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The Rise and Fall of Sega

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the not-lost-in-a-day dept.

104

jayintune writes "2old2play has a look into Sega's past, examining where they went wrong in the console wars. What did they do to lose their competitive edge, and how did they fall victim to the PS2 and Xbox?" From the article: "Sega started as a small business from which spawned a gaming giant. As with all great Empires, they eventually rot, crumble, and fall from their own ever-grasping hand. After the Genesis they tried to go in too many directions at once and spread their resources too thin. They knew they would have major competition from other game developers, but I bet when they started, they never imagined they would be their own worst enemy."

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Playing the "What-if" game... (4, Interesting)

oberondarksoul (723118) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564922)

Had Sega not even considered, not for a single moment, the disaster that was the 32X (and to a lesser extent, conveniently skipped over the Mega CD) and instead concentrated on the Saturn, we could well still have Sega in the running today. Sega post-Mega Drive (Genesis) had no real focus; if they had really tried, they could have stayed in the running against Sega (it was, after all, their market with Nintendo to lose). Souring both customers and retailer's pallets, they really were the architects of their own destruction.

It would have helped a great deal had Sega known how to market at all. So many great computer/gaming companies are prone to this: Sega, Acorn, Commodore, SNK...

Re:Playing the "What-if" game... (4, Interesting)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565121)

The 32X itself wasn't a disaster, it was Sega's trying to push a billion pieces of hardware at the same time that was.

In fact had they not released the Saturn and held on to the 32X/CD combination (which was technically almost as good as the Saturn, plus it was backwards-compatible) for longer they'd probably still be in business now.

Re:Playing the "What-if" game... (4, Insightful)

goodcow (654816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566375)

The 32X was nowhere near as powerful as the Saturn.

The biggest problem wasn't the 32X itself, but rather the infighting between Sega of America and Sega of Japan. Sega of Japan, in my opinion, has always been completely inept at running the company, and yet they've always had the power of final say, despite being a company founded by an American.

Sega of America, smartly, IMO, wanted to use the 32X as a bit of a stop-gap between the generations, because they knew it would be a lot more affordable than a PSX or Saturn, and it had decent enough power. Sega of Japan, however, shoved the Saturn down Sega of America's throat. An early and forced launch, no software ready, etc. Not only was America not ready for the Saturn, but of course this alienated retailers like KayBee which didn't stock the Saturn at all as they didn't get stock at launch, and developers as well. All the while, SOJ but B and C-list developers on 32X titles, and didn't devote production facilities to it as they were busy making the Saturn.

Then you have issues like Naka threatening to quit because Bernie Stolar took the NiGHTS engine without his "permission" for SOA to make Sonic Xtreme. SOJ has always been run like shit, and the only reason they managed to stay afloat so long was Sega's American and European successes and Okawa bailing them out as he was a billionaire. In fact, had he not died, he probably still would've been funding them for new R&D.

Re:Playing the "What-if" game... (4, Insightful)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567131)

You either forgot or didn't know that the head of SOA helped kill the Saturn too. By implementing a 5-star-games-only policy, many good but imperfect Japanese games were never ported to North America. So an already anemic library was reduced even further.

Furthermore, the 32X as a stop-gap was a horrible strategy. Yes a Genesis+32X would cost about $220, or less than a Playstation, but there's no CDROM drive! Worse, the 32X had dual Hitachi chips running at 23 MHz, while the Saturn had dual 28MHz chips. Meaning that the 32X wasn't nearly as good as the Playstation for doing 3D.

It's simple really, the Sega CD sold 6 million units world-wide. Compare that to Sega later stating it would continue to support the Dreamcast if 5 million units sold. Now consider how many more units would have sold in 1993 and 1994 if Sega hadn't distracted the public and itself with the 32X. There would have been more games produced for the system, and more machines sold. Developers wouldn't have been screwed from the debacle, and more likely to support the Saturn. Finally, developers who wanted to develop for the next-gen console would have had an extra year to ready their titles for the Saturn instead of the 32X.

Alternatively, Sega's biggest blunder was not having the Genesis display 128 or 256 colors instead of 64. NEC's PC Engine/TurboGrafx 16 could do 512 at once, at it was released in Japan in 1987. With 128 or 256 colors, the SNES would not have had such a visual advantage, and the Sega CD video would have been much more enticing.

Re:Playing the "What-if" game... (4, Interesting)

Nazo-San (926029) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567775)

You know, I think I recall having read an article a while back about the histories of various consoles, and one of the things I recall having read was that the guy in charge of SEGA of America intentionally chose to not bring many RPGs in to America because he thought they wouldn't sell well. I don't remember if this was around the time of the Dreamcast or the Genesis/Megadrive, but, in either case, RPGs were selling like hotcakes on SNES or Playstation. I believe the culprit was Dreamcast though because I seem to recall only two or three RPGs (one of which I never found a legal copy of -- frankly, it strikes me that a huge part of their problem with people downloading the games might have been just due to the fact that they simply wouldn't sell them to begin with...)

Don't misunderstand me. I still agree that one of their biggest downfalls has been the inability to work properly together. I just disagree that we can blame any one side.

Truth is though, SEGA just plain had issues. Like their hardware choices. The Saturn had a weird SMP system that was almost impossible to program for -- only a tiny fraction of the games made for it were able to fully utilize the SMP setup. I still wonder if Genesis couldn't have competed better with SNES's sound-system, though I'm not sure considering that the Gensis's synthesis did at least beat out the PC-Engine's. (IMO they should have both been watching the way sound systems were working. The PC industry should have already shown them how people were interested in things like MOD files, and the SNES's use of a system that kind of vaguely worked like a GUS makes me think that SOMEONE was paying attention. Remember, consoles were supposed to stay ahead of the PC industry in things like that back then.) Not to mention their determination to go with a graphical acceleration method on the Saturn that very few thought would catch on (and which did not catch on -- frankly _I_ could have told them it would continue in the direction it was already on.) Of course, they managed to get all the hardware more or less right on one system, the Dreamcast (relatively easy to program for, good graphics acceleration, good sound system, and so on,) but, then they made the decision to panic and pull out before properly giving it time to start between the people with downloads (come on, a modded PSX was EASIER to copy and download stuff for, yet PSX hasn't quite stopped production even today) and just because the PS2 was overall better at a few things like raw polygon power (yes, the PS2 could look better as things like Xenosaga showed us, but, Soul Calibur showed us that people were underestimating the Dreamcast.)

If they had better marketing, better support for game designers (geez, did they even ONCE approach Square for example? Or, better yet, they should have tried Enix...) and most importantly, better decision making in all fields from hardware to company direction, SEGA might be where Microsoft now is. Instead they are hanging by the tips of their fingers over a their final demise.

Re:Playing the "What-if" game... (0, Troll)

Nazo-San (926029) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567815)

By the way, just a little FYI on a kind of similar matter. The Playstation experiment (PSX) was originally designed to be a 32-bit CD-ROM system (I think an addon like SEGA CD for the SNES) for Nintendo. Same for Colecovision or whatever it was called if I remember correctly. But, my point is, Nintendo messed up with their own bad decision-making and now is dangerously close to a precipice near SEGA's. They've held on a little better and aren't at their fingertips (let's see if Wii does even half of what they claim, else they may be down to the fingers if it fails) but, thanks to their own similar bad decision-making, Sony is now a HUGE dominator in the market they practically owned.

Moral of the story? If you're in a big competitive environment, for your own sake, use your head and think carefully before commiting huge resources on such things!

Re:Playing the "What-if" game... (4, Insightful)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 8 years ago | (#15569357)

Please, Nintendo is nowhere near that bad off now. let's see:

1. they're a mostly privately held company, making them nigh immune to hostile take-over.

2. They have billions in cash and liquid assets, and no debt, and turn a profit every quarter (how exactly do you go under like this?).

3. Despite the PSP (and all the dozen or so previous challengers), they still OWN the handheld market, and are selling DS Lites faster than they can make them, and despite being "obsolete" the GBA in its various forms ain't doing shabby either.

