once were thinking they deserved the success rather than being lucky. To me that's a broader lesson in overconfidence, and at EA we learned it a lot of times. We had games that had sequels that we believed deserved to be as big, and the company deserved to grow off it, and that's a lesson that you can't learn well enough: that success doesn't give you the right to more success.

"Secondly, in a partnership, to be able to have a successful negotiation, if you walk away, then it's got to be believable that it hurts the other person.

"And the third thing is that co-dependency between two partners is always a hard dynamic to manage."

Charles Bellfield: "Money. Money talks. You need a budget. I think the difference is the world we live in today allows you to innovate with marketing and communications without the need to have huge additional media budgets. In 1999 we were very heavily dependent on traditional media -- TV, magazines, outdoor billboards.

"Obviously, we had the internet in '99, but it was a narrowband existence, not content-rich, and essentially back then it was an email communication tool with very, very basic news and information. So the world we live in today allows you to be far more aggressive in marketing programs without the huge budget needed to get the same reach.

"We had the content right. We had the marketing right. The product was designed right. The philosophy of networked capabilities was right. The team was right. The partners we had were right. But we didn't have the budget to be able to build the confidence of the brand in the eyes of our competitors that we were going to be around. That, to me, is the Achilles Heel of the Dreamcast. The first Xbox console was a far bigger failure than the Dreamcast. But Microsoft has much more money than Sega did. And the Xbox was an ugly motherfucker.

"At the end of the day, it was a great experience for everyone who was there, and we are all proud of our association with Dreamcast. Everybody who works there keeps a little bit of Sega inside his heart."

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/4128/the_rise_and_fall_of_the_dreamcast.php?print=1

kokujin
09-21-2010, 04:14 PM
Its probably the saddest thing to happen in the video game industry.I am still very sore over what happened to SEGA.The industry just doesn't feel the same without them.

Zoltor
09-21-2010, 05:06 PM
I'm sorry, but I don't think anyone's gonna read that giant(not the whole thing anyway), but heres my views on such(the title).

There's a few reasons that led to its downfall: The initial reason, I'm sure Sega pissed a lot of their fans off with the 32X, and then releasing the Saturn, when Sega had no intentions of supporting that either(I doubt many people were that exstatic over the Sega CD either, but that was better off then the other 2). Then there's the fact, that the PS1 came out years before hand, thus had an established library already, which was very good(where Sega overal has been a letdown since the early 90s, so I'm sure people hesitated).

Then we have the infamouse cache system of the DC, which should of been the greatest thing to happen to CD based consoles, but alas the cache never gets purged(not even when you turn off the system, unlike with ram in a PC, if you turn it off, it will empty), and when the cache is full, games will not even beable to load again.

Now they did eventually come out with replacement cache chips or whatnot, but it sure as hell didn't get much advertising(I think it was really only advertised in magazines), and on top of that, they came out with it around the time they stopped making the DC anyway.


The DC had tons of great games, some so great in fact, they are still number 1 in its genre, but the system has a failure rate so high, it makes the RROD before it was fixed, seem like a rare situation. Your DC will not last long, so make sure you always have backups laying aroung(lol there's a reason they are only worth 20$ tops, unless It's brand new in the box).

It's sad really, in all likelyhood the DC should've been Sega's saving grace, but because of their lazyness or unwilling to fix a problem/properly advertise in general, it was just used as a cover stone for their burial.

mick_aka
09-21-2010, 05:13 PM
I'm sorry, but I don't think anyone's gonna read that giant(not the whole thing anyway)

I certainly did, was a great article.

You must really struggle with a whole book!

Zoltor
09-21-2010, 05:22 PM
I certainly did, was a great article.

You must really struggle with a whole book!

Well, I don't read a whole book at a fast speed anyway. Also I do a lot of reading, and then replying on forums, so seeing a single post atleast 3 times the size of your normal big posts, is dreadful(not to mention I'm posting on 3 forums sigh).

Knuckle Duster
09-21-2010, 05:29 PM
I'm sorry, but I don't think anyone's gonna read that giant(not the whole thing anyway), but heres my views on such(the title).

So you're not going to read an article, yet spam the thread about it with your own viewpoints?

Sure, why not. Spam away.



There's a few reasons that led to its downfall: The initial reason, I'm sure Sega pissed a lot of their fans off with the 32X, and then releasing the Saturn, when Sega had no intentions of supporting that either(I doubt many people were that exstatic over the Sega CD either, but that was better off then the other 2). Then there's the fact, that the PS1 came out years before hand, thus had an established library already, which was very good(where Sega overal has been a letdown since the early 90s, so I'm sure people hesitated).

Sega had full intentions of supporting the Sega CD & the Sega Saturn. Both didn't impress people enough to buy them in light of the competition. It doesn't mean Sega had no intentions of supporting them. What you propose is fundamentally stupid.

Sega came off being a brand that nobody cared about after launching the Saturn & had to compete with the 4 year old Playstation with the DC. Yes. This has been stated.


Then we have the infamouse cash system of the DC, which should of been the greatest thing to happen to CD based consoles, but alas the cash never gets purged(not even when you turn off the system, unlike with ram in a PC, if you turn it off, it will empty), and when the cash is full, games will not even beable to load again.

Now they did eventually come out with replacement cash chips or whatnot, but it sure as hell didn't get much advertising(I think it was really only advertised in magazines), and on top of that, they came out with it around the time they stopped making the DC anyway.

http://www.threadbombing.com/data/media/54/homer_facepalm.jpg

You don't know what you're talking about.



The DC had tons of great games, some so great in fact, they are still number 1 in its genre, but the system has a failure rate so high, it makes the RROD before it was fixed, seem like a rare situation. Your DC will not last long, so make sure you always have backups laying aroung(lol there's a reason they are only worth 20$ tops, unless It's brand new in the box).


What the fuck are you talking about? I think you're the only thing that has a high failure rate aside from the 360.



It's sad really, in all likelyhood the DC should've been Sega's saving grace, but because of their lazyness or unwilling to fix a problem/properly advertise in general, it was just used as a cover stone for their burial.

The only 'problem' with the DC was it's ability to boot backup games. Aside from that, hardware failures only occurred when 3rd party controllers and accessories drew too much power through the front ports and blew a fuse on the board. It's hard to wear out a Dreamcast.

Laziness? How's that?
Unwilling to fix a problem? What problem? The console being able to boot CDR's? Too late to put the genie in the bottle on that one, although it was addressed.
Advertise? Were you even old enough to read in 1999-2001? Did you watch TV back then?

Aside from anecdotal misconceptions & ignorant generalizations about others, this is the most baseless argument you have ever put forward on these forums.

Jasper061992
09-21-2010, 05:29 PM
Then we have the infamouse cash system of the DC, which should of been the greatest thing to happen to CD based consoles, but alas the cash never gets purged(not even when you turn off the system, unlike with ram in a PC, if you turn it off, it will empty), and when the cash is full, games will not even beable to load again.

Now they did eventually come out with replacement cash chips or whatnot, but it sure as hell didn't get much advertising(I think it was really only advertised in magazines), and on top of that, they came out with it around the time they stopped making the DC anyway.


I don't know what this has to do with the topic? What did this matter to the consumers at the time? :confused:


The DC had tons of great games, some so great in fact, they are still number 1 in its genre, but the system has a failure rate so high, it makes the RROD before it was fixed, seem like a rare situation. Your DC will not last long, so make sure you always have backups laying aroung(lol there's a reason they are only worth 20$ tops, unless It's brand new in the box).

You wish! I think the failure rate of the Xbox 360 FAR outnumbers the failure rate the Dreamcast ever suffered. The only failure the Dreamcast really suffers from is the burnt out GD-ROM lasers, only apparent in recent years than early in it's life. Rarer than the POS RRoDed Xbox 360s. The 360 had all sorts of errors that occurs to them such as the E74 errors, RRoDs, overheating and failing GPUs (what happened to my 360 earlier this year).

Zoltor
09-21-2010, 05:38 PM
I don't know what this has to do with the topic? :confused:

Well, failed systems no doubt was a contributing factor to the down fall of the DC, when the cash eventually got full, the system was basically dead, requiring you to buy another DC.

Omg, I have a friend who went through over a dozen DCs, because of that BS, thankfully some of the games we played the most, was later ported to the PS2, otherwise we would've probally bought twice that many by now.

DC failure rate is 100%, it will fail, It's just a matter of how soon(and exp says they average about 1-2 years before death, unless brand spanking new), where not all 360 RROD.

Jasper061992
09-21-2010, 05:40 PM
Well, failed systems no doubt was a contributing factor to the down fall of the DC, when the cash eventually got full, the system was basically dead, requiring you to buy another DC.

Explain this "cash".



DC failure rate is 100%, it will fail, It's just a matter of how soon(and exp says they average about 1-2 years before death), where not all 360 RROD.

Everything fails at one point. The matter of WHEN entirely depends on how heavily they are used. Also, where did you pull the 100% failure rate statistics from?

Knuckle Duster
09-21-2010, 05:44 PM
Well, failed systems no doubt was a contributing factor to the down fall of the DC, when the cash eventually got full, the system was basically dead, requiring you to buy another DC.

Omg, I have a friend who went through over a dozen DCs, because of that BS, thankfully some of the games we played the most, was later ported to the PS2, otherwise we would've probally bought twice that many by now.

DC failure rate is 100%, it will fail, It's just a matter of how soon(and exp says they average about 1-2 years before death, unless brand spanking new), where not all 360 RROD.

This is the most ridiculous, ignorant, and stupid thing I've heard in a long time.

16bitter
09-21-2010, 05:53 PM
The Dreamcast deserved better, but did Sega? Yes.
And no.

As possibly the greatest software house in the world, yes.

As a hardware manufacturer, from Sega CD through Saturn, no.

From the artistic side the story of Sega is a tragedy, but as far as a business model it's more tragically clownish. Quixotically psychotic.

The Dreamcast was, I believe, strong enough to compete with the PS2. But Sega was not smart, stable or solvent enough to make that happen.

DC had possibly the greatest launch, not just on sell-rate but also software quality, in the history of video games. And a first year that was at least equal to the PSX's.

And the PS2? Terrible launch on software, carried by a juggernaut marketing campaign that, contrary to what the Gamasutra article posits, was quite viral.

Sega had the better software, which is obvious to the point of redundancy. This was not only the case in 2000 but arguably throughout 2001.

But was the Dreamcast vitiated by the PS2, or cursed before it was even conceived by systems like Saturn and 32X?

Whatever the truth, I probably had my first and only fanboy moment in response to the system's end: I refused to buy a PS2.

Not within the launch window. Not after MGS2. Nor GTAIII. I picked up an XBox. A GameCube. Both on launch day. But not a PS2.

My initial reaction to it remained for years after: a piece of complicated kit that tended to produce underwhelming results. It did relative to the DC, and even moreso compared to the GC and XBox, which at times looked as if it was a half-generation better than the competition.

The PS2, in a way, was always a more backward design than the Dreamcast. Its innovation was optical media, while the DC's online gaming.

As far as being wired, certainly an inevitability, it was Microsoft that carried on Sega's work and trumped it.

All this is to say, I could accept the XBox as a strata above the Dreamcast, but not the PS2.

After the damage Sega did to itself in the mid-90s, Sony truly sailed through a Blue Ocean paradigm with the PS2's launch and lifespan.

In that sense, it's not only tragic that the DC died, but that the XBox and GameCube were little more than stopgaps (long-form, to be sure, and perhaps an oxymoronic evaluation from that) and trojan horses next to Sony's marketing position. A lot of software was held back by the PS2's lacking innards and, most of all, a generally far superior piece of kit went to waste in the XBox.

Zoltor
09-21-2010, 06:01 PM
Explain this "cash".




Everything fails at one point. The matter of WHEN entirely depends on how heavily they are used. Also, where did you pull the 100% failure rate statistics from?

Woops, I was in a hurry, I meant Cache.

How about the fact that we haven't owned a DC that lasted much longer then 2 years, in fact if you use it a lot, a DC lasting for 2 years is about the most you can hope for.

We use to have Marvel VS capcom 1/2 parties, my friend was the biggest SA2 fan, and so forth, so it was used alot, but you know what, my PS 1, and PS 2 were heavily played with as well, yet they still work perfectly.

Knuckle Duster
09-21-2010, 06:14 PM
Woops, I was in a hurry, I meant Cache.

How about the fact that we haven't owned a DC that lasted much longer then 2 years, in fact if you use it a lot, a DC lasting for 2 years is about the most you can hope for.

We use to have Marvel VS capcom 1/2 parties, my friend was the biggest SA2 fan, and so forth, so it was used alot, but you know what, my PS 1, and PS 2 were heavily played with as well, yet they still work perfectly.

Your anecdotes of a 2 year lifespan are easily discredited by the entire scene still alive for it.
It's no better or worse than a Playstation. I have seen many playstations wear out within 5 years, I've seen many PS2's do the same, albeit quicker. Your point is lost.

As far as your 'Cache' argument, most of us understood what you meant by misspelling it, but I'm sure most people are rolling their eyes just the same considering it's an absurd statement.

mick_aka
09-21-2010, 06:17 PM
Woops, I was in a hurry, I meant Cache.

How about the fact that we haven't owned a DC that lasted much longer then 2 years, in fact if you use it a lot, a DC lasting for 2 years is about the most you can hope for.



I have a UK launch dreamcast that's be my primary Dreamcast setup since I've had it, I'd say it gets a good 400-500 hours use a year, probably more as my wife and son both play on it when I'm not home.

Sure it's yellow as fuck but it's in perfect working order, the only thing I've ever had to do was replace the fan after the bearings became noisy.
It's even survived my son spilling milk into it (not while it was on of course)


Where has this cache bullshit come from? please site a source and more info on this 'problem'

Knuckle Duster
09-21-2010, 06:43 PM
Zoltor should have "Citation Needed" defaulted as his personal title. :lol:

Phosis
09-21-2010, 06:59 PM
I'm sorry, but I don't think anyone's gonna read that giant(not the whole thing anyway), but heres my views on such(the title).

There's a few reasons that led to its downfall: The initial reason, I'm sure Sega pissed a lot of their fans off with the 32X, and then releasing the Saturn, when Sega had no intentions of supporting that either(I doubt many people were that exstatic over the Sega CD either, but that was better off then the other 2). Then there's the fact, that the PS1 came out years before hand, thus had an established library already, which was very good(where Sega overal has been a letdown since the early 90s, so I'm sure people hesitated).

Then we have the infamouse cache system of the DC, which should of been the greatest thing to happen to CD based consoles, but alas the cache never gets purged(not even when you turn off the system, unlike with ram in a PC, if you turn it off, it will empty), and when the cache is full, games will not even beable to load again.

Now they did eventually come out with replacement cache chips or whatnot, but it sure as hell didn't get much advertising(I think it was really only advertised in magazines), and on top of that, they came out with it around the time they stopped making the DC anyway.


The DC had tons of great games, some so great in fact, they are still number 1 in its genre, but the system has a failure rate so high, it makes the RROD before it was fixed, seem like a rare situation. Your DC will not last long, so make sure you always have backups laying aroung(lol there's a reason they are only worth 20$ tops, unless It's brand new in the box).

It's sad really, in all likelyhood the DC should've been Sega's saving grace, but because of their lazyness or unwilling to fix a problem/properly advertise in general, it was just used as a cover stone for their burial.

You want to know what is so goddamned pathetic about you jumping in with your opinion?

EVERYTHING ABOUT THE DREAMCAST, INCLUDING AND ESPECIALLY ALL THE REASONS IT FAILED, ARE IN THE ARTICLE YOU REFUSED TO READ!!

So basically, ANYTHING YOU have to say about it is rendered completely moot by the fact that the article says it ten times better than you ever could!

Honestly, I don't always disagree with you, but in this case...what the fuck, man? Did you lose a few screws before you posted this, or what?

Jasper061992
09-21-2010, 07:30 PM
Woops, I was in a hurry, I meant Cache.

How about the fact that we haven't owned a DC that lasted much longer then 2 years, in fact if you use it a lot, a DC lasting for 2 years is about the most you can hope for.

We use to have Marvel VS capcom 1/2 parties, my friend was the biggest SA2 fan, and so forth, so it was used alot, but you know what, my PS 1, and PS 2 were heavily played with as well, yet they still work perfectly.

I'm still asking you what does the Dreamcast's cache got to do with it's reliability? Completely and utterly unrelated. Do you know what cache is? Do you it's purpose? Do you know what you are currently talking about?

Zoltor
09-21-2010, 08:08 PM
I'm still asking you what does the Dreamcast's cache got to do with it's reliability? Completely and utterly unrelated. Do you know what cache is? Do you it's purpose? Do you know what you are currently talking about?

Ok, let me explain this another way for you: You know the internet options on your PC? It saves cookies to it, however if you don't set it to max or close to such, thus letting it get full, you won't beable to load any pages, I know, that's happens to me one time in the past, omg what a pain it was to fix.

It's the same thing with the DC, except there Isn't anyway to manually delete the cookies, once It's full, It's full.

