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Thread: The Saturn Early Launch in North America - Help Me Understand...

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    The Gentleman Thief Baloo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus View Post
    The Playstation would've smashed the Saturn in the United States with or without the early launch and with or without the 32x. Thinking otherwise is delusional. Better hardware. Much better software. Much stronger 3rd party support. SquareSoft. One look at Ridge Racer and Tekken compared to Virtua Fighter and Daytona USA is all you needed to see to make your decision.
    Honestly...the more I examine the Saturn library, the more I am inclined to agree. Lot of great PS1 games that never made it to Saturn, and a lot of ones that did got inferior ports. I am a SEGA fanboy, but even games like NBA Jam T.E. which for all intents and purposes should have been better on Saturn ended up as rush jobs.
    Last edited by Baloo; 07-28-2022 at 11:28 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baloo View Post
    Honestly...the more I examine the Saturn library, the more I am inclined to agree. Lot of great PS1 games that never made it to Saturn, and a lot of ones that did got inferior ports. I am a SEGA fanboy, but even games like NBA Jam T.E. which for all intents and purposes should have been better on Saturn ended up as rush jobs.
    Nothing was going to beat the PS1 that generation, that's a fact. But I do think without the mess of the 32X, the messy US launch, etc. the Saturn probably could have pulled off a solid 2nd place and beat the N64.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus View Post
    The Playstation would've smashed the Saturn in the United States with or without the early launch and with or without the 32x. Thinking otherwise is delusional. Better hardware. Much better software. Much stronger 3rd party support. SquareSoft. One look at Ridge Racer and Tekken compared to Virtua Fighter and Daytona USA is all you needed to see to make your decision.
    Except... the Saturn was able to beat the PlayStation in Japan for at least the first year on the market.

    Yes, Sony was a much more attractive partner than Sega for third party publishers. There's no denying that, and there's no way around it. That doesn't outright mean Sega was doomed from the beginning, though. Nintendo was able to push the N64 in North America almost entirely on its own.

    The single biggest problem with the Saturn in North America was Sega's failure to put out killer software targeting the American audience. The causes of that problem are numerous (see my previous post in this thread). A big part of that involved the 32X.

    The Saturn had a chance in an alternate reality where Sega could support it with Western-focused games from day 1, rather than getting caught up with the 32X. They were never going to beat Sony, but they could have had a profitable console.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryſon View Post
    Že Saturn had a chance in an alternate reality where Sega could ſupport it wiž Weſtern-focuſed games from day 1, ražer žan getting cauȝt up wiž že 32X. Žey were never going to beat Sony, but žey could have had a profitable conſole.
    I feel žat if SEGA hadn’t waſted time & reſources on že 32X, & given more love & commitment to že SEGA CD early on, cuſtomers would’ve had more faiž in že Saturn—not being burned by ſub-par ſoftware ſupport for expenſive hardware add-ons, which in turn would’ve ſet že ſtage for že Dreamcaſt having a better chance later on.  I  gueſs žis has been repeated a lot but SEGA really ſhot žemſelves in že foot in že public eye by half-aſſing two conſole add-ons before že Saturn even launched.  How many people do you žink ſkipped že Saturn becauſe of being burned by SEGA CD & 32X ?  How many of žoſe ſame people ſkipped Dreamcaſt altogežer too, žinking it too would be juſt anožer ſhort lived conſole ?  But žen že Dreamcaſt turned out to have ſuper aweſome games, arguably better žan že Saturn—or at leaſt catering more to trends of že time wiž more potential for weſtern ſucceſs.  How many people ſkipped out on Dreamcaſt, going inſtead for PS2 becauſe of že downward ſpiral žey’d ſeen SEGA go žru during že entirety of že 1990’s ? How much of žis could’ve been avoided if SEGA of America & Sega of Japan & Sega of Europe had acted as a ſingle company & actually liſtened to people žat knew že reſpective markets žey were working in? Clearly žey had ſomežing riȝt wiž že initial ſucceſs of že Geneſis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus View Post
    The Playstation would've smashed the Saturn in the United States with or without the early launch and with or without the 32x. Thinking otherwise is delusional. Better hardware. Much better software. Much stronger 3rd party support. SquareSoft. One look at Ridge Racer and Tekken compared to Virtua Fighter and Daytona USA is all you needed to see to make your decision.
    That was never in doubt for me. The issue I had is without the 32X and giving the task of making the 1st true 32-Bit version of Sonic to the Sonic Team.
    I really thought the Saturn could have easily beat the N64, more so in Europe; A system that had no Squaresoft, no answer to VF, VF2, Tekken, Tekken 2 or Rally and sucked for sports games, if one wants to use easy predicable cheapshots

    Quote Originally Posted by axel View Post
    It was Paul Rioux who talked up both the Neptune (as a combined Genesis/32X) and mythical 32X->Saturn adapter before either system had even launched. When neither of these things happened and the 32X was killed after mere months, it gave me the impression Sega had no plan and were simply flying by the seat of their pants.