4. They seemed VERY well received at E3 this year, and have a number hotly awaited titles aimed at launch for the Revolution, a marked improvement over the Gamecube launch (which admittedly they botched, largely by launching the console and then not having must have titles come out for another 18 or so months.) Name them? Let's see: Twilight Princess, Mario Galaxy, Red Steel, and a New Dragon Quest Game. Plus more titles that look really promising.

Of course, Sony hasn't really been doing much to ingratiate itself with the public lately, and there's always a possiblity for some backlash, especially if they don't get their backwards compatibility problems sorted out before launch. Of course, I really don't expect a backlash to happen unfortunately, but there's always hope. I suspect the cattle will line up and fork over their $600 like good little consumers. I'm also disappointed at Capcom buddying up with Microsoft on Live Arcade. I want "Legend of the Mystical Ninja" on virtual console dammit.

Re:Playing the "What-if" game... (1)

borg007 (712705) | more than 8 years ago | (#15570176)

Wow! An article from the future. However, he spell Sony wrong. It is not spelled S-E-G-A.

Re:Playing the "What-if" game... (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571341)

Sega/Mega/Super 32X/CD 32X [eidolons-inn.net] has good information on that.

Fluffy (4, Informative)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564926)

Basically this is one guy ranting about his childhood love of the Genesis and his opinion over the various mistakes Sega has made. It's just one page, no pictures, no research, and not really well-written. It's basically some guy's blog post.

Which isn't to dump on it for having those attributes, but don't expect anything like journalism.

Re:Fluffy (4, Informative)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565067)

I have to agree, there was nothing about SEGA before the Master System, or on their highly successful arcade developments. Nothing much beyond his own experience, either. Nothing about how well Master system did in Brazil, a mere footnote on its success in Europe, not even a mention of how any of its systems did in Japan!

X-Box? (5, Interesting)

DeanCubed (814869) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564947)

The Dreamcast was pretty much a done deal before Xbox hit the market. It sounds like another case of "Oh, Nintendo doesn't matter in the history of video games because they r teh kidd1!" SEGA failed because the PS1 and PS2 overhyped, and Nintendo got out of the CD add-on game early, leaving the SEGA CD to rot in a market that didn't exist: "People who want a $100+ add-on for a system that didn't have Mario RPG, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy and Donkey Kong Country." SEGA then took the rest of their money, and instead of saving it for the next gen, they decided to kick start a new gen early twice in a row with the Saturn and the Dreamcast. These, as I mentioned before, were killed almost exclusively by Sony advertising and promoting the PS1 and PS2 as machines more powerful than God.

Nintendo had their own fanbase that didn't leave them and didn't buy into the "mature games" fad, mostly because they were actually really young, or really liked FPS games, because the N64 basically only had FPS games and kids games, so that's why Nintendo's still here. That and Game Boy. It was just enough to let Nintendo try again with the Cube, where they got more kinds of games, almost killed the kiddy image, and then still got third place thanks to Microsoft who stole all the FPS games other than Timesplitters (because Free Radical are Nintendo fanboys at heart).

Re:X-Box? (3, Interesting)

Kuukai (865890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565081)

I agree, it was dead long before Xbox. I bought me a $40 Dreamcast new before Gamecube came out... Their death also kinda contributed to Gamcube's relative success, since it drew a lot of now-third-party Sega games. In fact it still is. At least from the Japanese news I've been following, the Wii has a Sonic game in the spotlight, while PS3 might have one on the backburner or something, but isn't really pushing it...

An empire? (2, Insightful)

Psx29 (538840) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564951)

It seems a little bit of an overstatement to call sega an empire when they never really dominated the market at any one time. Sure they were neck-and-neck with nintendo in the Genesis/SNES years, which was also one of the best console rivalrys of all time. But none of their other systems saw the same global appeal and they certaintly never did anything to monopolise the market as nintendo had with the NES in the 80s.

Re:An empire? (1)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567182)

Not true. The Master System was a hit in Europe, as was the Mega Drive/Genesis. Sega lost in Japan where the PC Engine/Turbo Grafx 16 was the main competitor of both the Famicom and Super Famicom, tied in North America, and won in Europe.

Saturn pricing did them in (5, Interesting)

KatchooNJ (173554) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564954)

I believe that the Saturn was their downfall. The console was excellent and quite powerful. What they failed to do was market it properly. They charged $399 for it and felt that was justified because you also got three games with it. Sony saw an opening and sold their console for much cheaper and people gobbled them up. The Saturn may have been a better system, but it wasn't marketed the right way. The other thing the Saturn suffered from was that it was complicated to port games to it because of the hardware used. Sure, it made it superior in rendering and all that, but it also made it unfriendly to those third party guys writing for it. The Playstation was easier to deal with.

In the end, Sony took a foothold that eventually crushed Sega. The Sony name became so big in the console world that years later, then the Dreamcast arrived a full year before the PS2, many gamers said, "We'll wait for the PS2." Wow! That shows you how hard Sony got a foothold. And we all know the rest...

Personally, I am sad that Sega isn't in the console wars anymore. I still think they were the best. I still have my Dreamcast and Saturn. :) Heck, I still have my Genesis!

Re:Saturn pricing did them in (2, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565226)

Did anyone read that and think of the Xbox360 and PS3?

I think Nintendo is ready for a nice comeback with the Wii. The graphics looked amazing when I looked at Galaxy Mario and Zelda twilight princess. I encourage those to google for the video's? I dont care if the specs aren't as nice as the ps3 or xbox360. The games look good enough and the price and the way its developed for everyone is going to be a huge appeal.

The games will return again after the developers will see more Wii than either the ps3 or xbox360.

Re:Saturn pricing did them in (1)

Nossie (753694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567031)

yup I was hearing those consoles loud in my head there...

Sony just keeps shooting itself in the foot.... too expensive, bad marketing and overly complicated to program for..

long live the big 'N' hehe :)

Re:Saturn pricing did them in (2, Informative)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567221)

The Saturn was the better system for 2D, but only a few dozen programmers world-wide were good enough to program 3D in assembler instead of C to fully use both 28MHz chips. That made a huge difference in the Playstation's win with it's single 33MHz CPU. Programming the Saturn in C made it less powerful 3D-wise than the PS.

Oh, and don't forget Sony lied and over-spec'd the PS2's performance. Marketing by deceit helped keep people from buying a Dreamcast. If you remember, the Dreamcast version of DOA2 looked better than the PS2's since it had anti-aliasing and better textures.

Re:Saturn pricing did them in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15568796)

The console was excellent and quite powerful. What they failed to do was market it properly. They charged $399 for it and felt that was justified because you also got three games with it.

PS3 anyone?

Re:Saturn pricing did them in (1)

Rifter13 (773076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572585)

The problem, is Sega did 2 blunders in a row. The 32x stuff and then the Saturn. The Saturn was head to head to the PS1, and the PS1 was superior. It was also more elegant. The PS1 had the added advantage of being easy to develop for, and easy to port games to PC.

The Dreamcast was just too little, too late. It was an AWESOME console. Awesome games, the whole 9 yards... but it never really took off, because customers felt burned by the previous 2 generations... and Sony's hype machine. Lets face it, both of the previous Playstations had some amazing video showing off their games, early on... but the ACTUAL product was far less. Once you put stuff like AI in... the games could never match what they were "showing off". But, for some reason, people forgive Sony for this.

All in all, I am happy with the Xbox... and look forward to one day owning a 360. :) (and a Wii)

Confusion (3, Insightful)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564960)

When your most loyal fanbase is confused regarding the products you sell, you have a very serious problem. Sega found this out the hard way.

too many mediocre games (3, Interesting)

EggyToast (858951) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564975)

Most of the later generation Sega games were very "wet noodle" style of gaming -- let's throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. They obviously had a great number of fans with Sonic, but one franchise rarely "makes" a console, let alone keeps a company afloat. And even then, when Sonic went 3d, it lost what made it unique.

