Quantcast

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 20

Thread: Hideki Sato Mega Drive Famitsu Interview

  1. #1
    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingWildside Expert MushaAleste's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Posts
    195
    Rep Power
    8

    Default Hideki Sato Mega Drive Famitsu Interview

    Here are translated parts from Hideki Sato's Interview from the current Famitsu. Credit goes to siliconera for the translation.

    Famitsu: I believe the ways of hardware development have changed a bit since the Mega Drive days, but tell us about some of the concepts that went into the planning of Mega Drive.

    Hideki Sato: “In short, we just wanted to make a game console that could beat Nintendo. We released our very first video game console, the SG-1000, and it sold 160,000 units. Those were huge numbers, considering Sega has only made arcade games that sold no more than several thousand units up until then. However, it stood no chance against the Family Computer, which released on the same day…

    Back then, we had some Sega employees check out department stores to see the product packaging and customer reaction, but instead what we saw were Family Computers flying off the shelves, right before our eyes. They said that it was about ten for every one who purchased the SG-1000.”


    What was your analysis on the difference there, Sato-san?

    Hideki Sato: “I thought the difference was in software. Honestly, the software quality wasn’t that great. The reason was because the company saw video game consoles as as an extra or bonus, in a sense. We couldn’t get our in-house development team to budge. We had no choice but to outsource the software, but against Nintendo’s fine software, it just wasn’t meant to be.”


    And that’s why you decided to improve on software for the next hardware?

    Hideki Sato: “Yes. They also finally saw consoles as a business opportunity thanks to the SG-1000. That said, the situation at the time made it difficult to suddenly focus on new titles for the next-generation. So we pitched the idea of “being able to play hit arcade games as they are” and began development on the next-generation console.”


    I see.

    Hideki Sato: “However, we needed a 16-bit CPU in order to port arcade games (the Family Computer had an 8-bit CPU). We went with one called the MC68000… but it was so expensive. Just having this part in the device itself made its price jump up, so it came with the problem of being too expensive for a console.”


    But I don’t remember the Mega Drive being particularly expensive…

    Hideki Sato: “Actually, we negotiated with the other party to have it sold to us for a tenth of the price. We told them ‘If you agree to sell it to us at that price, then we’ll buy 300,000 right now,’ and ‘If it goes well we’ll likely sell 500,000 or one million,’ and we somehow managed to negotiate.”

  2. #2
    Master of Shinobi Pyron's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    1,888
    Rep Power
    60

    Default

    Amazing interview, thanks for share.

    But in particular this part above is very true until today, sadly SEGA didn't take the lesson ahead before of MD


    Quote Originally Posted by MushaAleste View Post
    What was your analysis on the difference there, Sato-san?

    Hideki Sato: “I thought the difference was in software. Honestly, the software quality wasn’t that great. The reason was because the company saw video game consoles as as an extra or bonus, in a sense. We couldn’t get our in-house development team to budge. We had no choice but to outsource the software, but against Nintendo’s fine software, it just wasn’t meant to be.”

    Visit my youtube channel Pyron's Lair
    Take here all my hacks made with love for all of us here
    Want to help me? Here is my Patreon!

  3. #3

    Default

    A bit of a strange ending to that interview.The SMS or MK3 had good software most of it only released in europe/brazil but developped in japan. Quite strange... The hype was real with the famicom the SG1000 couldn't stop that .If you compare the SG 1000 version of Wonderboy to the Super Mario bros on the NES. You also know that the SG1000 was seriously lagging behind

  4. #4
    Wildside Expert
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Age
    40
    Posts
    123
    Rep Power
    14

    Default

    The interview seems to conflate the SG-1000 situation with the Mark III/Master System's maybe for expedience. Or maybe that's just how he remembers the whole thing, over 30 years later. It's probably true about the SG-1000, but Sega's home teams got on the case with the Master System and made better games, even though they really stepped up with the Genesis. A lot of the European/Brazil exclusives were actually outsourced, though, since Sega's internal departments were on the Genesis by then.

