Below is my opinion about why Sega sucked as a console game company. This is just my opinion. With that in mind, what I write here is completely true and if you don’t agree with me then you are wrong.
Sega was a main driver for coin-op and amusement games back in the 1950’s before switching over to the home video game console market in 1982 with the release of the SG-1000. But the console was released a year before the American video game market crash of 1983 where Sega shown heavy losses.
After a few companies changing hands, Sega was finally bought by CSK and renamed the company to Sega Enterprises Ltd, headquartered in Japan. A couple of years after that the company started trading stock on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Everything seemed to be going well again until…
Now, in terms of tearing Sega consoles down, I’m going to leave out the Sega Master System. This was the company’s first attempt to rejoin the home console market and no one should be at fault for their beginnings. The time was a scary one for anyone wanting to develop games and it’s only fair that they had a first good shot before trying to really compete in the market. Plus it helps my argument because they should have learned from their mistakes.
So on to why Sega consoles are shit!
1. Variations of 1 console
The Sega Genesis 1 was released in 1989. Although technical superior to the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Sega Genesis failed to really gain momentum in the U.S. market. A lot of this is due to great advertising ventures on the part of Nintendo and the president of Sega at the time just not knowing his ass from a hole in the ground. What’s a company to do to get back into the console war? Not focus on software! Are you crazy ha ha software that’s a good one. Let’s re-release the same system 4 more times. Yeah… that’ll work…
A. Sega Genesis 2
So rather than trying to develop better games for the console, Sega thought it would be a good idea to just re-release the Genesis. In comes the Sega Genesis 2!
So is it faster? No. Can it produce better visuals? No. Is the sound quality better? No. Just a cosmetic change. Nothing else. Does it look better than the Sega Genesis 1? Well, that’s debatable. Sure, it might look sleeker, but it lost some features from it’s predecessor. Most notably the headphone jack. The headphone jack on the console allowed the player to plug in headphones, which muted the T.V. speakers giving the player the ability to play quietly. A feature that I can guarantee all parents missed. No one wants to hear you shooting through Space Harrier especially not your tired mother who just got off the 12 hour late shift to pick your dumbass up from school only to come home, cook dinner for you and the rest of the family with no “thank you” from anyone!
B. Sega Genesis 3
Yes. There was another one. It’s so small, you can fit it in your pocket! Because that’s what you want to do with a home video game console. The reason it’s called a home console is because you are suppose to play it at home! You can literally put this system in your back pocket granted you still have those JNCO pants lying around from when you were trying to hit on that Emo chick at school.
And guess what? It’s even less compatible then the previous two. Less games work on the Genesis 3, particularly games containing the DSP chip and it’s also incompatible with the Sega CD, 32x and Power Base Converter (more shit I’ll get to in a minute). Unbelievable.
C. Sega Nomad
A portable Sega Genesis? Sounds good right? Well it wasn’t. This was just another ill faded attempt to keep the Genesis library alive because Sega feared the up coming generation of consoles and they had every right to be so. Plus it’s bulky, killed batteries, and the button set up was atrocious.
D. Sega Firecore
The Sega Firecore was released 2009! Yes. 2009. Sega was once again trying to bank on the one of the largest libraries for a gaming console one last time. The Firecore is smaller than the Genesis 3 (what? The 3 wasn’t small enough?) and is just as incompatible as the Genesis 3 was. Oh! But wait! There’s 20 built in games! Give me a break.
2. Shitty Add-ons
Sega was known for being a head of the curve. The issue with this is technology didn’t have a chance to catch up before Sega got their hands on it and tried to sell it off as an amazing add-on.
A. Sega CD
The Sega CD was released in 1992 as an add-on for the Sega Genesis. It could play CD-Rom based games by attaching it to the Genesis, plugging in it’s own power cable, and it’s own video cable. Yeah… all of that just to play more shitty games. CD-Roms were new even to PCs at the time and the biggest complaint was loading times. You bring that to an under powered console and the loading times almost triple. Oh, and since there was more than 1 Sega Genesis, they had to release 2 Sega CDs. One was not compatible with the other.
The technology was so new, in fact, that it didn’t have the ability to use the full dimensions of the screen for full motion video which was the point of the CD all along. It had a larger memory bank so that meant bigger and better games right? Let’s not think about moving all of that memory to the T.V. screen.