When I was younger, I'd see Sega commercials on TV, but I never saw much in the way of games that were truly interesting. Looking back, there's still just a handful that were released, and many involved the myriad "peripheral-crazy" systems. I was mildly interested back in the Genesis days, and there were some cross-platform games that were genuinely better on the Genesis. But that was it, for me, until the Dreamcast.

In hindsight, I personally think the Dreamcast could've done very well if for 2 things -- Sega had added another thumbstick to the right side, and they hadn't thrown all their money and goodwill away in the mid 90's. It's still a damn good system, and given the short amount of time it was on the market it has a surprising amount of good games. But given the bad timing and the lack of popularity of its previous systems, it's not surprising that even a good console fails.

Re:too many mediocre games (1)

tjr (908724) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565025)

I loved the original Sonic games (through Sonic & Knuckles), and, in fact, still play them. For my gaming interests, I would have loved it if they had just kept on making more in that same series, from that same 2D perspective.

Re:too many mediocre games (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567827)

For my gaming interests, I would have loved it if they had just kept on making more in that same series, from that same 2D perspective.

They did. Three for the GBA and one for the DS.

Re:too many mediocre games (2, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565480)

Sega's problem was Sony corrupted the market from being about fun to "looking cool" saddly.

The dreamcast in all honesty looks better than the PS2 (Soul calibur anyone?) and has some awesome games, but it was way too far ahead of it's time. It had online play and all the stuff today we consider vital, the problem was Sega brought it out before anyone else and never fully exploited it.

Re:too many mediocre games (3, Insightful)

antime (739998) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566716)

Sega's problem was Sony corrupted the market from being about fun to "looking cool" saddly.
Go and take a look at how Sega promoted their consoles over Nintendo's, then consider what you just wrote.

Re:too many mediocre games (1)

13tongimp (983744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15568136)

Wow, that is some serious fanboy BS you spouted there. You must not have ever spent a single moment with a PS2 or are just so blinded by mindless internet worshipping of the Dreamcast that you have a very tenuous grasp upon reality.

Re:too many mediocre games (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 8 years ago | (#15569187)

That poster has a point. A lot of Dreamcast games look much better than PS2 games. I believe this is mostly due to anti-aliasing. PS2 is a miraid of jaggies. Every game annoys me with jaggies. DC had great AA. Granted the DC had a much lower polygon count, but each one of them looks better. With time PS2 looked better and better, but I'd rather play Soul Calibur on DC than PS2. Same goes with DOA2.

I don't own either system, but I have a few games for each because I know people who have them (GT4, Xenosaga Ep:1, DOA2, Star Wars: Racer). I'd love to own a PS3 but there isn't a chance I'm buying any console for more than 300 bucks. I'll wait.

Re:too many mediocre games (2, Insightful)

13tongimp (983744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15569530)

So you don't own either one? Well, I own both a Dreamcast and PS2 so I can tell you from first hand experience that to even pretend for a moment that the DC is graphically superior is simply absurd.

Re:too many mediocre games (2, Interesting)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 8 years ago | (#15569886)

Just because I can't bust out both systems and line them up right now doesn't mean I haven't played each extensively. I have "first hand" experience. I went to college and lived in the dorms. Perfect Dark, Crazy Taxi, House of the Dead, Timesplitters, Halo, Smash Bros., and Mario Kart all did their parts in helping me ruin my GPA.

I still play DC and PS2 depending on whose house I'm at. Mostly GT4 or Katamari on PS2, and DOA2 or Rush:2049 on the DC.

Like I said, PS2 has a lot more polygons, but in general they look like crap. Some games look amazing, but in general, your DC games are crisper and the polygons almost always look better.

Re:too many mediocre games (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 8 years ago | (#15570027)

Sega's problem was Sony corrupted the market from being about fun to "looking cool" saddly.

Yeah that explains Nintendo's pulling out of the console market. It's not Sony's fault if Sega can't market their products properly. Nintendo even today make a killing off 'fun' games.

but it was way too far ahead of it's time. It had online play and all the stuff today we consider vital, the problem was Sega brought it out before anyone else and never fully exploited it.

In other words, they failed to market their products properly. They brought things out when people didn't want them.

Ummm.... (2, Informative)

schizrade (971389) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565024)

SNES came out in 1991, not 1994.

Sega their own worst enemy and Sony's bullshit... (3, Interesting)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565030)

I think it comes down to two things:

1) Sega was their own worst enemy. With the release of the Sega CD, then the 32X and the Sega Saturn no one knew what worked with what and those that bought the Sega CD probably felt stupid when they saw the Saturn. Sega splintered their own market by trying to make Genesis into a wanna be PlayStation. Nevermind that the Saturn itself seemed poorly supported and thought out. The upgrade path should have been Genesis -> Dreamcast, but Sega farked that up pretty good.

2) Sony, the original PS and their PS2 bullshit. Sony piled on the type about the Emotion Engine and the PS2's rendering abilites (note that it was Microsoft and not Sony that made the claim about rendering Toy Story level graphics in real time). The Dreamcast sold well initially and Sega couldn't keep up with demand, but it lost steam after the PS2 announcement and, if I recall, games were hard to come by in the first year. Sega just didn't have the financial strength to support Dreamcast after the failures of the SegaCD and Saturn and it is my understanding that they took a chance with the Dreamcast and the chance didn't pay off. You can still find many used Dreamcast units at your local EB Games store that were traded in for PS2s.

Re:Sega their own worst enemy and Sony's bullshit. (2, Interesting)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565188)

"The upgrade path should have been Genesis -> Dreamcast"

I don't think it's wise to wait ten years between console roll outs. They messed up with the CD/32x/Satrun but something should've come between the two.

Very true (0)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566027)

You're right, I forgot the timeline. The Genesis was released in what, 1989? Ideally Sega should have put more support into the Saturn and dropped the 32X/SegaCD concepts all together. I really don't remember much about the Saturn other than one game, Panzer Dragoon, and that fact that it was apparently extremely difficult to program wtih woefully inadequate developer tools.

Re:Sega their own worst enemy and Sony's bullshit. (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565248)

To this day people think the PS2 is lightyears ahead of the gamecube with graphics capability due to hype and marketing.

Truth be told real game makes who write hear state that the gamecube has the best graphics and some games look better on the gamecube. Sony knows how to hype.

However I think the ps3 might go the way of the 3do. Wii is likely to be a hit

Re:Sega their own worst enemy and Sony's bullshit. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15565695)

(note that it was Microsoft and not Sony that made the claim about rendering Toy Story level graphics in real time)

People keep on claiming this, but miss the truth. Yes, Sony never said the PS2 could render Toy Story in real time. They said it could render the cutscenes from Final Fantasy 8 in real time. Final Fantasy 8's cutscenes were about as complex graphically as Toy Story, so it's a completely equivilent claim.

Yes, Sony never said "Toy Story" but they might as well have. They claimed the same thing.

Re:Sega their own worst enemy and Sony's bullshit. (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572121)

People keep on claiming this, but miss the truth. Yes, Sony never said the PS2 could render Toy Story in real time. They said it could render the cutscenes from Final Fantasy 8 in real time. Final Fantasy 8's cutscenes were about as complex graphically as Toy Story, so it's a completely equivilent claim.

Yes, Sony never said "Toy Story" but they might as well have. They claimed the same thing.


Render sure.. but at what frame rate?

CD-X (1)

aapold (753705) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566641)

I had a sega CDX [wikipedia.org] , kind of a portable sega/sega CD in a rolled together unit (which by the way could play music for about half an hour on two AA batteries), enjoyed some of the games for it (Dark Wizard and Tomcat Alley were both good), but when the 32x came out I had one on preorder, went to the store to get it, halfway to the car noticed a sticker stating it would not work with the CDX. Though tempted to try it anyway didn't want to risk it, turned around, got my refund. Thought to myself what the heck was I doing spending this much on an obviously intermediate tech stage instead of the next thing coming around, saw that sega was trying to temporarily lure customers to this when it wasn't even their plan for more than a year at best. Never bought another sega product...

