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View Full Version : Tom Kalinske personally shills the Sega Saturn on rec.games.video.sega (August 1995)



Aarzak
01-14-2009, 06:52 AM
http://tinyurl.com/a4cjcf

The following is a response an open letter addressed to me on Usenet
newsgroup "rec.games.video.sega" regarding the quality of our new Sega
Saturn hardware and software. I hope to address each of the points made
in that letter and help clarify any misperceptions our customers might
have due to rumors or any actions we have taken. I'd like to think
that overall Sega does an outstanding job of communicating, but obviously
there is always room for improvement, so here we go.

I wanted to start out first and foremost with comments made in the letter
regarding the capabilities of our new Sega Saturn Video Game system. We
know that Sega Saturn is the best new system on the market. Let me tell
you why.


It is hard to get past the hype when touting one next generation system
over another, and we can debate technical specifications on paper for as
long as it takes. But in this business, it comes down to gameplay and
the entertainment experience itself. So when people actually play the
games, we believe Sega Saturn will win in head- to-head competition
against our next generation competitors. The serious gamer knows the
difference between truth and hype. Sega Saturn has the goods and we are
ready to prove it with outstanding first generation games available now
(for example BUG!, Panzer Dragoon, Daytona and Virtua Fighter Remix) and
incredible next generation games on the way for fall and Christmas.


Yes, we do use several different processors in the Sega Saturn, and we
don't apologize for it (as a matter of fact we use 8). Each processor
was chosen for specific technical reasons and are each integral parts of
our architecture for providing the best in-home video game experience
possible. Remember, we have been making the most advanced Arcade
machines for years. We knew that no single chip can provide that quality
of game play. It takes several different chips working in concert to
maximize different aspects of the game experience, including the visual,
auditory as well as gameplay itself.


We recognize that our technical architecture has initially made Sega
Saturn more difficult to develop for than other next generation formats,
including the Playstation. But that is also why we know that Sega Saturn
is a superior gaming platform. Let me elaborate on that on several
fronts:


1. We developed Sega Saturn for the long - term; both for Sega and Sega
customers. This shouldn't surprise anyone when you consider the history
of Genesis. When you look at current Genesis games compared to the ones
that came out 5 years ago, you can see the incredible growth in terms of
graphics, gameplay, speed and backgrounds. You'll see the same thing
with Sega Saturn games but better; it's a more sophisticated machine and
we have development teams with more experience (a dedication that is
evident by the fact that more than 40% of Sega employees are dedicated to
product research and development. That is the kind of commitment that no
other interactive hardware or software manufacturer can make. Put
simply, we are dedicated to creating a better gaming experience).


2. We absolutely believe there will continue to be dramatic differences
in software as our developers learn to unleash the power of Sega Saturn.
We think our first generation games look sensational and have unmatched
gameplay, but when you see our second and third generation games this
fall, many of which will be translations from hit arcade titles like
Virtua Fighter 2, Sega Rally Championship, Virtua Cop, etc., you'll be
blown away -- and that's still in the first year of the system. You
won't see such an appreciable improvement on any other platform. And,
most importantly, you won't see any of these outstanding Sega Arcade hits
on any other system.


3. Our third parties agree with us on Sega Saturn -- EA will be producing
their best sports titles for Sega Saturn; Acclaim will produce their
blockbuster hits on Sega Saturn; Crystal Dynamics has also announced
plans to bring Gex to Sega Saturn. *And Takara is developing an enhanced
version of Toshinden for Sega Saturn that will be out at or right after
Christmas.* Today, there are more 3rd party titles under development for
Saturn than Playstation.


4. The better developers, who initially thought the Saturn difficult to
develop for now understand why the Saturn has the capabilities it does,
and agree better software and gameplay is possible on Saturn than on any
other system.


Now, let me address some issues regarding our recent free software
upgrade program for Sega Saturn owners. I am sorry you experienced
conflicting messages about the Virtua Fighter Remix offer from the
1-800-SEE-SATURN -- we have addressed the issue and there should be no
more confusion regarding the availability of Virtua Fighter Remix. We did
announce the Virtua Fighter Remix offer on the wire services on August 2;
in addition you can now find the release on our home page
(http://www.segaoa.com). The bottomline -- we are shipping Virtua
Fighter Remix to every registered Sega Saturn owner as soon as we
possibly can; we are grateful to everyone who bought Sega Saturn early
in its market life and providing them with this new version of Virtua
Fighter is our way of saying "thanks."


While there may be a contingent of people who like the current *look* of
some of our competitor's fighting games, we believe -- as do most
consumers who have actually played Virtua Fighter and the other games --
that Virtua Fighter is the best *playing* fighting game, with more moves
(over 700 at last count) and the most true-to-life action of any game in
the genre. With Remix, many now also believe it is the best looking (can
we paraphrase or quote recent reviews?) And, now that we have the
benefit of smoother polygons and better texture mapping on the original
game, I think you'll see that the Virtua Fighter series will be -
unequivocally - the best liked in the genre on any platform.


The Virtua Fighter Remix code released for the US just last week, so you
should be receiving your copy in the next 4 to 6 weeks. The release
process to meet our stringent quality policy is not as simple as many
think. We sometimes make significant changes to games originating in
Japan to meet our market requirements. It's not always just a matter of
changing codes and language. Once our development group makes the
changes, our test group puts each title through a rigorous testing
process to make sure that the code is bug-free. These are both
time-consuming processes, but vital to producing great quality games for
the U.S. market.


As far as using the newsgroups for, as you call it, a "living market
survey," our people will be sure to identify themselves as Sega personnel
on-line. Please feel free to ask them anything -- if they don't know the
answer, they will find the right person to answer the question.


On behalf of Sega and myself, we appreciate your input, and the input of
all Sega customers. And we don't mind hearing from prospective customers
as well. We've always prided ourselves on being close to our customers
and are not arrogant enough to think that we don't need any help. We
make great games and great game systems and if we're proud enough to make
and sell them, we are certainly available to discuss why we do what we
do. Thanks again for your thoughts and we look forward to providing you
and all our customers the best video gaming experience available, whether
it is in your home or at the Arcade.


Sincerely,


Tom Kalinske





*sigh*, back when most were still optimistic and hopeful for the Sega Saturn (though some had been spelling its doom since as early as 1996, arguing that Sega had already lost that console generation by making the Saturn architecture so complicated, and that they should put all their eggs into their next-gen basket. Forgot where I read that from...)

Seeing as this was 1995, and that by then there was an internal war going on between SOJ & SOA, I assume Kalinske was speaking through his teeth about all of this Saturn mumbo-jumbo ("Virtua Fighter"? Nobody likes that here in the US! They want "Eternal Champions")


Anyways, another great slice of internet history courtesy of Google Groups!

Melf
01-14-2009, 11:42 AM
He was basically towing the company line with the Saturn. He told me as much in our interview:


I felt that we were rushing Saturn. We didn't have the software right, and we didn't have the pricing right, so I felt we should have stayed with Genesis for another year. I recognize that our volumes would have gone down, but I think we would have been a much healthier company. We would have been more profitable, and I think the folks who appreciated video games would have appreciated that we were still doing a lot of great product on the 16-bit hardware.

TheEdge
01-14-2009, 01:05 PM
I think that guy was right. They should have just kept producing for the add ons and the genesis while making the next console perfect and not a rush job.

Ghaleon
01-14-2009, 04:50 PM
I think that guy was right. They should have just kept producing for the add ons and the genesis while making the next console perfect and not a rush job.

If Sega as a whole had done this, things might have gone much better; unfortunately SOJ seems to have had their minds made up and didn't defer to Kalinske as to how to handle things in the US on this one, much less in Japan--but what if they had listended to him, even just about the US situation? What if all of us "informed" gamers (who read EGM, r.i.p.) had known that we were being denied the next generation Sega console, and that the person doing it was the savior of the Genesis? How would the informed US hard-core Sega fans have reacted, and would this have been significantly different from the general reaction of the US Sega customer base? Could Kalinske have squeezed that much more life out of the Genesis and it's ecosystem, or would we have protested being stuck with that while Japanese gamers got to play those amazing 3D games?

And...discuss. ;)

Aarzak
01-14-2009, 05:08 PM
Sega was already in a tough position with the Genesis by 1995. Practically all of the Japanese developers who were still releasing games for the console jumped ship to the Saturn by the end of 1994, and the Mega Drive died out in Japan soon after that. There wasn't much going on in the U.S front as well unless it was Acclaim or Sega themselves. The SNES on the other hand still had full and undivided support from the biggest, best Japanese devs, and had healthy U.S support...and of course "Donkey Kong Country".

I can see why they released 32X, because the Genny really was long in the tooth compared to every other console by 1994, but SOJ, who probably weren't fond of the MD to begin with and couldn't wait to can it in favor of Saturn, put all their eggs in the Saturn basket and the third parties followed, accelerating the death of the Genesis and dealing a death blow to the CD & 32X.

Rusty Venture
01-14-2009, 05:38 PM
The only reason the SNES continued on was because Nintendo did not have a viable 32-bit system. They had to keep pushing the SNES until the N64 was ready.

And despite their claims, DKC does not have "32-bit like graphics". If you believe that then I've got some blast processors to sell ya.

