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Thread: Japan execs were upset that Kalinske was allowed to resign w/o taking blame for 32X

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    Mega Driver Hedgehog-in-TrainingMaster of Shinobi Gryson's Avatar
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    The Saturn architecture was just too different for backward compatibility. The last thing the Saturn needed was more components (although fun to think about, haha).

    There was initial talk at SOA about using the Motorola 68020 for the Saturn, with one of the reasons being backward compatibility, but Hideki Sato (rightfully) decided it would not be powerful enough for a next-gen console.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    The Saturn architecture was just too different for backward compatibility. The last thing the Saturn needed was more components (although fun to think about, haha).

    There was initial talk at SOA about using the Motorola 68020 for the Saturn, with one of the reasons being backward compatibility, but Hideki Sato (rightfully) decided it would not be powerful enough for a next-gen console.
    That's what I mean though, they needed to either redesign the 32X and Saturn to be more similar to one another, or drop one if that wasn't possible.
    No other company has ever released two incompatible home consoles within a year because cannibalizing your own market like that is pure insanity.
    Last edited by axel; 05-02-2022 at 03:23 AM.

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    Mega Driver Hedgehog-in-TrainingMaster of Shinobi Gryson's Avatar
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    Here's a revealing quote from Nakayama that I've just translated. It comes from his speech at the Securities Analysts Association of Japan meeting, July 26, 1994.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sega president Hayao Nakayama
    This year’s holiday season will see the fight begin between Sony and Sega. The question at the forefront of everyone’s mind is how many units a 50,000-yen console can sell, but this is something that we’ll never know without trying. Regardless, within the Japanese market, our efforts will be centered on the Saturn. Regarding the 3DO, our predictions are generally coming true. Matsushita is applying its full force in Japan to drive sales of about 150,000 units, and by the end of the year this might reach 200,000 or 250,000 units. However, in America, the 3DO has not been very well received, and it’s still not selling well at all. I’d call it an overwhelming defeat. If you make a mistake with a launch in the American market, it’s very difficult to recover. The first problem is that retailers won’t carry your product. Therefore, neither Sony nor Sega is going to put our 32-bit consoles on the market in America. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’ll never release them there. At Sega, we’ve come up with a new strategy, something never before done. That strategy is to compete in the American and Japanese markets with different game consoles.

    In America, Sega will release a 32-bit console called the Genesis 32X. This is an attachment for the current 16-bit console that will turn it into a 32-bit console, and it doesn’t have a CD-ROM drive. It uses cartridges. Our 16-bit console has sold over 10 million units in America, so it will be possible for those users to convert their current 16-bit consoles into new 32-bit powered consoles and to experience 32-bit games for a price of around $150, rather than $500. This is the strategy we’ve decided to pursue in America.

    Putting out two consoles at the same time is going to create confusion in the market, so we’re going to clearly divide our strategy. Up to now, we’ve released our consoles first in Japan and then after that in America. However, now we’re trying something different: we’re going to release different consoles at the same time in each region. With the current trends, I think this is the best marketing strategy for us.

    The 16-bit home console market has finally peaked, and we’re currently in the down season. Therefore, I don’t expect the new console generation to really take off until next year’s Christmas season. The new console hardware is being launched in a hurry, so it’s not going to be a sudden explosive growth in business like we’ve seen so far. This will be true for Nintendo as well. Even with a lot of support, the big take off phase won’t be this year, but rather next year.
    I don't think it gets any clearer than this.

    Sega's strategy was to give SOA their 32X and let them market it (which is what Kalinske wanted), while Japan focused on the Saturn.

    The 32X and Saturn were never meant to compete against each other in the US. The reason Nakayama pushed up the release of the Saturn in the US was because the 32X bombed.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    Here's a revealing quote from Nakayama that I've just translated. It comes from his speech at the Securities Analysts Association of Japan meeting, July 26, 1994.



    I don't think it gets any clearer than this.

    Sega's strategy was to give SOA their 32X and let them market it (which is what Kalinske wanted), while Japan focused on the Saturn.

    The 32X and Saturn were never meant to compete against each other in the US. The reason Nakayama pushed up the release of the Saturn in the US was because the 32X bombed.
    Yes that does make it clear. There's a reason no other company had tried that: It doesn't work. It's like fighting a war on two fronts.
    Development resources are stretched thin and you end up with few quality games on either platform.