Sega don't make mistakes (1)

bunbuntheminilop (935594) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565124)

Sega Sammy made a profit [gamespot.com] of over $500 million for the 9 months ending December 31st 2005.

Sega Sammy's arcade and home consumer products were actually boosting a disapointing pachinko buisness.

Re:Sega don't make mistakes (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565689)

And if you looked at the actual data, the vast majority of the revenue and of the profit was generated by the pachinko business. SegaSammy is a pachinko developer first, a videogame developer second.

Re:Sega don't make mistakes (1)

bunbuntheminilop (935594) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565881)

the vast majority? You mean half of the revenue? If you actually RTFA.

Re:Sega don't make mistakes (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567914)

I think you have to take the costs of each into account. I haven't seen the actual numbers but I'd guess that games are a lot more expensive to make than slapping another paintjob on a gambling machine.

Re:Sega don't make mistakes (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573750)

The 9 months ending 2005 are not the years this article is talking about. Also, Sega does not own Sammy; rather, Sammy owns a controlling interest in Sega, thus your data is more representative of Sammy (and they are primarily a pachinko company).

Dreamcast! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15565176)

I, as many it seems, was dissapointed when Sega pulled themselves out of the console business. They really shot themselves in the foot for years (starting with the Saturn). It's sad, but such is life.

Regardless, I thought the Dreamcast was a kick ass system for what it was. I still have mine, and its still in active duty. It had some cool games. Power Stone is still a blast with me and my friends, and Grandia II I still consider the best RPG I've ever played. It'll be with my in my dorm again next year as well, just gotta find more controllers that work. Hell, it might even surpass my PS2 in lifetime.

SEGA Channel (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565325)

I loved SEGA Channel. It exposed me to lots of different games I never would have played otherwise, such as the "Road Rash" series.

16 bit wars... (4, Interesting)

Metroid72 (654017) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565458)

I think the writer of the article failed to depict what really marked Sega's doom.

1. SEGA FAILED TO LISTEN TO THEIR CONSUMERS DURING THE TRANSITION TO 16 TO 32 BITS
2. EXTERNALITIES FINISHED SEGA

Let's analyze Sega's success during the 16bit era:

* Successfully executed a 1st moving advantage move: By the time Nintendo came out with the SNES, Sega was developing their 2nd Generation software (Sonic, Shinobi 3, Madden, etc.). Let's be realistic, their 1st gen stuff (Altered Beast, Super Thunder Blade, Golden Axe was very very bad, they were basically technical showcases. No exciting gameplay whatsoever.) The big exception is Phantasy Star II. It served the purpose of turning heads.

* Tapped on the American thirst for high end Sports Simulations: EA's lineup (Madden, college and other franchises) were the start of advanced sports franshises (The NES offerings featured many Super Deformed characters, other than Tecmo's entries, there were no serious sports on the NES).

* Started the successful bashing of Nintendo: While Nintendo NEVER acknolwedged Sega as a competitor (Big example: Nintendo did not Advertise on any Videogame publications, they stuck to Nintendo Power), Sega exploited with "Sega Does what Nintendon't" campaign, the "Blast Processing" campaign against the SNES (which was all Bull... a good lesson that has been applied by Sony in the past generations). This set up the precedent that you can win or slow down a platform on pure marketing speculation.

* Capitalized on a Mainstream Platform: The SNES featured a slower more processor that was more tailored for games, while the 6800 on the Genesis was a more general-purpose and well known platform- This allowed many western developers from Amiga and Commodore to jump and put out impressive software - up to that point, many people thought that American/European developers were not capable of putting out quality products.

* Played ball with 3rd parties: This is partly Nintendo's own making (Read "Game Over"). Once Sega became a "friendlier" player with 3rd parties, the "crown jewel" developers started publishing games on the Genesis. Nintendo managed to hold off Capcom on Street Fighter II (The main Reason why the SNES caught up with the Genesis), but ultimately SFII made it to the Genesis.

After all this success, it was a dogfight, Sega started preparing for the next generation, and Nintendo tried to defuse Sega by speculating on a Nintendo CD (The Phillips/Sony debacle that interestingly was the root of the creation of the Playstation)

At this point Sega put out probably their best technological lineup (examples: Vectorman, Treasure's Gunstar Heroes, Sonic 3 etc.) but Nintendo had the goves off with Starfox, FFIII, the upcoming Donkey Kong, etc. Sega thinks they can replicate 1st mover advantage with a CD platform. Sega CD comes out, and other than Silpheed and Sonic CD and Starwars, the platform is plagued with FMV Crap. So they started developing a next gen 2d platform (Saturn). (ERROR 1: Instead of looking at the future, they decided to fight Nintendo on 2D - They didn't see Virtua Fighter at the arcades???).

At some point during Saturn's development, the biggest mistake is made. For some reason somebody thinks that they can release an 32 bit "add-on" to capitalize on the Genesis installed base. The 32x is born. Sorry Sega, no add on has been successful!!! (Interestingly, some people have not learned this lesson yet; read: Microsoft's Xbox 360's HD-DVD rumored add on).

At this point, the consumer must be very confused. Should we wait for Saturn or buy 32x??? I would have paid money to see those marketing staff meetings.

Final Nail in the coffin: Sony unveils the PlayStation (externality) and Sega rushes to add 3D capabilities to their pure 2D platform. With an overpriced platform that is very hard to program for, Sega manages to release many beautiful games (some of which never make it to our shores). The rest is history, Nintendo blunders again by undermining 3rd parties and ignoring the media leap, and it's all Sony.

Let's hope that we have a dogfight again soon... we will stand to win like we did during the 16bit days.

Re:16 bit wars... (5, Informative)

batkiwi (137781) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566155)

(Interestingly, some people have not learned this lesson yet; read: Microsoft's Xbox 360's HD-DVD rumored add on).

1. It's not rumored, it was offically announced long ago. http://www.xbox.com/en-US/community/news/events/e3 2006/articles/20060507-hddvdexplained.htm [xbox.com]

2. It's a movie addon, not a game addon, so it doesn't matter at all to the overall xbox 360 strategy whether it succeeds or fails. Microsoft has said that they will not have hd-dvd games. Compare it to buying the dvd remote for a ps2 or an xbox 1 (or that whacky silver gamecube put out by some third party which also played dvds), don't compare it to the 32x. It simply allows you to watch hd-dvd movies, nothing more or less.

Re:16 bit wars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15573343)

Read the link, but it doesn't actually explain what it is. Infact everything I have read, seems to indicate that MS don't quite know either - just hand waving about how great & cheap it will ... and don't buy a PS3 please.

The add-on remote control comparision doesn't work for me, as the PS2 DVD remote was a very cheap (~$10) extra that made using the $200 PS2 DVD a little easier but not much else. Even then, once cheap DVD player came onto the market, they became nearly pointless. With the HD-DVD addon, the add-on will have to have the HD-DVD disk player and I presume the display & sound decoders etc in hardware, along with a HDMI port. That means the add-on is actually a stand alone HD-DVD player with the XBox360 just becoming a controller - i.e. its the reverse of the DVD remote control add-ons. The 360 box, a clunky $300-$400 remote control for a player?

I really can't see many people having a HD-DVD disk player sitting attached to a DVD player in the XB360 - it makes the backward compatiblity of HD-DVD with DVD seem pointless. My guess it's so if (and only if) HD-DVD takes off, the XB360 Mark II will have a built in HD-DVD (+HDMI) and the add-on is just a sop for those suckers stuck with an original XB360 box.

Re:16 bit wars... (1)

batkiwi (137781) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573427)

I agree that a version 2 (or 3) will likely have it built in, but if it's not used for games, no one who bought a version 1 is screwed.

