Gaming

How SEGA shot himself in the foot with Saturn

If you’re a gamer and have given more than a cursory glance at industry news in recent years, you probably know how Microsoft screwed up the Xbox One launch well and truly. Be it arrogance, arrogance, or just plain stubborn, someone Microsoft really misjudged the marketing of the latest Xbox console, and the effects of that can still be felt today, as the PS4 dominates the charts month after month. Sony might be celebrating now, but they also found themselves in a similar situation the last generation when they tried to launch their PS3 amid controversy, high price, and bad marketing.

While Microsoft is in the midst of rehabilitating its image after the Xbox One DRM debacle and Sony implemented what they had learned from the PS3’s relative failure to improve the PS4, at least those companies are still releasing consoles. Back in 1995, SEGA was one of the “big two” when it came to console games (along with Nintendo), but some gruesome marketing decisions with Saturn put the company in a tailspin from which it never really recovered, which prompted early abandonment. from their next console, the Dreamcast, and they eventually pulled out of the hardware game entirely.

Before the launch of Saturn, SEGA announced that the console would launch a week before Sony’s new console, the PlayStation, in September 1995. Either out of fear of the new kid on the block or simply due to an incredible marketing strategy mistake. , someone at SEGA HQ decided it would be a good idea to surprise everyone by launching the Saturn in May as a big surprise. To all. Including the players. And retailers. And developers. And editors. Oh, and forget about developing for the 32X, that was last month.

Yes, the SEGA Saturn launched in May 1995, but as far as most gamers are concerned, it wasn’t expected until September, so they didn’t get a chance to save or warn their parents that it was coming. That didn’t really matter that much though, as most retailers were also unaware that the console was coming, and therefore their stores weren’t prepared to take on the launch of a new console five months earlier than expected. Although, on reflection, perhaps they weren’t worried about anything, as there were no system-ready games, as SEGA also didn’t alert game developers to the release date change, meaning there were only six games. available at launch and they were all made. by SEGA.

In one fell swoop, SEGA managed to upset virtually every retailer, every non-game developer and publisher, and confused gamers around the world. Basically, it was the gaming equivalent of sending all your Christmas cards in June and then wondering why no one bothered to send you one.

The Saturn wasn’t the straw that broke the camel’s back, but the decision to divert everyone with a fake launch date for the console crippled it and allowed the PlayStation to wipe itself off when it finally launched the day Sony told people. . it would go on sale in September. SEGA did not attempt any ruse with its next console, the Dreamcast, but the damage to its brand had already been done and in doing so gave Sony a chance to find a foot in the console market. The PlayStation 2 went on to be the best-selling console of all time, and the Dreamcast lasted less than two years on the market before SEGA ditched hardware entirely to focus only on developing and publishing games for other consoles.

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