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Sega Genesis vs. PlayStation - which did a better job at making gaming "Mature"?

Jubenhimer

Member
In the 90s, video games were going through a big change. Nintendo had successfully revived interest in console gaming in the U.S with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in the mid-80s. The 8-bit wonder machine was a smash hit across the nation, and launched now household gaming legends such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Mega Man, Castlevania, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and more. But there was a catch.




Even in Japan, Nintendo has, and is always known to be a family-oriented platform holder. And while the Japanese counterpart to the NES, the Family Computer (Famicom) targeted a broader audience, the NES was more squarely targeted towards children. Not only were ads mostly featured on Saturday morning cartoons and other kid shows, but Nintendo of America even introduced strict content guidelines for all games published on the console, which heavily restricted content such as death, religion, drugs & alcohol, violence, and sexual content.

For kids, this wasn't a problem, as Nintendo introduced a brand that parents can trust. But what happens when those kids get older... say, 6-8th grade? What was there for the bigger 10-14 year old kids who wanted a bit more edge to their games? Well in 1989, Sega introduced the answer with their Genesis console (Mega Drive in Japan and Europe).



Positioned as the cooler, more grown up alternative to the NES, the Genesis placed a focus on attracting an older audience of gamers with games that focused heavily on celebrities like Michael Jackson, sports stars like Joe Montana, and games with more violence and "attitude" than Nintendo's offerings. Sega's newly created mascot, Sonic, was also designed to have broader appeal to the "cool" crowd than Nintendo's Mario.



The tipping point, was the 1993 console ports for the original Mortal Kombat, while both the Super Nintendo and Sega Geneisis versions were heavily censored out of the box, Sega allowed publisher Acclaim to slip-in a hidden cheat code to re-instate the game's trademark extreme violence, the SNES version, had no such code. Sega's push to make gaming cooler and more "edgy" was effective. It ate into NIntendo's previous iron grip on the console market, offered an alternative for middle schoolers who were "too cool" for Nintendo, and single handedly forced the entire industry to adopt the ESRB rating system.

However, a newcomer to the market that recently had a fallout with Nintendo would not only learn from Sega's marketing tactics, but also use them against Sega and Nintendo, and created what is still to this day, a multi-million dollar gaming brand.



Sony Computer Entertainment, a newly formed subsidiary of the technology conglomerate Sony, unleashed the PlayStation in the US in 1995. Sony's marketing strategy was simple. Take Sega's, and multiply it, to even older audiences, and even people who didn't traditionally play games. Whereas the Genesis was primarily geared towards preteens, Sony positioned the PlayStation to include the broader and more lucrative 14 to 24 year old market, with Sony citing 19 as the console's sweet-spot age.

Sony used its experience with technology and multi-media to their advantage when crafting the design ethos for PlayStation. The much touted CD-ROM drive not only allowed games to store more data than cartridges, but combined with console's advanced audio and video processing and impressive 3D graphics, it allowed developers to innovate with how they could present games. Sony used this to fuel its marketing machine, with ads for Final Fantasy VII famously using the game's pre-rendered cut-scenes to sell the idea that video games can be just as engrossing as movies, tv shows, or books. Games like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater used the CD to play licensed music, games like Metal Gear Solid could tell complex and lengthy narratives that spanned 3 discs, and games like Parappa the Rapper and Bust a Groove created interactive musicals with high quality audio. And CDs were so cheap to produce, that Sony could give away free ones with demos, trailers, and other fun stuff to help drive software sales.

Sure, Sega had the Sega CD add-on for the Genesis, but the Genesis was far too under-powered to do anything useful with the format. The PlayStation was far from the first disc-based console (others like the 3DO and Saturn tried and failed), but it was the first do it right.
 
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nush

Gold Member
Sega started as a way to differentiate themselves from Family Friendly Nintendo. Sony ran with it because the cost of the PlayStation at launch was way out of the reach of kids, so it distanced themselves further from Nintendo and 1-uped Sega who were still trying (Europe) to chase that older demographic.

But that gen "Mature" was actually immature, tits, blood and bad language. Actual mature was on PC way before that.
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
Genesis maturity came from sports, fighting games with blood, and arcade action games. They started off console gaming trying to aim for an older audience. Before that, console gaming was aimed at kids or families. I'm not saying Sega was aiming for 50 year olds, but at least older than Nintendo gamers. So maybe a 10 year age bump.

PS maturity went beyond that with the rise of 3D visuals and PC ports. So now you got 3D racers, polygon fighters, FPS and even a port of Diablo (I rented it to see how good it was vs. the PC game and it was actually pretty good and worked well with a gamepad when I used the archer class)
 
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You started seeing more young adults play videogames when Genesis came out.

But I feel a lot of the single player type games that you see many older gamers play nowadays became popular on the original playstation. Resident Evil, FF7, Tomb Raider.
 

Jubenhimer

Member
You started seeing more young adults play videogames when Genesis came out.

But I feel a lot of the single player type games that you see many older gamers play nowadays became popular on the original playstation. Resident Evil, FF7, Tomb Raider.
People like to complain about PlayStation having "cinematic games" now, when these same people forget PlayStation had always been like this.
 

SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
Both of these systems were essentially following the audience that got
the original NES as they aged up. So if those kids were 8 years old on average 86-90, Genesis was looking for 12-13 year olds, and PlayStation was looking for 16-18 year olds.

To some extent the mainstream has still followed that generation of kids into adulthood. That's why all the rescue the princess/babe games turned into dad games about protecting a kid.

I don't know that either system did a "better" job, I think one was a continuation of the other's strategy.
 