Re:16 bit wars... (1)

mshurpik (198339) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567082)

Genesis vs. SNES wasn't really a dogfight. What made these consoles so successful is that they peaked at different times. If the average console cycle is 5 years, then the Genesis and SNES were fully out-of-phase, Genesis peaking in 1991-92 just as the SNES was being released. Had Sega pushed hard for a next-gen console in 1995 instead of half-assing it with a bunch of RISC processors, the Nintendo/Sega leapfrogging could have continued to this day.

What was the selling point for upgrading from the 16 bit consoles? CD-rom and 3D graphics. Nintendo64 had 3D, Playstation had both, and so did Saturn...but somehow, nobody cared.

Re:16 bit wars... (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 8 years ago | (#15569331)

Let's be realistic, their 1st gen stuff (Altered Beast, Super Thunder Blade, Golden Axe was very very bad, they were basically technical showcases. No exciting gameplay whatsoever.)

Can't really fault the console division for that. A lot of the Genesis/Megadrive launch titles were just near-perfect translations of popular Sega arcade games.

Re:16 bit wars... (1)

F_Scentura (250214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15569441)

"Can't really fault the console division for that. A lot of the Genesis/Megadrive launch titles were just near-perfect translations of popular Sega arcade games."

Yeah, he's pulling "very very bad, they were basically technical showcases. No exciting gameplay whatsoever" straight from his ass. I bought the Genesis (as with many others) specifically FOR those titles, I loved the arcade titles and the Genesis did a bang-up job of capturing the gameplay. Nintendo had very little of that arcade-y feel with their SNES games.

I mean, even if the genre isn't your cup of tea, "very very bad" and "no gameplay" sounds as if he never played them at all or played the master system ports and extrapolated.

Re:16 bit wars... (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 8 years ago | (#15570249)

Yeah, Golden Axe was awesome. I can still hear the sword-hacking sound and the death rattle now, and I haven't played it in a decade.

Re:16 bit wars... (1)

runderwo (609077) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571254)

Capitalized on a Mainstream Platform: The SNES featured a slower more processor that was more tailored for games, while the 6800 on the Genesis was a more general-purpose and well known platform
The 65816 (a 16-bit kludge of the 6502) in the SNES was *not* more tailored for games, and was probably the most inferior component of the SNES. The SNES had better sprite graphics hardware (with cool effects like scaling) and better sound hardware (most games implemented something similar to MIDI synthesizer with soft samples, but it was a completely programmable subsystem). The Genesis on the other hand had a superior 32-bit 68000 CPU, but weak graphics hardware and an FM synthesizer that was pathetic in comparison (but in line with arcade hardware of the time). Graphics and sound, along with solid 1st-party franchises, are the most appealing part of video games to consumers, so the SNES won.

What competitive edge? (1)

Thad Boyd (880932) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565479)

Sega was NEVER a real contender, except for a very brief period in the early 1990's, and even then was only #1 in the US.

Re:What competitive edge? (1)

LocalH (28506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565563)

Bullshit. As I understand it, the Master System completely trounced the NES in the UK.

Re:What competitive edge? (2, Insightful)

paedobear (808689) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566109)

The genesis also beat the SNES in Europe and is still massively popular in South America. The US games market is not the be-all and end-all - it's actually spent most of it's life out-of-step with what's been going on in the rest of the world.

Re:What competitive edge? (1)

PhakeDC (932887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567598)

Seconded, the Genesis was a HUGE success in the middle east (along with the original Famicom, it was hard really to tell who truimphed), up till the Playstation became affordable in 1997 and 1998 onwards.

You're missing the point... (1)

fujiman (912957) | more than 8 years ago | (#15570837)

Who said it was the "be-all and end-all?" It doesn't matter haow significant the games of the US games market are (or whether they're "out-of-step", whatever that means...).

The point is the US market is the single largest games market in the world. Being #1 in the US qualifies you as a contender in fiscal terms, matters of taste are irrelevant.

Re:You're missing the point... (1)

paedobear (808689) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573380)

US is number 1, but No 2 is Japan and No 3 is EU or UK (depending on how you want to split the market) - and the US market isn't that much bigger than the other two. As an example, if MS take the US market with the 360, and Sony wins Europe and Japan with the PS3, Sony will be in a much better position.

Genesis left hanging? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15566262)

I always thought Sega bailed out on Genesis too quickly. They had a giant usebase and were creating fantastic software. I think it was Donkey Kong Country that spooked them. That year they saw Genesis demand shrinking a little bit and knew Donkey Kong Country was going to be huge. Instead of making a killer Genesis application they pushed the 32X as a stop gap. Bad idea. They should have stuck with Genesis until 1996 and released a technically superior Sega system on par with PSX or N64.

SEGA caused the Playstation (5, Insightful)

APLowman (968256) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566795)

I'm suprised nobody even mentioned that the Playstation, which was what killed SEGA, was originally a joint project with Nintendo to make a SNES/Super Famicon CD system to compete with SEGA CD. Nintendo saw how bad SEGA CD was doing and bailed on Sony, causing them to lose game developers who had already begun working on games for the new add-on(like Squaresoft's Final Fantasy 7). If SEGA never tried the CD bit then Sony would not be making systems today.

Re:SEGA caused the Playstation (2, Informative)

ArmyOfFun (652320) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571479)

I'm a little worried your post got modded informative because as far as I can tell it's almost completely wrong. About all you got right was that Nintendo and Sony worked on a CD add-on to the SNES which led to Sony releasing the Playstation. The reason that project got canned was because of various contract disputes between Nintendo and Sony. AFAIK, the project was nearly dead by the time Sega CD was released, let alone before it proved to be a disaster.

I also don't know of a single game that spent any time in development for the SNES CD add-on, and certainly not Final Fantasy 7 which was released a full 2 years after the release of the original Playstation. Nintendo's loss of Square wasn't due to canceling the SNES CD add-on, it was because N64/SNES used cartridges which were totally insufficient for the amount of data Square needed. FF7 released on 3 CDs which would've translated to something like twenty some (expensive) 64MB N64 cartridges, assuming no fancy compression techniques.

Re:SEGA caused the Playstation (1)

APLowman (968256) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572019)

Yes, the main cause of the breakup of the SNES CD project was due to contract terms, however the project was initiated when SEGA started devloping the SEGA CD, by the time the project was cancled SEGA CD was already doing poorly. Square had started working on other projects for the SNES CD and was about to start making FF:7, like you said it would take a massive cart to hold such a game and Nintendo did not intend on trying again for a CD system after the failure with Sony and Philips.

More, as-yet unlisted reasons Sega hurts (1)

Perseid (660451) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566812)

1) Dreamcast piracy: Sega said their systems were selling well enough, but the software wasn't. And since you could download and burn pretty much any game out there, that's probably not a surprise.

2) Shenmue: $20,000,000 on one video game. Still the record as far as I know. There was no way ANY game, especially for the Dreamcast, could ever have made that much money back then. This is seen by some as the biggest single reason for Sega's buyout by Sammy.

Re:More, as-yet unlisted reasons Sega hurts (4, Insightful)

NeuroManson (214835) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566950)

Actually, it took a couple of years after the GD-ROM was introduced that some clever guys figured out how to rip them. Sega more or less tossed the gauntlet into the ring when they made the claim that it was unhackable (which of course was a challenge).

The reason Sega failed was (1) Their VMUs were almost useless, due to short lived batteries, and (2) They pissed their pants when facing another Sega VS. Sony scenario, which wasn't helped by Microsoft entering the fray, and (3) They went with GD-ROM instead of DVD as a storage medium. Sony and Microsoft both capitalized on their abilities to act as "all in one" entertainment systems, complete with DVD playback.

The biggest problem, however, was that Sega didn't learn enough from the Master System's failings, they came close to success with the Megadrive, until Ninendo released their Super Famicom system. Then it went back to reinventing the wheel, waiting to see if market share was available (despite a reluctance to properly promote their consoles), then bailing on it when the bean counters couldn't see why the systems weren't selling. The 32X was an *okay* addon peripheral, but there was so much backing behind the Saturn, that pretty much everyone who bought it were left in the dark with a high tech paperweight. There was so much potential in the Saturn, but they failed to claim their niche, losing to Sony, which resulted in the same. There was even potential in the SegaCD, but again, they failed to market it sufficiently/properly. When you have that many gamers buying into that much hardware, eventually your gamers will give up on you when you fail to support it, if at all. Even Atari demonstrated this fact.