Knuckle Duster
09-21-2010, 08:12 PM
Ok, let me explain this another way for you: You know the internet options on your PC? It saves files to it, however if you don't set it to max or close to such, thus letting it get full, you won't beable to load any pages, I know, that's happens to me one time in the past, omg what a pain it was to fix.

It's the same thing with the DC, except there Isn't anyway to manually delete the files, once It's full, It's full.

:rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:

No.

mick_aka
09-21-2010, 08:30 PM
Ok, let me explain this another way for you: You know the internet options on your PC? It saves cookies to it, however if you don't set it to max or close to such, thus letting it get full, you won't beable to load any pages, I know, that's happens to me one time in the past, omg what a pain it was to fix.

It's the same thing with the DC, except there Isn't anyway to manually delete the cookies, once It's full, It's full.

*drops monocle* :rofl:

http://knowyourmeme.com/i/29367/original/shipment-of-fail.jpg

nathanallan
09-21-2010, 08:44 PM
Holy crap, this thread is totally VIRAL.

The DC is a great console, and games are still being made by people for it. Maybe not companies but people like you and I. Hardware is still being developed, and one of these days someone will figure out how to fix those lasers on a component level to where it's easily done so ALL DC's with that problem can be played again.

But Z, everything has a 100% failure rate. It will all stop working eventually. Every piece of tech we have ever invented or WILL invent stops eventually. So even if you phrased it improperly, you are correct.

Also, there is now a really cool thing happening, the SD card reader for the DC. I want to build one into a 56K modem shell and wire it internally. Modems are easy to get, SD card readers are just cool.

Jasper061992
09-21-2010, 08:45 PM
Ok, let me explain this another way for you: You know the internet options on your PC? It saves cookies to it, however if you don't set it to max or close to such, thus letting it get full, you won't beable to load any pages, I know, that's happens to me one time in the past, omg what a pain it was to fix.

It's the same thing with the DC, except there Isn't anyway to manually delete the cookies, once It's full, It's full.

:lol:
http://bestofepicfail.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/shipmentoffail.jpg

I'm literally rolling on the floor, laughing my arse off. :rofl:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_cookie
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cache

There, feast your eyes my grasshopper.

Zoltor
09-21-2010, 08:58 PM
Holy crap, this thread is totally VIRAL.

The DC is a great console, and games are still being made by people for it. Maybe not companies but people like you and I. Hardware is still being developed, and one of these days someone will figure out how to fix those lasers on a component level to where it's easily done so ALL DC's with that problem can be played again.

But Z, everything has a 100% failure rate. It will all stop working eventually. Every piece of tech we have ever invented or WILL invent stops eventually. So even if you phrased it improperly, you are correct.

Also, there is now a really cool thing happening, the SD card reader for the DC. I want to build one into a 56K modem shell and wire it internally. Modems are easy to get, SD card readers are just cool.

Well when things in the past(technology at that) last 30 years or more, I don't think we should be accepting of 2 years or so. This whole it has moving parts is BS, because you know what, a lot of things made over the years have moving parts, yet they are usually working today(unless abused of course, but even then, sometimes they still work). There is no reason why it shouldn't be the same with consoles, if made right in the fist place.


Huh, a SD card reader for the DC, I'm gonna have to check that out, if it pans out, that would be awesome.

NeoVamp
09-21-2010, 08:58 PM
*Sell his Dreamcast on Ebay*

*Dreamcast with empty cache*

$500

nathanallan
09-21-2010, 09:02 PM
http://www.youtube.com/user/RetroGameTech

There is the guy's channel, it looks super easy to do and I want to when I have time to really get into it and get it done at once.

/edit Just so you know, let a DC sit for a while and it will stop remembering anything. Research, research, research!

Zoltor
09-21-2010, 09:02 PM
*Sell his Dreamcast on Ebay*

*Dreamcast with empty cache*

$500

your attempt at satire has failed, since from what I hear, you can buy a brand new DC for only 80$.

Knuckle Duster
09-21-2010, 09:11 PM
Well when things in the past(technology at that) last 30 years or more, I don't think we should be accepting of 2 years or so. This whole it has moving parts is BS, because you know what, a lot of things made over the years have moving parts, yet they are usually working today(unless abused of course, but even then, sometimes they still work). There is no reason why it shouldn't be the same with consoles, if made right in the fist place.

Oh yes, please do deflect the baseless ignorance you have towards transparent memory, addressable to CPU's; change the subject to an astute observation about how mechanical failure on devices that receive 0% maintenance over their life span should magically work forever.


your attempt at satire has failed, since from what I hear, you can buy a brand new DC for only 80$.

I find his attempt at satire commendable. It's quite easy to relate the $500 cost to 'pure ignorance', especially when the selling motivation is 'Empty Cache'.

The price isn't the joke. In case you didn't understand it.

Hiarcs
09-21-2010, 09:29 PM
Dreamcast its a great system, I have one, works great still.

PHANTOM2040
09-21-2010, 10:17 PM
Reason the Dreamcast failed? Sega's credibility. Aside from the genesis, their systems didn't get enough support and were dropped for the next best thing. People paid lots of money for their systems/add-ons and got burned.

NeoVamp
09-21-2010, 10:35 PM
Reason the Dreamcast failed? Sega's credibility.

I agree with that, after the Saturn i was weary to buy another Sega console.

MrMatthews
09-21-2010, 10:42 PM
This thread is entertaining for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I actually hate my Dreamcast (bought it used at a flea market several years ago and - shocker - it works fine).

But the show Zoltor's putting on? Fantastic!

kokujin
09-21-2010, 10:55 PM
I thought the DC failed because of its lack of a DVD drive?Most of the people I knew bought PS2 at launch for it's DVD player rather than for it's games.

kool kitty89
09-21-2010, 11:03 PM
Ok, let me explain this another way for you: You know the internet options on your PC? It saves cookies to it, however if you don't set it to max or close to such, thus letting it get full, you won't beable to load any pages, I know, that's happens to me one time in the past, omg what a pain it was to fix.

It's the same thing with the DC, except there Isn't anyway to manually delete the cookies, once It's full, It's full.

Zoltar, it's official, you have more FAIL at understanding technical matters than Sam Pettus in his articles... yet you seem to have a total lack of self-awareness in this regard and speak with an authority Pettus's articles lack in such context;

OR maybe just:
http://media.ebaumsworld.com/mediaFiles/picture/624812/993923.jpg

http://officeforward.com/main/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/super-cool-story-bro.png

:rofl: :lol: :lawl: :mrgreen: :twisted:


Oh, and my 16 year old brother had a good thought: perhaps Zoltor is simply trolling and/or being satirical like oldwizard and it's all an act. XD



I thought the DC failed because of its lack of a DVD drive?
Oh, sorry, I thought it was because of the lack of Playstation backwards compatibility. :mrgreen:

. . .

Oh, wait, there was bleemcast. :lol:

Defolto
09-21-2010, 11:10 PM
The best 128-bit console was is the Sega Dreamcast.

j_factor
09-22-2010, 12:14 AM
The bigger question is: in the rise and fall of Sega Dreamcast, who were the spiders from Mars?

kokujin
09-22-2010, 12:16 AM
The bigger question is: in the rise and fall of Sega Dreamcast, who were the spiders from Mars?

Wow, just wow.

nathanallan
09-22-2010, 12:33 AM
The bigger question is: in the rise and fall of Sega Dreamcast, who were the spiders from Mars?

Oh, point for the David Bowie reference. :D

kool kitty89
09-22-2010, 01:20 AM
The best 128-bit console was is the Sega Dreamcast.
There hasn't been a 128-bit console yet. :p

Well, that is if you go by the same metric that makes the PC-Engine 8-bit and the SNES 16-bit or the N64 64-bit. (that is the CPU architecture, or more specifically the ALU -otherwise the SNES would be as 8-bit as the PCE and Lynx)
In that sense, the Dreamcast, GC, Wii, and Xbox are 32-bit consoles. (the N64 and PS2 use 64-bit MIPS architecture CPUs)

If you go by things other than the ALU, like the system bus, or video bus: then the DC is a 64-bit system (SDRAM on a 64-bit bus) as is the Jaguar and gamecube, and the Xbox is 128-bit (dual channel DDR). But also in that context, the N64 is 32-bit (in terms of the external CPU/RSP bus, or 9-bit if you go by the RAM itself -the MMU buffers that to 32-bit accesses iirc) and the PS2 is largely 16-bit iirc. (using 16-bit RDRAM, unless there's buffering going on)

The 360 and PS3 both have 64-bit PPC based CPUs.


Now, beyond that you can go into special coprocessors, FPUs, etc, but that's getting ever further from anything related to system bitness in the conventional sense.
-ie the Dreamcast has a 128-bit vector coprocessor, and in the PS2's case there's the added 128-bit SIMD instructions added too, but I believe the ALU is still 64-bit regardless -and if you apply all previous metrics, that means it's NOT a 128-bit CPU regardless of anything else. (as the Z80 has 16-bit instructions and operations and the 68000 has 32-bit internal registers and 32-bit instructions and operation but the Z80 has an 8-bit ALU -or maybe chained 4-bit ALUs- and the 68k has a 16-bit ALU -the N64's R4300 is fully 64-bit internally with a 64-bit ALU and is 32-bit externally but considered a 64-bit CPU just as the 386SX is considered 32-bit, 68008 is 16-bit, 8088 is 16-bit, and 65816 is 16-bit)
Then you have the opposite case with CPUs with wider external buses like the Power PC chips (including the Wii/GC), Pentium (and later x86 CPUs), and the SH4 which are all 32-bit CPUs with 64-bit buses. (in fact the Super H architecture, while considered 32-bit due to the 32-bit operations and 32-bit ALU is actually a fixed-length 16-bit instruction set architecture -done to optimize code density)


Bitness alone doesn't determine performance for sure and it's a rather worthless metric to use without further detail, let alone understanding. (MHz/GHz is also pretty pointless to compare, even MIPS is a poor benchmark unless you're comparing CPUs of identical or extremely similar architectures)



Sega and Sony tried to label the PS2 and DC "128-bit" but quickly abandoned that due to strong criticism and so came the welcomed end to that misinformed marketing drivel. :p (granted, in the case of the PCE/TG-16's former criticism, all one had to point out was the fact that the 2600 and the NES were both 8-bit consoles too -and very similar CPUs at that- to point out how much more matter than just the CPU)

gamevet
09-22-2010, 03:19 AM
My head hurts from all of that.

What ever happened to calling a system what it is by using the address bus?

old man
09-22-2010, 07:07 AM
I just drill a hole in my cache and leave my DC sitting on a paper towel when I'm not using it. That way all the 'cookie' stuff drain's out of it. It's good as new when I'm ready to play it again.

mannycalavera
09-22-2010, 01:28 PM
I guess there were some hardware problems with the dreamcast, but it was still one of my favourite consoles PSO was of my fave games at the time the idea of getting online and playing was completely new to me and the look and feel of the game were outstanding. I still regularly play my dreamcast. I'm one of those that never actually had any hardware problems with my console so I have only good things to say about it. By the way great article, really informative.

old man
09-22-2010, 03:03 PM
What I don't understand is all the comments in the article about the DC chip sets. They say it used a bunch of unknown components, but Sega had been using the SuperH series chips for years in the 32x and Saturn, and PowerVR accelerators had been around for awhile too. The BS about the SH4 being a weird processor and PowerVR being a chipset no one had ever heard of just doesn't add up.

kool kitty89
09-22-2010, 05:57 PM
My head hurts from all of that.

What ever happened to calling a system what it is by using the address bus?
Wait... so the Atari VCS is 13-bit, or 16-bit? (the 6502 has a 16-bit address bus, but the 6507 is missing the upper 3 pins for it)
And the MD is 24-bit or 32-bit? (68000 has 32-bit flat addressing but only 24 address lines) But the Neo Geo would be legitimately 24-bit then. :p (of course they always argued 8+16=32) Wait, wouldn't that also make the 3DO and Acorn Archimedes 26-bit?

And... hmm are there even CPUs in common use with 64-bit external address buses? (early AMD x86-64 chips were 40-bit physical and I think 48-bit is common now, but that's already 256 terabytes of address space ;))


But seriously, that's why I prefer to go by designated generation and not n-bit. (except you have things like the Colecovision and 5200 which are arguably 3rd gen consoles as much as the Jaguar/3DO/32x/CD32 are 5th gen)





What I don't understand is all the comments in the article about the DC chip sets. They say it used a bunch of unknown components, but Sega had been using the SuperH series chips for years in the 32x and Saturn, and PowerVR accelerators had been around for awhile too. The BS about the SH4 being a weird processor and PowerVR being a chipset no one had ever heard of just doesn't add up.
Quite true: the Dreamcast was pretty much the first console to really go full 3rd party standard with hardware, customized, but not a totally new custom/in-house GPU/VDP architecture. (the N64's was 3rd party too, but the RSP was really custom and not familiar to stuff on the mass market)

It's certainly nothing like the Saturn or Jaguar in that respect, or any previous consoles. (albeit the PSX catered to extensive high-level library support and drawing commands already common for polygonal 3D software renderers -albeit not covering other software rendering techniques like ray casting which were still very popular prior to texture mapped+triangle based hardware acceleration really started moving from '96/97 onward -and still fair use of software rendering then too, or at least support for it)


On top of that, the Dreamcast was praised for its extremely comprehensive development tools and API/libraries, though I've heard there was some criticism that the CPU was a little weak compared to some contemporaries. (but that was probably in the context of ~2000 or maybe even 2001 when the console was already 2-3 years old)

Nintendo ended up largely going that route too, outsourcing to ATi and IBM for most of the core GC hardware (and much more in line with established standards than the N64 had been), and of course the Xbox was almost directly off-the-shelf. (CPU was a Celeron Coppermarine T, GPU was a modified NVidia G-Force, etc)

Now the PS2 OTOH deserves criticism in respect to odd/difficult architecture.

KnightWarrior
09-22-2010, 06:26 PM
Is Zoltor high or something

mick_aka
09-22-2010, 06:33 PM
High? he's in another galaxy man.

j_factor
09-22-2010, 09:17 PM
He's a starman, waiting in the sky.

Knuckle Duster
09-22-2010, 09:23 PM
He's a starman, waiting in the sky.

I tried to come up with a SMG joke too at the galaxy comment, but I got nothing. Zoltor's ridiculous disposition is just too abrasive and unworthy of humor.

Karr80
09-22-2010, 09:46 PM
Had my DC since launch. Only problem is that it won't keep the date/time.
But other than that, it still plays great.

gamevet
09-23-2010, 01:48 AM
Wait... so the Atari VCS is 13-bit, or 16-bit? (the 6502 has a 16-bit address bus, but the 6507 is missing the upper 3 pins for it)
And the MD is 24-bit or 32-bit? (68000 has 32-bit flat addressing but only 24 address lines) But the Neo Geo would be legitimately 24-bit then. :p (of course they always argued 8+16=32) Wait, wouldn't that also make the 3DO and Acorn Archimedes 26-bit?

And... hmm are there even CPUs in common use with 64-bit external address buses? (early AMD x86-64 chips were 40-bit physical and I think 48-bit is common now, but that's already 256 terabytes of address space ;))



Okay,CPU memory addressing.

16bitter
09-23-2010, 03:13 PM
Semi-interesting, if not quite directly related, content from the comments section:




9 Sep 2009 at 7:24 am PST
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I worked on Tecwar / Netmerc at Sega shortly before the time the Dreamcast (prototype) was supposed to get it's first VR HMD. Not surprising really as we were working on the first VR arcade game at the time, and Virtuality in the UK (who we were on loan from) were involved in developing the Dreamcasts' headset.. Go figure. :)

Working in Haneda was a fantastic experience, and getting to hang out there during the time that Daytona was hot, and Virtua Racing and Virtua Fighter were also supremely popular meant that it was an exciting time.

Those were the good old days, and Sega really was throwing money at so many different projects.

The timeline in this article has me a bit confused though because we knew all this stuff about the Dreamcast in 94/95. By 97 I was on other projects elsewhere..




9 Sep 2009 at 8:54 am PST
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@John: As we get older I am sure our memory plays tricks..

However, what I am certain of is this:

In 94/95 we (Virtuality PLC) were working with Sega on a VR Arcade game, commissioned by Sega. I was personally involved in that project as a lead engineer in Haneda with 4 other people producing the game, 1 Sega project manager overseeing and acting as liaison to super high up Sega people, and a satellite office of 2 or 3 people staffing Virtuality, Tokyo. We worked inside Sega for most of the project, and for a while at our own offices. The project was of massive importance to Virtuality, hence us basically setting up a company over there at a few days notice after a nod from Sega that they wanted us *in Japan*.
Whilst in Sega we had enormously interesting hands on meetings with the most senior staff in Haneda on a regular basis about a wealth of projects, both potential and ongoing. We did feel a little bit like rock stars for a while there!!

You can read some comments about the VR arcade project, generally, from a fellow engineer Andy Reece, on this web page : http://www.system16.com/hardware.php?id=712

I also know that we were aiding in the design of a VR HMD (Head Mounted Display) for home use for a console yet to be produced in any form other than a "prototype". The name I was aware of in 94/95 was the 'Dreamcast', which was to have an always on network connection (at least in Japan).