Aarzak
01-14-2009, 05:43 PM
Yeah, but the Japanese third-parties LOVED the SNES. What happened when the final specs and format of the N64 were announced in late 1995? Most jumped ship to either Sony or Sega. Capcom, Konami, SQUARE, Enix......nobody wanted to deal with friggin' cartridges anymore. :p Karma for Nintendo right there.

Regardless of the quality of DKC, the hype worked and the game sold by the boatloads, rejuvenating the SNES and enabling it to gain the lead and eventually the win in the 16-Bit console wars. :D

TheEdge
01-14-2009, 05:49 PM
I still think they should have kept supporting the Sega CD and instead of the 32X or Saturn they should of came out with a more powerful version of the Neptune.

I really think something called neptune would have made a killing in the market. Just picture the God Neptune with trident rising from the sea and doing the Sega Scream.

AMAZINGNESS

Rusty Venture
01-14-2009, 05:52 PM
I don't care if it won the 16-bit wars, I just don't like people who believe the marketing hype around DKC was 100% true.

3D objects turned into sprites does not make something "32-bit-ish". DKC is a very good looking 16-bit game, but thats it.

Melf
01-14-2009, 07:11 PM
Sega was already in a tough position with the Genesis by 1995. Practically all of the Japanese developers who were still releasing games for the console jumped ship to the Saturn by the end of 1994, and the Mega Drive died out in Japan soon after that. There wasn't much going on in the U.S front as well unless it was Acclaim or Sega themselves. The SNES on the other hand still had full and undivided support from the biggest, best Japanese devs, and had healthy U.S support...and of course "Donkey Kong Country".

I can see why they released 32X, because the Genny really was long in the tooth compared to every other console by 1994, but SOJ, who probably weren't fond of the MD to begin with and couldn't wait to can it in favor of Saturn, put all their eggs in the Saturn basket and the third parties followed, accelerating the death of the Genesis and dealing a death blow to the CD & 32X.

Developers jumped ship to the Saturn because SOJ killed the Genesis, Sega CD, and 32X and gave them no other option. I'm sure that developers would have been quite content to stick with the 16-bit hardware for another year, seeing as how they knew it intimately and it had an install base that the Saturn and Dreamcast combined didn't match.

To me the reason SOJ killed everything off to concentrate on the Saturn is because the Genesis was never really successful in Japan, and it infuriated SOJ execs that the Americans were doing better with Japanese hardware then they were. The Saturn was a clean slate for SOJ, and while it was much more successful in Japan, the damage it did to the company overall was irreperable.

gamevet
01-14-2009, 11:29 PM
I still think they should have kept supporting the Sega CD and instead of the 32X or Saturn they should of came out with a more powerful version of the Neptune.

The Saturn is pretty much a more powerful version of the Neptune.


I really think something called neptune would have made a killing in the market. Just picture the God Neptune with trident rising from the sea and doing the Sega Scream.


It was a planet, not a God.

Aarzak
01-14-2009, 11:46 PM
I don't care if it won the 16-bit wars, I just don't like people who believe the marketing hype around DKC was 100% true.

3D objects turned into sprites does not make something "32-bit-ish". DKC is a very good looking 16-bit game, but thats it.

I didn't, the magazines and the 8+ million who bought it probably did though. :) "graphics that rival 32-Bit efforts", "CD-quality music in a cartridge" and all that, hah.

TheEdge
01-14-2009, 11:46 PM
It was a planet, not a God.

http://www.crystalinks.com/neptunerome.html

^ Read this :!: FYI The planets were named after the gods




I felt that we were rushing Saturn. We didn't have the software right

Also wasnt the Saturn too difficult to program? Maybe if they stuck with the Neptune it would have worked out better. I mean because they had cartridge technology down. I am sure they could improve on it.

Rusty Venture
01-15-2009, 12:03 AM
[quote=Aarzak;125071"graphics that rival 32-Bit efforts", "CD-quality music in a cartridge" and all that, hah.[/quote]

"CD-quality music in a cartridge"

I forgot that one. :lol:

tomaitheous
01-15-2009, 11:22 AM
Also wasnt the Saturn too difficult to program? Maybe if they stuck with the Neptune it would have worked out better. I mean because they had cartridge technology down. I am sure they could improve on it.

So if they stuck with something less powerful than the saturn, yet easier to code for then they would have done better? PS would have destroyed the neptune more so than it did the saturn. You've got some strange logic there Edge.

TheEdge
01-15-2009, 11:40 AM
So if they stuck with something less powerful than the saturn, yet easier to code for then they would have done better? PS would have destroyed the neptune more so than it did the saturn. You've got some strange logic there Edge.

Its a fact that software makes the console. If the games were good and were easier to program for compared to the Saturn then I really think they would of had a 1 up on Sony. They may have done well. Who knows.

This is strictly hypothetical. Whats odd is you taking it so seriously :D

tomaitheous
01-15-2009, 11:53 AM
Its a fact that software makes the console. If the games were good and were easier to program for compared to the Saturn then I really think they would of had a 1 up on Sony. They may have done well. Who knows.

This is strictly hypothetical. Whats odd is you taking it so seriously :D

Well, you did make another thread about this very thing, did you not? The Genesis beat the NES and the NES had a much bigger user base, lots of fun software, and was still being supported in japan. Gamers wanted 3D, mags hyped 3D, Arcades and PCs were flaunting 3D, the neptune had no chance.

gamevet
01-15-2009, 01:46 PM
http://www.crystalinks.com/neptunerome.html

^ Read this :!: FYI The planets were named after the gods

Of coarse, but the Gods were often considered part of the heavens/stars. Most were named from a cluster of stars that made a pattern simular to an animal or object. Sega was going for the planet angle anyways.

TheEdge
01-15-2009, 02:16 PM
Of coarse, but the Gods were often considered part of the heavens/stars. Most were named from a cluster of stars that made a pattern simular to an animal or object. Sega was going for the planet angle anyways.

It was just an idea :!:

How about this....Neptune the God of the ocean comes out of the briney deep with the Planet Neptune stuck on his Trident? Stares into the camera while pointing and says "Sega!" Instant success. Also best of both worlds Roman gods / Planets

TheEdge
01-15-2009, 02:42 PM
Well, you did make another thread about this very thing, did you not? The Genesis beat the NES and the NES had a much bigger user base, lots of fun software, and was still being supported in japan. Gamers wanted 3D, mags hyped 3D, Arcades and PCs were flaunting 3D, the neptune had no chance.

Gamers didn't want 3D it was slammed down our throats through gimmicky advertising. What did we get? A pixelated mess. Just picture a game system that didn't rely on 3D but it relied on quality preformance and entertainment.

Wait a minute that kind of sounds like the Genesis? Hmmmm.

JDB
01-15-2009, 03:05 PM
Gamers didn't want 3D it was slammed down our throats through gimmicky advertising. What did we get? A pixelated mess. Just picture a game system that didn't rely on 3D but it relied on quality preformance and entertainment.

That is so true, 3D was hyped up so much in the press, when we were just about getting technically (and visually) fantastic 2D Mega Drive games like Batman & Robin the whole gaming arena was reset back to 3D equivalent of Last Battle.

It was one step backwards and to steps forward.

darkwingduck13
01-15-2009, 03:45 PM
I honestly have more love for the Saturn than any other game system. I can't even fully explain it, but I just do. It was a 2D powerhouse, and that may be part of it. My favorite game ever is probably Shenmue/Shenmue II, but seeing something like Astal, or Princess Crown, or even Street Fighter Zero 3 up and running on the Saturn is just amazing to me. It doesn't hurt that the Saturn has Last Gladiators and Necronomicon, too. I really wish the Dreamcast hadn't tanked so hard, but looking at Sega now, it may have been for the best. God only knows what their post-Dreamcast system would've been, and how it would've been mishandled.

retrospiel
01-15-2009, 05:03 PM
Developers jumped ship to the Saturn because SOJ killed the Genesis, Sega CD, and 32X and gave them no other option. I'm sure that developers would have been quite content to stick with the 16-bit hardware for another year, seeing as how they knew it intimately and it had an install base that the Saturn and Dreamcast combined didn't match.

To me the reason SOJ killed everything off to concentrate on the Saturn is because the Genesis was never really successful in Japan, and it infuriated SOJ execs that the Americans were doing better with Japanese hardware then they were. The Saturn was a clean slate for SOJ, and while it was much more successful in Japan, the damage it did to the company overall was irreperable.

That is not correct. The problem was of a different nature.

Saturn was an ultra high end console intended for a long life span with a very slow start. Mega Drive was their bread and butter. And they were very aware of the status of the Genesis in the US. Hence the decision to come up with the 32X. (SOA's hardware, but a guy from SOJ proposed it afaik)

In reality though, the Mega Drive and Genesis sales took a huge hit when PlayStation and Saturn (and 32X) was released. No one gave a shit about Mega Drive anymore, yet they had developers like Sonic Team working on two triple A titles for the hardware (Ristar and Knuckles Chaotix).

In addition, the company was taken by surprise by Sony's success and them loosing the 32-bit war before it even started. Saturn lost a lot of credibility in press and media circles because PlayStation had such "fantastic" games like Toshinden, while most of Sega's high profile inhouse developers were still working on Mega Drive games like Beyond Oasis, Alien Soldier, etc.pp. - Remember that this was 1994 and many of the best Mega Drive games weren't even released yet.