In the end, Sega's failing is simply explained: They lost their focus, and gave up far too easily at the slightest sign of adversity.

And before anyone mods me troll, I put in a few months at Sega of America as a QA tester, and watched as all of the above took place, back in the Genesis days. You wouldn't believe the time they wasted on the SegaCD as a "FMV Box", when it's overall graphical prowess was on a par with, if not obviously superior to the Super Famicom in the day. It was downright embarassing to see how they operated.

Re:More, as-yet unlisted reasons Sega hurts (1)

Nossie (753694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567068)

Sir, if I had mod points... you would have some :-|

kudos !

Re:More, as-yet unlisted reasons Sega hurts (1)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567265)

Sega was only one of MANY companies to waste time with FMV. They thought the games would be fun, and in fact some of them were. Of course the Sega CD was superior to the SNES. The Genesis alone could handle more sprites before slowdown than the SNES.

The fundamental problem was the Genesis' 64 color limit. Eventually developers alternated colors on the odd and even frames to fake more colors, but that doesn't work on fast moving games or FMV. The TurboGrafx 16 could do 512 colors. If the Genesis had that, or even 128 or 256, it would have been the clear victor in North America, and probably the Sega CD would have sold many more millions of units.

Re:More, as-yet unlisted reasons Sega hurts (1)

NeuroManson (214835) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567377)

Technically, if Worlds Of Wonder (makers of Teddy Ruxpin) and Hasbro stuck with their guns, Sega would still have lost. almost 5 years before the SegaCD made its debut, they were working on a project called Isix Nemo, which involved an interleaved frame system (24 FPS split into 4 6 frame chunks in the frame buffer for every sequence), footage of which was fed from a conventional VHS source, the frame buffer was not much more advanced than a Colecovision (in fact, the controller system was based on it). The end result was Sewer Shark, Night Trap, and a simple "Make your own music video" game, before Kid & Play made theirs using the same technology for the SegaCD.

Sega, however, could have whipped the pants off of Nintendo and NEC's consoles at the time, if they just applied themselves properly.

Re:More, as-yet unlisted reasons Sega hurts (1)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567797)

Isix was the company, but yeah. I was wondering how their InstaSwitch technology would have worked. I suppose for Night Trap the limit was that no more than four videos could be happening in the rooms at one time?

The NEMO was an interesting idea. Load times would have stunk, but I assume the tapes would have had data capabilities too, meaning lots and lots of graphics, limited only by whichever 1.72MHz or 3.58MHz chip ran the box. Getting third party developers would have been the greatest challenge, and with no support from Japan, I doubt it would have survived more than a year.

Just a few days ago I found some guy had made a 60MB movie of his near-perfect run [gamechew.com] of the 3DO Night Trap. I never had a SegaCD, but I find the movie hilarious. I'd like to extract the movies off the game discs, but there aren't any tools. One guy said he made one once for the SegaCD, but he hasn't returned my e-mail yet. I'm quite pleased to discover though that since just a month ago, the Gens32_Surreal [emubase.de] emulator now has save state support for SegaCD games. This means that I can go through the 32X version of Night Trap and capture the complete videos before restoring a save state and jumping to another room to activate a trap. I'm working on getting that 32X copy.

Re:More, as-yet unlisted reasons Sega hurts (1)

NeuroManson (214835) | more than 8 years ago | (#15569355)

Pretty much, yeah, and as a result of the tape's limitations, the video was relatively choppy. However, considering this system was developed almost 5 years before CD-I, 3DO, or SegaCD even made it to market, was nothing short of amazing. And (at least at the time) the target market wouldn't have to purchase any new hardware, that is, if they had a VCR handy.

I played the NEMO prototype (which was a monstrous wirewrap board) back in 1990 or so, and it was a fairly impressive experience. The data took up a small strip of space on the side of the screen, which seemed like a player piano in a sense.

Re:More, as-yet unlisted reasons Sega hurts (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567944)

Don't forget how much better the SNES's sound chip was when compared to the Megadrive's

Re:20 Mil on Shenmue? Who greenlighted this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15568947)

Who the heck would greenlight $20 million for an RPG when the lead's only experience in that genre was the terrible "Sword of Vermillion"?

I think I'm going to do my own investigation and find out what happened on "the day. of the. incident.".

It was not the 32X, Saturn or Dreamcast. (4, Interesting)

master_p (608214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567277)

It was not the 32X, Saturn or Dreamcast that led to SEGA's fall in the console business. It was its policy: SEGA forgot that their best arcade games where 3D superscaler affairs (and later polygon affairs). Neither the Megadrive, 32X or Saturn could scale, rotate and polygonize graphics like the SEGA arcade boards did. At the time that 3D was all the rage, SEGA pushed 2D beasts.

What did the arcade player see when he hit the arcades? Space Harrier, Outrun, Powerdrift, Afterburner, Thunderblade, Galaxy Force, Super Hang On, Super Monaco GP, Virtua Fighter, Daytona USA (along with a stream of other mostly inferior 2D affairs). But any of those games really suffered as home conversions, because SEGA's home consoles could not afford the twin-68000 supercaler and polygonizer graphics of SEGA's arcade boards.

What SEGA should have done, instead of 32X, is to release a powerful home console with 2x68000 plus custom chips that could do all the effects of the arcades. Yes, it would have been an expensive console, but yet again it would be the only console that one could play a decent game of Outrun. And later they should have released a polygonal beast like the PS1.

SEGA did a similar mistake with Commodore: when the world was going 3D, both SEGA and Commodore insisted on powerful 2D graphics without any support for 3D. Meanwhile, the PC world got Wolfestein 3D and Doom, while the console world got PS1.

Nintendo did not do the same mistake. After their best console ever (the Nintendo SuperNES) which had a limited number of special 3D tricks (mode 7, superfx chip), they released a proper 3D console, the Nintendo 64, which had some awesome games.

The 32X (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571831)

had arcade perfect ports of Space Harrier and Afterburner, so did the Saturn. Arcades were dying in the states, only the fighting game crazy kept 'em breathing. Commodore's mistake (I assume you mean the Amiga32) was trying to sell hopelessly old tech at a high price because it had a CD drive attached. Sega's mistake was infighting, rushing their next gen console to get it out first, and trying to market the Dreamcast as hip instead of for the technological marvel it was.

Re:The 32X (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15574446)

The 32X had arcade perfect ports of Space Harrier and Afterburner

No, the 32X ports of Space Harrier and Afterburner where much less than 'arcade perfect'. I know it not only because I own the systems and I was a frequent arcade player, but because I can run those versions side by side with the arcade version (emulated on my PC) and see the differences. The 32X versions have smaller sprites and no so smooth animation.

Furthermore, the 32X versions came long after the games were arcade hits.

so did the Saturn.

Exactly, that's my point. When the world played Doom and Virtua Fighter, SEGA put out arcade-perfect conversions of their games for the Saturn. But it was too late.

SEGA should have those arcade-perfect coin-op conversions for the Megadrive. Remember that the Megadrive's zenith was after 1990, whereas Space Harrier was released in 1985 and Outrun in 1986.

Commodore's mistake (I assume you mean the Amiga32) was trying to sell hopelessly old tech at a high price because it had a CD drive attached.

No, I do not mean the CD32. I mean that the Amiga could not do polygons and texture mapping like the PC. It lost the 3D war to the PC.

the Dreamcast as hip instead of for the technological marvel it was

Where did you get the idea that Dreamcast was a technological marvel? I bought my Dreamcast in 2001 for playing Virtua Striker. The conversion was on part with the arcade version, on the surface. After close examination, one could easily see that the Dreamcast version had slowdowns, less animation frames, less polygons and not so good textures than the arcade version. The Dreamcast could barely do 600 thousands polygons per second in a game with all effects on, while the Model 3 could do at least 1 million polygons with full effects.