    Even if the 32X had had a better launch, the American consumers were not stupid, within months word would get around that Sega already has a much more powerful console out in Japan and it's only a matter of time before it reaches North America. In today's dollars the 32X would be a $300 upgrade. People who spend that much on add-ons tend to be well informed on where the market is going. Nobody wants to buy something that's about to be obsolete, unless they can get it dirt cheap.

    That's why I say having something like the Series X and S would have been the way to go, because you can still target two price points without doubling software development. Maybe a 32X with a single SH-2 and something resembling Saturn VDP1? I guess that wasn't possible in 1994 or they would have done it.

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    Mega Driver Hedgehog-in-TrainingMaster of Shinobi Gryson's Avatar
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    There was also the 'Jupiter' option - a cartridge-based Saturn, which would have shaved $100 off the price tag. But probably not a good option since it would have caused confusion with developers and users.

    The ultimate problem is that SOA saw it as simply untenable to market the Saturn due to its price. I wish more had been done to overcome this notion. I mean, if Sega had just committed to taking a huge loss on the hardware from the beginning... (they ended up doing it anyway).

    Let me throw out some more old quotes in case people haven't seen them.

    The first, from the Sept 1993 issue of Computer Trade Weekly (UK) featuring Tom Kalinske. Already at that point he was vocally against a high-priced console.

    Quote Originally Posted by SOA president Tom Kalinske
    It's a question of being able to launch the machine at the right price and I'm not interested in marketing any machine over £350. Unfortunately, I don't think that's a problem we're going to be able to solve this year or next.
    The next two, from Mega Drive Collected Works featuring Nakayama and Toyoda on the 32X.

    Quote Originally Posted by SOA vice president Shinobu Toyoda
    Our issue was that it [Saturn] was far too expensive. The Genesis was selling at $149, but the Sega Saturn looked likely to be a $399 machine. That sort of price had never been seen before. So Joe Miller said to Nakayama, in front of everyone, that if we created an add-on to the Genesis, and used a part of its guts, we could deliver the performance of the Saturn at half the price. So Joe started to draw the diagram of how we’d do that, and that was the 32X. It was in that room with just five or six of us that it all started.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sega president Hayao Nakayama
    The main worry was the high production cost of the Saturn. We had a lot of discussions with Sega of America about this, and we came to the conclusion that it would be worth using the huge customer base of the Genesis rather than switching to the Saturn. Sega of America insisted that US consumers could not afford the new console, and because of the team’s great success with the Genesis, Sega of Japan finally relented [concerning the 32X].

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    ESWAT Veteran Team Andromeda's Avatar
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    Its so sad that Okawa-san and Nakayama-san had a falling out. Nakayama-san was SEGA and he's get's little credit for it, but he transformed SEGA with massive investments in both the consume and Arcade side. Sure he was lose with money and allowed the teams to do what they wanted to do, but that was part of the fun and the ride of being a SEGA Fan. I would almost bet that if Nakayama-san didn't stand down, we would have had a Model 4 Arcade board.

    I can't prove it , but to me its the reason why GameArts developed for other consoles, that would have never happened under Nakayama-san and him going is was made staff like Ohshima-san and
    Ishii-san leave and they said on Twitter and while Tom will never admit to it, that's the reason he left SEGA Americam as Nakayama-san was he main backer at SEGA Japan.

    Nakayama-san did so much for SEGA .
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  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by axel View Post
    That's what I mean though, they needed to either redesign the 32X and Saturn to be more similar to one another, or drop one if that wasn't possible.
    No other company has ever released two incompatible home consoles within a year because cannibalizing your own market like that is pure insanity.
    SEGA did release 3 consoles in 3 years (1983-1985), with the Mark I, II and III. Commodore did the same thing with their computers. Those weren’t expensive hardware though.
    A Black Falcon: no, computer games and video games are NOT the same thing. Video games are on consoles, computer games are on PC. The two kinds of games are different, and have significantly different design styles, distribution methods, and game genre selections. Computer gaming and console (video) gaming are NOT the same thing."