The cancellation of everything but Saturn was the very last straw to save the company. - You got to remember that they were still producing and distributing Master System games and hardware in Europe.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a friend of this decision, but it came way too late anyway.




Oh, and if there was one big mistake Sega of Japan did, aside from underestimating Sony, it was not to make their console compatible to Mega Drive / CD / etc.

ALL of their previous machines, from SG-1000 to Mega Drive, had this feature. Saturn was the first without it.

Melf
01-15-2009, 10:04 PM
Saturn was an ultra high end console intended for a long life span with a very slow start. Mega Drive was their bread and butter. And they were very aware of the status of the Genesis in the US. Hence the decision to come up with the 32X. (SOA's hardware, but a guy from SOJ proposed it afaik)

The Genesis was much more successful in America in the US than Japan, where Sega was a distant third. SOJ would have been looking for any way possible to wipe away that success and bring it back to Japan. The fact that they kept the Saturn's development hidden from SOA is proof of that.


The cancellation of everything but Saturn was the very last straw to save the company. - You got to remember that they were still producing and distributing Master System games and hardware in Europe.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a friend of this decision, but it came way too late anyway.It wasn't too late though. In fact, cancelling the Genesis at all was a bad move. Kalinske himself says that the Genesis had at least another year of life in it, and it would have provided much needed income for the company.

The whole problem was basically asking consumers to fork over $430 for a Saturn after sticking them with the $170 band-aid that was the 32X. As you said, Sega had no credibility at all by '95/'96.

tomaitheous
01-15-2009, 10:45 PM
Gamers didn't want 3D it was slammed down our throats through gimmicky advertising. What did we get? A pixelated mess. Just picture a game system that didn't rely on 3D but it relied on quality preformance and entertainment.

Wait a minute that kind of sounds like the Genesis? Hmmmm.

Maybe you didn't, but the gaming consumers sure as hell did. When DOOM hit the market for the PC, it was incredible. I had just built a fast 486 and was blown away by the game. 3D gave an experience 2D could never deliver. It wasn't forced down peoples throats. It was simple demand.

That said, I totally agree with you. The early 3D on the PS and Saturn was nasty, save for a few games. I was a total 2D fan back then and sadly watched as 2D died off. Even to this day or more so, I'd rather look at NES graphics over PS/Saturn 3D stuff :cool:



I think Melf got it right. The backbone to the Genesis success in the US were the Japanese games being localized for here. I don't think Europe was a much influenced by Japanese games as they had their own style across the pond (Amiga,ST,etc), and drew resource from that. From what I've read, the Genesis wasn't just 3rd but somewhat distant 3rd. It couldn't break through Nintendo and NEC which were giants in Japan. I'm not sure SOJ could sustain the software for the US even if they wanted to. It's probably a good thing that Sega oh Japan didn't ditch the Megadrive earlier like they probably would have liked, considering the PlayStation forcing Sega to making last minute addons to the Saturn. I don't think Sega could have recovered if the Saturn was just a super 2D machine, against the PlayStation phenomomon.

Tanegashima
01-15-2009, 11:13 PM
AGGH! How many times are we going to have this God damned debate? Neptune, Saturn, Jupiter, Aries, Libra, Aquarius...WHATEVER!! Sega fucked it up big time in more ways than one, simple as that.

It was 13 years ago. It's done. Bye bye.

Personally, I'm so sick of 32bit games I could puke. NONE of them seem to have the charm of my 16 bit pals and I've been strongly considering selling off all my Saturn stuff (also because its worth a pretty penny :D) and just sticking with the Genesis and PS2. I still think the damn Saturn has its merits, but whatever they may have been, it still failed. As did the 32X.

The damn DMC DeLorean had a TON of merits over other cars at its time, but it was also an overpriced, hulking, underpowered, unreliable mess. It failed. Did it have potential? Yes. Did it fall flat on its ass? Yes. The only difference here is that Bernie Stolar didn't go about selling cocaine to keep the Saturn alive.

So now I MUST ASK, if Bernie Stolar decided to start smuggling cocaine from south and central America into the United States COULD the Saturn have beat out the Playstation? I really think THIS is the real heart of the entire history of this era in gaming. One that only can be speculated on these days.

Aarzak
01-15-2009, 11:36 PM
You know, I just pictured your avatar uttering your first paragraph. :D Hilarious.

Ghaleon
01-15-2009, 11:46 PM
AGGH! How many times are we going to have this God damned debate?
...
So now I MUST ASK, if Bernie Stolar decided to start smuggling cocaine from south and central America into the United States COULD the Saturn have beat out the Playstation? I really think THIS is the real heart of the entire history of this era in gaming. One that only can be speculated on these days.

LOL.

Well, it depends...so in this scenario, is he selling to random coke-heads to further finance the Saturn push, or is he peddling blow to the kids buying Saturns? "Psst! Hey, kid! You're gonna want to stay up all night playing Virtua Figher, right? Well I got just the thing..."

(Point taken, but some of us enjoy discussing alternate histories.)

Tanegashima
01-15-2009, 11:48 PM
Oh I enjoy it too, I'm just tired of THIS particular aspect of alternate history.

What if the Confederacy won? Would there have even been a Sega Saturn?

Rusty Venture
01-16-2009, 12:24 AM
That said, I totally agree with you. The early 3D on the PS and Saturn was nasty, save for a few games. I was a total 2D fan back then and sadly watched as 2D died off. Even to this day or more so, I'd rather look at NES graphics over PS/Saturn 3D stuff :cool:

3D wasn't done right until the Dreamcast.

gamevet
01-16-2009, 12:39 AM
That is not correct. The problem was of a different nature.

Saturn was an ultra high end console intended for a long life span with a very slow start. Mega Drive was their bread and butter. And they were very aware of the status of the Genesis in the US. Hence the decision to come up with the 32X. (SOA's hardware, but a guy from SOJ proposed it afaik)

In reality though, the Mega Drive and Genesis sales took a huge hit when PlayStation and Saturn (and 32X) was released. No one gave a shit about Mega Drive anymore, yet they had developers like Sonic Team working on two triple A titles for the hardware (Ristar and Knuckles Chaotix).

In addition, the company was taken by surprise by Sony's success and them loosing the 32-bit war before it even started. Saturn lost a lot of credibility in press and media circles because PlayStation had such "fantastic" games like Toshinden, while most of Sega's high profile inhouse developers were still working on Mega Drive games like Beyond Oasis, Alien Soldier, etc.pp. - Remember that this was 1994 and many of the best Mega Drive games weren't even released yet.


The Playstation did better than expected its first year, but it was hardly trouncing the Saturn the first holiday season. The two systems were pretty much neck and neck, and Sega didn't do enough (withheld developer software) to keep 3rd parties happy with developing on the Saturn.

Sega's biggest mistake though, was overlooking what was a big success for the Genesis, Sports titles. Sega Sports was a big money maker for Sega and they didn't even bother with continuing the Joe Montana franchise onto the Saturn. Sony came out guns blazing with the release of NFL Gameday, forcing Madden to take a year off and leaving Sega with no NFL title on the Saturn.

The success of the Genesis had a lot to do with Madden, EA's NHL and NBA titles and Sega's own sports titles. If you need further proof, NFL2K1 was the best selling title on the Dreamcast, with @ 1 in 4 DC users (N. America) buying the title.

The biggest turning point for the Playstation, was when Tomb Raider came out. The title was also on the Saturn, but most people wouldn't even know it, the way Sega went about promoting it.


Gamers didn't want 3D it was slammed down our throats through gimmicky advertising. What did we get? A pixelated mess. Just picture a game system that didn't rely on 3D but it relied on quality preformance and entertainment.

3D was really starting to take off in the arcades, and Sega was a big player with titles like Daytona and Virtua Fighter. Why Sega had to follow Sony's lead with the design of the Saturn, is just one of many decisions by SOJ that had me thinking WTF Sega?

tomaitheous
01-16-2009, 03:11 AM
3D wasn't done right until the Dreamcast.

Quoted for the truth ;)

Metal_Sonic
01-16-2009, 03:19 AM
Its amazing how much this conversation is had.

Iron Lizard
01-16-2009, 03:50 AM
I hate to say it but in this country if Sega had done anything but a 3d system they would have become even more of a laughing stock then they are. People were tired of the platformers and 2d fighters that really were being shoved down our throats. I did miss 2d at the time but it was hard for me not to be awed by Panzer Dragoon.

retrospiel
01-16-2009, 10:42 AM
The Genesis was much more successful in America in the US than Japan, where Sega was a distant third. SOJ would have been looking for any way possible to wipe away that success and bring it back to Japan.

Why would SOJ want to cut the steady stream of the money it received from SOA ? It was and still is obvious that SOA and SOJ don't and never did get along too well, but I doubt that cancelling the Mega Drive / Genesis would have been in the interest of anyone at SOJ.

Also, this debate is a bit misleading as Sega WAS successful with the Mega Drive in Japan. It was MUCH more successful than ever before in its entire history. They sold millions of Mega Drives, and hundreds of thousands MegaCDs. The reason why Saturn is considered a failure is because although they sold millions of Saturns, they lost money, and a incredible lot of it at that. The attempt to position it next to the PlayStation was ruining the company.