3D or not 3D... (2, Informative)

cr0sh (43134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572103)

...and Commodore insisted on powerful 2D graphics without any support for 3D. Meanwhile, the PC world got Wolfestein 3D and Doom...


I think you are confused about what happenned to Commodore (by which, I assume you mean the Amiga line). The Amiga always had superior 2D graphics, from the start in 1985. The PC wasn't able to touch it until about 1993 or 1994, when VGA cards became ubiquitous in the PC scene. Even then, you were limited compared to what the Amiga could do, because the VGA card was essentially a frame buffer - any and all effects had to be handled by the CPU. The Amiga had the advantage of a parallel chipset - consisting of chips for graphic manipulations (mainly the blitter), chips for sound (Amiga had the best sound - 4 channel FM stereo as well as digital sample playback - since 1985), and the CPU. Also, there were two different types of RAM in the Amiga - regular and something known as "Fast" RAM. Fast RAM was typically used for graphics and sound, while the other RAM was used for the OS. The blitter allowed for some weird and wacky things, like having two different frequency screens overlayed on top of each other. Plus, the Amiga also had planar graphics (as opposed to the scalar architecture of VGA), which also allowed for some interesting effects.

With all that said, though, that isn't what led to the PC outpacing the Amiga (I doubt it was cause for the downfall of Commodore - I blame that on mismanagement of the company and bad marketing of their products) - what led to that was two fold: not using the fastest and greatest Motorola 68xxx processors for their machines (and not making it easy to upgrade to a faster processor), and not pricing the machines aggressively enough to compete with the PC. Sure, there were third party CPU and RAM upgrades available, but the whole Amiga line, both OEM and third-party hardware, was an expensive beast.

At the time (ie, 1993-1995), the Amiga 1200, 600, and 4000 were the real Amiga line. Unfortunately, only the 4000 had the horsepower to be really effective for 3D games, but not many people owned them. So, software publishers targetted most games and such for the 1200 and 600 (which was really a strange form of the 500 - it didn't have the AGA chipset). When Wolfenstein 3D came out on the PC, it stunned a lot of people, myself included. But don't kid yourself: Wolfenstein 3D was a 2D game at heart - for that matter, so was Doom, and Doom 2. Arguably, Quake was "2D" as well (from the standpoint that it didn't have hardware accellerated 3D graphics), but it doesn't count since the graphics were really 3D, just rendered in software. The first three games, though, all used a form of graphic rendering called "raycasting", which was a very ingenious method combining the Bresenham algorithm and sprite scaling to simulate a 3D rendered world, very quickly, using very optimized assembly code.

The Amiga certainly had the horsepower to render such a world - indeed, shortly after Wolfenstein 3D stunned the world, other programmers figured out the "tricks" and the Amiga got its share of raycast games - not as many as the PC world (which may have been a good thing), but there were a few nice ones made. What really changed is that it proved the PC capable of doing some really nice graphic effects. The capability was there all along (in both the Amiga and the PC, mind you), probably since the days of the Amiga 1000 and PCs with CGA graphics - I say this because a guy named John Kowalski proved you can get a 2 MHz 8-bit machine to do raycasting [axess.com] (the TRS-80 Color Computer 3 - 320x200 16 color mode), along with a host of other wierd and wild stunts that were absolutely unheard of back in the heyday of the CoCo 3 (ie, 1987-1990 or so). From this, another individual used his talent (Nickolas Marentes) to create a game based off the Gloom-3D code, called Gate Crasher [launch.net.au] . Yes - both of these projects came out around 1999-2000, long after there was any interest, but it proves the point that the capability was there all along, it just didn't have the idea of "ray casting" that was needed.

The Amiga 1200 could most certainly do such a game, since such a game is inherently 3D. Unfortunately, it probably couldn't do them quite as well, since such scaling operations work best in a scalar framebuffer (where the bytes represent pixels), versus a planar array (where different bytes in memory represent pixels on different planes, and the combination of the planes produces the "color depth") - in essence, the Amiga had to do 3x the number of operations that the PC had to do. Fortunately, it had the help of the special chipsets and whatnot used for 2D, but ultimately, it couldn't keep up - not when the PC kept getting more speed on the CPU side, which helped to push games like Doom and Doom 2 along. Not that it mattered, because by the time Doom came out, Commodore was pretty much "out for the count" - a new Amiga or other hardware couldn't be made to make a difference anyhow.

What was left on the scene was the PC, where CPU speed ruled the day. PCs had bested the Amiga on the audio front early on (AdLib, SoundBlaster, and Gravis Ultrasound), but on the graphics front things would have to wait until 1994-1995 for SVGA, VESA, and PCI to catch up to the Amiga. With these new buses and graphics standards, 2D accelleration and other tricks allowing programmers to offload the code on the CPU onto the video hardware (something the Amiga did from day one) became widely available. Interestingly enough, this was the same time when Best Buy stores sprang up selling PCs to the masses, with 486s and soon enough Pentiums being sold to every man, woman, and child.

What always interested me is that society seems to have this 10-15 year turnaround time before technology becomes "acceptable" to the masses. It took about 10 years from the first home computer (ie, Altairs and Sols, other kits, etc) to "become" something everyone wanted (Apple IIe, Macintosh, PC, Commodore 64, etc - in the 1980's). It took from 1985 (Amiga 1000) to 1995 (486 PC with VESA SVGA) for "multimedia" to become acceptable. It took from 1987 (Commodore CDTV and VCD players in Asia) to about the year 2000 (DVD players) for "video on a disc" to become acceptable to the masses (yeah, I know about laser disc players, but they were more favored by tech-oriented videophiles than by the masses). I don't know why this social phenomena exists, but it does.

I am personally waiting for virtual reality to take off in the same way. Something that was hyped the hell out of back in the mid-1990's, from now to about 5 years it should follow the same pattern, although I think the disillusionment from that time has caused many people to "turn off" to the idea of it. That, coupled with the fact that there isn't any low cost high resolution HMDs on the market (there are certainly low-cost low resolution ones though), along with cheap 3D tracking hardware, and the fact that glove technology is still locked in the VPL patent mess - kinda makes me wonder. We certainly have more than enough processing power for it. We have such systems like WoW and Second Life that prove that "metaverse-like" worlds are something people like. But for the moment, everything is still stuck in the "desktop VR" metaphor. Whether it will break out of that remains to be seen...

Dreamcast (3, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567343)

As somebody who has owned and sold his PS2 (with about 15 games) and who has recently bought a Dreamcast (second hand with about 20 games) I can safely say that the Dreamcast kicks PS2 ass!

It's only sad that the last commercial games for the DC were created in 2001 or so.

I would have loved to see how a recent game developed for DC would compare to a recent PS2 game; I dare bet the DC's version would have blown away the PS2's.

I guess the most imporantly reason for Sega losing out on the (IMHO) inferior PS2 is the piracy; you could use burned CD's without any expensive hardware modification. They may have failed at marketing, but from what I can see they just didn't make enough money from the games to throw at marketing anyway.

Re:Dreamcast (2, Interesting)

Hitto (913085) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567504)

You should google around for the dreamcast homebrew scene, as it is easily one of the most dedicated and talented scenes out there. Games, apps, linux, divx & MP3 player, you name it.

I bought a used DC for about 40 bucks back then, just for Jet Set Radio and Soul Calibur, and boy were those two games worth it. I do fail to understand the hype surrounding Shenmue, though.

Re:Dreamcast (1)

PhakeDC (932887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567586)

Check out Under Defeat, it was released recently as a commercial title in Japan, it's akin to Zero Gunner and it's pretty fun! ^^

Re:Dreamcast (1)

wildstoo (835450) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567616)

It's only sad that the last commercial games for the DC were created in 2001 or so.

