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Article - 'A tribute to Sega' by Andiaz

An item about Miscellanious posted on Aug 9, 2003

Blurb

Andiaz treats us to his positive views on Sega in the form of a great tribute!

Body

Alright, this is another article by me… this time about Sega. For any questions, comments or whatever, send a mail to an_dias@hotmail.com. Enjoy…

It is well known that no console is better than the games are. However, even if a console has a lot of great games, there’s no guarantee that the console will survive. Dreamcast was a great example of this. Dreamcast had games like Shenmue, Phantasy Star Online, Soul Calibur, Virtua Tennis, Sonic Adventure, Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio, Sega Rally 2… I can go on like this for a long time. All these games made it worth to spend some money on the console, but it still wasn’t enough to make Dreamcast pay off. Since the production of games to Dreamcast got cancelled, Sega has been doing games for other consoles…
The history about the company Sega started off a long time before Dreamcast was made, though. After a bunch of failed attempts to get into the gaming industry in Japan in the beginning of the 80’s with the console SG-1000 and the computer SC-3000, Sega started to realize that the key to success was to produce good games. The following console Mark III started to take shape at the same time as Sega was learning how to produce arcade games. Out Run, Wonder Boy, Shinobi, Hang on, Space Harrier and After Burner were some good examples that Sega could combine new technology with fantastic games. Between 1985 and 1987, Sega was changing to become one of the most successful arcade game producers in the world, and the money they earned was all spent into making new arcade machines and for getting well known inside the growing gaming market. Mark III was released as Master System in Europe, and a quite small, but very loyal group of players created the first generation of Sega-fans. At this time, Nintendo had like 10 times more fans than Sega had, but the Sega-fans felt like a part of a sub-culture, instead being one out of millions of Nintendo-players.
One thing that made the Master System gamers very proud was when Sega released the rpg Phantasy Star in Europe. There were other games like this for NES, but only in Japan and USA. Nintendo didn’t think that the European gamers could handle this kind of advanced games, but Sega and its fans proved the opposite thing. Phantasy Star became a big commercial success, but it also came to be a game that lots of people talked about, even though very few of them had played it.
In 1988, Sega released a completely new console in the Nintendo-dominated Japan, where they still hadn’t made a name of themselves among the videogame-players. But, when Sega finally released the console known as Mega Drive in the whole world, except for North America, where it was renamed to Genesis, the people in Japan started to realize how much stronger Mega Drive was, compared to NES. Now Sega started to make use of the fact that they had an older and a more serious crowd than Nintendo, and they showed themselves as the cooler alternative to Nintendo. You could see the words “Genesis does what Nintendon’t” in advertisings for Sega over the whole USA, and Sega focused on releasing role playing games like Phantasy Star II and Sword of Vermillion, and also converted arcade games, like Strider or Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. Sega cooperated with Michael Jackson during the development of the game Moonwalker and started to get well together with Electronic Arts that produced licensed games with well known sportsmen in their games.
When Nintendo finally released Super NES, Sega already had millions of console-players by their side, and quite soon after Nintendo made their big comeback with their game Super Mario World, Sonic appeared to show the gamers which company who wanted to win the 16-bit race.
On just a few years, Sega had gone from being a quite small company filled of strong wills and attitude, to become a huge company that against all odds prevented Nintendo to rule the gaming market all alone. But as a lot of other companies who grow extremely fast in a very short amount of time, Sega lost their focus. It was due to all the amazing games and their cooperation with other amazing game developers that Sega succeed with Mega Drive. But when Super NES started to become a better alternative to Mega Drive, Sega thought that they could strike back with help from a new console. So instead of doing as they did before (putting all their money on game developing), Sega started to produce things like a very expensive chip that was only used in one game, but also completely new consoles like Game Gear, Mega CD and 32X. Of course, Game Gear was much better than Game Boy technically, but it consumed a large amount of batteries, and the amount of good games was quite low. Mega CD worked fine as a Mega Drive-expansion and made it able to produce bigger games, but it was advertised as a new console and it was a very expensive thing to buy. 32X was another expansion to Mega Drive that had more advanced technology in it, but the release made the consumers confused, and the games didn’t look as good as the Playstation games did. The fact that Sega also released Saturn in the middle of the chaos didn’t make things easier. And suddenly, Sega hadn’t just spent all the money they got from Mega Drive, but also scared away all the loyal fans that had been with them since the day Master System was released.
A lot of persons, including me, probably thought that Dreamcast would be the big comeback for Sega. And if they had invested their money wiser in the middle of the 90’s, they probably would have being able to hold on longer. Then they also would have been able to set the price on Dreamcast to a lower amount of money, advertise about Dreamcast a lot more, and they would probably have got more game developers that realized the potential in VMU, and the almost limitless online-capabilities. In year 2000, Sega had around the same amount of people who wanted to buy Dreamcast, as they had 10 years ago. The difference was that their opponents didn’t just consist of Nintendo anymore, and having a game like Shenmue a few weeks on the Japanese gaming lists just wasn’t enough. 7 million Dreamcast-gamers is a way too small gaming market, believe it or not.
Of course, I don’t like when these kinds of things happens to a great company like Sega, but it actually makes it able for a lot of more people to enjoy Sega’s games, since they are producing games for all the consoles right now. And for the first time since the Mega Drive, all the creative developers of Sega can reach out to the big gaming crowd. And I think that’s what every game developer really dreams about.