    But I can see from this thread and the poll that I'm probably in the minority with this view, maybe it wasn't as widespread as I thought.
    .
    I was a nerd back then and I'm not joking, I had no girlfriend and other than drinking with my friends and footy, basically, all my money went on videogames and mean all of it, bar the odd item of clothing, holiday, but in the main, my mum was always getting m clothing (ok it help my mum old boss run her own fashion store). Not trying to get one over you or anything like that, but just reading any one of the major gaming mags in the UK, It was full of Saturn info and you basically knew when the system was coming out both in Japan and the West and so as a bit a nerd I did buy a number of gaming mags each month, but anyone one of them had info on the Saturn.

    In September 1994 my import shop boss already started to say the price you'll be looking at for the Saturn and the planned £350 started to turn in way over £500, it later when up to over £600 and then £640 in total which would be like over a grand today (crazy) I loved that time, the build up was amazing I couldn't wait for the Saturn and had silly wonderful ideas of Line Of Fire, Spiderman, Super Hang-On, Revenge of Death Adder coming to the Saturn and was in total glee that the Saturn was marking the era, when the AM teams were expected to port Arcade game themself's. I loved the interviews with AM#2, how they were working flat out on the VF on the Saturn, with no days off Ect. Looking back now it's quite sick (be happy with staff crunch) but at the time, I was loving the thought that SEGA AM teams were putting their hearts and souls into the Saturn.


    I'll never forget the day I had my import Saturn and 2 of my friends came over to play it, None of us could believe the graphics in VF or how close it was (silly we never really saw the lack of fingers LOL) and we just were amazed at the smoothness of the movement. My mate just loved Kage and on the weekend drinking in the Pub, he did endless Kage quotes pissed, people must have thought we were nuts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    Except... the Saturn was able to beat the PlayStation in Japan for at least the first year on the market.
    Virtua Fighter pretty much made that happen. There wasn’t a lot of good software for either console in 1994.

    Yes, Sony was a much more attractive partner than Sega for third party publishers. There's no denying that, and there's no way around it. That doesn't outright mean Sega was doomed from the beginning, though. Nintendo was able to push the N64 in North America almost entirely on its own.
    Mario 64 was probably one of the best, if not the best launch titles for a console. 3rd party support certainly had very little to do with the success of the N64, though one could make the argument for RARE’s games.


    The Saturn had a chance in an alternate reality where Sega could support it with Western-focused games from day 1, rather than getting caught up with the 32X. They were never going to beat Sony, but they could have had a profitable console.
    They really needed to have SEGA Sports ready for 1995. A SEGA console without an NFL game ready was a deal breaker. I ended up getting the PlayStation in the fall of 95 to play NFL Gameday.
    Last edited by gamevet; 07-29-2022 at 04:42 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gamevet View Post
    Virtua Fighter pretty much made that happen. There wasn’t a lot of good software for either console in 1994.
    He's on about the 1st year. I think I'm right in saying VF2 most pre-ordered and also best selling CD game ever in Japan with Pre-orders of 1.2 million in Nov of 1995 and if one believed ALPA
    SEGA still had a market share advantage into July 1996.

    The Saturn was doing very well in Japan until the upcoming PS demo of FF 7 came out.
    SEGA Japan really thought they could win before that moment.