  5. #5
    Zebbe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Täby, Kingdom of Sweden
    Age
    34
    Posts
    9,069
    Rep Power
    125

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by highlandcattle View Post
    A bit of a strange ending to that interview.
    OP stated it was only parts of it, so the last of it isn't necessarily the end.
    New user who wants access to the forum? PM Melf!

  6. #6
    Wildside Expert
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Sweden
    Posts
    106
    Rep Power
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Zebbe View Post
    OP stated it was only parts of it, so the last of it isn't necessarily the end.
    I'd love to read the rest, it seems like an interesting interview.

  7. #7
    Zebbe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Täby, Kingdom of Sweden
    Age
    34
    Posts
    9,069
    Rep Power
    125

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lion View Post
    I'd love to read the rest, it seems like an interesting interview.
    Yeah, me too!
    New user who wants access to the forum? PM Melf!

  8. #8
    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingWildside Expert Yohko16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Posts
    200
    Rep Power
    4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jules Walter View Post
    It's probably true about the SG-1000, but Sega's home teams got on the case with the Master System and made better games, even though they really stepped up with the Genesis
    But the SG-1000 has some pretty good games actually but the hardware was a bit too limited, basically a MSX in console form and it's clear that Sega didn't consider console gaming seriously by this point and only took off later on with the Master System and even more with the Mega Drive!

  9. #9
    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingWildside Expert MushaAleste's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Posts
    195
    Rep Power
    8

    Default

    FAMITSU 15/Dec #1561 - This issue has a 30th anniversary Mega Drive special with interviews with Masami Ishikawa & Hideki Sato.

    Here is Ishikawa's interview translated to french ->

    http://www.sega-mag.com/Interview+++...news-11239.htm

    s-l1600.jpg

  10. #10
    Wildside Expert
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Age
    40
    Posts
    123
    Rep Power
    14

    Default

    If anyone cares, I can translate it back into English.

  11. #11
    Wildside Expert
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Age
    40
    Posts
    123
    Rep Power
    14

    Default

    Alright, I ended up translating the rest of the interview anyway. It turns out we can probably add the TeraDrive to the list of failed systems that brought down Sega. The previously untranslated portion begins right after the part posted above:

    Famitsu : So that sort of thing was happening in the background during the Mega Drive's development.

    Hideki Sato: Right. We were able to keep the costs down, which opened up new perspectives for us. And that's when we started thinking of doing more... We didn't want the Mega Drive to be just a game console. It had to be ready to accommodate new technologies as they gained in popularity, so we equipped it with various ports for peripherals.

    Famitsu: You turned out to have the right idea.

    Hideki Sato: At the time, when I saw the PC Engine go with CD-ROMs, with their amazing storage capacity, I became convinced that the demand for that support was going to explode before long. The rounded design of the cartridge slot, by the way, was directly inspired by the CD-ROM's shape.

    Famitsu: I'd never heard that before, about the design.

    Hideki Sato: We also tried a karaoke system, since they were trendy, and we thought of a disk-based saving system... We wanted the machine to be able to respond to our different demands, that's why we had "AV INTELLIGENT TERMINAL" and "HIGH GRADE MULTIPURPOSE USE" printed on it.

    Famitsu: That's right, I remember seeing that on the early models!

    Hideki Sato: Out of all these possible applications, we focused on communications. We thought of having a modem so you could play against people at a distance... Of course, today that seems obvious (laughs).

    Famitsu: It was a forward-thinking project. In terms of capabilities, the Mega Drive was ahead of its time. The Super Famicom was brought to market two years later in 1990, but the Mega Drive seems to have had the edge in terms of basic capacities.

    Hideki Sato. True. However, I wonder if being first is a good thing or not. No matter what happens, when you release a console after another, people get the impression it's superior. But if SEGA had had Nintendo's selling power, by releasing the Mega Drive first we could have built up a considerable advance. Unfortunately, at that time, we knew practically nothing about distributing a home console. In the end, Nintendo was able to gain a huge advantage.

    Famitsu: Sonic became a worldwide hit in 1991. Is there any story you'd like to share about that time?