It's possible that this might have been an add on for the Saturn, or a new iteration I suppose, but that is certainly not what I recall, and the name Dreamcast was used often.

I do remember looking at production prototypes for the HMD with some pretty small LCDS in them for the time, and an incredibly nice form factor compared to our home grown almost industrial design UK HMDs, which were for the original W.Industries / Virtuality VR units. The prototype units I remember even matched the colour and style of the Dreamcast console's casing. Although that could be a red herring as plastic prototypes are often made in those lighter colours.

I do also know that another VR partnership with Sega had not gone well prior to our involvement (perhaps the earlier 91/92 Sega VR unit) with another company, which was why our company was of great strategic interest to Sega, and also perhaps why the whole thing was so dynamic and involved a lot of intensity!

Good times!




9 Sep 2009 at 9:08 pm PST

@John : One of the big problems with VR is actually latency. It's the same problem that the Wii faces now.
It's all well and good having motion sensors in controllers, but once you clamp those onto a device which affects what you see your brain smells a rat, and any latency a) gives you motion sickness, b) destroys emersion. VR, quite simply in it's 90's incarnation does not work as a mass market product.

At the end of the day latency, and the massive cost / lack of the average consumer "getting it" is what killed it off for Sega, and ultimately led to the demise of Virtuality shortly after I left. :)




10 Sep 2009 at 11:55 am PST

I had the honor of working with Tatsuro Yamamoto and the rest of the Blackbelt team at SegaSoft, which was renamed Dural after information on the project leaked over at SOA.

It's too bad the Japanese dev side is not represented in this story at all. Hopefully, the real story will be told some day as it's full of drama, good and bad.

@Stephen Northcott
We didn't have a console in development called Dreamcast in 94/95.





10 Sep 2009 at 6:55 pm PST

@Yasuhiro san,

If I remember correctly SegaSoft was in the US, right? Completely separate from Sega in Haneda.
And you only came into existence around 95, right?

Do remember that I was working directly under Shima-san in Haneda in Tokyo, and with both #AM2 and #AM4. We were involved in both software and hardware products for both the home and arcade divisions.

It's quite likely that we knew about things that you didn't being based in SanFrancisco.

But if you have some more info I'd love to hear. :)





10 Sep 2009 at 7:42 pm PST

@Stephen

The whole SegaSoft/SOA/SOJ relationship was really weird and will take a book to explain. We were never separated from Sato-san's CSR&DHW group in the end. We worked very closely with them.

Blackbelt == Dural. I should know- I was the one who suggested the name change to the team in honor of AM2 and VF3. :)

There were other stillborn console projects prior to the Dreamcast that never saw the light of day, but I'd rather not discuss them here.

kool kitty89
09-23-2010, 07:58 PM
Okay,CPU memory addressing.
Umm, that's what my post was about: addressing...

Unless you mean the data bus width (which I already addressed), which is totally different from addressing.

For the main/CPU bus width: VCS, Channel F, RCA Studio II, Astrocade, Colecovision, 5200, Famicom/NES, 7800, SG-1000, SMS, PC Engine, SNES, etc are all 8-bit machines; the Genesis and Neo Geo (among various other arcade machines) are 16-bit, the Jaguar is 64-bit, the 32x is 16-bit, the N64 is 32-bit, the PSX, 3DO, and Saturn are 32-bit; the Xbox is 64/128-bit, Dreamcast is 64-bit, GC is 64-bit, etc.

And going into FPU/GPU/DSP/various coprocessors is another matter as well.

gamevet
09-24-2010, 01:01 AM
Umm, that's what my post was about: addressing...

Unless you mean the data bus width (which I already addressed), which is totally different from addressing.

For the main/CPU bus width: VCS, Channel F, RCA Studio II, Astrocade, Colecovision, 5200, Famicom/NES, 7800, SG-1000, SMS, PC Engine, SNES, etc are all 8-bit machines; the Genesis and Neo Geo (among various other arcade machines) are 16-bit, the Jaguar is 64-bit, the 32x is 16-bit, the N64 is 32-bit, the PSX, 3DO, and Saturn are 32-bit; the Xbox is 64/128-bit, Dreamcast is 64-bit, GC is 64-bit, etc.

And going into FPU/GPU/DSP/various coprocessors is another matter as well.

Sorry, my mistake. What I meant was that the processor would address 8-bits of data.

kool kitty89
09-24-2010, 04:58 AM
Sorry, my mistake. What I meant was that the processor would address 8-bits of data.
You mean access 8-bits of data? (ie an 8-bit word)

Addressing 8-bits would only give you 256 words of address space. (256 bytes for standard byte addressing)

kool kitty89
09-27-2010, 05:15 AM
OK, I finally got around to reading the article, but I'll also point out that there's a ton of "rise and fall" sega articles and videos online: http://www.google.com/search?q=+The+Rise+And+Fall+Of+The+Dreamcast[%2Fb]+By+Douglass+C.+Perry&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#sclient=psy&num=10&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=K35&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&q=The+Rise+And+Fall+Of+sega&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&pbx=1&fp=c7acb06948d99764



The video game world into which Sega launched the Dreamcast was vastly different than today's highly connected wireless experience. The arcade market was still successful, 80% of consumers connected to the internet used a modem, and the PC market was at its peak -- and, more importantly, was the sole domain for online games.
OK, I'm not sure that comment about PC gaming really makes sense... like PC gaming didn't continue to be big and get bigger after that point??? (maybe it was at a peak in market share vs consoles, but that's a very broad metric as well)

The Arcades were not strong anymore, and had been heavily declining though the mid 90s: a major problem during the Saturn/32x period (etc). It stayed stronger in Japan longer, but was pretty dead in the mainstream US market and was significantly declining in Europe from what I understand as well. A very critical difference when Nintendo had their handheld market to support them.

And on a technical note: all internet is accessed via some sort of modem... (ie dial up vs broadband vs cable modem) at some point. Now I'm sure he meant dial-up, but that's still misleading, even on a non-techie level.



After a successful Japanese launch in late 1998, Sega looked toward the North American market to achieve a head-start over its biggest competitor, Sony Computer Entertainment America, by growing a strong install base and by rebuilding excitement for its products.
The Japanese reception was relatively weak, even compared to the declining Saturn... and if it hadn't been for the Saturn's failure in the west, Sega likely would have been healthier pushing the Saturn a good bit longer in Japan (on its own or in parallel with the DC).
From the figures I've seen, the Dreamcast was continually far behind the N64 in market share during its life. (and that's market share, not userbase, so even further behind in terms of userbase -due to the N64's longer life and earlier start, and much further behind the Saturn's userbase, of course)



In 1995, Sonic the Hedgehog was better known than Disney's Mickey Mouse, but the Sega Saturn, from its disappointing launch to its inevitable cancellation, had soured many gamers on Sega products.
I think the context of the sonic thing was for kids only... I'm sure that wouldn't have been the case for the population on the whole. (and I'd still be a bit wary of that comment in general -and I'd bet Mario was still more well known at the time, especially given the much longer time on the market)

The Saturn's cancellation was only inevitable after some major screw-ups, and what Stolar did in 1997 really didn't help. (canceling Sonic Xtreme when it was near completion -granted missing the critical 1996 holiday date and over budget, but only a few weeks away from a commercial quality release given comments from the programmers)
But the main issue was the dumbfounding stupid statement Stolar made in 1997 (not our future), puttin negative PR on the Saturn as well as hyping the Dreamcast too soon. (doing that a year later might have made sense though, but 1997 was as fraught with blunders as the preceding years)
By 1998 it was irrecoverable, of course, for all the wrong reasons. (Stolar wasn't the first to make critical mistakes with the Saturn, of course -namely the botched May 1995 release vs the timely September one originally planned- but his were similarly substantial)


In 1997, Sega hired Bernie Stolar, fresh from his role as president of Sony Computer Entertainment America, as the new president of Sega of America. Stolar was a shrewd, successful businessman who knew the games business from his time working at Sony, the arcades, and at Atari.
Stolar was already there in late 1996, or at least given the context that it was he who was spearheading the Sonic XTreme development for a holiday release in '96. (and the one to negotiate use of the Nights engine -which was later revoked)
Or at least that's the impression I got. (perhaps he was hired by mid 96 in a different capacity until Kalinske left -I think Kalinske was hired a fair bit before Katz left too: he was definitely there by Summer of 1990 in some capacity)



Stolar's task was to wage an uphill battle with gamers, many who had bought the short-lived 32X, Sega CD, and the Saturn, and retailers, who were still wincing from Saturn sales and an exclusive launch that cut many retail chains out of the picture.
And the lack of continuing support for the Saturn made no sesne in that context given the money being poured into the DC. The CD's life was reasonably long by general standards too. (1992-1996 wasn't too bad, not much different from the Master System's 1986-1991 in the US)

What he managed to do with the DC's launch was great, but what happened in 1997 made very little sense in general. (trimming things back made some sense, but Sega increased spending in general with the Dreamcast compared to Saturn, so that still didn't make sense, especially with 1997 being the real deciding year for active 5th generation consoles, 1996 being significant btu 1997 being the final solidification for market position in general and the first year 5th gen consoles were full blown main stream and ahead of all 4th gen consoles in the major international market)

If Sega was losing money on the Dreamcast at $150 or $100 in 1997/98, the Dreamcast was no better in 1999. (a cleaner hardware design for 1998 than the Saturn in 1994 to be sure, but still advanced, correspondlingly expensive, and still price cut to being sold for a significant loss)



"We had to change the attitude of retail to believe we were a serious player," said Stolar. "And because of the whole Saturn thing, retailers really hated Sega. It took me a lot of work to change their minds. I went to every retailer and told them this was going to be a great system, it was going to have a modem, it was going to have online play, this was the content it was going to have, and this was what it was going to look like. They all bought into that. They all trusted me. Plus, they really liked the team I put together. They felt this was the right team."
OK, but it was Stolar who had a lot to do with the negativity over the Saturn... what he did in 1997 was similar to (or maybe even worse in some respects) to the terribly executed May 1995 US launch of the Saturn. (there was every reason to wait until September)


In 1997, Sega of Japan tasked two engineering teams to compete for the design of the Dreamcast. Internally, Sega's President Shoichiro Irimajiri assigned Hideki Sato, who had designed the Saturn, to come up with a chipset design. Externally, Irimajiri created an 11-man "skunkworks" team outside of Sega to create a competing design, led by IBM alumnus Tatsuo Yamamoto; that project was codenamed Blackbelt.
That might have been a good idea back in 1993 (especially if the dealings with SGI occurred as Kalinske described), but by 1996/97 Sega really couldn't afford to do that sort of thing and it was quite wasteful for Sega in their position at the time.
Other issues tied to the secretive nature of both projects complicated things further. (including later legal issues and conflicts)



"They said they looked at 3Dfx, but decided against it," said Gordon. "They went with some other 3D chip that we had never heard of, and they went with a weird processor. We looked at this and asked ourselves, 'Why did they make these choices? It's gotta be some kind of political thing because these are dumb choices.'"
That makes no sense: the PowerVR chipset was a strong and well known series of accelerators on the PC market up there with 3DFX. (both falling behind ATi and NVidia later on with OpenGL and DirectX becoming the standard GUIs)
And "weird processor" makes little sense as both projects were using the SH4 as mentioned earlier in the article. (albeit the PPC603e was initially considered for black belt) Unless they meant something other than the CPU by that.
Regardless, the Dreamcast ended up with an absolutely excellent API and set of development tools, possibly the best of any console in its time, and became extremely friendly to develop for and make the most of the hardware without excessive and grueling effort.



At the time, EA had invested stock in 3Dfx. Did EA's investment in 3Dfx influence its decision? Gordon says it didn't. "If Sega had picked the direct competitor to 3Dfx at the time, it would have been fine. But they picked someone we had never heard of. It was somebody's friend of somebody's friend at a Japanese country club. It was a head-scratcher, like, 'What are they doing?' That was mostly it."
No, Sega chose direct competition to 3DFX, one of the biggest graphics accelerator manufacturers in the world at the time. (Video Logic was up there with 3DFX, ATi, and NVidia -in the latter case, NVidia was still getting into the 3D field compared to the more established competition -with the NV-1 being rather unpopular, NV-2 cancelled, and RIVA not released until 1997 compared to competition having popular mass-market consumer chipsets out by 1995 or 1996 - S3 was also a very significant player at the time)

And note the creators of the PowerVR chipset: Video Logic (not Imagination Technologies) was/is a UK based company, not Japanese. ;) (albeit they licensed the PowerVR and PowerVR2 chipsets to NEC to manufacture)

And regardless of the choice being "right" or not, the Dreamcast hardware was exceptional for the time and with shining development tools to match.

The comments from EA personnel seem either like total BS or possibly misinformed generalizations by non tech-savvy individuals.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the hardware, the modem WAS included, and the development tools were excellent: if nothing else EA could have waited a bit and made the final decision AFTER seeing the official development kit, but that didn't happen.



Contrary to Gordon's account, however, Stolar said there was a much simpler reason EA denied the Dreamcast. And licensing negotiations, chipsets, and modems, while somewhat relevant, didn't play a significant role.
Exactly.



"'We want to be the only sports brand on Dreamcast,'" Stolar recalled Probst saying. "'We want the exclusive rights to be the only sports brand on Dreamcast.'"

This surprised Stolar, whose strategic planning included Visual Concepts as a key element in making Dreamcast a success.

Stolar countered. "I said, 'Larry, I'll tell you what. As a third party, I'll agree to that. But I'm not going to agree to that for first party. I bought Visual Concepts for $10 million. So you can compete with Visual Concepts. We'll have Visual Concepts sports titles and we'll have EA sports titles, and that will be it.'"

Probst didn't budge.

"No, I don't even want to compete with Visual Concepts," Probst told Stolar, who replied, "'Forget it then, end of story.' That's what it was all about, right there."

Weeks after Stolar's and Probst's lunch meeting, Japan tried to change EA's mind, but it didn't work, said Stolar. "Sega tried to lower royalties but EA wouldn't budge."
Well known to most with any knowledge of the DC's history now, but yes, that really sums it up: Sega wasn't the one playing hard ball: EA was.
Not only did EA want 3rd party exclusivity, but they wanted Sega to drop their own sports publishing (and note that Sega had, of course, had a long line of Sega Sportes titles be it 1st 2nd or contracted 3rd party developed, they were Sega published games).



Considering EA's built-in customer base, did Stolar make the right decision?

"Look what Visual Concepts brought to the table, look what they brought to Sega. If you look at those games today, everybody will tell you those games looked better than EA's games. So I would not have changed my opinion."
Exactly: Sega would have wasted the investment in Visual Concepts, and not only that: they would have lost superior software to what EA was putting out.
Of course, EA's trend of such tactics continued as it became more and more of the mega-corporation that it is today using anti-competitive business practices and crushing or absorbing fledgling competition.

And as it turned out, the 3rd party support was strong during the Dreamcast's active life in spite of EA's snub. (as the article goes on to detail)



Before the end of 2000, however, Sega's Dreamcast found itself in trouble. Sony's original PlayStation grabbed a majority of console market share, and the PS2 was building substantial press for its October 26, 2000 North American launch. Even though the PS2 launched in spring in Japan with only six titles -- all of which were unimpressive -- Sony capitalized again and again on Sega's perceived weaknesses.
PSX sales being higher was hardly a surprise, even N64 sales being higher than the DC at the time wasn't surprising given the established market they had and the fact they were more or less at their peak in popularity (or slightly past perhaps) while the DC was just hitting its first stride. (it would be like expecting the Saturn or Playstation to outsell the SNES or Genesis in 1995 -or even '96 for that matter)

And given Sony's power and position on the market: Sega should have expected to not be able to beat their market, but should have been trying to establish a legitimate platform in its own right to compete on the market in the long term even it it was to end up fighting for 2nd place against Nintendo (and the emerging Microsoft competition).
You hardly have to be number 1 to have a standout success. (and it seems like the DC may very well have made number 2 behind Nintendo and Microsoft worldwide had it been pushed for a full, long life -albeit it would likely have ended up 3rd in Japan unless something changed dramatically to make it favored over Nintendo behind Sony)


Although Sega's arcade business was still thriving, the company, as a whole, was strapped for cash. "I wasn't privy to the numbers at the time, but Sega announced it would spend $100 million in marketing from day one, and I don't think it was half of that," speculated Bellfield.
Yes, they needed stronger investment capital which (from what I understand) was greatly hindered by their unstable past, but Okawa's personal contributions were extremely significant)
Having net losses (ie no fiscal profits) doesn't necessarily matter as long as the revenue is attractively high and investors support a company accordingly (thus avoiding debt); that's how sustained deficit spending can be feasible, and it worked (more or less) for Sega in the early 90s, but then it fell apart with management problems and dropping PR and revenue hurting investor contributions. (as well as general consumer and media perception)

So to stay in the game, Sega definitely would have had to work its way back up to getting strong investor support among other things. (beyond the private funds from Okawa)

They could also have dropped back to actually managing things conservatively enough to make economic profit on their own: but doing that would pretty much relegate them to niche status in the hardware market and bar any real chance of making it big in the industry with a real come back. Though perhaps that could have worked in the short term to avoid dropping out of hardware completely and then gradually build back up or decide to go software only as the case may be.