B. Sega 32X
The 32X was released for the up coming doom of the 16-bit era. The thought was more bits the better game. Even today, game companies believe that as long as the game looks beautiful it can make up for it’s short comings in the gameplay arena. They were wrong then and are still wrong today. Again, the 32x wasn’t compatible with every version of the Genesis, but you were able to use it on the Genesis 1 and 2. That’s a plus I guess. Too bad there weren’t any good games for it except for rehashes of games that were already released on better consoles and/or the PC.
3. Memorable Franchises
Everyone knows that if a console is going to survive it comes from the software. Yes, the hardware is important because if the console just doesn’t work, no one is going to make games for it. But your games have to be top notch in notoriety and popularity. These are the games that will live on longer than the console itself. These are the games that players will go out and buy every time a new iteration comes out because they are characters we are familiar with, we care about, and want to know how the story continues. And you need more than just one. One character will not push your name to the end of time. You need to develop a multiple of franchises to reach every demographic. No, you won’t hit them all, but you will give your players a choice. And they have to be worth playing.
This took me longer to do than to write the actual article ha ha
Now take a second and really look at the image above. How many of the Nintendo characters can you name compared to the number of Sega characters you can name. Now, if you can name all of them then you are a true retro gamer and I award you 10 Viking points. If you named more Nintendo than Sega, you sir (or madam) are a typical video game player. If you named more Sega than Nintendo then you are a Sega fan boy and let the flame war begin! And if you can’t name any of them, there’s really no reason for you to be on this blog. I mean, I’m not that pretty looking…
But really, the only Sega franchise that made anything of its self was Sonic and maybe Phantasy Star to some degree. And just like Mega Man, they whored Sonic out to every venue they could get their hands on. Now, some of you could say that Nintendo followed the same path with some if not most of their franchised faces, but there was one thing that Nintendo did differently that Sega did not. Well, I don’t know if I can tell you. It’s kind of a secret. OK, you’re cool, I guess I can trust you… OK… here it is… THE GAMES WERE GOOD!
3. Sega Saturn shenanigans
The Sega Saturn was released on May 11, 1995 a whole 4 months before the legendary “Saturnday” that never came to be. Again, the Saturn on a technical stand point was leaps and bounds ahead of it’s competition. But there was one thing that really brought the system down, at least in my opinion. And it shows that the previous point really hits the mark.
1. No Sonic pack-in
Sonic was named the mascot of the Sega Corp back when the Genesis was released. And let’s face it, he was way cooler than Mario (and continued to be until Smash Bros was released. That game is something else.)
But how can you decide as a company not to pack in a game that features your mascot? Your leading 1st party franchise? When Nintendo decides to release a new console, the first game that’s tested and released is a Mario game (sans the initial release of the Wii, but now the New Super Mario Bros is a pack-in). How, in good conscious, can you believe that to demonstrate your fantastic new piece of hardware on any other game than your pride and joy? Your milk and honey? Your… hookers and blow…? I don’t know where that can from.
2. Early release
Just thought of another reason that caused Sega to fail with the Saturn: they gave up. Just gave up. Hey guys, it’s not working… the games are few and far between… people are complaining about price… Nintendo… Mario… blah blah blah. Fuck it, let’s make another one!
If you invest time, money, and a shit load of people into a project, you don’t just pull out the second things go awry. You bite down, grip it, and ride it till the end. I mean, come on, Sega is one of the notorious for arcade gaming. It’s not like one failed system is going to sink the company. It takes time to sink a company that big. Even with all of the shit they’ve released after the death of the Dreamcast, they are still running. And they will continue to run. Because all and all, Sega is pretty kick ass when there’s not some jackass making decisions.
Final Thoughts: Could Sega retain their rightful place at the top?
Yes… but it’ll never happen. You know as well as I do we are not lucky enough to have a Dreamcast 2 in our life time. But I’ll tell you this, from the talks and trends I’ve been seeing in the game market, physical media will be a thing of the past in the next “next” generation. All of our games will be downloaded over the space waves and onto a dedicated disk on the console itself.
If Sega would look at the industry for just a moment they would realize that there is a market for physical media. There’s a market for “real” gamers who take initiative to actually sit down and play games. Evaluate it, rate it, and if it’s worth it, recommend it to others. Not play it for five minutes, short attention spanned, and trash it.
Sega could have a great come back by being the “other” video game console. And if that happens, I will be the first in line to pre order. But it better have a Sonic pack-in.