There are still commercial games being produced for the Dreamcast [ign.com] - but only a couple, and only in Japan.

IGN reopened their Dreamcast section at the end of May. Dunno exactly why they reopened it but it's nice to have some Dreamcast news to read, even if it is mostly "funny" retrospectives.

I agree though, the DC absolutely kicks the PS2's ass. The DC games catalogue is better than that of the PS2, imho.. and DC games look better. By all rights the DC should have dominated the PS2, but as everyone knows now the console was too much, too soon.

Re:Dreamcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15567792)

I agree though, the DC absolutely kicks the PS2's ass. The DC games catalogue is better than that of the PS2, imho.. and DC games look better. By all rights the DC should have dominated the PS2, but as everyone knows now the console was too much, too soon.

You are right, but only if you consider just PS2 games released during the first year after the console launched.

Re:Dreamcast (1)

PhotoBoy (684898) | more than 8 years ago | (#15568841)

I can safely say that the Dreamcast kicks PS2 ass!

I totally agree, even now I still much prefer the DC over the PS2. I dunno what's going on (maybe it's something in the water) but everyone seems to be in Dreamcast nostalgia mode. IGN has relaunched their DC section and I keep seeing Dreamcast nostalgia threads all over the web. I guess people are now starting to realise that they really miss the "Old" Sega.

Sadly "New" Sega aren't much cop IMHO. They've had a few classic titles, particularly OutRun2 and the early Xbox stuff, but aside from that they are nowhere near that peak they reached with the DC where they were literally churning out classic after classic.

Are they? (1)

Reapman (740286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567521)

Sega has certinly fallen from where they are, but coming out here to Japan, all over Im seeing these Sega Arcades that seem to be pretty popular, AND big. Are they really on the ropes, or was the exit strategy of leaving Consoles just a smart business move (not being rhetoric, im seriously asking)

Re:Are they? (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573772)

Part of their decreased console offerings is due to being basically taken over by Sammy. Also, they might be doing less because of the console transition, but I haven't read anything like this.

Deja Vu (1)

diablo-d3 (175104) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567622)

I wrote an article like this 6 months ago: The Downfall of Sega Part 1 [adterrasperaspera.com] and Part 2 [adterrasperaspera.com]

NFL (1)

szembek (948327) | more than 8 years ago | (#15568162)

And now they even lose their great football game franchise because of the NFLPA's deal with Madden. That sucks, sega has a much better football game.

pax romana? (1)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15568222)

"It was the pinnacle of Segas Pax Romana."

Hmm it seems someone doesnt know what Pax Romana means. The console war was hardly peaceful , Sega was not on top and it has nothing to do with Romans.

Rise and Fall and Rise (1)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 8 years ago | (#15568356)

The fact that you can buy Sonic for the GBA, PS2, GCube and probably the 360, means the "Sega Userbase" is enormous compared to the best days of the 16bit wars. Plus the constant stream of engineering outlay for new consoles, new controllers, new media instantly disappeared.

I loved the Master System, Genesis, Game Gear, and Saturn hardware as much as the next geek. But Sega is in a much better place now. Everyone's living room. May it always be so.

What really loved was the Games anyway, Now we can all live in perfect Hedgehogemony.

Oh, that was bad.

Not poor SEGA... (1)

SimpleBinary (976656) | more than 8 years ago | (#15568543)

It just seems to me that SEGA wanted to 'get rich quick' with their gaming systems. Offering system after system to the public, even though the systems weren't that good. If you think about it, they offered multiple systems that they new people were going to buy before the market got flooded with other companies such as Sony and Microsoft that they might not be able to keep up with financially and technologically.

Anyone remember this: (1)

fernandoh26 (963204) | more than 8 years ago | (#15569079)

WELCO
METOT
HENEX
TLEVEL

The honest truth (1)

DorkusMasterus (931246) | more than 8 years ago | (#15569351)

is that Sega had a lot going for them, they did indeed lose their "focus", and when they did apply it well, in the DreamCast, it was too early. There was no competition and OMG, the controllers...

The DreamCast had crazy great capabilities, well beyond that of anything else in that gen, but people weren't ready to plunk down hard earned cash to make it happen. We had a DreamCast in our home, and we loved it. But can you imagine if the DreamCast came out when downloadable or online play was possible at broadband speeds? It would have been a totally different story!

The DreamCast was the first console to be able to hook up to the internet (for browsing or other things), and that was huge. But the bandwidth wasn't there to do anything really useful with it. If you could do anything even remotely comparable to Xbox Live with that thing, man, it would have been amazing how well that system would have lasted and performed in the market, I guarantee....

First isnt always a good thing... (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 8 years ago | (#15569766)

SEGA's biggest problem was releasing their next generation consoles too early. More than a few months jump just gives the competition too much time to build up the hype machine, even if the hype simply isnt true. Sony built up a fan base with the psx that caused fanboys everywhere to latch on to every word. Emotion Engine, Built-In hard drive, bazillions of textures, higher poly counts...in the end most of the hype ment nothing but people bought into it. In hindsight SEGA should have waited about a year, they lost the specs war but in alot of peoples minds SEGA was well on their way to winning the gameplay war.

The ps2 has never performed at the level the hype suggested, the good thing about this is that even the fanboys are a bit more jaded now. People want to see performance and quality, not just a spec sheet. This generation seems poised to be the one where gameplay finally wins out over hype. May the best console win.

yeah a lot of mistakes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15570447)

..Those aren't the ones that kiled sega.

Imagine sony had said "nah, that final fantasy series by square doesn't look like something we can sell outside japan. NEXT".

This is what happened to sega. In japan saturn and dreamcast were kicking but. In the USA there were hardly any games for the saturn. I buy the console that has the games, I don't care who built it and what the hardwares power is, if it doesn't have the games I want screw it.

Re:yeah a lot of mistakes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15570525)

Like grandia and the 2nd and 3rd discs to shining force 3, which the complete set goes for several hundred on ebay now.

umm (0)

Is0m0rph (819726) | more than 8 years ago | (#15570794)

So when did Sega die exactly? Last time I checked they were still doing well as a software only/arcade business. I'll always have a couple Dreamcasts though, great consoles and where else can you play Samba De Amigo?

For Factual information on the Fall of SEGA... (2, Informative)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571306)

I find SEGA Base to be very informative:

SEGA Base [eidolons-inn.net]

Essentially, I get from this that a lack of co-operation between the American and Japanese branches were it's biggest problem. (Oh, and Nintendo screwing them over with the Congress didn't help either.)

The Dreamcast would have had to have been a spectacular success to pull SEGA out of its financial doldrums, and the people at SEGA seemed to know it was a longshot (see the following article):

"Come on, Mr. Yukawa, get up!" [slate.com]

The ads star an actual senior managing director of the company, a man named Yukawa Hidekazu, who looks much like what you imagine Japanese salarymen look like. In the first, Yukawa eavesdrops on two kids saying, "Sega video games suck. Playstation is much better." Melancholy, Yukawa heads to a bar, gets drunk, and on his way home scuffles with some thugs, who beat him up. The commercial ends with him collapsed in the doorway of his house, as an offscreen voice exhorts, "Come on, Mr. Yukawa, get up!"
In the second ad, Yukawa is on a remote mountaintop, dressed in a business suit, talking to a group of seemingly friendly children who tell him that Sega has changed for the better. "Really?" he asks, at which point the children's eyes turn black and they scream, "No, it's a joke! We don't need Sega--we want Playstation!" The earth then opens beneath Yukawa and swallows him, just before he wakes up on the floor of his office to realize that his secretary has caught him daydreaming. The ad ends with him reflecting on his nightmare.

Poor summary of a complicated company (1)

fruitbane (454488) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573334)

I'm not totally sure now newsworthy this article is. No, I am totally sure. It's not. As a personal anecdote it's an interesting read for the author's friends, I'm sure. As a pre-mortem eulogy for a company with a long and complicated history, marked with strange politics and even stranger bedfellows, this isn't news. It's almost entirely conjecture.
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