It really wouldn't have been clear until 2002 (after initial hype from the PS2, Xbox, and GC had blown over) that things would really have been clear regarding the long-term prospects for the DC, and if it did end up being most attractive to go 3rd party, there's no reason the DC couldn't have been among the platforms to get support. (ie multiplatform DC+PC+Xbox+GC support -PS2 support would have been more difficult and costly of course on top of the bad blood with Sony and Sega, so that would be a big trade-off against the massive popularity -something many other developers had to deal with as well -some often opting for poor/weaker PS2 ports rather than dealing with the headache of dealing with it, others putting massive resources into actually making the thing perform well -sometimes to the detriment to other versions of the game if it was multiplatform)



"They were hearing from the one region, the US, that had been successful with the Dreamcast launch, that the future of the Dreamcast was not going to be rosy. North America was the one lifeline that they had left -- that maybe success in the US would allow them to bridge doing another hardware platform, or to extend the life of this platform, or allow it to be reinvented in Japan and Europe."
Exactly: it may have been weak in Japan and Europe, but they had a significant market established in North America to build onto, and indeed that was significant (given how massive the market is) and there's no reason why they couldn't have focused support primarily on North America while managing other regions accordingly. (pulling back spending and evaluating opportunities to possible make a splash and break into those markets again)
It's not all that much different than the Master System, except instead of Europe, you had North America. (albeit not quite as strong in the US relatively compared to Europe at the time... well maybe similar if you include computer competition)



Moore's document stated that Sega was arguably one of the greatest software companies ever, and it should focus on its major strength: software. The industry was going through a significant transition which created a quandary: Japanese content was becoming less and less relevant to the West, and Western developers were growing in stature.
Quite true, and that should have been a very real consideration from the mid 90s onward. (especially after Sega's brake into the PC market) Of course, keeping that option open, or even pushing into it full-force wouldn't have been mutually exclusive with continued Dreamcast support, especially for Software. (and hardware to some extent, especially after they got to the point of selling above cost)
Short of jumping into 3rd party full-force, they could have eased in with increased PC support and more PC releases in general. (the PC gaming market was strong and growing, and multiplatform development for the DC and PC should have been fairly fluid)


Peter Moore: "The presentation Charles and I presented wasn't something that was purely my opinion, it was what the data was leading us toward. From the moment we shipped, we faced stiff competition. At Sega of America, we did our utmost as a team to drive the business forward and keep the momentum going, but in the end, it was too little too late. It may hinge on timing. [B]You have to have the right combination of technology, be ready with the right software, the right price point, and maybe be ahead of the curve from a tech point of view, rather than somewhat behind the curve."
Except the Dreamcast met all those areas handily: they were well ahead of the curve in technology, software, price point, etc and only behind the curve in established PR/media perception and available funding.

It was too little too late perhaps in the context of the damage already being done during the life of the Saturn, but that's another issue entirely. 9the main damage being done from 1995 to 1998)



Bing Gordon: "I think there is a lesson to be learned about inappropriate overconfidence by creative people. So there is a difference between people who have been successful once and people who have been successful twice. The emotion at Sega was that people who were successful once were thinking they deserved the success rather than being lucky. To me that's a broader lesson in overconfidence, and at EA we learned it a lot of times. We had games that had sequels that we believed deserved to be as big, and the company deserved to grow off it, and that's a lesson that you can't learn well enough: that success doesn't give you the right to more success.
Sega was successful far more than once in a number of contexts, but they were only successful once in really taking the North American market by storm and coming to a rather close second in the worldwide market. But they certainly earned it as they'd earned their other success.
It was tactful management and marketing that propelled the Genesis to the heights it reached in North America, something the Master System lacked in the critical 1986/87 period before Nintendo effectively blocked out the North American market.



Charles Bellfield: "Money. Money talks. You need a budget. I think the difference is the world we live in today allows you to innovate with marketing and communications without the need to have huge additional media budgets. In 1999 we were very heavily dependent on traditional media -- TV, magazines, outdoor billboards.
Yep, some of the best sense in this whole article. You need money to make money, it's that simple.
It's not the only factor but it's key nonetheless. (more so than having the best hardware or best in-house software development, but management is also key -albeit good management is facilitated by ample funding to some extent, but that's not a foolproof example but good management is certainly tough to have in a lack of funding)


"We had the content right. We had the marketing right. The product was designed right. The philosophy of networked capabilities was right. The team was right. The partners we had were right. But we didn't have the budget to be able to build the confidence of the brand in the eyes of our competitors that we were going to be around. That, to me, is the Achilles Heel of the Dreamcast. The first Xbox console was a far bigger failure than the Dreamcast. But Microsoft has much more money than Sega did. And the Xbox was an ugly motherfucker.
Exactly. ;) MS managed to compete against Sony with sheer fire with fire spending. (the difference being Sony made a lot more sales with that spending while MS had an up-hill battle)
Still, having everything else right means you can do a lot more with less funding, but that too is limited.

roundwars
09-27-2010, 06:59 AM
Bing Gordon: "I think there is a lesson to be learned about inappropriate overconfidence by creative people. So there is a difference between people who have been successful once and people who have been successful twice. The emotion at Sega was that people who were successful once were thinking they deserved the success rather than being lucky. To me that's a broader lesson in overconfidence, and at EA we learned it a lot of times. We had games that had sequels that we believed deserved to be as big, and the company deserved to grow off it, and that's a lesson that you can't learn well enough: that success doesn't give you the right to more success."

Good lord, what a douchey thing to say.

retrospiel
09-27-2010, 07:05 AM
I definitely remember reading about Stolar's comment about Sega's future with some kind of relief. This was 1997 and even without Stolar's comment it was painfully obvious that the Saturn's days were counted.

MrMatthews
09-27-2010, 11:36 AM
Good lord, what a douchey thing to say.

How, exactly? Makes perfect sense to me.

roundwars
09-27-2010, 01:27 PM
How, exactly? Makes perfect sense to me.

Then your douchedar is broken. :|

kool kitty89
09-27-2010, 08:23 PM
How, exactly? Makes perfect sense to me.
Because it's complete BS claiming that Sega's success was never earned, but totally by accident. :roll:
Sega's success was hard earned with the software they put out and the marketing strategies that allowed them to break into the US market.





I definitely remember reading about Stolar's comment about Sega's future with some kind of relief. This was 1997 and even without Stolar's comment it was painfully obvious that the Saturn's days were counted.
Some of it makes sense, but other stuff doesn't: why all the cut backs with the Saturn when the Dreamcast got more money poured into it than the Saturn ever had by contemporary standards?

I'm not saying they shouldn't have had an emphasis on the DC, but pulling back on the Saturn as they did made little sense by comparison to a much larger extent than pulling out on the 32x in late 1995. Like the 32x, the drastic shift made for bad PR and confused consumers, but was the second time that had happened (more or less -as the CD had a fairly long life and the Genesis did for sure -regardless of potential to be marketed longer than they were by Sega), but with the Saturn it was a full next gen console and one that many people had paid a lot of money for at that, and on top of that they had NOTHING on the market to replace it (unlike the 32x).

Sega should have continued normal (if toned down) support for the Saturn if for no other reason than to not lose the userbase they had managed to establish and not make their market position even worse.
Besides, while 1996 was significant, 1997 was the final deciding year more or less, and that's when they started shifting towards DC rather than giving one final push for the Saturn before pulling back to a niche market. (but NOT canceling it entirely)

And again, dropping support in Japan was a bad move too, especially given the poor sales of the Dreamcast there and the large potential market of the established userbase.

It seems like in mid/late 1996 Sega tightened the budget for some reason (the toned down Nights campaign for instance) and it only got more significant thereafter, but Sega didn't cut back spending in general, or at least not for long (before they started building up for the DC -and again havign 2 parallel hardware projects in 1996/1997 also makes little sense if your on a tight budget), so it's really odd the Saturn didn't get more support. (even if they started dropping to a niche market and only released the higher-end Japanese titles -including the more popular RPGs and 2D games, after all if you're going to drop to the niche/hardcore userbase, that's what you should support)

Sega didn't pull out support from the Master System in Europe early because of poor performance and even supported it with new software up until 1991 in the US. (which would more or less be like Sega supporting Saturn software up to 2001 in the US relative to the Genesis and DC's release dates)



That article does make some interesting points about Moore I hadn't know before, including his general enthusiasm for the project, but it does point out that Sega would have had to pretty much focus on North America for the Dreamcast if they were to continue full support in 2001 and more or less drop to niche status in other markets. Still there's a lot of open ended stuff. (namely nothign from the Japanese side directly)

And, of course, it makes no mention of the piracy/security problems that emerged, and that was a significant chink in a platform that otherwise got everything right. (you had some other issues like GD-ROM capacity vs DVD, but that was make or break, DVD-Video would have been a no-go due to licensing costs anyway, the controller might have gotten a bit limited when dual analog became more necessary, especially with FPSs, unless Sega perhaps released a revised controller, and then there's the VMU capacity limits -though that may have been addressed as well; not a physical limitation but a software compatibility issue with games inteded only for 128 kB banks -so you could have games specifically catring to larger capacities later on, but older games would not be able to save to those VMUs unless a 128 kB bank was also available)

Metal_Sonic
09-27-2010, 09:34 PM
Because it's complete BS claiming that Sega's success was never earned, but totally by accident. :roll:
Sega's success was hard earned with the software they put out and the marketing strategies that allowed them to break into the US market.

That isn't the meaning of the quote. It says that just because success was earned once doesn't mean you deserve to succeed again, that a second success is only up to chance, not an undeserved sense of entitlement.

MrMatthews
09-27-2010, 09:57 PM
Because it's complete BS claiming that Sega's success was never earned, but totally by accident. :roll:
Sega's success was hard earned with the software they put out and the marketing strategies that allowed them to break into the US market.

GOSH!!!! :roll:


That isn't the meaning of the quote. It says that just because success was earned once doesn't mean you deserve to succeed again, that a second success is only up to chance, not an undeserved sense of entitlement.

That's exactly what I got out of it.

And you know what? Considering where Sega is right now (and has been since the days of the Genesis), I'd say that quote is 100% on the money.

roundwars
09-27-2010, 10:36 PM
That isn't the meaning of the quote. It says that just because success was earned once doesn't mean you deserve to succeed again, that a second success is only up to chance, not an undeserved sense of entitlement.

Except that isn't the meaning of the quote either. It reads like the guy doesn't really have any point at all, and is just smugly running his mouth off.

MrMatthews
09-27-2010, 10:55 PM
Yes, there's a bit of a cocksucker tone in the statement, but what he's saying is right. Sega has struggled for and fumbled success in the home console market for as long as they have been making video games ...except for this one time.

Sega has proven pretty conclusively that they really don't know how they managed to beat Nintendo (however briefly) in the 90's. The creativity and quality of the software before, during, and after the Genesis/Mega Drive is irrelevant.

It was luck. Just like the guy said.

kool kitty89
09-27-2010, 11:41 PM
That isn't the meaning of the quote. It says that just because success was earned once doesn't mean you deserve to succeed again, that a second success is only up to chance, not an undeserved sense of entitlement.
Given the wording it's really unclear and up to interpretation, but looking at it again:

View Post
Bing Gordon: "I think there is a lesson to be learned about inappropriate overconfidence by creative people. So there is a difference between people who have been successful once and people who have been successful twice. The emotion at Sega was that people who were successful once were thinking they deserved the success rather than being lucky. To me that's a broader lesson in overconfidence, and at EA we learned it a lot of times. We had games that had sequels that we believed deserved to be as big, and the company deserved to grow off it, and that's a lesson that you can't learn well enough: that success doesn't give you the right to more success."
See the bolded part: that to me implies that Sega didn't "deserve" the success the first time around and just "got lucky" and that correspondingly Sega was overconfident in presuming that they deserved the success and would achieve it yet again.
The "rather than getting lucky" comment seems a bit vague in general due to the disorganized speech in general being a bit rambling and jumping around. (I know I can do that a lot once I get running ;))

Plus, the overconfidence is hardly what killed Sega... and that comment seems to be applied to the Dreamcast, but makes little to no sense there as if any time it would have been just after the Genesis with the Saturn that they were overconfident (which still doesn't seem to be the case), not after the Saturn flopped.
Sega's lack of repeat success is in large part due to problematic management from 1994-1998 in the US (more or less) with lots of conflicting decisions and a general mess. Had the Saturn launched and been managed similarly well to the Dreamcast, that could have been critical, but it was mistake after mistake and odd decisions. You had the 32x complicating things of course, but the May release of the Saturn got things off to a bad start when the originally announced September release date made all the sense in the world at the time (and even more in hindsight), 1996 didn't have too much in the way of problems up until the budget being cut back and of course Sonic Xtreme missing the Christmas deadline and canceled in early 1997, then came further cut backs, Stolar's "not our future" thing, shifting resources to the DC too early/totally, the 1998 discontinuation, etc.


Except that isn't the meaning of the quote either. It reads like the guy doesn't really have any point at all, and is just smugly running his mouth off.
Yeah, I guess I could have misinterpreted it due to poor organization, but the tone definitely had an impact on how I took the message.

But in general, most of the comments from EA staff in that article seem rather smug and inaccurate. (and full of excuses... especially regarding the DC's hardware "problems" and the "reasons" they chose not to support it)






I definitely remember reading about Stolar's comment about Sega's future with some kind of relief. This was 1997 and even without Stolar's comment it was painfully obvious that the Saturn's days were counted.
Again, that didn't happen with the Master System... and it didn't make sense to shift away from Saturn so soon, especially with an established userbase (even if niche). The Saturn had success in japan like the SMS in Europe, so (more or less) should have gleaned ignificant continued support after being pulled back in other regions, but also continued support in the less successful regions to some extent, especially to ease into the next generation.

And regardless of all that, his statement was made in a negative connotation in general...

If Sega had continued to invest in the Saturn even a moderate fraction of what was going to the DC (etc), it may have helped a TON, not only for the existing users, but new users as well.
Sure, they were at a disadvantage to Sony, but they had a big selection of niches to dig into and stuff the N64 didn't offer for sure (and the PSX to some extent).
Remember, it wasn't until 1997 that the 5th gen consoles broke into the mass market, so even lingering in 3rd place, there was potential for the Saturn to make a difference.

Scaling back hardware production for sure would be wise, or perhaps halting it entirely depending on demand, but given the existing stockpiles, they definitely should have focused on selling off that hardware at minimal loss and making back what they could in continued software sales.

The real issue would be funding for advertising, but that seems to have been pulled back in 1996 for whatever reason.

retrospiel
09-28-2010, 08:57 AM
Sega has proven pretty conclusively that they really don't know how they managed to beat Nintendo (however briefly) in the 90's.

With that statement I agree 110%. They had no idea whatsoever what they were doing.


Kalinske himself said it best, although in the context of SegaCD which was the beginning of the end if you ask me: "You have to remember that this was the very beginning of the optical medium in terms of a video game experience, and none of us knew what the hell we were doing! I mean, it was really an experiment, a great learning experience."


The creativity and quality of the software before, during, and after the Genesis/Mega Drive is irrelevant.

It was luck. Just like the guy said.

However, this I disagree with: Quality software is the very basis of the video game industry. Without good games there's nothing to sell. You can trick people for a certain period into buying crap but you won't be around long.

Saturn failed because it suffered from a lack of quality software. There were some real gems, but there were months and months when there was nothing they had to counter Sony's games. And even in case of those few good games that Sega got Sony had to offer quality games to counter them: You could as well just play Tekken and Ridge Racer instead of Virtua Fighter and Sega Rally. Might not have been as good but good enough that most people didn't care.

Add in the other factors like the hardware being more expansive than PlayStation, the awful marketing, and the backlash they got for the Sega CD / 32X disasters, and you get a clear picture as to why Sega failed with Saturn. They really earned it. Not the designers of hard- and software, but management, especially that in the West, did all they could to make sure they'd fail.

kool kitty89
09-29-2010, 12:15 AM
Sega has proven pretty conclusively that they really don't know how they managed to beat Nintendo (however briefly) in the 90's. The creativity and quality of the software before, during, and after the Genesis/Mega Drive is irrelevant.

It was luck. Just like the guy said.
I totally disagree as I sad above: the reason Sega did well in North America with the Genesis was because it had the one thing they didn't with the Master System and the primary reason the TG-16 flopped: good management and marketing. That's also why the NES struggled in Europe for the most part. (poor delegation to native distributors and marketing -plus weaker software in some areas compared to competition and the SMS's graphics being a more significant pull especially in leu of 16-bit computers)

Michael Katz got it started and Kalinske followed up with the critical advertising campaigns that MADE the system.

You could try and pass Sonic off as luck: but remember that was 2 years after the system launched in the US and about the same time the SNES launched with SMW pack-in, so the head start and early efforts were critical to breaking into the market, but Katz was right when he said the market wasn't going to be decided until after the SNES launched and consumers could compare the 2 side by side. Sonic was not luck, and Sonic would not have been able to make the impact it did without their early success in wedging into Nitnendo's market (their marekt share went up dramatically in 1989-1991 prior to Sonic's launch compared to where the SMS had been) AND the marketing specifically applied to Sonic with the Genesis.