But back on your accusation on Sega of Japan sabotaging Sega of America: Reading T. Morita's interview here at Sega-16.com, SOA's 32X was proposed by someone from SOJ. The idea that was agreed upon on that meeting was to enhance the life span of the Genesis by allowing the customers to buy an add-on instead of the rather expansive next gen system. So, in other words: instead of focusing on the upcoming battle against Sony, SOA and SOJ agreed upon the idea to stick with Mega Drive / Genesis for another couple of years.

- I guess it would be correct to say that SOA and SOJ collaborated on sabotaging SEGA ^ ^


And I remember exactly how they promoted it - I even have the press material from 1994/1995, where they say:

Dear SEGA fanboy, dear press idiot, Saturn is our high end bla bla, 32X allows Mega Drive users [read: poor suckers like you] to enter next gen for little money bla bal

["little money" in this context means almost 500,- bucks!, gotta remember that we had to throw out 500,- bucks just 13 months earlier for a MegaCD, I was still trying to keep my funds together for that one when 32x came out]





It wasn't too late though. In fact, cancelling the Genesis at all was a bad move. Kalinske himself says that the Genesis had at least another year of life in it, and it would have provided much needed income for the company.

Let me repeat that Saturn was expected by both Sega of Japan and Sega of America to have a very slow start, just like Mega Drive / Genesis needed almost four years until it became successful [with the release of Sonic 2, and the Sonic 1 hardware bundles].

Super Nintendo / Super Famicom needed until 1994 when Donkey Kong Country was released to really surpass the Mega Drive / Genesis in the West in terms of hardware and software sales.

Saturn was meant to be an ultra high end console with loads of multi-media features like Video CD support and Photo CD support. It was the PlayStation 3 of 1994, meant to be successful in the long run, not to replace the Mega Drive / Genesis until many years later.

Again, I agree that cancelling the Mega Drive / Genesis was a bad idea, but you have to remember that they had only this number of software developers that could work on so many games, and like Bernie Stolar said several times, they lost the 32-bit war because of bad software support, not because of a bad hardware. When Saturn was released they still fought Nintendo's SNES, instead of focussing on winning the 32-bit market. They simply did not think of Sony as a serious competitor.

Read Kalinske's post again, you'll notice that he is promising a change of direction in terms of Saturn's software support. They were in the defense in terms of 32-bit software right from the very beginning. They could not compete with Tekken, Ridge Racer, nor Toshinden. All they had at that point was Virtua Fighter I and Daytona, which while obviously the much better games, were not what people expected in terms of 32-bit graphics and definitely couldn't hold a candle against these PlayStation games.
It obviously were their arcade divisions that were meant to port the latest arcade hits to Saturn, while at the same time, their best developers from the home divisions were still working on most of the best Mega Drive / Genesis games, like Monster World 4, Pulseman, Langrisser 2, Alien Soldier, Dynamite Headdy, Light Crusader, Ristar, Phantasy Star 4, Lord Monarch, Hybrid Front, Soleil aka Crusader of Centy, Shining Force II, Story of Thor aka Beyond Oasis, Dragon Slayer 1 (94) and 2 (95), Sonc 3, Sonic & Knuckles, etc. pp. in Japan and Comix Zone, Batman & Robin, Vectorman, Ecco 2, etc. pp. in the west.

They were not focusing on Saturn, the opposite is the case. They were still focusing on Mega Drive / Genesis, because they did not expect the 16-bit market to die off that quickly, nor that Sony would be a rival worthy of dealing with.

In addition to Mega Drive / Genesis they had Game Gear, Master System, SegaCD and 32X to support with software. - It is quite obvious that even though Sega was the world's biggest game developer, with most of the world's very best devleopment teams on their pay check, they could not compete with a media giant like Sony. PlayStation was the only console they needed to support, and they did a fantastic job by contracting experienced developers like Namco, Takara, Konami, Psygnosis and later Square and Core Design.

I read several times that no one, not even Sony themselves believed that they could actually compete with a company like Sega, whose games at that time could rival the quality of those of Nintendo.



The whole problem was basically asking consumers to fork over $430 for a Saturn after sticking them with the $170 band-aid that was the 32X. As you said, Sega had no credibility at all by '95/'96.

No arguing with that. In fact I agree upon all of your observations I think, but the analysis on what might be the cause for which decision is where I disagree with you.



Saturn should probably have been released a year or two later, so it would not have had to compete with PlayStation, effectively turning Sony's machine into another overpriced high tech toy like CDI, 3DO or Jaguar, but we'll never know if it really would have had much of an impact on the PlayStation's success. As it was, Nintendo surely had a hard time to compete against the winner of the Saturn vs PlayStation war.

TheEdge
01-16-2009, 11:00 AM
Bottom line is that the Saturn hardware sunk the company in the 1990's. It was too expensive to manufacture and not enough units were moving out the door because of the PS and the $399 price tag.

Lets think of this now. The Neptune....lower price tag. Easy to program. Easy to manufacture. Easy for the cartridge manufacturers to adjust their assembly lines for it. It just all makes sense to me.

Also Doom was a PC game and all the incarnations of Doom and other FPS werent perfect on a console until last generation and even they had horrid loading times and laggy preformance. I.E. Red Faction / Soldier of Fortune

retrospiel
01-16-2009, 11:28 AM
The Playstation did better than expected its first year, but it was hardly trouncing the Saturn the first holiday season. The two systems were pretty much neck and neck, and Sega didn't do enough (withheld developer software) to keep 3rd parties happy with developing on the Saturn.

Exactly. Eventhough PlayStation was a huge success, especially in the media and press, it wasn't a definite winner until 1996/1997, and during Saturn's entire life-span it never was in Japan (due to increasingly solid software support). In addition, and unlike in the west, Saturn also had a very solid start in Japan due to Virtua Fighter and a non-existant 32X.

Literally, the only people in the west that bought Saturn were a few hardcore Sega fans, that bought the machine despite having no big mainstream hit and bad advertisement, while in Japan it somehow managed to attract new customers from outside of the hardcore Sega croud.

This however changed when Sega of Japan cancelled Saturn support to focus on Dreamcast in 1999. If you check the PlayStation sales, you will see that in terms of worldwide sales it did not become sliced bread until Dreamcast was released.



Sega's biggest mistake though, was overlooking what was a big success for the Genesis, Sports titles. Sega Sports was a big money maker for Sega and they didn't even bother with continuing the Joe Montana franchise onto the Saturn. Sony came out guns blazing with the release of NFL Gameday, forcing Madden to take a year off and leaving Sega with no NFL title on the Saturn.

Good point.

As much as I hate Peter Moore for his decision to turn Sega into a software company, he's considered the one to come up with the 2k Sega Sports brand for Dreamcast, and it's part of why Dreamcast was so incredibly successful in the US (with 50% of the 10 million units sold worldwide sold in the United States - for a comparision: GameCube and Xbox sold about 15-20 million units worldwide in five long years while Dreamcast had only about a year and a half until Moore decided to pull the plug and sell Panzer Dragoon, Toejam & Earl and Shenmue II to Microsoft, after which he got hired by them to work as leader of their Xbox department)

- of course, and in his defense, he probably thought "okay, we pretty much lost against Sony this xmas, and both Microsoft and Nintendo will be releasing their consoles next year... dude, we don't have a chance". Coming from Reebok and thus being new to the business and new to Sega he probably did not know or did not want to know that Sega could support a console all by themselves without any third party support, like they did with SG-1000, Master System, Mega Drive / Genesis and Game Gear. And much like Nintendo did during the N64 era. "What's the point of having a console that only Sega makes games for?" he probably thought. "What's the point of having many consoles anyway? These guys should be making games for either Sony or Microsoft, or both." As a business man not knowing that to publish a risky game with focus on innovation and art, you need your own hardware and your own distribution channels. Throwing something like this onto a market with gazillions of other games does seem to reduce the amount of potential customers. And most of the developers that worked at Sega at that time probably were enthusiasts themselves, not interested in a regular job keeping deadlines for mediocre mainstream games for former competitors.



3D was really starting to take off in the arcades, and Sega was a big player with titles like Daytona and Virtua Fighter. Why Sega had to follow Sony's lead with the design of the Saturn, is just one of many decisions by SOJ that had me thinking WTF Sega?

I am not sure if the story of enhancing the Saturn to be closer to PlayStation specs is actually true. I only read second and third hand reports about that.

Saturn was definitely meant to reproduce the arcade games of the time and thus was meant for 2D and 3D gaming, basically having two machines in one. In many ways it was much more powerful than PlayStation, but to exceed PS1's 3D capabilities it obviously did take a lot of work.

Overall, and taking into account its state-of-the-art 2D hardware and high resolution screen modes, Saturn was much more powerful than SEGA's Model 1 and even Model 2 hardware, although not quite as powerful as Model 2 in terms of 3D graphics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Sega_arcade_system_boards#Model_1_Specific ations




Lets think of this now. The Neptune....lower price tag. Easy to program. Easy to manufacture. Easy for the cartridge manufacturers to adjust their assembly lines for it. It just all makes sense to me.

Well, yet another hardware. Way inferior to PlayStation, Model 1, Model 2, or any other arcade board of that time.

Still, so was the NES, Super Nintendo and Wii. You don't need expansive hardware to have a great video game console.

I still think that Saturn was a good hardware.

Instead of doing so with Neptune and 32X, it probably should have been their goal to make Saturn compatible to Mega Drive. - They did with Game Gear which was compatible to Master System, they did with Mega Drive / Genesis which was compatible to Master System, Mark III and SG-1000, and they did with Master System which was compatible to SG-1000 and Mark III.

TheEdge
01-16-2009, 11:44 AM
I am sure they would have updated the Neptune if they went for it instead of the Saturn. It would be kind of like an N64. So it wouldnt really be inferior. You think if they worked on it until the point of launch it would be close or on par with the PS. Either way it wouldnt really matter if the preformance was good and the games didnt look bad.

tomaitheous
01-16-2009, 12:22 PM
I am sure they would have updated the Neptune if they went for it instead of the Saturn. It would be kind of like an N64. So it wouldnt really be inferior. You think if they worked on it until the point of launch it would be close or on par with the PS. Either way it wouldnt really matter if the preformance was good and the games didnt look bad.

I thought you weren't serious before? Or were you not being serious, about not being serious ;)

I don't understand the logic. So you're envisioning an all new system that's close or on par with the PS1 and Saturn doesn't fit the bill? Something like renaming the Saturn to Neptune and making it cart only?

Christuserloeser: Awesome point of a view/argument. It looks pretty sound to me.

gamevet
01-16-2009, 01:17 PM
We already had a console very close to what the Neptune would be, power-wise, it was called the Jaguar.

TheEdge
01-16-2009, 03:13 PM
All I am saying is a Sega version of N64. Thats all.

A super powered 32X. Combined with a Segata Sanshiro like commercials with NEPTUNE GOD OF THE SEA "SEGA!"

Tanegashima
01-16-2009, 04:19 PM
Better yet, after the Sega CD Sega decides to take a break, and just supports the Genesis, Nomad and Game Gear. Skips the entire 32bit era and releases the Dreamcast in 1998/1999.

I think they could have kicked some major ass. Sure they would have given themselves a 3 year gap, but were still riding the Genesis wave and could have through 1999. SVP chip games etc. I mean, better to make SOME money than none at all. Come 1999, their $$$ are all ready for a massive all out assault advertising and manufacturing wise. They could have really cleaned house. Maybe.

So no Saturn, no 32X JUST Dreamcast.

TheEdge
01-16-2009, 04:25 PM
Better yet, after the Sega CD Sega decides to take a break, and just supports the Genesis, Nomad and Game Gear. Skips the entire 32bit era and releases the Dreamcast in 1998/1999.

I think they could have kicked some major ass. Sure they would have given themselves a 3 year gap, but were still riding the Genesis wave and could have through 1999. SVP chip games etc. I mean, better to make SOME money than none at all. Come 1999, their $$$ are all ready for a massive all out assault advertising and manufacturing wise. They could have really cleaned house. Maybe.

So no Saturn, no 32X JUST Dreamcast.

^ I like this idea.

I was thinking about it but I just didn't know how to word it.

Good Job buddy:!:

Tanegashima
01-16-2009, 04:31 PM
I mean, hell, Sega kicked the NESsss ass with the Genesis, perhaps they could have unseated the PSX had they just waited.

AFAIC the 32bit era is such a transitional era that so many games are completely hit and miss. Sega truly got it right with the DC.

Maybe we could have had 128bit versions of Panzer Dragoon which would have been AMAZING, games like Panzer Dragoon Orta, that would have kicked some major ass.

tomaitheous
01-16-2009, 04:33 PM
You guys are insane :D

TheEdge
01-16-2009, 04:44 PM
If the DC would of lasted longer I'm sure we would have saw a whole array of terrific software for it.

Melf
01-16-2009, 05:05 PM
Why would SOJ want to cut the steady stream of the money it received from SOA ? It was and still is obvious that SOA and SOJ don't and never did get along too well, but I doubt that cancelling the Mega Drive / Genesis would have been in the interest of anyone at SOJ.

The Genesis was doing much better in the US than in Japan, and it still had - by Sega's own admission - at least another year of life left in it beyond '95, yet SOJ cancelled it anyway. Hayao Nakayama made the decision in '95 to focus on the Saturn, and while he wasn't out to deliberately screw SOA, his decision to do what was best for Japan hurt the American branch, which hurt the company overall in the long run.


Also, this debate is a bit misleading as Sega WAS successful with the Mega Drive in Japan. It was MUCH more successful than ever before in its entire history. They sold millions of Mega Drives, and hundreds of thousands MegaCDs.

It was third place in Japan, while it was neck-and-neck (and actually ahead for three years) with the SNES in the US.


But back on your accusation on Sega of Japan sabotaging Sega of America: Reading T. Morita's interview here at Sega-16.com, SOA's 32X was proposed by someone from SOJ. The idea that was agreed upon on that meeting was to enhance the life span of the Genesis by allowing the customers to buy an add-on instead of the rather expansive next gen system. So, in other words: instead of focusing on the upcoming battle against Sony, SOA and SOJ agreed upon the idea to stick with Mega Drive / Genesis for another couple of years.

The idea of a low cost add-on was actually Nakayama's, but there's a lot more to that story that doesn't look too brightly on SOJ. First off, the original 32X was supposedly just a Genesis with more color, and it was SOA's Joe Miller who rejected the idea and made SOJ go back to the drawing board, eventually coming up with the actual mushroom.

Second, SOJ never told SOA that it was working on the Saturn as the eventual replacement for everything 16-bit. So essentially, Sega DID expect consumers to upgrade to a high end system, and the 32X was nothing more than a "band-aid" (a Sega term for it, actually) that was supposed to placate consumers until they upgraded.

When a company releases a new system, they don't expect consumers to sit around for a few years and eventually upgrade. They want them to drop the old stuff and grab the new stuff, which is why so few consoles feature backward compatibilty. The Saturn could never compete successfully with the Playstation so long as Sega gamers were content to stick with their 32X and Genesis consoles.

Let me repeat that Saturn was expected by both Sega of Japan and Sega of America to have a very slow start, just like Mega Drive / Genesis needed almost four years until it became successful [with the release of Sonic 2, and the Sonic 1 hardware bundles].

The Genesis became successful in just under two years actually. It originally sold 500k units in its first year, but by the time Sonic 1 was released, it sold a million in a year. Its sales increased yearly until about '94, when they levelled off.


Again, I agree that cancelling the Mega Drive / Genesis was a bad idea, but you have to remember that they had only this number of software developers that could work on so many games, and like Bernie Stolar said several times, they lost the 32-bit war because of bad software support, not because of a bad hardware. When Saturn was released they still fought Nintendo's SNES, instead of focussing on winning the 32-bit market. They simply did not think of Sony as a serious competitor.

The two aren't mutually exclusive though. The Saturn had "bad" software SPECIFICALLY because of the "bad" hardware. Why would you want to learn a whole new console to make games for the Saturn, when making the same game on the Playstation only required that you know C? The Playstation was much easier to develop for, and that's why developers left the Saturn to rot.



They were not focusing on Saturn, the opposite is the case. They were still focusing on Mega Drive / Genesis, because they did not expect the 16-bit market to die off that quickly, nor that Sony would be a rival worthy of dealing with.

By announcing the discontinuation of the Genesis, I'd say it's safe to assume that Sega didn't expect big sales anymore. The company made a habit out of basically telling consumers to buy new hardware, whether it was smart to do so or not. Remember Bernie Stolar's "the Saturn is not our future" remark at the '97 E3?


In addition to Mega Drive / Genesis they had Game Gear, Master System, SegaCD and 32X to support with software. - It is quite obvious that even though Sega was the world's biggest game developer, with most of the world's very best devleopment teams on their pay check, they could not compete with a media giant like Sony. PlayStation was the only console they needed to support, and they did a fantastic job by contracting experienced developers like Namco, Takara, Konami, Psygnosis and later Square and Core Design.

The ironic thing is that all of those publishers you mention made games for the Genesis but almost completely skipped over the Saturn. Their problems with Sega had to do with the Saturn, not the Genesis, which brings us back to the whole "bad" hardware scenario.



As much as I hate Peter Moore for his decision to turn Sega into a software company,

The decision to abandon hardware had actually been a serious topic of discussion for almost five years before the DC was dropped. Moore simply saw the writing on the wall.

Zebbe
01-16-2009, 05:15 PM
I don't remember any Square games for the Genesis.

Ghaleon
01-16-2009, 06:03 PM
I don't remember any Square games for the Genesis.

From our own Sega-16 (http://www.sega-16.com/feature_page.php?id=61&title=Genesis:%20A%20New%20Beginning):
"Both Enix and SquareSoft continued their efforts for Nintendo, although Square did take the time to dabble with the Genesis hardware with Bahamut Bahant Senki - which was later reissued in a superior remake as Bahamut Lagoon for SNES. It would be the only Square title to ever put in an appearance on a Sega console."

I didn't know that, either.

retrospiel
01-16-2009, 07:04 PM
It's a Sega game: http://www.mobygames.com/game/bahamut-senki

Ghaleon
01-16-2009, 08:15 PM
It's a Sega game: http://www.mobygames.com/game/bahamut-senki

Mobygames may not have done much research on it--everyone below says Square developed it:

http://www.gamefabrique.com/bahamut-bahant-senki.html

http://www.123exp-history.com/t/03761264383/

http://www.uvlist.net/game-9563-Bahamut+Bahant+Senki

http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Bahamut-Bahant-Senki

retrospiel
01-16-2009, 09:49 PM
everyone below says Square developed it

Well, at least one of them also says "Bahamut Bahant Senki is freeware." =P

And the other llinks to a similar discussion at Assemblergames: http://www.assemblergames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10536

- Where's CRV when you need him ?


Let's stick with that we have for now.

The title screen (and boxart) says Sega developed it:
http://www.genesiscollective.com/Genesis/Screenshots/Bahamut%20Bahant%20Senki%20(SS).png

As does Sega itself: http://vc.sega.jp/vc_bahamut/

Aarzak
01-16-2009, 10:00 PM
With that exception, and to this day Square & Enix have NEVER developed software for any Sega console. Truly the most hardcore of the Nintendo (and later Sony) Kool-Aid drinkers. Most other developers have released at least a game or two on Sega consoles.

retrospiel
01-16-2009, 10:44 PM
The Genesis was doing much better in the US than in Japan

I don't see what that has to do with the fact that they cancelled it. Sega had a million seller in Japan as well.




and it still had - by Sega's own admission - at least another year of life left in it beyond '95

Allow me to state once again that I do not agree with the decision to cancel support for Mega Drive, SegaCD, Game Gear, Master System and ...well I don't care for 32x.

My point was and is that they did not have a whole lot of options back in 1996, and what they did came many years too late [to affect the war against Sony].


In that very year, Stolar got CEO at SOA and Irimajiri at SOJ. Irimajiri had to restructure the entire company to cut costs, and everything non-Saturn related was among that. The reason was that their gamble with half a dozen of semi-successful platforms did cost a lot of money:

http://www.eidolons-inn.net/tiki-index.php?page=SegaBase+Saturn


By the end of August [1996], Sega of America's financial situation was so bad that president Bernie Stolar ordered the company to discontinue all television advertising starting the following month. It was a move Sega could ill afford - after all, television ads had been the backbone of Sega's earlier promotions - but Stolar could read the numbers as well as anybody. Sega simply couldn't affort the kind of multimillion dollar, multimedia blowout for which it had become known in days past. Stolar was berated by both industry pundits and hardcore Sega gamers for his move, but he neither regretted his decision nor apologized for it. In all fairness, Stolar's move probably didn't hurt Sega as much as others made it to be. By this time, it was pretty obvious who was dominating the American console markets - and it wasn't Sega. Not by a long shot, and Stolar deemed it unnecessary to waste precious company resources on a battle he knew he couldn't win. He was already looking beyond the Saturn ... but few of his critics at the time realized that.

[...]

From 1993 (year of greatest profit) to 1997 (the previous fiscal year), Sega had gone from a net yearly profit of about US$230 million (1993) to a net loss of about US$389 million (1997). This means that Sega had lost about US$620 million in five years, or about 1/5th of the company's entire net worth back in 1993. Sega would lose another US$450 million for fiscal year 1998, pushing that composite loss to US$1.07 billion - or about 1/3rd the company's net worth back in 1993, when it was at the height of its success. For those of you outside the United States., that's about 81.6 trillion in Japanese currency or 1.14 thousand million euros in the European common currency.

Taking the American figure as a benchmark, do you know how big a US$1.07 billion dollar deficit over five years happens to be? It's a big number just writing it out - let's see, that's 1.07 thousand million per the formal English standard, or 1,070,000,000 in numerical digits. Suppose Sega had instead paid you, Joe or Jane Schmuck gamer, approximately US$1,000 a day every day without fail, without any kind of adjustments, withholding, or taxes. It would have taken them just over 2,900 years to pay you the amount of money that they lost within five years. Look at it another way - Sega would have done just as well to give each and every citizen or resident (legal or illegal) within U.S. territorial borders about US$3,700 each - or every inhabitant of Japan about 683,000 each; or every resident of Europe about 1424e each. That's a lot of money to lose in five years, folks, but Sega did it. They had taken themselves in that amount of time from the vaunted position of market leader to dead last in the videogame market. Sega had now put itself back in the place from which it had started its rise to fame over a decade before. It had resumed its historical role as the perennial whipping boy of the videogame industry, and it had nobody to blame but itself. Now you know how it happened. The question remains - how did they do it? What were the fatal mistakes that Sega made?

As I said: It was way too late. [or too early for Saturn, whatever may fit your needs]





It was third place in Japan, while it was neck-and-neck (and actually ahead for three years) with the SNES in the US.

What was the other relevant competitor Sega's Mega Drive had in Japan from 1993-1996 ? - The last two PC Engine games were released in 1994 as far as I know.

Also, what difference does it make ? If you sold let's say 7 million consoles, and your competitor sold 7,5 million, you still sold 7 million.




The idea of a low cost add-on was actually Nakayama's, but there's a lot more to that story that doesn't look too brightly on SOJ. First off, the original 32X was supposedly just a Genesis with more color, and it was SOA's Joe Miller who rejected the idea and made SOJ go back to the drawing board, eventually coming up with the actual mushroom.

Well, Morita said that the 32x was designed in the US:



The 32X was designed in the US. I was actually in the meeting where Shinobu Toyoda asked us to develop a piece of hardware which would extend the life of the Sega Genesis because the ramp-up of Saturn software sales was expected to be rather slow, probably due to the high cost of the Saturn.

As you can see, he also mentions that Sega of Japan thought that Saturn would take a long time to establish itself in the market, and which implies that they did not want to cut itself from the steady stream of money they made by the sales of Genesis hard- and software.

That is understandable, and as you can guess I love the Mega Drive a lot, but it doesn't change the fact that they missed the opportunity to provide Saturn with a great line up of software and instead were still working on loads of Genesis games (see my previous post for a list of Japanese Mega Drive games, many of which we never even saw a release of in the west.)




Second, SOJ never told SOA that it was working on the Saturn as the eventual replacement for everything 16-bit. So essentially, Sega DID expect consumers to upgrade to a high end system, and the 32X was nothing more than a "band-aid" (a Sega term for it, actually) that was supposed to placate consumers until they upgraded.

You seem to contradict yourself there, actually.

If Saturn was meant to replace the Mega Drive, why did they release the 32X and why did it take them another two years to finally switch over to Saturn? The consumers did not wait that long. They just went and bought a PlayStation, and by 1996/1997 the Saturn basically was a lost cause in both Europe and the US.




When a company releases a new system, they don't expect consumers to sit around for a few years and eventually upgrade.

But that's exactly what they did.

They basically just sat there and waited for people to buy ...a PlayStation.




They want them to drop the old stuff and grab the new stuff, which is why so few consoles feature backward compatibilty.

No, they want you to buy the new hardware so they could sell you new games. If the new hardware does allow you to play the games for the previous system, it adds to its value. It increases demand.

And as I mentioned, all previous Sega hardware had it, and Neptune was supposed to have it too. Only Saturn did not.



The Saturn could never compete successfully with the Playstation so long as Sega gamers were content to stick with their 32X and Genesis consoles.

Hey, no one was content with the 32x. ;)



The two aren't mutually exclusive though. The Saturn had "bad" software SPECIFICALLY because of the "bad" hardware.

Well, NES had great software despite using a "bad" 1975 CMOS 6502 processor.

Again, and this is a discussion we're currently having in the 3DO thread, Saturn had many great games. Stuff like Virtua Fighter 2, Saturn Bomberman, or Panzer Dragoon Zwei wasn't technically possible on any other hardware until Dreamcast.



Why would you want to learn a whole new console to make games for the Saturn, when making the same game on the Playstation only required that you know C? The Playstation was much easier to develop for, and that's why developers left the Saturn to rot.

That's not the point. SEGA itself did not focus on Saturn until it was way too late. In this context it doesn't really matter what the third party developers thought.

And those did not develop for PlayStation because they loved the hardware so much, they did because they got contracted by Sony. Or, in the later years, because PlayStation was the more successful one anyway,

You'd hear complaints from the ones interested in doing quick and easy multi-platform releases during the later days of the 32-bit war, as of course simply recompiling yur game for Saturn didn't work too well. I remember mostly games developed in the west, but Konami's Castlevania would be a good example of a Japanese game where the PlayStation original was superior to the Saturn port.

It would be literally impossible to port a real Saturn game that makes use of the hardware to PlayStation. Would Saturn have been the more successful console, we would have had complains about PlayStation being a weak hardware.





By announcing the discontinuation of the Genesis, I'd say it's safe to assume that Sega didn't expect big sales anymore. The company made a habit out of basically telling consumers to buy new hardware, whether it was smart to do so or not. Remember Bernie Stolar's "the Saturn is not our future" remark at the '97 E3?

Well, what Stolar probably meant was: "We know we fucked up with Saturn, but worry not, Dreamcast is on its way!" He was probably the driving force to skip Saturn as fast as possible, and to push the company to work on what became Dreamcast so they could fix what they did wrong with Saturn [in the west].




The decision to abandon hardware had actually been a serious topic of discussion for almost five years before the DC was dropped. Moore simply saw the writing on the wall.

You actually think that SOJ killed off the Mega Drive just improve their position towards SOA, but you have no problem with Moore turning Sega into a software company ?

We do know now that it was not Sega of Japan's decision but Peter Moore's. After his announcement, there was no turning back. Sega of Japan couldn't just say; "Wait, this guy was just joking! He wasn't authorized to cancel Dreamcast. We are still working on game x and y."
Moore made contracts with Microsoft that secured them 12 games that otherwise would have been released for Dreamcast. Among them were Toejam and Earl 3, Panzer Dragoon Orta and Jet Grind Radio. Oh, and Shenmue 2, which somehow still saw a (limited) Dreamcast release in Japan and Europe.

Melf
01-16-2009, 11:59 PM
What was the other relevant competitor Sega's Mega Drive had in Japan from 1993-1996 ? - The last two PC Engine games were released in 1994 as far as I know.

Also, what difference does it make ? If you sold let's say 7 million consoles, and your competitor sold 7,5 million, you still sold 7 million.

The Super Famicom was still in production, and Sega was quite far behind it. Selling millions isn't necessarily a good thing when it's well under sales projections.



Well, Morita said that the 32x was designed in the US:

The actual mushroom we all know of was, but the idea originated in Japan, as did the first design that was rejected by Joe Miller, former SOA senior VP .


As you can see, he also mentions that Sega of Japan thought that Saturn would take a long time to establish itself in the market, and which implies that they did not want to cut itself from the steady stream of money they made by the sales of Genesis hard- and software.

He said it would be slow, not take up to four years. Even so, the intial response to the Saturn in Japan was very good, better than the Playstation's launch was, and Sega obvious thought by '95 that it didn't need the 16-bit market anymore.


If Saturn was meant to replace the Mega Drive, why did they release the 32X and why did it take them another two years to finally switch over to Saturn?

It's no contradiction at all.

I guess Sega initially thought it could support the Genesis and its add-ons while pushing the Saturn. You don't just toss away an intall base of 29 million units when new hardware is released unless you have no choice. By '95 the Saturn was doing well against the Playstation and Nakayama made the only decision he could for that territory. Unfortunately, it wasn't the right one for Europe and America.



No, they want you to buy the new hardware so they could sell you new games. If the new hardware does allow you to play the games for the previous system, it adds to its value. It increases demand.

Then why did no console released between 1985 and 2000 have backward compatibility? Moreover, why then have both Microsoft and Sony eliminated it from their consoles? Simple, because if you're buying old games, you're not buying new ones. When Saturn game sales failed to pick up, Sega tried to kick consumers in the butt by making them upgrade, but as you say, people just went over to Sony instead.


And as I mentioned, all previous Sega hardware had it, and Neptune was supposed to have it too. Only Saturn did not.

The Genesis let you play MS games only if you bought a separate converter that was soon dropped in retail. The MS let you play games for a console never even released in the US. Not much of a incentive there.


That's not the point. SEGA itself did not focus on Saturn until it was way too late. In this context it doesn't really matter what the third party developers thought.

It's EXACTLY the point. Why would 3rd parties focus on a console that's a nightmare to develop for when the very manufacturer isn't even doing so? When Sega finally woke up and released its big three for Christmas '96 (Virtua Fighter 2, Sega Rally, and Virtua Cop 2), it refused to share its libraries with 3rd parties. Policies like that are what drove developers over to the competition.


And those did not develop for PlayStation because they loved the hardware so much, they did because they got contracted by Sony. Or, in the later years, because PlayStation was the more successful one anyway,

And what do you think one of Sony's major selling points to them was? Easy development and complete support, something Sega didn't offer.


You'd hear complaints from the ones interested in doing quick and easy multi-platform releases during the later days of the 32-bit war, as of course simply recompiling yur game for Saturn didn't work too well. I remember mostly games developed in the west, but Konami's Castlevania would be a good example of a Japanese game where the PlayStation original was superior to the Saturn port.

It wasn't just late in the cycle though. Tomb Raider originated as a Saturn exclusive, but it proved so difficult to do that it ended up coming to the Playstation and remained there for the rest of the generation. Hell, even Yu Suzuki himself complained of the difficulty of porting over Daytona USA, and that was a launch title.


Well, what Stolar probably meant was: "We know we fucked up with Saturn, but worry not, Dreamcast is on its way!" He was probably the driving force to skip Saturn as fast as possible, and to push the company to work on what became Dreamcast so they could fix what they did wrong with Saturn [in the west].

He's widely credited as the man who killed the Saturn. Rumors persist that Treasure wanted to bring Silhouette Mirage stateside but was denied, as were Capcom with X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Tecnosoft with Thunderforce V.


You actually think that SOJ killed off the Mega Drive just improve their position towards SOA, but you have no problem with Moore turning Sega into a software company ?

We do know now that it was not Sega of Japan's decision but Peter Moore's. After his announcement, there was no turning back. Sega of Japan couldn't just say; "Wait, this guy was just joking! He wasn't authorized to cancel Dreamcast. We are still working on game x and y."
Moore made contracts with Microsoft that secured them 12 games that otherwise would have been released for Dreamcast. Among them were Toejam and Earl 3, Panzer Dragoon Orta and Jet Grind Radio. Oh, and Shenmue 2, which somehow still saw a (limited) Dreamcast release in Japan and Europe.

Moore didn't make the decision alone. The very interview you quoted above says so:


It really wasn't a great shock to see Sega giving up hardware. Internally, many of us had been talking about this for at least three or four years before the event happened. My impression was that since Sega started out as a hardware company, most of the senior people in management were hardware people, and therefore they didn't want to view the company as a software company because it would mean they were no longer relevant.

That means Sega was potentially contemplating leaving the hardware business while Kalinske was still there!

tomaitheous
01-17-2009, 02:24 AM
The last two PC Engine games were released in 1994 as far as I know.


Nope. '94 saw tons of hits, quite a bunch in '95, less in '96, only a few in '97, and one in '99. '94/95 were probably the best selling titles as some of the best titles hit the system during that time.


Well, NES had great software despite using a "bad" 1975 CMOS 6502 processor. It's the NMOS version and what's so "bad" about it? At 1.79mhz it's still faster than a 3.57mhz Z80.


No, they want you to buy the new hardware so they could sell you new games. If the new hardware does allow you to play the games for the previous system, it adds to its value. It increases demand.

Nintendo didn't have backwards compatibility between the NES, SNES, N64 and it didn't hurt them.


Treasure wanted to bring Silhouette Mirage stateside but was denied
And yet it arrived state side on the Playstation.

Psy
01-17-2009, 12:27 PM
The two aren't mutually exclusive though. The Saturn had "bad" software SPECIFICALLY because of the "bad" hardware. Why would you want to learn a whole new console to make games for the Saturn, when making the same game on the Playstation only required that you know C? The Playstation was much easier to develop for, and that's why developers left the Saturn to rot.


That Saturn didn't have bad hardware it had bad devlopment kits, the Saturn's hardware is actually simpler then the PS2's hardware. Late Japanese Saturn software didn't have this problem as by 1998 the problem of poor devlopment kits was all solved and even less skilled Japanese developers was able to develop for the Saturn fairly easily of course by then the Dreamcast was launched in Japan

Melf
01-17-2009, 02:09 PM
Everything I've read points to the development kits only compounding the problems of already bad hardware. Both Yu Suzuki and even Yuji Naka complained about it (Naka reportedly said that only 1 in a 1000 programmers was good enough to get maximum performance out of the Saturn). Next Gen magazine, Kent's Ultimate History of Video Games, for example, all mention this.


The Saturn design, with two CPUs and 6 other processors, made it difficult to get the maximum performance out of the console. The parallel design was too complex for many game developers.

Third-party development was also hindered by the lack of a useful Software Development Kit. Because of this, many Saturn games needed to be written in assembly language. Assembly language or simply assembly is a human-readable notation for the machine language that a specific computer architecture uses. Machine language, a pattern of bits encoding machine operations, is made readable by replacing the raw values with symbols to achieve decent performance on the hardware. Frequently, programmers would only utilize one CPU to avoid some of the trouble in programming for the Saturn.

The main disadvantage of the dual CPU architecture was that both processors shared the same bus and had no dedicated memory of their own beyond a 4K on-chip cache, which could be configured as a 2K cache with 2K local RAM. This meant the second CPU would often have to wait for the first CPU to finish, reducing its processing ability as all data and program code for both CPUs was located in the same shared 2MB of main memory (DRAM and SDRAM).

tomaitheous
01-17-2009, 02:57 PM
Single CPU architecture + GTE (geometry assist)+more versatile GPU *VS* more complex multiple processor setup (2nd SH2 crippled by the shared bus)+no geometry assist+less versatile GPU. The Saturn also has limited size sample ram and no sample compression, but that didn't seem to really effect the music quality.

And then there's the PlayStation dev kits actually being complete and useful. You could easily write the bulk of the game in C and the some optimized routines in inline assembly if needed.

Psy
01-17-2009, 10:22 PM
Everything I've read points to the development kits only compounding the problems of already bad hardware. Both Yu Suzuki and even Yuji Naka complained about it (Naka reportedly said that only 1 in a 1000 programmers was good enough to get maximum performance out of the Saturn). Next Gen magazine, Kent's Ultimate History of Video Games, for example, all mention this.

Most of the processors were dedicated to do a task, for example the Motorola 68EC000 was a sound processor, the only time you wouldn't use it as a sound processor is if you were building a Genesis add-on or if you are doing a quick port of 68K code (which you wouldn't care about maxing out performance since most of the Saturn would be idle in the case). How many Genesis games used the Z-80 for anything other then a sound processor? So Saturn games using its dedicated processors for their intended task is no big deal.

As for how the CPUs were setup,Sega and other arcade board manufactures had similar dual CPU setups on its arcade boards, it is just developers didn't understand how to take advantage of it. Like I said eventually even small Japanese developers figured out how to properly code for the Saturn once good devlopment kits existed for it.

Aarzak
01-17-2009, 10:34 PM
Another problem I believe, is that all of the Saturn's chips and processors weren't designed to work well together in the first place. They just......tossed them in there.

Psy
01-18-2009, 12:01 AM
Another problem I believe, is that all of the Saturn's chips and processors weren't designed to work well together in the first place. They just......tossed them in there.

Nope the chips work pretty well together, you just have to understand the second processor is a co-processor not a processor working in true parallel.

gamevet
01-18-2009, 01:29 AM
Nope the chips work pretty well together, you just have to understand the second processor is a co-processor not a processor working in true parallel.


Obviously, Sega's own internal programmers had problems with the hardware. AM2's conversions of Daytona USA and Virtua Fighter were not exactly arcade perfect, while AM3 was able to make a near arcade perfect port of Sega Rally 95. AM3 later worked on Daytona USA: Championship Edition, and while it looked much better than AM2's Daytona, the controls felt somewhat floaty in comparison.





Single CPU architecture + GTE (geometry assist)+more versatile GPU *VS* more complex multiple processor setup (2nd SH2 crippled by the shared bus)+no geometry assist+less versatile GPU. The Saturn also has limited size sample ram and no sample compression, but that didn't seem to really effect the music quality.

It didn't effect the music quality, because most of the early Saturn games used Red-Book audio directly from the disc. The sound samples often sounded muted, compared to the Playstation version of the same game.

Psy
01-18-2009, 04:21 AM
Obviously, Sega's own internal programmers had problems with the hardware. AM2's conversions of Daytona USA and Virtua Fighter were not exactly arcade perfect, while AM3 was able to make a near arcade perfect port of Sega Rally 95. AM3 later worked on Daytona USA: Championship Edition, and while it looked much better than AM2's Daytona, the controls felt somewhat floaty in comparison.

Sega's programmers had the same problem all developers had and that is the lack of a decent devlopment kit. Like I said by 1998 even small Japanese devlopment houses that was working on the Saturn no longer had issues since good devlopment tools existed for the Saturn.

gamevet
01-18-2009, 01:23 PM
Sega's programmers had the same problem all developers had and that is the lack of a decent devlopment kit. Like I said by 1998 even small Japanese devlopment houses that was working on the Saturn no longer had issues since good devlopment tools existed for the Saturn.

Well they (Sega) were the ones that had to make them, aren't they?

Psy
01-18-2009, 04:11 PM
Well they (Sega) were the ones that had to make them, aren't they?

Right and the SegaCD/MegaCD should have warned Sega of Japan that they can't just dump complex hardware on developers without proper devlopment kits. There is nothing really wrong with the Sega Saturn hardware, late Japanese titles showed that, the problem was Sega made it unnecessary difficult for developers.

gamevet
01-18-2009, 06:51 PM
My point was that even Sega didn't have the proper developer tools necessary, since they were the ones that had to make them and were struggling.

Sure, Sega wasn't exactly giving away programming information to its 3rd party publishers, but I don't believe Sega was using anything close to developer software to do it either. If that was the case, we wouldn't have seen such a horrible port of Sega Touring Car Championship on the Saturn.

cj iwakura
01-19-2009, 12:35 AM
It really makes me sad to look back on how badly the Saturn did, because I loved it from the day I finally got one, and it's still my favorite Sega system.

Even though my Sega CD's internal memory from 1995 is more reliable than the Saturn's, which is both hilarious and sad.

gamevet
01-19-2009, 12:40 AM
You just have to replace the battery once a year. Luckily, I have 2 memory carts.

cj iwakura
01-19-2009, 01:40 PM
I have a Action Replay 4-in-1, but it has a very annoying tendency to randomly wipe out the whole card.

This is especially bad when you have a Dragon Force save, which takes up about 260 blocks.

Psy
01-29-2009, 12:48 PM
My point was that even Sega didn't have the proper developer tools necessary, since they were the ones that had to make them and were struggling.

Sure, Sega wasn't exactly giving away programming information to its 3rd party publishers, but I don't believe Sega was using anything close to developer software to do it either. If that was the case, we wouldn't have seen such a horrible port of Sega Touring Car Championship on the Saturn.
Sega did release more complex arcade boards prior to the Sega Saturn like the Y Board with three 68K processors and was used for G-Loc and Power Drift (and a few other titles), the difference was that these boards were engineered in tandem with arcade games for the hardware while the Sega Saturn was engineered with no game in mind as it was the first major home system Sega built from scratch instead of based on their existing arcade hardware (thus they couldn't tweak the hardware for Sega's game designers). Really at the time of the Saturn's devlopment Sega had no clear vision of what to do with their home hardware thus they wasted too much time changing the specs of the Saturn even before the major redesign when Sega learned of the Playstation specs thus the devlopment tools for the final hardware were rushed.

Like I said by 1998 Japanese developers no longer had issues with programing the Saturn yet by then it was too late.

tomaitheous
01-29-2009, 01:02 PM
Sega did release more complex arcade boards prior to the Sega Saturn like the Y Board with three 68K processors and was used for G-Loc and Power Drift (and a few other titles), the difference was that these boards were engineered in tandem with arcade games for the hardware while the Sega Saturn was engineered with no game in mind as it was the first major home system Sega built from scratch instead of based on their existing arcade hardware (thus they couldn't tweak the hardware for Sega's game designers). Really at the time of the Saturn's devlopment Sega had no clear vision of what to do with their home hardware thus they wasted too much time changing the specs of the Saturn even before the major redesign when Sega learned of the Playstation specs thus the devlopment tools for the final hardware were rushed.

Like I said by 1998 Japanese developers no longer had issues with programing the Saturn yet by then it was too late.

That's not really true. The Saturn has quite a bit of similarities and tech copied from the system 32 in the graphics arrangment.

Also, they had to have some sort specific vision of what they were designing for. There's no way a company is going to spend millions on development to just to say, "Hey, we're not sure what this system is actually tailored for or going to do, but here it is".

As the Sega Bible tells us; once upon a time Sega set out to make a home system based on the system32 (an upgrade too). Sony came along and introduced its specs for its system. Already in development, Sega made later additions to bring the system up. The Saturn does polygons by warping sprites - hence quads instead of triangles. There is no real 3D hardware in the saturn per say.

Psy
01-29-2009, 01:57 PM
That's not really true. The Saturn has quite a bit of similarities and tech copied from the system 32 in the graphics arrangment.

Also, they had to have some sort specific vision of what they were designing for. There's no way a company is going to spend millions on development to just to say, "Hey, we're not sure what this system is actually tailored for or going to do, but here it is".

As the Sega Bible tells us; once upon a time Sega set out to make a home system based on the system32 (an upgrade too). Sony came along and introduced its specs for its system. Already in development, Sega made later additions to bring the system up. The Saturn does polygons by warping sprites - hence quads instead of triangles. There is no real 3D hardware in the saturn per say.

The Saturn performance was still highely theoretical when its specs were finalized, and at the time Sega had no arcade board like the Saturn to which borrow devlopment tools from. As for the Saturn it started devlopment back in 1991 as the GigaDrive before the model 1 was released, the GigaDrive devlopment was starting up as the MegaCD devlopment was finishing up.

Tanegashima
08-01-2010, 05:58 AM
I'm still upset we've not debated if the Confederacy won, would there have been a Sega Saturn? Would the Confederacy have been PAL or NTSC? How would Nintendo have fared in the CSA? Could Sega have dominated the South? What if Zanzibar had won the Anglo-Zanzibar war?!! Could SEGA have held on in the UK as long as they did?

gamegenie
08-01-2010, 08:26 AM
If Sega as a whole had done this, things might have gone much better; unfortunately SOJ seems to have had their minds made up and didn't defer to Kalinske as to how to handle things in the US on this one, much less in Japan--but what if they had listended to him, even just about the US situation? What if all of us "informed" gamers (who read EGM, r.i.p.) had known that we were being denied the next generation Sega console, and that the person doing it was the savior of the Genesis? How would the informed US hard-core Sega fans have reacted, and would this have been significantly different from the general reaction of the US Sega customer base? Could Kalinske have squeezed that much more life out of the Genesis and it's ecosystem, or would we have protested being stuck with that while Japanese gamers got to play those amazing 3D games?

And...discuss. ;)
I read Game Informer back in those days, and I remember being naive to the idea that the Saturn and PlayStation would actually come to the US. The Genesis and Super Nintendo were the main platforms, I didn't think there was a need for them to be replaced.

I don't think US gamers/hard-core gamers would have cared if Saturn or even for that matter PlayStation never came to US, it would have been like those other only in Japan consoles.

Both SEGA and Nintendo would have benefited as they would have continued their competition here, and we probably would have saw more titles for 32X get released and maybe the Neptune unit by 1996 to compete with Nintendo 64.