    They really needed to have SEGA Sports ready for 1995
    So very much like SEGA Europe not having a good football title ready to go early in, despite spending millions on sponsoring every football team in Europe. I can only guess SOA thought a Madden game was coming and didn't look to bother. Mind you in NFL 97 was anything to go on, it wouldn't have made a blind bit of difference, given how poor the game was even if it shipped for Saturn in 95
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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    That was never in doubt for me. The issue I had is without the 32X and giving the task of making the 1st true 32-Bit version of Sonic to the Sonic Team.
    I really thought the Saturn could have easily beat the N64, more so in Europe; A system that had no Squaresoft, no answer to VF, VF2, Tekken, Tekken 2 or Rally and sucked for sports games, if one wants to use easy predicable cheapshots

    I was a nerd back then and I'm not joking, I had no girlfriend and other than drinking with my friends and footy, basically, all my money went on videogames and mean all of it, bar the odd item of clothing, holiday, but in the main, my mum was always getting m clothing (ok it help my mum old boss run her own fashion store). Not trying to get one over you or anything like that, but just reading any one of the major gaming mags in the UK, It was full of Saturn info and you basically knew when the system was coming out both in Japan and the West and so as a bit a nerd I did buy a number of gaming mags each month, but anyone one of them had info on the Saturn.

    In September 1994 my import shop boss already started to say the price you'll be looking at for the Saturn and the planned £350 started to turn in way over £500, it later when up to over £600 and then £640 in total which would be like over a grand today (crazy) I loved that time, the build up was amazing I couldn't wait for the Saturn and had silly wonderful ideas of Line Of Fire, Spiderman, Super Hang-On, Revenge of Death Adder coming to the Saturn and was in total glee that the Saturn was marking the era, when the AM teams were expected to port Arcade game themself's. I loved the interviews with AM#2, how they were working flat out on the VF on the Saturn, with no days off Ect. Looking back now it's quite sick (be happy with staff crunch) but at the time, I was loving the thought that SEGA AM teams were putting their hearts and souls into the Saturn.


    I'll never forget the day I had my import Saturn and 2 of my friends came over to play it, None of us could believe the graphics in VF or how close it was (silly we never really saw the lack of fingers LOL) and we just were amazed at the smoothness of the movement. My mate just loved Kage and on the weekend drinking in the Pub, he did endless Kage quotes pissed, people must have thought we were nuts.
    You're good, like I said you followed this way more closely than I did. I spent too much money on gaming back then too but that was more due to having a Neo Geo

    I just don't think it's a good idea for any company to launch a brand new console mere months after offering a major upgrade to their last gen console. Or if they really wanted to do that, at least make sure both products get a real lifecycle (say, three years minimum) so your brand doesn't get the reputation of abandoning its own products. The best way to do this would be to have some level of cross compatibility between both platforms so developers don't have to make two versions of the same game.

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    Mega Driver Hedgehog-in-TrainingMaster of Shinobi Gryson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by axel View Post
    I just don't think it's a good idea for any company to launch a brand new console mere months after offering a major upgrade to their last gen console.
    There's one time when that makes sense: when the upgrade has bombed terribly and is threatening to do even more damage.

    Remember, the original intention was never to release the Saturn that soon in North America.

    Once it was clear the 32X was a failure - and that would have been crystal clear to Sega early on simply due to the low number of games they had in the pipeline, let alone the negative response from critics and users - I really think the only option was to get the Saturn out as quickly as possible.

    You don't want to sit on a dead product any longer than you have to, especially when you have something potentially more viable on deck. The correct response is to get the new product out ASAP to draw attention away from the failed product.

    Do you piss off the people that bought the 32X? Maybe. But better to cut off that limb early rather than let it fester. You don't want to draw more users into buying the 32X when you know it isn't getting good software support (which is where you profit).

    Of course, neither situation is ideal, but I can understand the rationale for wanting to draw attention away from the 32X by putting the Saturn in the spotlight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by axel View Post
    You're good, like I said you followed this way more closely than I did. I spent too much money on gaming back then too but that was more due to having a Neo Geo

    I just don't think it's a good idea for any company to launch a brand new console mere months after offering a major upgrade to their last gen console. Or if they really wanted to do that, at least make sure both products get a real lifecycle (say, three years minimum) so your brand doesn't get the reputation of abandoning its own products. The best way to do this would be to have some level of cross compatibility between both platforms so developers don't have to make two versions of the same game.
    I'm with you on the 32X but I think it was made fairly clear it was just an Add-On and the part of the point of the 32X was SEGA not abanding its products and looking to prolong the life of the MD.
    I wanted SEGA to dump the MD in 1994 and just move on, but there you go. The 32X made no sense to me at all, more so when SOJ was all for the Saturn and they were the power house of SEGA In-House development

    I actually couldn't afford a Neo Geo until very late and over a year into Neo Geo CD life. The 3DO, Mega Drive/CD was eating into my money, when I was trying to save for the Saturn.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    There's one time when that makes sense: when the upgrade has bombed terribly and is threatening to do even more damage.