With the Master System they had a chance in 1986 and 87, but the screwed up with poor marketing in general (advertising, publicity, distribution, etc), though Tonka improved things considerably in 1988 that was too late and Nintendo had dug in enough for their monopolistic policies to take effect.

Of course, success in Japan was always a significant factor to contend with, but as clearly seen with the PCE and Saturn, that wasn't the end all be all.

There's a number of factors necessary: funding, good marketing, good 1st party software, good management of 3rd party licensing, good hardware (ie reasonably competitive and reasonable for 3rd parties to develop for), good price point, etc.

With the Master System and TG-16 you had all of those in a competitive manner for the US launch of the SMS vs the NES, but they lacked the general management needed to understand the market. I'd really like to know more details on jsut hoe SoA was managed and who led them at the time though, but Katz was obviously experienced in the consumer entertainment and electronics business (working for Mattell, Coleco, Epyx, and Atari Corp).

It's not like Atari Corp where they had very limited resources (both for software and advertising) and had to make do with what they had (and Katz managed to do that rather well all things considered -especially given Atari Corp had a significantly higher market share than Sega up until Katz joined Sega for the Genesis's 1989 launch -in many cases close to double the market share albeit still well behind Nintendo -especially by 1988 when Nintendo had over 70% of the market)

So no, it wasn't luck, it was skill combined with the necessary ingredients for success. There was SOME luck involved, like NEC screwing themselves in the west and Nintendo taking too long to relinquish their limiting licensing policies, but that's always the case to some extent:
The 2600 got to where it did thanks to Warner's money and some luck as well as generally capable hardware and 1st party developers (there were obvious management problems that later surfaces with drastic results). A critical factor was also poor management by competition or general poor competiton be it far too limited hardware (channel F and RCA Studio 2) limited advertising and high price point (Astrocade, Intellivision, and Odyssey 2 to some extent) or software support, they didn't have strong competition until about 1981/82 by which point they owned the market.

The C64 exploded with price dumping in an all out war coinciding with an unstable console market and pushing it over the edge into a crash in 1983 while Atari also made some other mistakes that meant next to no direct competition for consoles or computers in the holiday season that year and then more blunders followed with Warner's sloppy sale of Atari Inc's properties the next summer.

The NES was successful as Nintendo had the right marketing (almost certainly with some wisdom from nearly 3 years of attempting to break into the market) coinciding with a killer pack-in for the launch in September 1986. They had a very favorable entrance due to the crash and many companies pulling out or breaking up rather than trying to stick it out for the long haul. (Atari Inc was going to stay but Warner made the rash decision in 1984 and broke it up -rather disorganized at that)
So the main competition was either under funded and/or poorly managed and with other problems.
And after Nintendo managed to break in and slowely build up in 1986 and especially 1987 their constricting licensing policies came into play with the clout to push 3rd parties around.

Sega came in the Genesis and worked hard to break through Nintendo's barriers which, while rather insurmountable in Japan, gradually wore away in the US (and had never been established in Europe) combined with Nintendo's arrogance and NEC's poor mangement and the timing of Sonic (and Sonic 2) in parallel with the SNES along with a lower price point, etc allowed them to break in.

Sony had the money and the management for sure: they had some experience with multimedia software in the early 90s, but limited. They had the right hardware and a good price point (facilitated by investment capital allowing deficit spending) along with strong advertising, buying up of some software developers, buying exclusive licenses to some critical games, investing a ton into 3rd party software to be published by them on the platform, examining the trends in the industry and pushing some key features in that regard. (including the excellent high level software tools)
But critically, like the NES and Genesis, etc, the competition screwed up: Sega had their general management problems with Saturn and 32x conflict, horrible May 1995 launch of the Saturn, and budget cuts in 1996.
While Nintendo had delays in their planned 1995 N64 release and lingering arrogance (or possibly legal issues tied to Sony and or Phillips) that made the N64 stick to carts with resulting limitations of storage capacity, cost of games, general attraction to developers, and most critically, lost them the support of Square in Japan. Square jumping onboard Sony exclusively with FFVII is what made the PlayStation as much as Sonic made the Genesis, Space Invaders the 2600, and Mario the NES.
Had square gone multi-platform with FVII (other than PC), who knows what would have happened. (likewise if Atari hadn't gotten the Space invaders license in 1980 or Nintendo come out with SMB in the US in 1986, or Sega with Sonic in 1991) And Sony didn't just get exclusivity, they ran with it hyped that thing to hell with massive ad campaigns. (and it became the first Square RPG to be published in Europe)

The 3DO could have broken into the market if it had been managed like the PSX. (namely razor edge prices, but being a bit more flexible with software development -the high level support was great, but too heavily constricting with forced use of their OS exclusively and no low level documentation)
The price point was the main problem though and mainly related to the odd and experimental market model used. (otherwise it could have launched at closer to $400-500 and fallen from there -thus well below the price of the Saturn or PSX in 1995 and with an established library of software and 3rd party support)








With that statement I agree 110%. They had no idea whatsoever what they were doing.
Sega of America had no idea what they were doing up to 1989, but then there was a huge shift in management for the better and critically successful advertising and expansion of SoA into the early 90s. But then came conflicts really materializing in 1994 and deepening in 1995 with come critical decisions (most significant being the botched 1995 May launch of the Saturn) with general management issues with SoJ and SoA/SoE that are still not fully clear in nature. (ie what were the original plans for Mars: why did they opt for that over investing in more software for the MD/MCD, why did they launch the Saturn in May rather than September and on who's authority, why the apparently budget cuts in advertising in mid 1996, etc)
In the best case: 1995 and 1996 would have been somewhat like 1989 and 1990 for the Genesis except Sega had a bigger name to work off of (countered by the high prices and remainign popularity of 4th gen consoles -comparable to the NES in '89/90), but the early screw-ups cost them among other things. (Sony's unprecedented spending and competition Sega hadn't faced against Nintendo -while Nintendo was still a factor with the N64, especially in North America)


Kalinske himself said it best, although in the context of SegaCD which was the beginning of the end if you ask me: "You have to remember that this was the very beginning of the optical medium in terms of a video game experience, and none of us knew what the hell we were doing! I mean, it was really an experiment, a great learning experience."
Yes, it was an experiment in software and marketing that expanded into the heavy multimedia saturated market that Sony championed the next generation: lower budget, hit and miss, and more primitive foreshadowing of what was to come and has dominated the market ever since. (cinematic cutscenes -especially with CGI coming in even as primitive and often gaudy as it was in the mid 90s-, multimedia, increasingly extravagant budgets, etc)

Then there's marketing and pushing multimedia in general, which were a totally different context, and while they could have pushed a broader audience and especially pushed the MD+CD longer without Mars/32x cutting it off (and lingering in parallel with Saturn), it could have been a lot worse if they simply took a minimalistic approach with little difference from cart based games... (granted pushing low cost CD versions of cart games along with advanced exclusives could have been significant, but SoJ wasn't pushing that, so it would have been hard to execute regardless)

As it was there was a surprising amount of quirky Japanese titles on the CD that would have been unlikely to get Genesis releases in the same context.

They could also have pushed the CD more in general, but the more they did, the more they risked diverting from the Genesis.



However, this I disagree with: Quality software is the very basis of the video game industry. Without good games there's nothing to sell. You can trick people for a certain period into buying crap but you won't be around long.
I totally agree: be it exceptional 1st party support: money to spend on prominent 2nd/3rd parties, or simply exceptional 3rd party support, having good software is always a critical factor just as good management of marketing is and the other factors I listed above. (good hardware, funding, market positioning, timing, etc)


Saturn failed because it suffered from a lack of quality software. There were some real gems, but there were months and months when there was nothing they had to counter Sony's games. And even in case of those few good games that Sega got Sony had to offer quality games to counter them: You could as well just play Tekken and Ridge Racer instead of Virtua Fighter and Sega Rally. Might not have been as good but good enough that most people didn't care.
The main problem was the May launch that put it in a bad light: byt September (when the Saturn had been planned to launch), the price point met Sony's and the software was equal or better in number and quality to Sony's offerings, but the crappy May launch had already weakened things more than they could have been in 95 (frustrated developers and retailers along with some games rushed out before the planned September date) and that deepened into 1996 followed by the budget cuts in the middle of the year (I think) that among other things, severely curtailed the Nights ad campaign. (again, not sure why the cut backs when they started throwing money around not much more than a year later with the shift for the Dreamcast)

3rd party software is always important, but not able to be controlled directly: it's a combination of management of licensing deals, market position/strength, and developer friendliness and capability of the hardware. The Saturn had drawbacks in all categories but it didn't have to: Sega's brand name was strong and solidly pushing the Saturn would have gong a long way. The hardware was problematic, but pushing for reasonably competitive high-level tools for 3rd parties and making them available as early as possible would have been significant. (or even good low level documentation as early Saturn Dev kits were poor in that respect too)


Add in the other factors like the hardware being more expansive than PlayStation[quote]You mean expensive? That was never the case: the Saturn launched at a higher price but pretty much matched the PSX at every turn (at the expense of losses by Sega). It was down to $300 by september of 1995, matched Sony's $200 price drop at E3 1996 (along with the N64), dropped to $150 along with the PSX and N64 in '97, and met the $100 price point in 1998 along with the N64 and PSX.
At least that's how it was in the US. (in terms of suggested retail price: you couldn't have more control over actual retail prices without price fixing -which is illegal)

[QUOTE]
the awful marketing, and the backlash they got for the Sega CD / 32X disasters, and you get a clear picture as to why Sega failed with Saturn.
The marketing was OK early on, but as funds ran dry (apparently) they ran into trouble in mid 1996.
They may not have been as good as some of the mid 90s Genesis commercials and print ads, but they weren't too far off, at least looking at US stuff. (the Theater of the Eye had the problem of havign a lot of the references going over people's heads though -I thought they were rather fitting and are certainly among the few I actually rememered as a little kid -along with the S&K ad)

The CD was a non-issue by the time of the Saturn: it had a decent run and maybe could have done better, but with several million units sold in the US given the circumstances, hardly a dramatic failure.
But the Saturn and Mars/32x conflict were problems for sure and tied into limiting the success of the CD as well as the Genesis late in its life (vs Nintendo who shifted for strong continued software support in 1994 while Sega opted to push new hardware).
As it was the whole situation was exacerbated if not caused by the Saturn's May launch in 1995 in conjunction with declining arcade revenue limiting that buffer for investment and likely forcing their hand with dropping major support for all by the Saturn by early 1996.
Dropping the 32x like they did is what made for negative PR and disgruntled users, not it's actual existence. (granted, had it not existed that problem would have more or less been solved as well, and the main alternative would have been pushing software for the MD and MCD and possible enhanced carts -but the MCD already offered significant expansion including 3D capabilities reasonably approaching the SVP -closer to Super FX)


They really earned it. Not the designers of hard- and software, but management, especially that in the West, did all they could to make sure they'd fail.
Again, I'd really like to know the context of the decisions made in 1994 and 1995, as well as the budget in 1996 and why they diverted spending to the DC when that forced the Saturn to fail even faster and leave a gaping hole in the market for Sega. (with the Genesis, SMS, GG, 32x, and CD already out of their hands)

gamevet
09-29-2010, 02:28 AM
Koolkitty89s strategy is to make a post so huge, that nobody will want to tackle it. :p

I'll just add a few comments for now, but will respond to this subject when I'm back in town.

Sega may have found a game that could compete with Mario, but it was more than Sonic that made the Genesis a big name console in North America. EA sports games were very popular in the US, as a matter of fact, they were the most popular titles on the system. EA's Madden, NBA and NHL titles all ran better on the Genesis, and it became the sports gamers console, as well as popular with adults. This was a very important fact that Sony realized when they brought the Playstation to the US. NFL Gameday was Sony's flagship title for the US launch of the Playstation, and it became a key factor in getting EA and sports gamers on the Playstation's side. This would eventually lead to EA's decisions to not support Sega's DC.

MrMatthews
09-29-2010, 03:16 AM
Christ.

Kool Kitty, I'm not going to dissect your whole goddam post so I can highlight the areas I'm responding to, so just know that I'm talking to you, alright?

I still contend that it was luck, and here's why:

There was some brilliant marketing done for the Genesis that almost won that console generation for Sega.

Almost.

Having a handful of people who know what they're doing in a group entity of thousands does not a smart business make. If said smart people are removed from or allowed to leave those key positions in the company, then clearly the company as a whole is retarded, and clearly it was only by chance (ie "luck") that they were in those positions to begin with.

Oh, and since my remark about software quality went over your head, (**nods politely to Christus**) let me explain it to you.

You got your feathers all ruffled because you thought Sega deserved success because of the quality of the games they produced. But there's so much more to the video game industry than just making good games. Nintendo understands this, and Sega never really did. Quality software and success in the video game industry are two concepts that don't necessarily have much to do with one another. Sega could have put their best minds at work on some of the best games of the generation, but if the games themselves (or the system!) weren't marketed well enough, it won't make a difference.

If no one knows about your game (and this goes for all the critically-acclaimed "flops" of this generation, too), then it doesn't matter if your game is good or bad. You might even say it's . . . irrelevant.

kool kitty89
09-29-2010, 07:27 AM
There was some brilliant marketing done for the Genesis that almost won that console generation for Sega.

Almost.

Having a handful of people who know what they're doing in a group entity of thousands does not a smart business make. If said smart people are removed from or allowed to leave those key positions in the company, then clearly the company as a whole is retarded, and clearly it was only by chance (ie "luck") that they were in those positions to begin with.
WTF?
Nakayma and Rosen knew what they were doing when they chose Katz and Kalnsike, granted the grounds on which Katz left were a bit off. (mainly they wanted to accelerate things it seems)

And thousands? When Katz started at SoA there were only a couple dozen employees at SoA, unless you mean Sega as a whole, which is another context entirely.

SoJ knew what they were doing too, and managed the MD very well in Japan all things considered, I doubt Katz or Kalinske could have done any better under the circumstances.



You got your feathers all ruffled because you thought Sega deserved success because of the quality of the games they produced. But there's so much more to the video game industry than just making good games. Nintendo understands this, and Sega never really did. Quality software and success in the video game industry are two concepts that don't necessarily have much to do with one another. Sega could have put their best minds at work on some of the best games of the generation, but if the games themselves (or the system!) weren't marketed well enough, it won't make a difference.
No, they're both integral. You NEED good software or you're out of luck no matter how good your marketing is. How you accumulate said software is another matter entirely:
it could be strong 1st party support (what made the NES for the first year or so on the market and the saving grace for the Genesis early on), or the money/clout to contract or buy up 3rd party developers, but in addition to that 3rd party support is almost always critical.

It's not luck that put SoA's key managerial staff into place, and it's not luck that put that in line with the Dreamcast as well, but it is arguable bad luck that put Sega off in the mid 90s and put them in such a position that even the excellent management of the Dreamcast was eaten away by a bad reputation.

And Marketing is just as critical, you can't have one without the other, and that's why the Master System, PCE, etc didn't work.


If no one knows about your game (and this goes for all the critically-acclaimed "flops" of this generation, too), then it doesn't matter if your game is good or bad. You might even say it's . . . irrelevant.
Yes, but if you have nothing but mediocre games or few games in general, marketing still won't save you.
They're both critical factors along with sufficient funding that are key to the business.

If you have the software but lack the funding, you MIGHT still make it though viral marketing, especially in Europe or Japan, but tough in the US. That's one thing that came up int he context of the European console/computer game market in general. (not just word of mouth, but a HUGE magazine culture full of reviews of almost all -if not all games released for systems at the time)

That's also why I say the PC Engine likely would have doen a lot better in Europe had NEC used the same tactics as in Japan and (failed) US markets. The more even competition would certainly have helped as well.
Same for the Jaguar having its best chance in Europe had they focused heavily on viral marketing campaigns there (the critical problem was distribution it seems as there were chronic shortages in Europe from what I understand). Of course, in that case Atari also had a much stronger name in Europe than the US.

MrMatthews
09-29-2010, 01:35 PM
You can argue with me all you want, but guess what? The scenario I described, in which the business practices of a company undermine the quality of the product? It's already happened.

kool kitty89
09-29-2010, 05:52 PM
You can argue with me all you want, but guess what? The scenario I described, in which the business practices of a company undermine the quality of the product? It's already happened.
And what product would that be? The Saturn?

And what specific business practices per se are the problem?

There were clearly missteps in management and there's tons of claims as to what caused that (including interdivision feuding), but I've yet to see anything definitive on the matter. (especially in the sense of direct quotes from both US and Japanese staff, or at least a lot of corroborative evidence from multiple US personnel given how no Japanese seem to want interviews on the subject)

What happened with the 32x and Saturn makes sense in some areas, but not in others. (mainly the May release of the Saturn and then what happened in '96 and '96 raise more questions than the 32x alone, albeit I do wonder why SoJ felt the need for Mars over using the CD and MD and just pushing more software or possibly more enhanced carts)



One huge problem was simply not predicting changes in the industry like the decline in arcades and how Sony would change the rules of the game (so to speak) with their marketing methods. (similar to Sega's to some extent, but far more radical and especially with a ton of capital to fuel it)

As for forcing our "those key few who made the company" so to speak: if you meant Kalinske, that wasn't true either as he left (albeit in apparent frustration) and wasn't actually fired.