    Hideki Sato: Up until Sonic came out, we always wanted a game that would beat Super Mario. We even worked on a game that was very similar. In the end, it was just a knock-off, and it couldn't beat the original. So we took the opposite approach and banked on speed instead with Sonic. At the time, Al Nilsen, who was the head of marketing at Sega of America, had gotten attached to the character. He was ready to put the entire marketing budget behind it, and he wanted to do an ad comparing the two games. In Japan, badmouthing a competitor is unthinkable, but in America it was a common marketing technique. In the end, the ad was very popular, and Sonic become a hit. Without Al Nilsen, Sonic would have probably never become so big.

    Famitsu: That bold ad worked for the best.

    Hideki Sato: Yes. In Japan the hype was modest, but in North America the game was even packaged with the console, and for the first time, the Genesis beat Nintendo to become number one. That was our first victory over Nintendo (laughs).
    When they saw our success in the US, third parties came to us, and things started going well. All the same, in Japan, we were fighting for the arcade market with big developers like Namco and Konami, and I don't know if they gave it their best. I think it might be one of the main reasons for our lack of success at home.

    Famitsu: There were also things like that going on...

    Hideki Sato: That was one aspect of it. And maybe the fact that SEGA made so many arcade games* had a negative effect. We took care of the popular genres ourselves while letting the third parties handle the rest, in a way. It would have been nice to be able to worry only about our games, like Nintendo did, but unfortunately Sega games didn't have that kind of selling power.

    Famitsu: I understand how hard that struggle must have been in Japan. However, it was a big victory in America, so it must have been profitable, no?

    Hideki Sato: We turned a profit, yes, but...

    Famitsu: But?

    Hideki Sato: After that, we made a deal with IBM Japan to build a computer together; the TeraDrive. PCs were expensive and hard to use, so we had to find a way to make them more accessible to the general public.
    With the Genesis' success, Sega was chosen to include an entertainment system that would attract a young audience towards the PC. In one of our development documents, it said "at about 200,000 yen per computer, if we sell a million, that's a 100,000 billion yen!". That was our objective, but... things didn't go well (bitter laugh).

    Famitsu: So you used parts of the profit of the Mega Drive to develop the TeraDrive?

    Hideki Sato: Exactly. All kinds of problems stacked up, and in the end the TeraDrive didn't sell. And this failure cost us heavy losses.

    Famitsu: When you'd been able to make money with the Mega Drive! You could call that "typical SEGA"... (laughs).

    *I believe he's referring to arcade-style Genesis games here.

    Anyway, that was my first translation. Turned out to be a bit more work than I expected, but hopefully it turned out well. Certainly better than Google Translate, in any case. It's a cool interview. I've always thought of the TeraDrive as a footnote, but if this is anything to go by, it seems like it was a huge strain on Sega's finances.
    Last edited by Jules Walter; 11-13-2018 at 09:33 AM.

  12. #12
    Mega Driver Hedgehog-in-TrainingMaster of Shinobi Gryson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Posts
    1,093
    Rep Power
    40

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jules Walter View Post
    Alright, I ended up translating the rest of the interview anyway. It turns out we can probably add the TeraDrive to the list of failed systems that brought down Sega. The previously untranslated portion begins right after the part posted above:

    Famitsu : So that sort of thing was happening in the background during the Mega Drive's development.

    Hideki Sato: Right. We were able to keep the costs down, which opened up new perspectives for us. And that's when we started thinking of doing more... We didn't want the Mega Drive to be just a game console. It had to be ready to accommodate new technologies as they gained in popularity, so we equipped it with various ports for peripherals.

    Famitsu: You turned out to have the right idea.

    Hideki Sato: At the time, when I saw the PC Engine go with CD-ROMs, with their amazing storage capacity, I became convinced that the demand for that support was going to explode before long. The rounded design of the cartridge slot, by the way, was directly inspired by the CD-ROM's shape.

    Famitsu: I'd never heard that before, about the design.