  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    There was also the 'Jupiter' option - a cartridge-based Saturn, which would have shaved $100 off the price tag. But probably not a good option since it would have caused confusion with developers and users.

    The ultimate problem is that SOA saw it as simply untenable to market the Saturn due to its price. I wish more had been done to overcome this notion. I mean, if Sega had just committed to taking a huge loss on the hardware from the beginning... (they ended up doing it anyway).
    I agree with you - a lower priced Saturn would have eliminated the need for the 32X and solved a lot of problems. I would have liked Jupiter, I was never a big fan of CDs back in the day because of the loading times.

    Quote Originally Posted by gamevet View Post
    SEGA did release 3 consoles in 3 years (1983-1985), with the Mark I, II and III. Commodore did the same thing with their computers. Those weren’t expensive hardware though.
    I don't consider the Mark II a new console but yes that works when everything is similar and backwards compatible.

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    Honestly these interviews you keep finding shed a lot more light on the situations. While both Sega of Japan and Sega of America made some questionable decisions with the Saturn, it seems Sega of America's did by far the most damage in the long run.

  10. #25
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    I'll also add that when you consider the 32X in the light I've presented here, a lot of things make sense.

    For example, Tom Kalinske has often said that the moment he lost power in the company came with the Saturn's release:

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kalinske
    In many respects, [there] may have been conflict, but [Japan] also basically let us do what we wanted for a long time, and I think the 32X is another example of that. At the end of the Genesis’ lifecycle, we knew that other competitors were working with 32bit technology. And we were really simply trying to extend the life of the Genesis. We knew that the 32x wasn't a significant new platform, everyone knew that, the idea was that we could at least make a claim of 32 bit technology to extend the life of the Genesis. I actually thought that it worked pretty well, because the Saturn wasn't ready to enter. In fact it wasn't ready next year when we had to introduce it. I would say that that was bigger time of conflict with Japan we were basically gonna be forced to introduce Saturn, there wasn't enough software available for it, the price of the chipset (…) was too expensive, there was limited production capacity, we couldn't get enough units to do a introduction that would satisfy all retailers in the United States. So we had to say “Okay, we'll do a limited introduction and we'll only introduce it with the top three retailers and we'll lead everyone else out.” They won't get any profit. Well, that made everyone very upset. You know, it was a ridiculous thing to do frankly. But, I would say that was the bigger conflict, not the conflict over whether to do a 32X or not.
    This makes sense if you see the 32X as the point at which Kalinske lost the company's trust.

    In more recent years, Kalinske has made some outlandish claims that he lost power because managers in Japan resented his success (this is rather absurd; most managers at Sega Enterprises, SOA's parent company, were ecstatic at SOA's success, since it all flowed back up to the parent company, and there is plenty of evidence of this). But in light of the first post in this thread, it does seem possible that there may have been managers calling for his blood - not out of spite, but because of the 32X fiasco.

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    In fairness to Tom, SEGA was not going to be able to sell the Saturn for $400 in North America. I think that he looked at the hardware, along with hardware guys and they came to the conclusion that he had hardware that had too many parts to be a system that could be sold like a razor. When he looked at the Genesis, he saw that he had a razor, that he could sell at cost and make the profits on the software. The Saturn was never going to be a cheap razor.

    That being said, the 32x was a mistake. In a world where the PlayStation and Saturn weren’t released in Japan in 1994, it would make sense. But, any enthusiast gamer that knew about the PS and Saturn, surely weren’t going to waste their money on a half-asses add-on, when they had their eyes on those sexy machines.
    A Black Falcon: no, computer games and video games are NOT the same thing. Video games are on consoles, computer games are on PC. The two kinds of games are different, and have significantly different design styles, distribution methods, and game genre selections. Computer gaming and console (video) gaming are NOT the same thing."



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    No other company has ever released two incompatible home consoles within a year because cannibalizing your own market like that is pure insanity.
    Quote Originally Posted by gamevet View Post
    SEGA did release 3 consoles in 3 years (1983-1985), with the Mark I, II and III. Commodore did the same thing with their computers. Those weren’t expensive hardware though.
    There is no Mark I or Mark III. The SG-1000 and SG-1000 II are the equivalent of the first two models of the Genesis.