But we also don't know the full details of what was really going on at Saga in 1995 and 1996, or if Kalinske was being honest. (let alone the very biassed comments by Pettus -the information and anecdotes he includes are nice, but it's best to ignore most of the commentary as well as tempering anything technically related that's not a direct quote with the knowledge that Pettus tends to get that very wrong be it relying on rumor mill or general lack of tech understanding -at least given what he wrote on the Genesis, SG-1000, Master System, 32x, and Sega CD)

Metal_Sonic
09-29-2010, 06:22 PM
All this bickering over such misinformation. This is why the Dreamcast failed:

http://www.examiner.com/images/blog/wysiwyg/image/dreamcast.jpg
























Don't see it? Look closer.

































http://img189.imageshack.us/img189/5576/dreamcast2u.jpg

Knuckle Duster
09-29-2010, 06:45 PM
Dreamcast failed because it sucked balls compared to the Playstation with it's software lineup & Sony was preparing the PS2 which was promised to maintain what they were doing. (Sony didn't really lie about anything up until that point, they were untouchable.)

Even the Genesis relied on mainstream gamers for platform adoption (at that time - those who buy sports games and little else.) The same market which Playstation cannibalized/seized and expanded upon.

Sega was coming around again with the 2K series, winning back the market; but they abruptly quit the fight for 'whatever' reason. (Money ran out, politics, mismanagement.) Who cares. They're dead now.

Nintendo was the ONLY big player to thrive on 1st party software and little else, the SNES did well because of it, arguably the sports games were up to expectations enough to pacify the Genesis campaign. Sega couldn't compete with nintendo on it's own. Aside from Sonic, they were too unpalatable outside of Japan & relied on Arcade gaming. Once that fad ended, they declined.

Right now, Sega's dead. Nobody really cares about arcade games & that's what they do well. Nintendo's been recycling their strong brands until it's worn itself out. Sony's still doing what they do, which is next to nothing while the 3rd parties run the show. Microsoft is the same way, learning from Sega, watching them die, assessing how it happened, and effectively luring Sony's life-blood away from it by doing things better. 3rd parties have seen the platforms become ubiquitous to an extent, and a sameness to the platforms has become standard.

I still think Nintendo will die before the others in this industry. Sony could kill them in the handheld market with unconventionally licensing their brand out to smart phone manufacturers, and their console is currently a decade old on the inside. Their software is getting worse.

/rant

kool kitty89
09-30-2010, 02:15 AM
Dreamcast failed because it sucked balls compared to the Playstation with it's software lineup & Sony was preparing the PS2 which was promised to maintain what they were doing. (Sony didn't really lie about anything up until that point, they were untouchable.)
No different than with the Genesis in 1989... comparing the limited early software lineup against the massive library of the NES. :p

The PS2 hype certainly hurt though, but the main problem was what had happened with the Saturn and the fact that Sega chose to discontinue the DC rather than pushing forward as best they could. (as it was they took a huge hit from dropping it... plummeting stock prices, cut backs, etc and eventually the Sammy buyout)



Even the Genesis relied on mainstream gamers for platform adoption (at that time - those who buy sports games and little else.) The same market which Playstation cannibalized/seized and expanded upon.
The Dreamcast had similar potential in that regard as the Genesis compared to NES... though Nintendo wasn't saturating the market with ads and the Master System hadn't been a failure like the Saturn mess was.



Sega was coming around again with the 2K series, winning back the market; but they abruptly quit the fight for 'whatever' reason. (Money ran out, politics, mismanagement.) Who cares. They're dead now.
Money had alreadu "run out" in the sense of getting into debt, but the question was: would it have been healthier to risk hanging onto the North American market if nothing else, but they had their work cut out for them with Sony. (at least by that point they'd shaken off a fair bit of the stigma from the Saturn... but cutting the DC like the did was the 3rd time in a row -32x, then Saturn, then DC)



Nintendo was the ONLY big player to thrive on 1st party software and little else, the SNES did well because of it, arguably the sports games were up to expectations enough to pacify the Genesis campaign. Sega couldn't compete with nintendo on it's own. Aside from Sonic, they were too unpalatable outside of Japan & relied on Arcade gaming. Once that fad ended, they declined.
Sega had a MUCH larger chunk of 1st party releases, and it primarily relied on that for the early part of the Genesis's life (and most of the SMS's life).

Nintendo had a few smash hits while Sega was putting out game after game... the top sellers were not as big, but the sales were spread out far more, plus there was Japan skewing the figures. (it would be interesting to compare sales of ALL Nintendo and Sega published games excluding Japanese numbers -as Nintendo had a massive Japanese market)

Atari also made the market with 1st party software with the VCS. (in addition to marketing and price point, that was a big advantage over competition)


Right now, Sega's dead. Nobody really cares about arcade games & that's what they do well. Nintendo's been recycling their strong brands until it's worn itself out. Sony's still doing what they do, which is next to nothing while the 3rd parties run the show. Microsoft is the same way, learning from Sega, watching them die, assessing how it happened, and effectively luring Sony's life-blood away from it by doing things better. 3rd parties have seen the platforms become ubiquitous to an extent, and a sameness to the platforms has become standard.
Microsoft isn't doing things better, they've screwed up far worse than Sony, but dumped tons of money into the 360 to mitigate that. The PS3 was too expensive while the 360 had unprecedented reliability problems, pay online subscription, and less built-in functionality (wifi, wireless controllers, abaility to use off the shelf HDDs, etc).

The Xbox 360 is a success for 3rd parties and MS managed it to save face and keep PR up, but it's a total business flop for MS sucking tons of resources, something the likes of Nintendo or Sega (or Atari -inc or corp) could never have suffered and pushed through as MS did. (companies like Sony and NEC could in theory, though they never did that as MS had) Granted, what MS did with the Xbox and 360 is more or less what it took to compete on Sony's terms.



I still think Nintendo will die before the others in this industry. Sony could kill them in the handheld market with unconventionally licensing their brand out to smart phone manufacturers, and their console is currently a decade old on the inside. Their software is getting worse.
A decade old? It's not related to the PS2 hardware if that's what you're saying, and it would have been impossible to make a decade ago. (power consumption, and especially cost) The DS's hardware isn't even a decade old.
And I disagree about the handheld market: they'd still have to get the price point and marketing right. But Nintendo has brand recognition in the field and has gotten it right time after time, especially in catering to the Japanese market and doing so without dumping money into the market. They could adapt if real competition emerged, but so far the PSP didn't really offer more competition against the DS than the Game Gear did at its peak in the early/mid 90s.

I doubt Nintendo's going anywhere anytime soon.

Knuckle Duster
09-30-2010, 02:19 AM
A decade old?

The Wii. AKA Gamecube.

I didn't say they were going anywhere any time soon, just that I think they'll be the first to go under out of the current market, especially if they lose the handhelds and Sony & Apple push gaming on smart phones.

Who knows though, they're adaptable if they need to be.

j_factor
09-30-2010, 03:34 PM
No different than with the Genesis in 1989... comparing the limited early software lineup against the massive library of the NES. :p

And the Genesis wasn't really big until 1991... at that point in the Dreamcast's lifespan, it was already discontinued.

retrospiel
09-30-2010, 03:47 PM
Sony did lie about the PS2's specs: billions of polygons, 1080p, etc.

kool kitty89
09-30-2010, 09:40 PM
The Wii. AKA Gamecube.
OK, more like 6 years old then and the GC isn't quite a decade old even, but the upgrades to the GC to make the Wii (faster rated processors, more integration, more RAM, etc) wouldn't have been possible until 2004 at the absolute earliest. Some components would be there by 2003 and obviously any of those unchanged from the GC would be too, but some wasn't on the mass market by 2004 even. (though you could argue Nintendo could have gotten it out earlier than that)
There were higher-end alternative available earlier for some things though, but at much higher cost. (if they tried to push an equivalent to the Wii back in 2002 it would likely have ended up over $400 unless Nintendo broke their "no selling at a loss" policy)
The 512 MB of flash would have been too expensive and a small HDD would likely have been considerably more cost effective, the 64 MB GDDR3 I think wouldn't have even been available (replacing the 16 MB DRAM), so DDR would have been a likely substitute and still expensive. The CPU and GPU would be on older process chips and be running a lot hotter, so requiring more space and cost for cooling as well as a heftier power supply, and that's not considering the cost of the hardware used for the controllers (blue tooth and fairly high precision IR cameras). And then there's the "Starlet" coprocessor in the Wii. (apparently a 470 MHz ARM9 CPU)

I think a lot of the added resource (namely the RAM) is consumed by the Wii's OS in any case. (not sure how starlet is used)


I didn't say they were going anywhere any time soon, just that I think they'll be the first to go under out of the current market, especially if they lose the handhelds and Sony & Apple push gaming on smart phones.

Who knows though, they're adaptable if they need to be.
Ah, in that case I agree: they've already gone with the 3DS with tech specs generally meeting ot exceeding the PSP and added features (namely the stereoptical 3D) on top of that.
ANd if Sony came out with a higher end powerful handheld it would be more or less like the DS vs PSP 5 years ago. Though the UMD issue might be gone. (namely switching to DL only games)


And the Genesis wasn't really big until 1991... at that point in the Dreamcast's lifespan, it was already discontinued.
Exactly, that was one of my points earlier: Sega discontinued the DC before it got its chance for a second wind (in the US at least).
One difference would be that there was more competition than 1991 where you only had the aging NES, brand new SNES, and poorly marketed TG-16 to contend with vs the PS2 a couple months old and brand new GC and Xbox to contend with and without some of the other advantages over Nintendo. (particularly Sony and MS's massive budgets and Sega's lack of arcade support by that point and no handhelds to support them like Nintendo, though they did have a growing presence in the PC software market; and compared to Nintendo, you could somewhat liken Nintendo's restricting licensing with the PS2's horribly difficult to work with hardware and even worse tools -making the Jaguar or Saturn look easy by comparison)

Sega pulling out certainly hurt them a lot in the short term, bad PR, falling stock prices, etc... and in the long term where did it get them? (worst case would have been Sega going bankrupt or bought out or broken up, and as it is they got bought out, but maybe not quite as soon -has MS bought them out it wouldn't likely have been much worse than Sammy though, otoh had the merger with Bandai worked back in the late 90s, that could have been quite positive -maybe even putting Sega branding on the Wonderswan)




Sony did lie about the PS2's specs: billions of polygons, 1080p, etc.
Did they say 1080p or 1080i? In any case I think the PS2 can output 1080p, so that wouldn't necessarily be a lie... a feature is still a feature even if never used or of practical utility. (like the N64's CPU being 64-bit when it would have worked as well if fully 32-bit -and many games apparently used it as such)

As for the polygons/s figure, without further context that might be true too (like the 1M polys/s of the PSX relating directly to GTE performance and not full practical use), though that contrasts with more real world performance makes those sort of specs hard to compare. (it might have been a pure vertex calculation figure)
Such specs related to very specific theoretical performance is common to promote (especially twisted by marketing) as such regardless.

However, even the "realistic" peak performance of the PS2 vs the DC (or GC or Xbox) would be an exception due to how difficult it is to actually tap the PS2's capabilites, so most games would be FAR, FAR below that compared to real world performance summaries of competitors.

j_factor
10-01-2010, 02:38 AM
I don't remember Sony ever saying "billions" of polygons. The first number I remember was 75 million polys/sec. Then they revised it to 66 million polys/sec, which is still the official spec, although actual games never did more than a small fraction of that.

A Black Falcon
10-01-2010, 06:19 AM
Charles Bellfield: "Money. Money talks. You need a budget. I think the difference is the world we live in today allows you to innovate with marketing and communications without the need to have huge additional media budgets. In 1999 we were very heavily dependent on traditional media -- TV, magazines, outdoor billboards.

"Obviously, we had the internet in '99, but it was a narrowband existence, not content-rich, and essentially back then it was an email communication tool with very, very basic news and information. So the world we live in today allows you to be far more aggressive in marketing programs without the huge budget needed to get the same reach.

"We had the content right. We had the marketing right. The product was designed right. The philosophy of networked capabilities was right. The team was right. The partners we had were right. But we didn't have the budget to be able to build the confidence of the brand in the eyes of our competitors that we were going to be around. That, to me, is the Achilles Heel of the Dreamcast. The first Xbox console was a far bigger failure than the Dreamcast. But Microsoft has much more money than Sega did. And the Xbox was an ugly motherfucker.

"At the end of the day, it was a great experience for everyone who was there, and we are all proud of our association with Dreamcast. Everybody who works there keeps a little bit of Sega inside his heart."

100% nails it. I know it's been said, but really, what Sega needed was money, and thus time. The money to have the time to compete. Without money Sega simply could not hold on long enough to turn the corner and get to the point where they'd be making money on the Dreamcast; I know I've said it before, but Sega's only chance with the DC was it being a PS2 or Wii level massive smash hit... and that Sega never had a chance of pulling that off, I think. They were too unpopular for their past actions and didn't have the money to do anything more than just begin to make up for it.

Oh yeah, and if they'd had the money to put a DVD drive in the Dreamcast I think it would have made a huge difference... actually if I could change one thing about the DC hardware, it'd be that to give it DVD playback. Remembering how many people bought PS2s for the DVD playback, I think it'd have been big... particularly with how it'd probably only have been possible with a richer Sega who hadn't just blown a lot of money on Saturn and Dreamcast development (maybe decide sooner what system you're making, so you don't have two 100% finished designs costing you a lot to make?), or something. But even if the money had just come out of nowhere DVD playback and the money to keep the system going were really all Sega needed. Yes, they well might have finished fourth anyway. They might have given up on hardware even so, who knows. But in the end they didn't decide it naturally, their hand was forced by their lack of cash and it was either go software only, or go down. They chose the former. But yeah, the end result was pretty much set even before the Dreamcast came out, they released it but without much hope of having the money to keep it going and compete with their rich competitors unless something amazing happened... and they tried, but after how badly they'd sabotaged their market position outside of Japan, and with how dominant and all-consuming the PS2's hype machine was everywhere, it wasn't enough.

kool kitty89
10-02-2010, 07:02 AM
Sega's only chance with the DC was it being a PS2 or Wii level massive smash hit... and that Sega never had a chance of pulling that off, I think. They were too unpopular for their past actions and didn't have the money to do anything more than just begin to make up for it.
Why? They could have still done quite well if *only* in the N64/Xbox/GC range of popularity, albeit the Xbox lost money... or SMS for that matter, though it would be more of a flip with the US and EU markets in that case.

The GC wasn't a business failure for Nintendo... or the N64, or 7800, Lynx, or the Master System for Sega. None dominated the market, but all did respectably well in some capacity, and really, they'd have been hard pressed to do much better than they did under the circumstances. (well, the SMS could have done better had Sega been managed well in the US in '86 and '87 and the N64 could have done far better had it been CD based -general 3rd party support, especially Square on top of lower software prices -albeit probably a $50 higher price point at least)
The Xbox was a business failure for MS (ie in terms of profit for the massive spending used to fight Sony on their terms), but there's more to it than being an economic/business failure vs other market aspects in the grand scheme of such a company.

Hell the Jaguar was most definitely a success in several critical business aspects (literally pulling the company out of debt and back into the black and putting the Tramiels in the position to sell Atari Corp very favorably in 1996), though a general market failure as such.


Oh yeah, and if they'd had the money to put a DVD drive in the Dreamcast I think it would have made a huge difference... actually if I could change one thing about the DC hardware, it'd be that to give it DVD playback.
Yes, but that would have been totally impractical, they'd need to be dumping money like MS was if not more to manage that... and as it was MS required a separate module to allow DVD video (for the remote) so may have actually pulled off some trick to pass on the licensing overhead to that peripheral.
Sony not only had the money, but the in-house advantage of owning much of the patents and licenses for DVD, so it actually cost less for them to use in addition to selling at a hefty loss.
That and Sega pushed the DC two years earlier, so even a plain DVD ROM drive (without video license) would have been very costly. And by the time DVD-ROM became more practical in general (by about 2001), that would have been pretty late in leu of the Saturn and adding video support would still have been costly. (plus DVD players were starting to come down in price a bit)
And besides: how many PS2 users who bought it primarily for DVD actually bought a significant number of games too vs simply inflating the PS2's sales.