    Remember, the original intention was never to release the Saturn that soon in North America.

    Once it was clear the 32X was a failure - and that would have been crystal clear to Sega early on simply due to the low number of games they had in the pipeline, let alone the negative response from critics and users - I really think the only option was to get the Saturn out as quickly as possible.

    You don't want to sit on a dead product any longer than you have to, especially when you have something potentially more viable on deck. The correct response is to get the new product out ASAP to draw attention away from the failed product.

    Do you piss off the people that bought the 32X? Maybe. But better to cut off that limb early rather than let it fester. You don't want to draw more users into buying the 32X when you know it isn't getting good software support (which is where you profit).

    Of course, neither situation is ideal, but I can understand the rationale for wanting to draw attention away from the 32X by putting the Saturn in the spotlight.
    Yes I agree on that. It was a lose-lose situation. But seeing the Saturn launch like that just made Sega look desperate.

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    I think that a reactionary early launch would have been fine, but they should have notified all their distributors and store chains immediately of their plans and then waited until they had enough stock for everyone.

    They advertised heavy in Canada for weeks or more before the early launch. It felt like a major launch was happening, but they burned retailers by insisting the Saturn was still arriving in fall.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    Except... the Saturn was able to beat the PlayStation in Japan for at least the first year on the market.

    Yes, Sony was a much more attractive partner than Sega for third party publishers. There's no denying that, and there's no way around it. That doesn't outright mean Sega was doomed from the beginning, though. Nintendo was able to push the N64 in North America almost entirely on its own.

    The single biggest problem with the Saturn in North America was Sega's failure to put out killer software targeting the American audience. The causes of that problem are numerous (see my previous post in this thread). A big part of that involved the 32X.

    The Saturn had a chance in an alternate reality where Sega could support it with Western-focused games from day 1, rather than getting caught up with the 32X. They were never going to beat Sony, but they could have had a profitable console.
    That last line is the killer statement right there. Saturn had great games for the Japanese audience, and next to no great games for the American audience. Hell, Japanese fans didn't even know who Sonic the Hedgehog was.
    Quote Originally Posted by j_factor View Post
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    I watched that Robert Leyland (Ghen War) interview. He did not seem very alienated by the early launch:

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Leyland
    I think we had known about [the early release] beforehand, and nobody really had time time to react. It was more like, "Dear what? I thought we were going to be a launch title."

    We were talking with our producer and he said, "Look, we're releasing it. We're doing a surprise launch." I don't remember the exact details. We understood, even though it wasn't officially mentioned, it was because they knew that Sony was releasing the PlayStation. They were going to be releasing the PlayStation before the Saturn. So they were trying to do it to steal some of [Sony's] thunder. It was kind of how like Hollywood releases their movies at different times. They want to stagger the release and get the press.

    It's hard to tell if it was a good thing or a bad thing. I mean, ultimately I think it ended up being a bad thing, but at the time it wasn't clear if it was a bad decision. It was one of those things where it's like, "Ah, okay, well they're doing that. I guess we're not a launch title anymore. What does that mean for us?"
    He also talks about his thoughts that the early launch was bad for consumer impressions because the Saturn was on the market for four months during which time it didn't get many new releases, since the software pipeline had been planned around a September release.

    Perhaps most interesting: He talks about how difficult-to-work-with SOA management had become in 1995. We hear stories like this from other sources as well. It seems like there was some serious brain drain in the company, especially with the mass layoffs in 1995. Stories like there being new management who didn't know anything about Sega or the game industry (I can't remember the source). And producer Mac Senour has talked about how he quit the company because the head producer changed to someone who was only interested in building their own resume and didn't care about quality games (the producer behind that Pony game). I think these factors are relevant to explaining the SOA software problems, but they are really hard to document.

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    They would have been fine with the software problems, if Virtua Fighter was a big franchise in North America. Nintendo got away with a long drought, after the release of the N64. The console was launched with Mario 64 and PilotWings 64 in September. It would be followed up by MK Trilogy, Cruis 'n USA, Killer Instinct Gold and Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey in October, and then ending the year with Shadows of the Empire and Wave Race 64. I think it took a good 5 more months before Turok, Mario Kart 64 and the rest of the titles started flowing.
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