    The "Sega Mark III" was a new console which was backwards compatible.
    Quote Originally Posted by year2kill06
    everyone knows nintendo is far way cooler than sega just face it nintendo has more better games and originals

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    Quote Originally Posted by gamevet View Post
    In fairness to Tom, SEGA was not going to be able to sell the Saturn for $400 in North America. I think that he looked at the hardware, along with hardware guys and they came to the conclusion that he had hardware that had too many parts to be a system that could be sold like a razor. When he looked at the Genesis, he saw that he had a razor, that he could sell at cost and make the profits on the software. The Saturn was never going to be a cheap razor.

    That being said, the 32x was a mistake. In a world where the PlayStation and Saturn weren’t released in Japan in 1994, it would make sense. But, any enthusiast gamer that knew about the PS and Saturn, surely weren’t going to waste their money on a half-asses add-on, when they had their eyes on those sexy machines.
    The Saturn was way overengineered. It's like they threw in everything and the kitchen sink. The MD and Dreamcast had much cleaner designs, maybe due to their arcade heritage. I think once they saw what it was going to cost to build and how hard it was going to be to get good performance, they should have thrown out the design and started over.

    Over the last couple years I watched the same thing happen with the Intellivision Amico. What started off as a simple 2D console ballooned into a $340 per unit boondoggle with performance on par with an old cell phone. Kevtris went over it in detail awhile back, he called it a boomer design for things like using old school ribbon cables and and having three circuit boards when one would have sufficed. At this point it has no chance of ever going into production because no one is going to pay that much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Black_Tiger View Post
    There is no Mark I or Mark III. The SG-1000 and SG-1000 II are the equivalent of the first two models of the Genesis.

    The "Sega Mark III" was a new console which was backwards compatible.
    They are referred to by historians as Mark I, Mark II and Mark III.

    https://www.videogameconsolelibrary....m#page=reviews

    https://www.videogameconsolelibrary....m#page=reviews

    There were also color palette issues with some SG-1000 games on the Master System, so it wasn't totally BC.

    https://www.sega-16.com/forum/showth...opean%20system.
    A Black Falcon: no, computer games and video games are NOT the same thing. Video games are on consoles, computer games are on PC. The two kinds of games are different, and have significantly different design styles, distribution methods, and game genre selections. Computer gaming and console (video) gaming are NOT the same thing."



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    We know Tom spins his way out, just like any Salesman. They'll always take the credit for the good and none of the bad. To me, his most outlandish claim was that he did the EA SEGA deal, never mind he didn't join SEGA America until Sep 1990 after EA had already bought out its 1st MD game and the deal was done by David Rosen and Trip Hawkins in the spring of 1990

    I get why so many thought the 32X was a good idea and to be fair, it wasn't just Tom or SEGA America, most of SEGA Europe thought it would win, hell even the likes of id software did too, with them looking to put Doom on the 32X before any other next gen console and even DF Richard Leadbetter said he had just witnessed the winner of the 32 Bit war before it had even began, when 1st SEGA showed off the 32X.

    To me, April 1994 was the day the 32X should have been dropped. SEGA Japan had shown off the finished design of the Saturn and then committed to a Fall 1994 launch come what may. That's when all of SEGA should have just got behind and focused on one system for their and 3rd party next gen development. Also, allowing Naka-san or Sonic Team to call the shots was a mistake too. Saturn needed a Sonic game and it needed their best people working on it and Nakayama-san maybe could have just said to the team you can make your own 'dream' game but we need a 3D Sonci game 1st.

    And to me I never liked Irimajiri-san. I disliked his focus on being mainstream, totally disliked his talk of fewer Arcade conversions at the beginning of the DC (which had to be changed towards the end due to lack of games) or their research on the Saturn pad having too many buttons. Did not like the way SEGA Japan treated Camelot, Warp. I doubt ever would have happened under Nakayama-san. Not even too invite Camelot to the DC conference was very poor on SOJ part and I believe that was the day Camelot said they would never work with SEGA again.


    But given the massive costs in gaming tech, I doubt SEGA could have made its own consoles, no matter what, for that much longer. I'm just glad they're still around, still making the odd good game now and again and now that Nagoshi-san is gone, we may see some creativity back at SEGA Japan too





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