It should have had VCD support out of the box at least though, and maybe even SVCD support (granted mainly an Asian thing) or provisions for such, But beyond that, maybe they could have even pushed a proprietary GD-ROM video format as well, though that would have been rather tough to really push. (unless perhaps they had collaborated with the Chinese SVCD, CVD, and resulting CVCD standard and licensed the GD-ROM format for that rather than using standard CD-ROM)


Sega who hadn't just blown a lot of money on Saturn and Dreamcast development (maybe decide sooner what system you're making, so you don't have two 100% finished designs costing you a lot to make?), or something.
Drom what I understand the 2 weren't 100% by any means and the main R&D costs was tied to deveoping the general hadware configuration not custom chips as most of the hardware was 3rd party off the shelf stuff. (PowerVR and 3DFX using existing chipsets)

As for a richer Sega, they could have been better, but never ever could have competed with Sony (or MS) on their terms, it would have been up to smart marketing and product positioning to pull though that and even then they'd need an opening. (and the PS2's terribly difficult hardware apparently didn't provide that... perhaps it would have if Sega -or Nintendo- had been stronger the previous generation -Square defecting to Sony was a huge factor of course, and one that hurt Sega as well as Nintendo as Nintendo doing better on the market against Sony could have promoted fairer competition in general, at least to some extent)

As for Saturn spending, they cut back on that way too early, and particularly given the massive amounts spent on the DC, it made even less sense to leave Sega users in the cold (more or less) for almost 2 years. Sega did that twice: once with the 32x, then the Saturn... or 3 times if you include the DC. (and not supporting the DC at least on a software level after discontinuation was another thing they should have handled differently, albeit they definitely shouldn't have discontinued the DC like they did)
Cutting back on the Saturn in mid/late 96 and increasingly more thereafter cost them a lot more than providing reasonable support up to 1999 (at least) could have... let alone the impact it could have had in Japan with the established userbase. (cutting off the Saturn in Japan early certainly hurt them with the weak DC reception in that market)

Sure the Saturn's launch was screwed up and the 32x complicated things, but pulling the plug on everything but Saturn by the beginning of 1996 and then pulling back on Saturn itself certainly didn't help in the long run at all. (both should have been pulled back to moderate support at the very least: selling as much new software as feasible and trying to minimize losses on hardware sales rather than dumping them -and maintaining a reasonable market presence portraying such and keeping a reasonable amount in stores)
Halting Genesis and Game Gear were bad for sure as both continued to be profitable even after cancellation, though you could certainly argue that pulling back on the CD and 32x in 1996 was wise, but not like they did by dumping everything. (but slowing or halting production and phasing out gradually... actually the way Sega handled the MD/Genesis's phased out at the time is more like how the 32x+CD should have been handled while the Genesis+GG should have gotten stronger continued support)
Though it seems most (if not all) of those decisions were all directly from SoJ with SoA having increasingly limited control even over their own market. (and Kalinske limited in what he could do to correct his mistake in releasing the Saturn too early, though that early launch was almost certainly the biggest single mistake Sega ever made)


But even if the money had just come out of nowhere DVD playback and the money to keep the system going were really all Sega needed. Yes, they well might have finished fourth anyway. They might have given up on hardware even so, who knows. But in the end they didn't decide it naturally, their hand was forced by their lack of cash and it was either go software only, or go down.
I doubt it would have been 4th... maybe worldwide, but perhaps 2nd in North America.
As it was, with the market the way it was, it could have made a lot of sense to pull to bare minimum support in Europe and Japan with minimal marketing and lower profile releases in general unless a shift in interest merited another push, but focus primarily on North America and trying to compete around Sony not against them.
Even at their best Sega never could have matched Sony's PR+marketing machines and they shouldn't have tried to directly, but carve a more specific niche, and indeed they were well on the way of doing that.

The question is whether Sega could have sustained losses long enough to starting seeing things shift before debt became insurmountable, though a merger with a major investor could have solved the cash problems too: that almost happened with Bandai, but unfortunately fell through, but maybe there were other possibilities. (definitely NOT Microsoft :lol: there likely wouldn't have been much of a Sega left had that occurred)

A Black Falcon
10-11-2010, 01:11 AM
Why? They could have still done quite well if *only* in the N64/Xbox/GC range of popularity, albeit the Xbox lost money... or SMS for that matter, though it would be more of a flip with the US and EU markets in that case.

The GC wasn't a business failure for Nintendo... or the N64, or 7800, Lynx, or the Master System for Sega. None dominated the market, but all did respectably well in some capacity, and really, they'd have been hard pressed to do much better than they did under the circumstances. (well, the SMS could have done better had Sega been managed well in the US in '86 and '87 and the N64 could have done far better had it been CD based -general 3rd party support, especially Square on top of lower software prices -albeit probably a $50 higher price point at least)
The Xbox was a business failure for MS (ie in terms of profit for the massive spending used to fight Sony on their terms), but there's more to it than being an economic/business failure vs other market aspects in the grand scheme of such a company.

Hell the Jaguar was most definitely a success in several critical business aspects (literally pulling the company out of debt and back into the black and putting the Tramiels in the position to sell Atari Corp very favorably in 1996), though a general market failure as such.

Well, I was thinking about it in the context of late '90s Sega. That is, they didn't need to just break even, they needed to be making a profit... but first, yes, I agree that the N64, Gamecube, and 7800 weren't failures. Not sure about the Lynx or Master System, the SMS worldwide probably wasn't but in the US, I don't know (it was third in the US after all, behind the NES and 7800).

But Sega isn't Nintendo. Nintendo always focuses on profit, and tries to be profitable. They have been profitable in all but a couple of quarters in their history, and in every overall year. For the size of their company they've built up a lot of cash they save. Sega is very different, and has often lost money. They never had Nintendo's money, and have never seemed to try very hard to match Nintendo in its focus on profit. Sega lost money for years, lost hundreds of millions of dollars each on the Saturn and Dreamcast...

So basically, I was saying that given Sega's profit-averse (:p) corporate culture, they needed the DC to be a massive hit in order to make up for all the other dumb, money-losing (but sometimes cool) things they were surely doing. :D

That is, imagining Sega with Nintendo's profit focus would be such a different company that I think it'd have resulted in a lot of fundamentally different decisions, and I wasn't thinking that the Sega we know would have done that. But also, with the arcade market declining and the Saturn a huge money loser, Sega needed money... do you think even breaking even on the DC would have been good enough to keep them in the competition? It'd have helped, I'm sure, but overall I'm not so sure... PS2 was just such a massive juggernaut.


Yes, but that would have been totally impractical, they'd need to be dumping money like MS was if not more to manage that... and as it was MS required a separate module to allow DVD video (for the remote) so may have actually pulled off some trick to pass on the licensing overhead to that peripheral.
Sony not only had the money, but the in-house advantage of owning much of the patents and licenses for DVD, so it actually cost less for them to use in addition to selling at a hefty loss.
That and Sega pushed the DC two years earlier, so even a plain DVD ROM drive (without video license) would have been very costly. And by the time DVD-ROM became more practical in general (by about 2001), that would have been pretty late in leu of the Saturn and adding video support would still have been costly. (plus DVD players were starting to come down in price a bit)

Yes, I know the costs would be tough. Sega would have needed more money, as I said. But really, it'd have made a HUGE sales difference. Maybe even enough to keep them alive versus Sony, really -- I mean, an affordable (probably more than $200, but affordable) console, with a DVD player in it, before the PS2? If the PS2 sold because of its DVD player at first, as it did, I think another system with the function, if advertised well, could have done almost as well.

Oh, yes -- yes, with the original Xbox Microsoft put the cost of the DVD playback license in the DVD remote. You can't play DVDs on an Xbox without the remote because you're buying the license with the remote; those remotes cost like $30 or something for that reason. Sony, you're right, were one of the creators so they didn't have to pay a license fee, certainly a big help to them. That's why PS2s play DVDs natively, with a controller, and don't need the remote. But as MS shows you can get around that. I'm pretty sure with the 360 the DVD license is just included with the system, like on the PS2/PS3. Sega could have done either of MS's solutions, really. All they'd have needed is quite a bit more money so they could afford both the drives and the license. Saturn-ruined Sega couldn't afford it for sure, unfortunately, but as I said, if they had been able to, I think it'd have made a real difference. You seem to forget how big a deal it was in 2000 that the PS2 played DVDs.

I know the Sony hype was probably unstoppable no matter what, but still, it'd have helped.


And besides: how many PS2 users who bought it primarily for DVD actually bought a significant number of games too vs simply inflating the PS2's sales.

Eventually, I'm sure they bought games. And in 2000-2001, a lot of people, in Japan particularly but also in other regions, bought the PS2 as a DVD player. It was one of the major reasons why the system took off so quickly at the beginning. If Sega had had a DVD player, it would have been a big help, and would certainly have sold systems. And once people have the system, they are going to get games for it at some point... that's been part of Sony's strategy with both the PS2 and PS3, and it has seemed to work.


It should have had VCD support out of the box at least though, and maybe even SVCD support (granted mainly an Asian thing) or provisions for such, But beyond that, maybe they could have even pushed a proprietary GD-ROM video format as well, though that would have been rather tough to really push. (unless perhaps they had collaborated with the Chinese SVCD, CVD, and resulting CVCD standard and licensed the GD-ROM format for that rather than using standard CD-ROM)

What... huh? VCD? :daze::rofl:

Seriously, that'd be an utterly baffling and completely pointless thing to do. Almost nobody in any of the three major markets cared about VCDs. Making it play them would have had absolutely no purpose.

Proprietary GD-ROM movies wouldn't have done any better, I'm sure. Special films that only work on the Dreamcast? It'd have been about as (not) successful as those CD-i only movies. Maybe worse.

No, they needed DVDs.


Drom what I understand the 2 weren't 100% by any means and the main R&D costs was tied to deveoping the general hadware configuration not custom chips as most of the hardware was 3rd party off the shelf stuff. (PowerVR and 3DFX using existing chipsets)

Still, going so far in designing two different designs and then canning one late in the process is a pretty silly waste of money... particularly when the end result is that the losing team mostly leave the company out of frustration that you're not using their ideas...


As for a richer Sega, they could have been better, but never ever could have competed with Sony (or MS) on their terms, it would have been up to smart marketing and product positioning to pull though that and even then they'd need an opening. (and the PS2's terribly difficult hardware apparently didn't provide that... perhaps it would have if Sega -or Nintendo- had been stronger the previous generation -Square defecting to Sony was a huge factor of course, and one that hurt Sega as well as Nintendo as Nintendo doing better on the market against Sony could have promoted fairer competition in general, at least to some extent)

Well sure, any discussion of a healthier Sega has to of course center on the 1994-2001 period of troubles, both internally and financially. It's kind of amazing that they made so many great games in that period, with how many problems they had... but anyway, yeah, most "healthier Sega" concepts would have to include some kind of better/more successful/not as bungled Saturn, which, yes, would have meant less consumer dislike towards Sega as a whole, less skepticism that the Dreamcast really could work and that Sega wouldn't abandon it in a year or two again, etc, etc.


As for Saturn spending, they cut back on that way too early, and particularly given the massive amounts spent on the DC, it made even less sense to leave Sega users in the cold (more or less) for almost 2 years. Sega did that twice: once with the 32x, then the Saturn... or 3 times if you include the DC. (and not supporting the DC at least on a software level after discontinuation was another thing they should have handled differently, albeit they definitely shouldn't have discontinued the DC like they did)
Cutting back on the Saturn in mid/late 96 and increasingly more thereafter cost them a lot more than providing reasonable support up to 1999 (at least) could have... let alone the impact it could have had in Japan with the established userbase. (cutting off the Saturn in Japan early certainly hurt them with the weak DC reception in that market)

Sega just always thought that they needed to move on to the next thing too soon. They did it over and over and over, and many Sega fans still seem to be defending them for those decisions. But yeah, to be more like Nintendo in terms of profit, you can't do that... you have to release fewer systems/addons and stick with them for longer. Releasing the 32X, abandoning the Saturn so early, those are their worst offenses, but that they did such things repeatedly does show that they had some issues. Sega were risk-takers, not a company that played it safe like Nintendo; that is both good and bad, and as I said its fans like many things about that, but the end result shows that Nintendo's way, if perhaps not quite as interesting, is much more effective long term.


Sure the Saturn's launch was screwed up and the 32x complicated things, but pulling the plug on everything but Saturn by the beginning of 1996 and then pulling back on Saturn itself certainly didn't help in the long run at all. (both should have been pulled back to moderate support at the very least: selling as much new software as feasible and trying to minimize losses on hardware sales rather than dumping them -and maintaining a reasonable market presence portraying such and keeping a reasonable amount in stores)
Halting Genesis and Game Gear were bad for sure as both continued to be profitable even after cancellation, though you could certainly argue that pulling back on the CD and 32x in 1996 was wise, but not like they did by dumping everything. (but slowing or halting production and phasing out gradually... actually the way Sega handled the MD/Genesis's phased out at the time is more like how the 32x+CD should have been handled while the Genesis+GG should have gotten stronger continued support)
Though it seems most (if not all) of those decisions were all directly from SoJ with SoA having increasingly limited control even over their own market. (and Kalinske limited in what he could do to correct his mistake in releasing the Saturn too early, though that early launch was almost certainly the biggest single mistake Sega ever made)

Of course. Sega made so many utterly baffling mistakes during that period, as I've said before it's hard to imagine how they could have messed things up much worse than they did from 1994 to 1998...

As for mistakes, I would say that their biggest single mistake was releasing the 32X at all. Drop that and have more Genesis/Sega CD focus during that time (maybe with some more Sega CD games Western gamers would actually want? As I've shown with the Japanese first-party Sega CD release list, there were very few such titles, while the 32X had mostly exactly that kind of game.), and you have a huge positive impact, even with the stupidly early Saturn launch I think. Still though, yes, the early Saturn launch would be second, tied with Stolar with saying "Saturn is not our future", and the anti-Saturn policies Sega of America took from early 1997 on. Destroying your main product when replacement was years away was a ridiculously bad idea, even 1994-98 Sega should have been able to see that!

Oh yeah, and ideally they should have had a new handheld, or a redesigned Game Gear, yeah. Make it smaller, improve the battery life somehow, and keep it around for some more years. Technologically it'd have been fine until 2000 or so, it wasn't until the GBA that handhelds really took a huge step forwards. And just abandoning the handheld market to Nintendo, after the GG had sold respectably well, was a bizarre decision. Was it not profitable or something, or was it just Sega being stupid again? I'd guess the latter but don't know for sure.


I doubt it would have been 4th... maybe worldwide, but perhaps 2nd in North America.
As it was, with the market the way it was, it could have made a lot of sense to pull to bare minimum support in Europe and Japan with minimal marketing and lower profile releases in general unless a shift in interest merited another push, but focus primarily on North America and trying to compete around Sony not against them.
Even at their best Sega never could have matched Sony's PR+marketing machines and they shouldn't have tried to directly, but carve a more specific niche, and indeed they were well on the way of doing that.

The question is whether Sega could have sustained losses long enough to starting seeing things shift before debt became insurmountable, though a merger with a major investor could have solved the cash problems too: that almost happened with Bandai, but unfortunately fell through, but maybe there were other possibilities. (definitely NOT Microsoft :lol: there likely wouldn't have been much of a Sega left had that occurred)

Second in North America? 12-15 million systems sold in NA that gen, like Nintendo and MS did? That'd have been a tough number for Sega to reach I think, considering that in 1999-2001 they only sold a couple of million systems here... maybe, but it'd have been difficult. Did Sega have the games to compete with stuff like Halo? And in the NA market graphics matter, and DC graphics certainly were no competition for GC or Xbox graphics... they could compete with early PS2, but not GC or Xbox.

I mean, yes, with more money they'd have been able to survive, but I do think fourth place would be likely. Though considering that because Sega self-destructed before that gen was over we can't really just look at what games they released that gen and then imagine them as DC or DC2 or whatever games and say "okay how would Sega have done with this against MS, Sony, and Nintendo", if we assume that a better-off Sega would not have so collapsed, but still...

I mean, I'd like to be wrong, I do like the Dreamcast (not as much as the Gamecube, but I like the Dreamcast) and certainly wish it had done better. But with its 4th place graphics and quick collapse, it';s hard to imagine a better-off DC without a pretty different version of history, and the more things you change the harder it is to accurately imagine what could have happened, you know?

But sure, yes, with the money to keep going they likely would have done decently enough in the US to survive, by the end, if the company as a whole wasn't in such terrible shape. On that at least I agree.

kool kitty89
10-11-2010, 09:32 PM
But Sega isn't Nintendo. Nintendo always focuses on profit, and tries to be profitable. They have been profitable in all but a couple of quarters in their history, and in every overall year. For the size of their company they've built up a lot of cash they save. Sega is very different, and has often lost money. They never had Nintendo's money, and have never seemed to try very hard to match Nintendo in its focus on profit. Sega lost money for years, lost hundreds of millions of dollars each on the Saturn and Dreamcast...
There's also a difference in deficit spending and going into debt: with deficits you could easily still be making money, but not though economic profit, but investors and the stock market, and such a business model promotes massive potential for growth as well (putting all funds into expansion of the company, pushing products for high revenue, etc) and such expansion and revenue generation will further drive strong investments and as long as that can keep up, the cycle continues. Sheath already address this argument and it's one that I really hadn't considered before then, but it really does change the perspective of Sega in the 90s.
Sega under Kalinske heavily pushed deficit spending but did NOT go into debt as the non-sales sources of capital countered the deficits.

Sony did the exact same thing with the PlayStation, albeit Sony themselves provided the primary venture capital initially.