    Hideki Sato: We also tried a karaoke system, since they were trendy, and we thought of a disk-based saving system... We wanted the machine to be able to respond to our different demands, that's why we had "AV INTELLIGENT TERMINAL" and "HIGH GRADE MULTIPURPOSE USE" printed on it.

    Famitsu: That's right, I remember seeing that on the early models!

    Hideki Sato: Out of all these possible applications, we focused on communications. We thought of having a modem so you could play against people at a distance... Of course, today that seems obvious (laughs).

    Famitsu: It was a forward-thinking project. In terms of capabilities, the Mega Drive was ahead of its time. The Super Famicom was brought to market two years later in 1990, but the Mega Drive seems to have had the edge in terms of basic capacities.

    Hideki Sato. True. However, I wonder if being first is a good thing or not. No matter what happens, when you release a console after another, people get the impression it's superior. But if SEGA had had Nintendo's selling power, by releasing the Mega Drive first we could have built up a considerable advance. Unfortunately, at that time, we knew practically nothing about distributing a home console. In the end, Nintendo was able to gain a huge advantage.

    Famitsu: Sonic became a worldwide hit in 1991. Is there any story you'd like to share about that time?

    Hideki Sato: Up until Sonic came out, we always wanted a game that would beat Super Mario. We even worked on a game that was very similar. In the end, it was just a knock-off, and it couldn't beat the original. So we took the opposite approach and banked on speed instead with Sonic. At the time, Al Nilsen, who was the head of marketing at Sega of America, had gotten attached to the character. He was ready to put the entire marketing budget behind it, and he wanted to do an ad comparing the two games. In Japan, badmouthing a competitor is unthinkable, but in America it was a common marketing technique. In the end, the ad was very popular, and Sonic become a hit. Without Al Nilsen, Sonic would have probably never become so big.

    Famitsu: That bold ad worked for the best.

    Hideki Sato: Yes. In Japan the hype was modest, but in North America the game was even packaged with the console, and for the first time, the Genesis beat Nintendo to become number one. That was our first victory over Nintendo (laughs).
    When they saw our success in the US, third parties came to us, and things started going well. All the same, in Japan, we were fighting for the arcade market with big developers like Namco and Konami, and I don't know if they gave it their best. I think it might be one of the main reasons for our lack of success at home.

    Famitsu: There were also things like that going on...

    Hideki Sato: That was one aspect of it. And maybe the fact that SEGA made so many arcade games* had a negative effect. We took care of the popular genres ourselves while letting the third parties handle the rest, in a way. It would have been nice to be able to worry only about our games, like Nintendo did, but unfortunately Sega games didn't have that kind of selling power.

    Famitsu: I understand how hard that struggle must have been in Japan. However, it was a big victory in America, so it must have been profitable, no?

    Hideki Sato: We turned a profit, yes, but...

    Famitsu: But?

    Hideki Sato: Later on, we made a deal with IBM Japan to build a computer together; the TeraDrive. PCs were expensive and hard to use, so we had to find a way to make them more accessible to the general public.
    With the Genesis' success, Sega was chosen to include an entertainment system that would attract a young audience towards the PC. In one of our development documents, it said "at about 200,000 yen per computer, if we sell a million, that's a 100,000 billion yen!". That was our objective, but... things didn't go well (bitter laugh).

    Famitsu: So you used parts of the profit of the Mega Drive to develop the TeraDrive?

    Hideki Sato: Exactly. All kinds of problems stacked up, and in the end the TeraDrive didn't sell. And this failure cost us heavy losses.

    Famitsu: When you'd been able to make money with the Mega Drive! You could call that "typical SEGA"... (laughs).

    *I believe he's referring to arcade-style Genesis games here.

    Anyway, that was my first translation. Turned out to be a bit more work than I expected, but hopefully it turned out well. Certainly better than Google Translate, in any case. It's a cool interview. I've always thought of the TeraDrive as a footnote, but if this is anything to go by, it seems like it was a huge strain on Sega's finances.
    I wouldn't read too much into what he's saying. Remember, the Tera Drive came out early 1991, way before the Genesis had started to peak. No doubt it cost Sega money, but they were still able to drive a healthy profit for the next four years. The Tera Drive really is just one in a number of innovative yet risky developments from Sega dating back to 1984. As Sega was growing in the 90s, they started to reinvest more and more of their profits into these kinds of risky projects, most of which cost them money to some degree. I think Sato is using the Tera Drive as an illustrative example here.