MaulerX

Member
Sega Genesis easily.

Mortal Kombat on the Genesis was not censored. That and a couple other games (like Night Trap) drove Sega to pioneer the games rating system we have today. I still remember seeing those hearings with the government about this issue.
 
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PlayStation. It was marketed towards teens and young adults. I'll never forgot how popular it was too. It was like everyone had one.
 

SkylineRKR

Member
Genesis wasn't mature. Sega targeted a demographic older than Nintendo, but clearly teens still. Their mascot was Sonic after all. Even if MK introduced the rating system, MK was still a game favored by teens.

Playstation eventually went for all kinds of games. For all audiences. Lots of stuff for grown ups as well. Games with FMV and voice acting. The brand was marketed at Champions League games, and consoles appeared in demopods in the electronic dance scene accessible by 16 or 18+. Playstation marketing was really something else at the time.
 

Duchess

Member
In Europe, PlayStation, night clubs literally had PS1 cabinets playing Wipeout, Destruction Derby and Tomb Raider.
Yep. Sony Europe targeted those in their late teens and early twenties, and crucially aimed to show the non-gamers that video games were cool.

It worked.
 

nkarafo

Member
Neither.

Mega Drive/Genesis just made it more edgy. Violence and gore doesn't make games "mature". You can have the most violent game and it can still be an immature cringefest to impress little kids.

Playstation just made games more casual and mainstream. As a result, more adults got lured in. But it didn't have to do with games being more mature. It was mostly the great marketing.

PC gaming in the early/mid 90s was what made games mature. Flight Sims, WRPGs, Strategy games and more complex/deeper games in general. Things that require higher attention span (and even intelligence) than little kids tend to have.
 

TheGrat1

Member
Edit, I read too fast and thought it said Saturn.

PlayStation literally said they were targeting 19 as the age people wanted to advance to/de-age to.
 
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NeoIkaruGAF

Gold Member
PlayStation, period.

Sega was all marketing and 90’s edge. There is nothing mature in the games that ignited the whole debate that ended in the creation of the ESRB. Sexiness for the sake of sexiness, gore for the sake of gore. Poor content, and often poorer gameplay. It’s regrettable that Sega never did their own The Wizard - that’d have the potential to be the cringiest shit to ever grace humanity.

PlayStation actually expanded the video games market well beyond the realm of kids and nerds, and with it gaming made serious steps towards more mature content.
 

kevm3

Member
Playstation. Genesis was more edgy than mature. Playstation actually expanded the audience to an older crowd with games like gran turismo
 

SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
Playstation. Genesis was more edgy than mature. Playstation actually expanded the audience to an older crowd with games like gran turismo
That took time though. They started with the same edgy playbook with games like Loaded and Twisted Metal.

I mostly credit that to the fact that, unlike the Genesis, the PlayStation was actually very successful in Japan, and the edgekord shit never hit the same way there.
 
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yurinka

Member
If we look at market data, PlayStation with a big distance. The console market became way bigger with PS.

That took time though. They started with the same edgy playbook with games like Loaded and Twisted Metal.
Launch PS1 games like Ridge Racer or Wipeout featured the type of music that were trendy back then in the clubs, at least in Europe. I think not only edgy/gory stuff made it more appealing to young adults, there was additional stuff like this one.
 
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Harold Lloyd

Neo Member
Playstation - not even a debate in europe. Everything prior was seen by the public as something for kids and nerds. I'm old enough to remember wipEout demo booths in nightclubs.
 
PlayStation

I was 12 when the PSX launched, 15 when we finally bought one and it was refreshing to have access to games that were maturing along with my tastes.
 

ShirAhava

Plays with kids toys, in the adult gaming world
Genesis was the first system to shed that kiddie image and have it actually work (for a time)

PSX took that whole momentum SEGA built up and ran with it in the 32-bit era
 

Fat Frog

Member
F-R-A-U-D

The winner is Sega.


They did it before with the Genesis and they did exactly the same as PSX with the Saturn. It's just that PSX won the 32 bits war, doesn't mean the mature games on Saturn didn't exist. (especially when the Saturn was released before the PSX...)


it's not a Genesis VS PSX battle but a Genesis + Saturn against the PSX.


The only answer is Sega.
 
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Thaedolus

Gold Member
Genesis was the loud mouthed drunk at the bar. PlayStation was the grizzled, wizened samurai sitting in the corner who lets his blade do the communicating.

Trust me I’m an expert in honor and shame
 

Jubenhimer

Member
I always thought SEGA were more about bringing the arcade experience into the living room as opposed to maturing gaming.
They were also trying to craft a more "mature" image compared to Nintendo though, at least in North America, especially with ads like this.
 
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ZehDon

Member
Genesis proved there was a market for unedited, uncensored, mature video games. Sony was then able to capitalise by launching the PS1 quite a while after the Genesis, focusing on the teen and adult audiences that the Genesis demonstrated had buying power. You don't Resident Evil on PS1 without uncensored Mortal Kombat on the Genesis.
 

Fat Frog

Member
They were also trying to craft a more "mature" image compared to Nintendo though, at least in North America, especially with ads like this.

Indeed. People also forget the controllers size, coloration:

Snes controller: Small with flashy colors for the buttons. (main target was children.)

PSX controller : 4 mm larger than the Snes controller with less colored buttons. (but still colored square, triangle)

Genesis controller : 20 mm larger the Snes, no color or just one color for all buttons (austere but classy) , black controller and console like most hi tech stuffs. (audio jack included)

Genesis controller was clearly created for adult hands...
 
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