And in Sega's case they HAD had the arcades providing substantial income up to the mid 90s when the bottom fell out in the west. (the North American market had been growing since the late 80s -after the arcade market crash in the early 80s while the EU market was generally strong through the 80s to the mid 90s too) So Sega lost that along with their broad array of consumer products when they went all-in with the Saturn in '96.



So basically, I was saying that given Sega's profit-averse (:p) corporate culture, they needed the DC to be a massive hit in order to make up for all the other dumb, money-losing (but sometimes cool) things they were surely doing. :D
That and confusing business decisions on all products from 1994-1998... dropping to only the Saturn in '96 (dropping or phasing out all else -Genesis and GG would have been dead by '97 if not for Majesco)m and then pulling back with the Saturn too early and losing what chance on the market they had left for 1997-1999, especially dumb in pulling back in Japan, but even in the west the Saturn merited continued support: if nothing else to maintain PR, keep their hardcore/niche users, and to minimize losses on hardware vs dumping it. (it would have continued to cut in on Sony's dominance too, even if modestly and may have even managed 2nd place in Europe too; they probably lost at least 1/2 their hardware sales for the Saturn by doing what they did in '97 even after the damage done before then)

They compiled mistake on top of mistake and didn't seem to bother looking back.



Yes, I know the costs would be tough. Sega would have needed more money, as I said. But really, it'd have made a HUGE sales difference. Maybe even enough to keep them alive versus Sony, really -- I mean, an affordable (probably more than $200, but affordable) console, with a DVD player in it, before the PS2? If the PS2 sold because of its DVD player at first, as it did, I think another system with the function, if advertised well, could have done almost as well.
Sega would have needed more money than Sony, which wasn't going to happen.
Sony had the advantage of vertical integration of hardware manufacturing AND DVD Drive and DVD video license/patent ownership PLUS the economies of scale of producing DVD-ROM drives and DVD players, thus it was MUCH cheaper for Sony to do even with the PS2's more expensive chipset.


Oh, yes -- yes, with the original Xbox Microsoft put the cost of the DVD playback license in the DVD remote. You can't play DVDs on an Xbox without the remote because you're buying the license with the remote; those remotes cost like $30 or something for that reason. Sony, you're right, were one of the creators so they didn't have to pay a license fee, certainly a big help to them. That's why PS2s play DVDs natively, with a controller, and don't need the remote. But as MS shows you can get around that. I'm pretty sure with the 360 the DVD license is just included with the system, like on the PS2/PS3. Sega could have done either of MS's solutions, really. All they'd have needed is quite a bit more money so they could afford both the drives and the license. Saturn-ruined Sega couldn't afford it for sure, unfortunately, but as I said, if they had been able to, I think it'd have made a real difference. You seem to forget how big a deal it was in 2000 that the PS2 played DVDs.

Yes, and by the time the Xbox came out, DVD licensing had come down significantly on top of DVD-ROM drives being cheaper as well, but MS sold the hardware at a big loss in spite of that, far more than Sony. (albeit the chipset was more expensive too in some respects -not just cost to manufacture but also the nature of the relationships with the chipset suppliers)

So maybe if Sega held back until 2001 and passed the DVD video license on to an add-on on top of decent funding (at least closer to Nintendo -vs the monsters that Sony and MS are) they could have managed it, but that has a lot of trade-offs too. (as it was, it's a bit odd the GC didn't use full size discs as it really shouldn't have impacted manufacturing cost -especially as they had to use custom mini DVD drives rather than mass-market off the shelf components, and the licensing costs for the drive would be similar either way... if it was pure aesthetics that was a very dumb decision on Nintendo's part given they could have had a similarly compact design -ie more like the DC, wider but flatter- and much more storage capacity on top of potential for a DVD video add-on without adding the licensing cost to the base unit)

MAYBE they could have pushed it in 2000 at a reasonable price, but competing with the PS2 launch date would be tough, but a trade-off with being too expensive in '99 or late and alongside the GC and Xbox in '01. (the fairly cost-effective DC hardware should have helped at least against Nintendo who had a similar emphasis but newer hardware -so Sega could have had the cheapest console on the market in '01 AND DVD if nothing else -at least if Nintendo was any indication and assuming Sony didn't dump the PS2's price)

Of course, with the Saturn pulled back too soon, they lost any flexibility to push move the DC's release date around. Otherwise the Saturn might have filled the gap interim well enough to allow that to work out OK. (and PC ports boosting things too with no other revenue source save the declining arcades -and the more Saturn games pushed, the more PC games they could have pushed too)
Actually, even with the Saturn in the the pits like it was, Sega could have pushed hard for PC software development in '97-99 to fill the gap to the DC and continue parallel console/PC market support thereafter. (with the markets being separate enough to still be significant, perhaps even to the extent of taking such PC exclusives and pushing them onto the Dreamcast as launch titles)
Still, the Saturn probably would have helped more for their place in the console market at least.



And once people have the system, they are going to get games for it at some point... that's been part of Sony's strategy with both the PS2 and PS3, and it has seemed to work.
Except it hurt more than it helped with the PS3... with BD not being nearly as significant in 2006 as DVD was in 2000, but more importantly the price point being off. (had the PS3 been $300 and $400 or even 400/500 that would have been a huge difference) The Xbox 360 was sort of like what the Dreamcast might have done with a budget like Microsoft had. (not quite the same context, but not too far off either)




What... huh? VCD? :daze::rofl:

Seriously, that'd be an utterly baffling and completely pointless thing to do. Almost nobody in any of the three major markets cared about VCDs. Making it play them would have had absolutely no purpose.
Because it was a primary feature of the Saturn, significant in several potential markets even if not the major ones, and most importantly should have cost pretty much nothing to add. (VCD licenses were cheap and all they'd have had to do was have a software decoder for MPEG-1 meeting the VCD standard)

But it wouldn't have been a huge thing other than establishing a strong niche in China (which might have been significant)... otoh with the DC's piracy vulnerability early on that might exacerbate things. :p



Proprietary GD-ROM movies wouldn't have done any better, I'm sure. Special films that only work on the Dreamcast? It'd have been about as (not) successful as those CD-i only movies. Maybe worse.
No, no, no, not proprietary, a full competing standard backeards compatible with VCD and partnered with major manufacturers to produce standalone players as well. Again, collaborating directly with the CVD/SVCD standards would have been interesting, especially if the DC's chipset is already powerful enough to decode MPEG-2 at the needed quality.
This is hugely hypothetical, but in the simplest sense it would be Sega licensing the GD-ROM format for use in the CVD/SVCD standard being formed and corresponding rights to use that video standard on the DC.

Historically those formats were mainly limited to China and other parts of Asia, but that's where the format was created and specifically aimed and wasn't ever really even marketed in the west. And gettign chinese manufactuerers onboard would have been automatic as that's where it was aimed, so proliferation in the west beyong Sega would be purely up to what happened with the marketing and distribution of those players. (a similar advantage over VHS as DVD for most average users but at a far lower cost due to using standard CD-ROM drives and a video format far cheaper than DVD video -even for S-video TVs it probably would have been reasonably close to DVD in many cases)
One issue with SVCD and CVD being brought out at all was the use of normal CDs which only held 35 minutes of full-quality SVCD video and still only 100 minutes before quality became totally unacceptable, but GD-ROM would have doubled that and possibly more if GD-ROM capacity was expanded to the extent CD-ROM was with the 870MB discs. (albeit there was also the DDCD-ROM format, but Sony owned that format and it came a bit later)

So sure, it wouldn't have been a DVD killer, but it probably would have made many think twice, especially those still using older/cheaper TVs with no better than composite video. (CVD's resolutions and compression quality in particular should have been reasonably competitive with average bitrate DVD, in fact the standard bitrate used for those formats is similar to the lowest common DVD bitrates which would mean less artifacting than DVDs using those bitrates due to the lower resolution -especially VCD's 352x480 which should look about as good in composite video as a DVD at 2x the bitrate)
And as it would have aimed more at the budget market compared to DVD (but ahead of VHS) it wouldn't necessarily spark a Beta/VHS or HDDVD/BD type format war even if it did manage to hit the market significantly. (probably more like what might have happened if an extended DVD format had been introduced to compete in the lower-ed as an alternative to the HD formats -ie normal/DL DVDs using MPEG-4 and perhaps EDTV resolutions/framerates -and perhaps true 24 FPS support, which could also further improve compression)

Oh, and plus such formats (like VCD) should have been forward compatible with DVD players as well with the audio format compatible due to VCD backwards compatibility (in spite of it not being directly compatible with the DVD-video standard's 48 kHz -at 44.1 kHz) and the video generally being compatible, especially CVD which used completely DVD standard compatible video. (though SVCD might have had some other issues and a "foldover" issue due to the flitering used on DVD players not applying to the 480x480 resolution used -vs the DVD compatible 352x480 used by CVD, so the latter would be closer to ideal, especially as it was also the earliest entry into China's emerging DVD alternatives with specification completed in 1997 -and the creator of the standard, C-Cube Microsystems would be the place to start negotiations)

Any such partnership would be a massive strategic move on Sega's part, so a pretty big stretch in some respects. (they were desperate though and if they really anted to compete at any cost, that might have been very significant)


Still, going so far in designing two different designs and then canning one late in the process is a pretty silly waste of money... particularly when the end result is that the losing team mostly leave the company out of frustration that you're not using their ideas...
I know, they couldn't afford to do that at the time... rather ironic that doing that back in '93 would have been far more useful. ;) (especially if SoJ let SoA pursue the SGI chipset rather than rejecting it, and they sort of did do that with the 32x, but that wasn't an either or thing with the Saturn unfortunately and it was started too late/had too short of a development cycle to work out in the long run) Then again that might have been problematic too if handled like the Blackbelt and Katana given the fact that the 2 teams were kept ignorant of the others' existence. (which could have meant confusion/frustration once one was chosen -that's sort of what happened with the 32x it seems with many SoA employees, especially those designing the 32x were confused and frustrated when the Saturn launched in Japan so early -compared to what they'd expected)



Well sure, any discussion of a healthier Sega has to of course center on the 1994-2001 period of troubles, both internally and financially. It's kind of amazing that they made so many great games in that period, with how many problems they had... but anyway, yeah, most "healthier Sega" concepts would have to include some kind of better/more successful/not as bungled Saturn, which, yes, would have meant less consumer dislike towards Sega as a whole, less skepticism that the Dreamcast really could work and that Sega wouldn't abandon it in a year or two again, etc, etc.
Yeah, and while I tend to focus on the hardware side, really the Saturn could have been perfectly fine (though far from ideal) if it had simply been managed acceptably well from a marketing and software POV. (software including putting strong efforts into good translations of development documents and investing in getting a good high-level programming toolkit out as soon as possible -and then expanding on that- initially you could have C compilers for the CPUs easily, but a total library for the system as a whole would be another story)
But really, there are few consoles that end up being ideal in terms of hardware and getting it right at the right time with the right support and the NES and PSX (probably 2600 too) along with the Game Boy and DS are probably the best examples of that. (PS2 was worse than the Saturn or Jaguar in that respect, but had everything else going for it -unless you included DVD under "hardware" in which case it had that going for it too)



Sega just always thought that they needed to move on to the next thing too soon. They did it over and over and over, and many Sega fans still seem to be defending them for those decisions. But yeah, to be more like Nintendo in terms of profit, you can't do that... you have to release fewer systems/addons and stick with them for longer.
Yeah, but that wasn't totally the case. I mean look what they did with the Master System: continuing to push it in Europe and the South American niche when it was dead elsewhere.
And even with the earlier than necessary phase out of the Genesis it had been on the market for a full 6 years by then, but pushing it like the SMS in Europe, NES/Famicom in general, 2600, PS2, etc in the aging/budget sector made perfect sense to do.


Releasing the 32X, abandoning the Saturn so early, those are their worst offenses, but that they did such things repeatedly does show that they had some issues. Sega were risk-takers, not a company that played it safe like Nintendo; that is both good and bad, and as I said its fans like many things about that, but the end result shows that Nintendo's way, if perhaps not quite as interesting, is much more effective long term.
Yes, though after the fact, canceling the 32x and CD like they did hurt even more: both in terms of PR and losses from dumping hardware and software at low prices vs a moderated phase-out. (again, had the 32x and CD had been phased out like the Genesis was, that would have been close to ideal, especially if there was any chance that they could even help compete in the interim for the early 32-bit market -though the CD alone and/or SVP carts or other add-on carts or an SVP lock-on cart -with CD-SVP perhaps, cheap CD-Duo, etc would have been less conflicting than the 32x for the simple reason the 32x was so substantial of an add-on)


Of course. Sega made so many utterly baffling mistakes during that period, as I've said before it's hard to imagine how they could have messed things up much worse than they did from 1994 to 1998...

As for mistakes, I would say that their biggest single mistake was releasing the 32X at all. Drop that and have more Genesis/Sega CD focus during that time (maybe with some more Sega CD games Western gamers would actually want? As I've shown with the Japanese first-party Sega CD release list, there were very few such titles, while the 32X had mostly exactly that kind of game.), and you have a huge positive impact, even with the stupidly early Saturn launch I think. Still though, yes, the early Saturn launch would be second, tied with Stolar with saying "Saturn is not our future", and the anti-Saturn policies Sega of America took from early 1997 on. Destroying your main product when replacement was years away was a ridiculously bad idea, even 1994-98 Sega should have been able to see that!


Oh yeah, and ideally they should have had a new handheld, or a redesigned Game Gear, yeah. Make it smaller, improve the battery life somehow, and keep it around for some more years. Technologically it'd have been fine until 2000 or so, it wasn't until the GBA that handhelds really took a huge step forwards. And just abandoning the handheld market to Nintendo, after the GG had sold respectably well, was a bizarre decision. Was it not profitable or something, or was it just Sega being stupid again? I'd guess the latter but don't know for sure.
One problem would be the backlight forever hindering battery life (hence why Nintendo resisted for so long -until LEDs became realistic), so if they'd have had to split into lit and unlit units if they wanted to address both sides of the userbase (ie those that found the GB/GBC unplayable vs those that found the GG's battery life unacceptable). By the mid-90s color LCDs were getting good enough to fairly reasonably portray 12-bit RGB which was the primary issue earlier on (contrast ratios being worse for color than grayscale screens), so if they'd tried to push that back in '91-93 it probably would have been closer to 6-bit RGB quality at best. (ie the master system's palette)
One weakness was sound, and they could have done some sort of upgrade there too and kept games backwards compatible like SMS/Mk.III FM did. (they could have used th every same FM chip or other things -probably not add better PCM support or a faster CPU until a full successor)


Second in North America? 12-15 million systems sold in NA that gen, like Nintendo and MS did? That'd have been a tough number for Sega to reach I think, considering that in 1999-2001 they only sold a couple of million systems here... maybe, but it'd have been difficult. Did Sega have the games to compete with stuff like Halo? And in the NA market graphics matter, and DC graphics certainly were no competition for GC or Xbox graphics... they could compete with early PS2, but not GC or Xbox.
What do you mean, North America had well over 1/2 the worldwide Dreamcast sales during its life, so how could that be only a couple million? (I thought it was at least 6 million in North America if not more)
So they were close to 1/2 way there already and the system hadn't even been on the market for 1/2 its potential lifespan.


I mean, I'd like to be wrong, I do like the Dreamcast (not as much as the Gamecube, but I like the Dreamcast) and certainly wish it had done better. But with its 4th place graphics and quick collapse, it';s hard to imagine a better-off DC without a pretty different version of history, and the more things you change the harder it is to accurately imagine what could have happened, you know?
It didn't have 4th place graphics on average, if anything it was an easy 3rd and should have continued to be due to the PS2's shitty development environment, though that would become less obvious as developers poured more and more time and money into getting the PS2 to work (including developing their own tools eventually to facilitate ports more reasonably -albeit going high-level on the PS2 was not going to come close to pushing it efficiently even in the best cases).
The graphics capabilities were on par with the PS2 with trade-offs, and would have been universally superior to the PS2's graphics all else being equal. (ie if the PS2 had gotten normal development support and not had developers willing to kill themselves over trying to get it to work -total opposite of the PSX and DC and more extreme than the PS2, Jaguar, or Saturn)


But sure, yes, with the money to keep going they likely would have done decently enough in the US to survive, by the end, if the company as a whole wasn't in such terrible shape. On that at least I agree.
Yes, and I think that getting out of hardware could have been a wise move either way, but I still argue they mismanaged that too: fumbling their established PC market as well as inconsistent console support and a less than graceful decline of DC software. (given the DC's nature, it should not have been unreasonable to continue pushing that as one of the software platforms along with GC, Xbox, and PC... PS2 would suck down resources like crazy though, at least if they wanted to have competitive looking games)
So even with SoJ halting manufacturing in 2001 they probably could have put a positive spin on the DC with it being clear that it would at very least continue to see 1st party support for a significant period. (delaying current DC users from jumping to other platforms and managing sales better for the remaining stockpiled hardware) But the best option for PR might have been technically keeping the DC in production but at low volume to at least say that hadn't technically discontinued it. ;) (and in that case they could have responded in the off chance that demand picked up significantly even with advertising budget minimized -granted software advertising was where most money went after release, and as a multiplatform developer they could have the same ad space/time apply for a game on several platforms)