    But I think it's undeniable that the primary reason for Sega's financial hardships was the high cost of developing, manufacturing, marketing, and supporting the Saturn/32X. Anything else does seem like a footnote in comparison.

    Regardless, thanks a million for the translation!

  13. #13
    Wildside Expert
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Age
    40
    Posts
    123
    Rep Power
    14

    Default

    I think I've seen numbers for those years before, but I don't think they separated the home division from arcades. Do you know if numbers like that are available? I'm curious about the 8-bit line, as well. Regardless of the fact that they sold poorly in Japan, I wonder whether that actually amounted to a loss or if the costs were low enough that it didn't. I also wonder how much impact the Master System's success in Europe and later Brazil had on SOJ back home, if any.

    EDIT - Looking back at the context, Sato is talking about 1991 specifically when he mentions the TeraDrive losing money. He was just talking about Sonic making the Genesis popular (in 1991), and the TeraDrive came out the same year. So Gryson is right that he's not blaming that for Sega's later misfortunes, but simply saying it put a damper on their success that year. I changed "Later on" to "After that" in that sentence to reflect that the events followed one another more closely than I thought (it's closer to the French translation, too.)

    I wonder if the PICO made money? And the Game Gear? It had pretty decent sales, and software support lasted a good while...

    Also, the same French site translated another interview from the November 1st Famitsu issue, this time with Masami Ishikawa, who designed the Mega Drive / Genesis hardware under Hideki Sato. I might do it tomorrow if I can handle the technical language. One interesting tidbit; according to him, the Mega Drive's outer shell had been designed before the actual internal hardware, and he had to make sure to fit everything inside. His main instruction was to make the system as close as possible to the System-16 arcade board.
    Last edited by Jules Walter; 11-13-2018 at 09:53 AM.

  14. #14
    Raging in the Streets Sik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    3,688
    Rep Power
    65

    Default

    About the Tera Drive, it's known from e-mails recovered from a hard disk that there was a patent dispute that forced Sega to price the Tera Drive much higher than it was originally intended to be (so um, yeah, cue significant losses… fuck patent trolls).

    And about the Pico, erm, well, I recall there being games coming out as late as 2004, and the Pico even got a successor (the Beena, though I don't think that one lasted long), so yeah it's probably safe to guess that one turned a profit in Japan.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    But I think it's undeniable that the primary reason for Sega's financial hardships was the high cost of developing, manufacturing, marketing, and supporting the Saturn/32X. Anything else does seem like a footnote in comparison.
    Not to mention SOJ and SOA constantly sabotaging each other during that era. Let's just say that SOJ really didn't like SOA taking decisions on their own, yet SOJ themselves were also taking some really atrocious choices. Add to that how that early PS1 tech demo made it look like the Saturn wasn't worth shit and well…

  15. #15
    Mega Driver Hedgehog-in-TrainingMaster of Shinobi Gryson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Posts
    1,093
    Rep Power
    40

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jules Walter View Post
    I think I've seen numbers for those years before, but I don't think they separated the home division from arcades. Do you know if numbers like that are available? I'm curious about the 8-bit line, as well. Regardless of the fact that they sold poorly in Japan, I wonder whether that actually amounted to a loss or if the costs were low enough that it didn't. I also wonder how much impact the Master System's success in Europe and later Brazil had on SOJ back home, if any.
    There are annual reports that divide revenue by division. This one shows back to 1993 (p. 8):

    https://segaretro.org/File:AnnualReport1998_English.pdf

    I don't have info before that at hand now, but it is outlined in some of the Japanese books on the business side of Sega.

    Sega was always a profitable company until 1998 (its first year in the red). The single biggest year of revenue growth was 1992 (or possibly 1993 - they're close).

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •