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The Very True story of how Dreamcast almost released in 1996 and could have beaten PS2

UnNamed

18+ Member
Never heard of this MX before, very interesting.

I remember an interview with one of the M2 developer during Dural/Katana time, he said basically Sega went to them to test the new hardware, but something gone wrong during the production of the sampler, missing some part, the performance were slower and Sega decided to not take that road.

Maybe the OP knows best, it was something someone had posted on obscuregamers, I can't find it now.

Edit: ok, found:
 

UnNamed

18+ Member
In any case, these discussions always leads to the holy grail VF3 for Saturn, a story with an enormous amount of rumors but, after more than 20years, nothing has ever emerged, that's why I think VF3 was probably never fully developed in the first place. Maybe there was some demo, but I find very difficult to think that a Saturn, even a enhanced one, could handle VF3.

But this is a story for another thread.
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
If Sega took over M2 (at M2's current state of tech), it would be crap. The M2 demos look like ass compared to what DC did. I dont think gamers would jump onto M2 even though it looked better than PS1.

M2 released in late 90s as a business unit (kiosks). Lets say Sega released it as a game system one year before DC (so Japan 1997 and USA 1998) at it's specs. I dont think an extra year would make much difference vs. PS2. Give what I read, I dont see how M2 was ever ready to be launched in 1996.

Not only are the specs worse than DC, but it would mean it launches one year closer to Saturn pissing off Sega gamers and devs even more.
 
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GIF by filmeditor

the world wasn't ready for it in 1998, and certainly not in 1996. sony blew every hope away with its famous "299!". sega could never compete with that money sony had in the background.
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
GIF by filmeditor

the world wasn't ready for it in 1998, and certainly not in 1996. sony blew every hope away with its famous "299!". sega could never compete with that money sony had in the background.
Sony subsidized PS2's high costs too. That DVD drive was a lot and PS2's were losing money. And thats with Sony being an electronics maker.

Whatever MX system was in the works, Sega is no A/V gadget maker and if it had a costly DVD drive even a year earlier than PS2, the thing would had cost a ton to make.
 

SkylineRKR

Member
Dreamcast was absolutely the better system to have in 2000 and parts of 2001. I was very content with it. PS2 launched in Japan, a store had it on demo and it was sort of a relief to me; the games I saw were TTT, RR and SF EX3. They didn't really push beyond what the DC offered already. While PS2 was still a no show in the west, we played DoA2, JSR, Virtua Tennis, RE CV and Crazy Taxi. Wouldn't want to miss those evenings. Sega got it on since the western launch day, they kept pushing and pushing games.

In retrospect though, I don't think i've seen many DC games looking more impressive than Ridge Racer, SSX and a few other PS2 launch games. DC games looked very clean and colorful, but its geometry was rather simple. But PS2 had this immense hype going on, I just expected way too much.
 

Azelover

Titanic was called the Ship of Dreams, and it was. It really was.
Yes. MX existed as a finished design and S42 was prototyped and running. That's what Nintendo almost bought for GameCube. Technically S42 was on par or exceeded GameCube in it's abilities
What about the money though? Sony spent 500 million dollars in marketing, to launch the PS2. The advertising and PR machinery was as robust as can be. The price, the features, the PS2 was a perfect product for the time. Sega stood no chance.
 

Drell

Member
Mega CD wasn't a failure; it did what Sega wanted, they made money off the hardware from Day 1, and it was the best-selling add-on in the industry up until the Wii Fit board and later still the Kinect. The North American library was definitely hampered by too big a focus on mediocre FMV games but the totality of the platform's library is markedly better and has some real gems present.

32X, on the other hand, was a very reactionary product and served no purpose that wasn't better served with expanding on the SVP chip concept they introduced with the MegaDrive/Genesis port of Virtua Racing.
The Mega CD was maybe not a failure financially but seeing how the majority of the Megadrive library stayed on cartridge, I'm not sure Sega achieved what they wanted with this add-on. The Megadrive sold 42-47 Millions of units while "only" 6 millions of the people who bought it also bought the Mega CD worldwide. That's a ratio of about 12 to 14%. Not even a 1/6th of the public bought it. I was obviously not working at Sega back then but I'm sure they aimed higher than this. Yes it's the third best selling add-on after Kinect and the Balance Board, but these were only accessories for certain games (well for kinect it's a bit more complicated but that's not the subject). This thing was a hardware upgrade for the Megadrive and I'm sure they were planning to try and go all out on CD-Rom games but had to backdash when they saw this. It's just like Nintendo with the N64 and the Gamecube: They made profit with these 2 consoles, but they obviously wanted more market shares than what they got on these generations.
 

SlimeGooGoo

Party Gooper
The problem wasn't the competition against the PS2. I'm sure the Dreamcast would have at least sold as much as the Gamecube if Sega kept selling it during a "normal" console lifecycle (4 to 5 years back in the day). THeir only problem was their finances, they couldn't survive with the failure of the Mega CD, the 32X and the Saturn.
Cute

 

deriks

4-Time GIF/Meme God
Sega was barely alive with the Dreamcast, dude.

Maybe the DVD thing could be the changing game - hell, I saw many friends convincing their parents to buy the PS2 because of that - but needed more third party games, better first party games, better controller, better marketing... Maybe with the DVD the table have turned. Maybe instead Microsoft really did the Xbox, Sega joined with them to be the East/West console. But who knows?!

I love the Dreamcast since day one, but everyone knows that it was a small hand gamble from them
 

Ozzie666

Member
I love Sega as much as the next guy, but lets face it. They were lucky with the Genesis/Mega drive, they were never able to repeat that success, they also tried to kill it too soon. Great ideas, bad timing and bad implementations. So close, yet so far on so many opportunities. They've been out of the hardware business, longer than they were in it, and even longer than any period of success they had.

Dreamcast deserved a better fate, but there was always something missing from their efforts. In this case it was the DVD and that controller. You can look at every console, they all shave some major issues, that could have been avoided or fixed.

Poor decision making and their family feud between America and Japan, they could not have over come Sony with those things in play, regardless of hard ware. Sega choices pre 1996, almost did as much damage to consumer confidence as Atari had done in the early 80's. Sega never had the strength and cash Nintendo had, to survive pit falls.
 

modiz

Member
Sega was always gonna be stomped by PS2. Sony were able to make deals with 3rd party left right and centre. Gta, mgs, final fantasy, dmc etc... This is what enabled them to dominate the market as well as catering to an older audience.
Yep, Sony outmoney'd them basically. Adding their deceptive marketing and also crazy money they put in Nintendo and Sony never had a chance.
 

RafterXL

Member
To be fair, the PS2 initially was basically just a DVD player for a significant portion of people who bought it initially, so a DVD drive in the Dreamcast would 100% made a difference. The problem is, even with the drive, Sega was already in trouble at that point and I don't think adding more expense to an already struggling company would have saved them. I don't envision any scenario where Sega comes out on top.
 

Kenpachii

Gold Member
It would have never beaten the PS2. Because many people i know had a PS1 for the reasons it was cheap + games where easy to copy and ever single sereis or tv series at the time under the sun had games coming out for it. Dreamcast wasn't even a thing people remotely cared for. Hell back in the day and i was in games, dreamcast wasn't even a thing in my brain. It was n64 / ps or pc.
 

Panajev2001a

GAF's Pleasant Genius
Mega CD wasn't a failure; it did what Sega wanted, they made money off the hardware from Day 1, and it was the best-selling add-on in the industry up until the Wii Fit board and later still the Kinect. The North American library was definitely hampered by too big a focus on mediocre FMV games but the totality of the platform's library is markedly better and has some real gems present.

32X, on the other hand, was a very reactionary product and served no purpose that wasn't better served with expanding on the SVP chip concept they introduced with the MegaDrive/Genesis port of Virtua Racing.

The problem there is opportunity cost and their war chest. It takes a lot of time and money to R&D, launch, and distribute an add on and all the supporting documentation and tooling and getting developers onboard (or trying to). For genesis they did not one, but two big add-ons (amidst company infighting).

Imagine if they had let Genesis live a little longer with full support and invested the resources in better Developer tooling and HW components for the Saturn (as well as their distribution channels/retailers), and game studio resources (or simply saved some of that away). A better Saturn generation would have positioned themselves better for the Dreamcast project (where avoiding to piss of EA would have left Madden, FIFA, NHL, and other EA games stay on the platform…).
 
Never would've happened. The problem with the Dreamcast in the first place was that it was too ahead of its time for its own good in some ways...and that's with the actual release date. Releasing earlier would've only made the problem worse. It was too powerful and expensive to really compete with the PlayStation, and most people didn't have home internet, making the online functionality a difficult to justify additional cost that many couldn't even use...and it was too weak to compete with the PS2, to say nothing of its lack of DVD playback.

Ultimately it failed because Sega was desperate and rushed it out the door in a folly attempt to save their dying business.
 
Ok ok let me explain lolol.

Sega didn't have to exit the console market. There was a path for them to beat Sony at their own game...and that path led directly through 3DO. Yeah I know...but stay with me here!

3DO obviously wanted to sell M2 as a finished console and get out of the hardware game and they ultimately succeeded with that by selling it to Panasonic...who went on to kill the damn console before it released! But not before adding a DVD drive in 1999 and shipping it as kiosk hardware.

But in late 1995 Sega was in final negotiations to buy the M2 and it's planned expansion...MX. Only at the 11th hour did Sega pull out of the deal and abandon the M2 and MX hardware.

But MX...had basically the same polygon pushing power as well as DVD compatibility....and would be ready to ship in 1999...BEFORE Sony gets to market with the PS2

It's a lot deeper than that. I mean Sega did DEVELOP a game for the 3DO M2, that was demoed in 1998 and magazines wrote about!

Oh how different the console wars could have been. Next time I will tell the story of why the 360 is just a 3DO console in disguise ;)

SEGA could have a DVD in the Dreamcast, It was the cost of selling the unit with a DVD drive that put pay to that. Also, the M2/Bulldog Hardware wasn't a patch on the DC. Compare Konami M2 Arcade games like Evil Night to the likes of House of the Dead 2 and there's a vast difference. What killed the DC really was a lack of 3rd party support and that killer E3 demo of MGS2

I really wished SEGA pushed ahead with Nvidia on the Hardware they were working together on myself
 
Imagine if they had let Genesis live a little longer with full support and invested the resources in better Developer tooling and HW components for the Saturn (as well as their distribution channels/retailers), and game studio resources (or simply saved some of that away). A better Saturn generation would have positioned themselves better for the Dreamcast project (where avoiding to piss of EA would have left Madden, FIFA, NHL, and other EA games stay on the platform…).
The Mega Drive came out in 88. SEGA supported the Mega Drive too long. SEGA should have dropped all In-House software support in 1994 for the MD and moved all In-House production to Saturn, just for example a 32-bit Comix Zone with 24- Bit visuals,, 2 player mode and a CDDA soundtrack would have been something special

If we never had the 32X SEGA would have been in a far better position too, but what really killed SEGA
 

ksdixon

Member
I cant believe the Saturn didnt use the cartridge slot for megadrive games. Or a powerbase convertor type of device for 32x compat too. Granted that still sort of strands mega cd unto itself.

Edit: i mean to say the saturn should have run saturn cd's and megadrive cartridges "instead" of 32x existing.
 
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Panajev2001a

GAF's Pleasant Genius
The Mega Drive came out in 88. SEGA supported the Mega Drive too long. SEGA should have dropped all In-House software support in 1994 for the MD and moved all In-House production to Saturn, just for example a 32-bit Comix Zone with 24- Bit visuals,, 2 player mode and a CDDA soundtrack would have been something special

If we never had the 32X SEGA would have been in a far better position too, but what really killed SEGA

Fair, but without the bug distractions of MegaCD and 32X they could have done both.
 
Realistically speaking, Sega needed to get the US launch of the Saturn right if they wanted to have a chance against Sony. Anything they'd do for the next console gen was "too late"; There was nothing the Dreamcast could have done to save Sega, unless maybe they severely cut the budget.

If anything, releasing in 1996 would have been WORSE, since after the CD and 32X Sega had a reputation for dropping support for platforms quickly. Wasn't Bernie Stolar's "Saturn is not our future" speech something that cemented that reputation and caused people to be non-commited to the Dreamcast? Yeah, 1996 launch would not have helped at all.
 

nkarafo

Member
Title makes no sense. If DC was released in 1996 it would be a full generation behind the PS2 and it would not even compete with it. It would be closer to something like the N64 or M2.

Nothing would change for the PS2 in that scenario.
 
I'm not even sure about... Dreamcast failed before PS2 release so what make it could success being launched even early.

In simple terms PS2 had nothing to do with Dreamcast failure.
Ummm... What?

The Dreamcast launch in North America on 9/9/99 was the largest grossing single day in entertainment history at the time. I was in my second year of college, and I remember waiting in a police detailed line outside Electronics Boutique to get my launch console. My friend donned the orange Dreamcast T-shirt that I got for preordering and climbed a light pole to get the attention of the crowd as he ripped the shirt off screaming "DREAMCAST!!!" (Best 5 dollar bet I ever made).

It was one of my favorite years in gaming ever. Finally, 3D gaming was running smoothly and clearly. It was a revelation. My roommates and I played the hell out of Crazy Taxi, Soul Calibur, Power Stone, Toy Commander, Virtua Tennis and more.

But the next summer there was a giant change. The next big thing was on the horizon. It's shadow cast over the entire industry. I was the only one in my group of friends that actually owned a Dreamcast... Months later. No Madden or EA games bothered some. Sega's sketchy past bothered others.... But the PS2 was on the minds of most. Coming hot off the PS1 there was never any hype for a console ever or since like there was for the PS2. Retailers cleared the way. Dreamcast was relegated to a fad almost.... It's section of games tucked away, out of sight to make way for PS2 merchandise and promotion. All the talk was PS2. I'd play a friend on my Dreamcast only to deal with the same line everytime no matter what friend...
"PS2 is going to be so much better!"

The mindset of the gaming industry was solely focused on the PS2. It was a looming juggernaut. Sega propped up the Dreamcast (with Capcom) pretty well for that first year.... But with third parties focusing on PS2, the Square demos on PS2 seemingly showcasing stuff that put the Dreamcast to shame (remember the hype for The Bouncer???) and the collective gaming press openly drooling over it while basically predicting the Dreamcast's demise... The writing was on the wall.

Sega didn't have the money, the resources, or the reputation to beat Sony. Management was a mess. I think it was Next Generation magazine that even had a giant exposition on the terrible stuff going on with Sega's management. That sure as heck didn't put a good taste in gamers mouths, particularly when that same issue had a giant glowing piece on the PS2 coming out. Top execs openly admitted the PS2 was going to put them under. Before the final bell rung, they threw in the towel and jumped on the PS2 hype train themselves.

To say the PS2 had nothing to do with the Dreamcast's demise is ridiculous.
 

Panajev2001a

GAF's Pleasant Genius
I don't get people's issues with the Mega CD. It was far from a flop and it's not like SEGA Japan put much effort into it for games.
The 32X was just a waste of everyone time and sadly split SEGA against SEGA, which made no sense whatsoever

I have nothing against the Mega CD in and of itself, it was a costly distraction (it is not cheap to design, manufacture, distribute, and support) and for a small company like SEGA it is a question of opportunity cost. If they made say $X million in profits from it, but not doing it they could have done something else (pump that money into SEGA Saturn) that overall was either more strategic or returned an even higher profit (or decreased a loss by a larger amount in absolute value) then it was the wrong decision.

Imagine all the time and effort that went designing, supporting, and selling both Mega CD and 32X and imagine it invested in Saturn R&D (better HW, better tools for devs, more dev support people, etc…) and maybe pricing too (cheaper console, taking a bit of a bigger loss and start manufacturing earlier)…
 
I have nothing against the Mega CD in and of itself, it was a costly distraction (it is not cheap to design, manufacture, distribute, and support) and for a small company like SEGA it is a question of opportunity cost. If they made say $X million in profits from it, but not doing it they could have done something else (pump that money into SEGA Saturn) that overall was either more strategic or returned an even higher profit (or decreased a loss by a larger amount in absolute value) then it was the wrong decision.

Imagine all the time and effort that went designing, supporting, and selling both Mega CD and 32X and imagine it invested in Saturn R&D (better HW, better tools for devs, more dev support people, etc…) and maybe pricing too (cheaper console, taking a bit of a bigger loss and start manufacturing earlier)…
The Mega-CD came out in 1991, it was hardly holding back Saturn games development or R&D. It was after all just a CD Add-On
What really cost SEGA was splitting its development, PR budgets and it did its own fanbase between the 32X and the Saturn that was the huge mistake SEGA did IMO. Really SEGA should have dropped all 16 bit development in 1994 and just push ahead only on Saturn and if SEGA was worried about the cost of the Saturn, it should have stuck with the original Juptior plans. So you had a Cart based Saturn and a CD-based Saturn
 

Panajev2001a

GAF's Pleasant Genius
The Mega-CD came out in 1991, it was hardly holding back Saturn games development or R&D. It was after all just a CD Add-On
What really cost SEGA was splitting its development, PR budgets and it did its own fanbase between the 32X and the Saturn that was the huge mistake SEGA did IMO. Really SEGA should have dropped all 16 bit development in 1994 and just push ahead only on Saturn and if SEGA was worried about the cost of the Saturn, it should have stuck with the original Juptior plans. So you had a Cart based Saturn and a CD-based Saturn

I remember it much older than that because it came out in EU countries in 1993 and US in 1992. Again, save that money (and dump it into Saturn later on) or hire additional software developers / make licensing deals / expand Mega Drive / Genesis market share and that would help create hype for its successor.
 
I remember it much older than that because it came out in EU countries in 1993 and US in 1992. Again, save that money (and dump it into Saturn later on) or hire additional software developers / make licensing deals / expand Mega Drive / Genesis market share and that would help create hype for its successor.
16-bit sales were declining in 1994. It made little point in sticking with the Mega Drive and the Mega CD was just a CD add on, which used the same basic Mega Drive graphics, it was hardly going to change the way MD developed games
The Saturn had money behind it and most of SEGA Japan behind it. The mistake was letting Sega America push ahead with the 32X IMO.
So you had one half of SEGA all for the 32X and the other half all for the Saturn, and you also split the SEGA userbase too, It was madness
 

Panajev2001a

GAF's Pleasant Genius
16-bit sales were declining in 1994. It made little point in sticking with the Mega Drive and the Mega CD was just a CD add on, which used the same basic Mega Drive graphics, it was hardly going to change the way MD developed games
The Saturn had money behind it and most of SEGA Japan behind it. The mistake was letting Sega America push ahead with the 32X IMO.
So you had one half of SEGA all for the 32X and the other half all for the Saturn, and you also split the SEGA userbase too, It was madness
I am not disagreeing 32X was much worse, just that MegaCD was also a distraction that still took away resources (it was not a vanity project that cost like a used car), not sure why you are seeing the MegaCD as the best way SEGA had to use a few hundred millions of R&D and engineers…
 
I am not disagreeing 32X was much worse, just that MegaCD was also a distraction that still took away resources (it was not a vanity project that cost like a used car), not sure why you are seeing the MegaCD as the best way SEGA had to use a few hundred millions of R&D and engineers…
The Mega-CD was basically using established off the shelf parts with just a custom ASIC. It was hardly going to cost millions and millions to developers, hell even Commodore was making CD-based systems
The Mega CD also cost more than the Saturn on its launch, so I doubt SEGA ever lost a penny on selling it and I. Then you look at the SEGA Japan and their games were usually simply rubbish like Baseball or Golf games hardly talking up massive of SEGA's staff. In fact, a tiny little corp called Core Design did far more with the Mega CD than SEGA Japan ever did. I would imagine SEGA did also learn about making games on CD mind

32 Bit production was when you really needed more staff, more money and resources in the polygon 3D age and that's when SEGA thought it would be brilliant to try and sell and developer for 2 different 32 bit systems. It was madness in my book, but that's just my view
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
Sega CD was shit. Aside from grainy FMV which was the rage at the time and a love/hate kind of feature for gamers, CD games back then were shallow, had huge loading times and aside from some scaling, the games barely even looked better than the regular Genesis games. A good SNES game still looked better than the average Sega CD game (aside from FMV).

CD based games during those early years were only good if you loved FMV and put CD-quality audio as your top priorities in games.
 
Anyone who knows L.O.L gets an A+ from me. Legit amazing gem of a game

Hell yeah; I haven't gotten around to playing it yet because I'll (eventually) finish Moon: RPG Remix first, but it might make sense to play L.O.L before moving on to Chulip. Speaking of those similar type of Lov-de-Sic style adventure games, I hope an English translation of Endonesia comes along in the future, the same artist(s) on Moon: RPG Remix worked on that game as well from the looks of it.

I think SEGA had problems that translated into the decisions that turned into the Dreamcast.

Following what you said, what stopped them from including DVD on the Dreamcast instead of GDRom? Personally I think that including DVD is one of the key decisions that led PS2 to be the Juggernaut that it turned out to be. I mean, even Microsoft would charge for it separately. Sony was visionary in that sense.

It wasn't so much Sony were visionary with DVD so much as the fact they didn't have to pay royalties on DVD licensing since they helped in creating the format. That, and they could supply the drives themselves since they made their own consumer electronics, whereas other companies (Sega, Nintendo, Microsoft) would've had to purchase them from a supplier who, even if in bulk were selling them only $1 more than it costed Sony, that adds up when you're talking millions of hardware units (not to mention, they'd still have to pay for the license in addition to that, it's why Microsoft baked that cost into the Xbox media remote).

I also think decisions like pouring crazy money in something like Shenmue reflected in poor vision for their products. I loved the game back then, it was revolutionary, but Suzuki had 20 fucking chapters planned. Even Final Fantasy hasn't reached 20 mainline games for that franchise and they started with NES. That goes beyond being greatly optimistic.

Yeah they did over-spend on Shenmue but I've also heard that a lot of that money was into the engine which would be repurposed for later games which, I think we see evidence of with 6th-gen releases like VF4 and Yakuza.

While broadband speeds weren't widely available, secondary markets like Mexico did have access to piracy because you could buy the disks in street markets. The games were burned into regular CD's. I mean, what was the point of GDRoms then? You didn't even need to chip the device. It was also capable of reproducing video cd's back then when using special (pirate) discs, why not have that functionality baked? It could have been a killer media device for that time.

The problem with the CDIs were they often reduced texture quality, heavily compressed the video and in some cases cut entire batches of content out of the game, just to fit them on the disc. Also IIRC it took a while before hackers could enable free back-up play of burned DC games; for a good while it was a very specific game-by-game basis type of thing because they hadn't yet found the bypass code buried (and likely obfuscated) in the BIOS.

Don't get me wrong, I loved the Dreamcast (it has been the only Sega console I ever owned). It seemed full of possibilities and had tech that came from the future (I loved downloading saved games from the console itself and playing online easily) but I don't think the main reason it wasn't successful was because of the PS2 launch.

True, while PS2 did play a part, the biggest limiting factor for Dreamcast was Sega themselves. Their budget was reduced due to losses from 32X, non-capitalization of late (1995-1997) 16-bit hardware & software at high volume, lack of Saturn sales in the West and R&D on Dreamcast (as well as gradually reducing arcade revenue particularly in the West), and that prevented a lot of things. It prevented them from securing certain 3P exclusives, for example, and IMO they made other mistakes like not purchasing Lobotomy Software (who were wizards with the Saturn) and (at least for the time) ceding to EA and not produce their own sports games on DC (EA's sports games of the era may not have been as good as VC's but they had a lot more brand power that could've helped DC a ton in the West).

There are other things too, like Bernie Stolar pissing off niche publishers like Working Designs who in turn would not come back to provide content for Dreamcast, I think all of these things just created insurmountable odds in spite of their 1P firing on all cylinders creatively, the PS2 was just the straw that broke the camel's back.

VGEsoterica VGEsoterica interesting piece of history, but certainly a masterclass in click bait. :)

Sega was already broke due to years of mismanagement and needed to sell like 7 games per Dreamcast just to break even.

Of course Peter Moore will blame the competition when he fucked up that massively. :)

Actually the main reason they needed that high attach ratio was because the Dreamcast launched in the West for a lower price than Sega of Japan wanted; SoJ wanted $249 but Bernie Stolar announced $199 instead. When SoJ saw the positive response to that, knowing at that point Dreamcast's chances in Japan were effectively done, they backed the decision.

Fun fact, tho: the Saturn had the highest attach ratio of any 5th-gen console, and by a notable margin. Jenovi has the stats in one of their documentary videos, easily worth a watch.

In any case, these discussions always leads to the holy grail VF3 for Saturn, a story with an enormous amount of rumors but, after more than 20years, nothing has ever emerged, that's why I think VF3 was probably never fully developed in the first place. Maybe there was some demo, but I find very difficult to think that a Saturn, even a enhanced one, could handle VF3.

But this is a story for another thread.

If they pared VF3 down heavily Saturn would've been able to run it. 2D backgrounds handled by VDP2, maybe use a clever mix of gouraud shading and textured polygonal work, reduce player sizes some and reduce texture resolution. It would've mainly been a visual challenge since Saturn'd of been able to handle the actual gameplay and physics side of things (outside of potentially the uneven stages...then again those were a complaint with VF3 by some players anyway).
 
Dreamcast was absolutely the better system to have in 2000 and parts of 2001. I was very content with it. PS2 launched in Japan, a store had it on demo and it was sort of a relief to me; the games I saw were TTT, RR and SF EX3. They didn't really push beyond what the DC offered already. While PS2 was still a no show in the west, we played DoA2, JSR, Virtua Tennis, RE CV and Crazy Taxi. Wouldn't want to miss those evenings. Sega got it on since the western launch day, they kept pushing and pushing games.

In retrospect though, I don't think i've seen many DC games looking more impressive than Ridge Racer, SSX and a few other PS2 launch games. DC games looked very clean and colorful, but its geometry was rather simple. But PS2 had this immense hype going on, I just expected way too much.

TBF, budgets play a part in that. A lot of the big AAA 3P developers, especially Japanese but some Western ones too, they didn't put their biggest teams or budgets onto Dreamcast games. Yes companies like Capcom supported DC a lot but most of that were arcade ports outside of the odd RE: CV (which at least some RE fans will say didn't have the "A-team" insofar as the writing and scenario planners compared to the PS1 titles). Other companies like Namco just gave it one (maybe two) games and then dipped.

Others like Konami, basically relegated it to an enhanced port machine for PS1 titles (Capcom did this as well), but you'll also notice during that 1999-2001 period many of these same devs were obviously saving their bigger (and therefore bigger-budget) games for PS2: Devil May Cry, MGS2, Silent Hill 2, Final Fantasy X, etc. were all PS2 games and had much larger budgets than most of the 3P Dreamcast games of that period outside of Sega's own.

Also FWIW, 3P devs probably had more market incentive to put more resources towards those PS2 games compared to Dreamcast efforts, even in the first couple of years, considering where Sony and Sega were brand-wise by then. So a lot of them probably left more performance on the table WRT their Dreamcast games, which combined with smaller budgets and team sizes, likely left their PS2 efforts looking better even if Dreamcast was capable of more. You did have some 3P devs make the bigger investments and efforts, like Tecmo with DOA2 and Game Arts with Grandia II, but if you wanted most of the bigger AAA Dreamcast games you more or less had to count on Sega themselves (and keep in mind Sega did do smaller efforts too, obviously, like Chu-Chu Rocket, Samba de Amigo etc.).

The Mega CD was maybe not a failure financially but seeing how the majority of the Megadrive library stayed on cartridge, I'm not sure Sega achieved what they wanted with this add-on. The Megadrive sold 42-47 Millions of units while "only" 6 millions of the people who bought it also bought the Mega CD worldwide. That's a ratio of about 12 to 14%. Not even a 1/6th of the public bought it. I was obviously not working at Sega back then but I'm sure they aimed higher than this. Yes it's the third best selling add-on after Kinect and the Balance Board, but these were only accessories for certain games (well for kinect it's a bit more complicated but that's not the subject). This thing was a hardware upgrade for the Megadrive and I'm sure they were planning to try and go all out on CD-Rom games but had to backdash when they saw this. It's just like Nintendo with the N64 and the Gamecube: They made profit with these 2 consoles, but they obviously wanted more market shares than what they got on these generations.

It is complicated WRT Mega CD because that's really something Sega of Japan were pushing to revitalize MegaDrive in Japan. So your point, it holds true, but I think it holds much more true for SoJ than the Western divisions, because in the West MegaDrive/Genesis was doing very well. Due to that the Sega/Mega CD for them might've seemed more like a value-add to the ecosystem compared to being a wholly new hardware push, especially when you consider they sold it for a profit from the get-go while (IIRC) the Genesis/MegaDrive were sold for a slight loss (I don't think Sega particularly pushed the "razor & razorblades" model that Sony (and later Microsoft) did, but we know they didn't sell Genesis/MegaDrive for hefty profit the way Nintendo did their hardware).

12%-14% may seem like a bad install base ratio but it's not that much further off than what PS4 Pro was to PS4 sales, and I think that would serve as a better analogy. Like PS4 Pro, Mega CD wasn't intended to outright replace MegaDrive, but to expand revenue opportunities and expand the ecosystem offering. It was also a testing bed for CD technology experience that they went on to apply to the Saturn.

The problem there is opportunity cost and their war chest. It takes a lot of time and money to R&D, launch, and distribute an add on and all the supporting documentation and tooling and getting developers onboard (or trying to). For genesis they did not one, but two big add-ons (amidst company infighting).

Imagine if they had let Genesis live a little longer with full support and invested the resources in better Developer tooling and HW components for the Saturn (as well as their distribution channels/retailers), and game studio resources (or simply saved some of that away). A better Saturn generation would have positioned themselves better for the Dreamcast project (where avoiding to piss of EA would have left Madden, FIFA, NHL, and other EA games stay on the platform…).

One thing I do think they should've done with Genesis/MegaDrive is push the SVP add-on chip a la Virtua Racing vs. what they actually did in 32X. 32X actually caused a shortage of SH2 processors for Saturn, since both systems used that processor and both used two of them in parallel. Apparently Sega's goal was to have 32X serve as a training bed for Saturn development, but the issue there is 32X used the 2nd SH2 for graphics while Saturn used completely different VDP1 & VDP2 chips for that task.

Basically a dev making a 3D game on 32X might've came up with a wholly unique pipeline and rendering technique done in software on the 2nd SH2, that would not be easily translated to Saturn because it used fixed/dedicated graphics hardware built to function its own way. So I don't really buy that line of thinking from people who put it out there. That aside, the Saturn didn't really have "bad hardware"; it was challenging to develop for yes, but if you learned the hardware you could make it sing. Sega managed to, certain 3P like Treasure did as well.

Hardware-wise Saturn's problem was Sega relied on the old documentation method; they provided all the hardware documentation necessary but it was a lot of stuff to read up on and learn and game development was about to increase drastically in complexity thanks to 3D. The early Saturn SDK was pretty poor, that didn't help things, and then Sony came in and built a very friendly SDK that emphasized programming in C while still getting almost 100% out of the hardware (to get best results from Saturn, you needed to code in Assembly language).

Sony read the changing winds of game development behind-the-scenes better than Sega or Nintendo, partly thanks to them being an outsider (in terms of being a platform holder), which allowed them to have a fresh perspective. Then, they were able to capitalize on that thanks to having a LOT more money and resources to them than Sega and Nintendo combined. There's a reason Nintendo took a different path shortly into N64 that wasn't directly competing with Sony: they literally couldn't justify it financially.

Sega would've came to that same realization if they weren't up in their own ass fighting among the different divisions, and that would've allowed them to lean in on their specific strengths (arcade gaming, merging/synergizing their arcade and home console efforts more cohesively), perhaps even stem the gradual downsizing of the arcade market in the West while at it.

Sadly, that's not what ended up happening.

The Mega Drive came out in 88. SEGA supported the Mega Drive too long. SEGA should have dropped all In-House software support in 1994 for the MD and moved all In-House production to Saturn, just for example a 32-bit Comix Zone with 24- Bit visuals,, 2 player mode and a CDDA soundtrack would have been something special

If we never had the 32X SEGA would have been in a far better position too, but what really killed SEGA

Agreed that 32X being out of the picture would've been for the better, but I don't know if dropping MD in 1994 would've been for the best, either. Remember, MD/Genesis was doing very well in the West, it's just in Japan where they had done poorly.

By 1994/1995 SoJ had more or less left MegaDrive behind anyway, but with no 32X I think Sega could've pushed the SVP more. You mention Comix Zone for example: picture that as a SVP-enhanced Genesis cartridge with an accompanying audio OST CD that could run the game music and even some sound effects in CD-quality audio if the player had a Sega/Mega-CD unit attached as well.

This way, instead of a 32X in 1994, Sega could've released a merged MegaDrive/CD unit (which they already did in a way prior with CDX, and partners like JVC had done with WonderMega) at a cheap mass-market price, and saved the 3D enhancements for per-game SVP cart releases. The MegaDrive/CD unit wouldn't of been viewed as "yet another new add-on", and going with the SVP solution would have similarly avoided such an image, while still providing very decent (for the time, and for that generation) 3D (SVP was more capable than the SuperFX chip and IIRC not that far off from SuperFX2).

Meanwhile, with the Western market taken care of for a while (even into late 1995) via that solution, SoJ doesn't feel rushed to release Saturn in America too early, and they have more time to think of a response to PlayStation. Maybe they realize they can't outdo PS in terms of 3D, but they integrate something to a benefit in adding MegaDrive BC, and include enhanced SVP cartridge games to run via BC on Saturn as well. Keep the Saturn's internal design simple, and since you have the MegaDrive BC built in as well as functionality with SVP cartridge games, Saturn games wanting more graphical power could just do so either combined SVP & RAM expansion carts (Capcom-style), SVP & ROM expansion carts (KOF-style), or just have a future enhanced SVP-type graphics cartridge that can potentially be included with a new game release (a-la the RAM Xpansion cart with DK64 on N64), or sold separately at a cheap price ($40-$50) and then included in a new system SKU at a later date.

That way, you get extended MegaDrive/Genesis support in its best markets for 1994-1996 or even into 1997 (people forget the SNES still held majority marketshare worldwide even into 1997, where PlayStation finally overtook it) with pseudo-5th gen offerings thanks to MD/CD combo unit and/or expanded SVP-cartridge game releases, you get a 2D powerhouse/modest 3D Saturn for Japan in 1994 that also has MegaDrive & MegaCD BC support and easy expansion support including for enhanced 3D & 2D graphics capabilities, and to that effect, a Saturn that has a much bigger draw in the West thanks to BC support built-in from Day 1, which can potentially offset some of the momentum of PS1 thanks to still being capable of 3D but having more time to polish the launch lineup, MD/Genesis BC and being a more affordable system.

And in terms of Sega unifying the arcade & home initiatives better, well doing things like allowing for save transfers in arcade & home versions of games, maybe an early version of what we know today as Achievement & Trophy systems (probably built into the games themselves and on a per-game basis, but it'd of been a nice start), focusing on bringing unique arcade-style peripherals to the home market for fuller arcade-style immersion at home, etc. Giving them a unique identity from Sony and Nintendo that could've helped them continue their own path to success, instead of the nightmare that actually transpired.

Well, we can always dream can't we...

16-bit sales were declining in 1994.

Maybe, but they still accounted for the lionshare of industry sales even into 1996. It seems like 1997 is when the 16-bit market finally collapsed, because that's around when Nintendo ceased official support for the SFC/SNES.

Sega didn't need to cease Genesis support in 1995, much less 1994, in the West. Not at all. There were more affordable options for them to still capitalize on that market and ease in better to Saturn without alienating fans. Their business mindset was just completely too borked to see, let alone contemplate, any of those options clearly.
 
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TBF, budgets play a part in that. A lot of the big AAA 3P developers, especially Japanese but some Western ones too, they didn't put their biggest teams or budgets onto Dreamcast games. Yes companies like Capcom supported DC a lot but most of that were arcade ports outside of the odd RE: CV (which at least some RE fans will say didn't have the "A-team" insofar as the writing and scenario planners compared to the PS1 titles). Other companies like Namco just gave it one (maybe two) games and then dipped.

Others like Konami, basically relegated it to an enhanced port machine for PS1 titles (Capcom did this as well), but you'll also notice during that 1999-2001 period many of these same devs were obviously saving their bigger (and therefore bigger-budget) games for PS2: Devil May Cry, MGS2, Silent Hill 2, Final Fantasy X, etc. were all PS2 games and had much larger budgets than most of the 3P Dreamcast games of that period outside of Sega's own.

Also FWIW, 3P devs probably had more market incentive to put more resources towards those PS2 games compared to Dreamcast efforts, even in the first couple of years, considering where Sony and Sega were brand-wise by then. So a lot of them probably left more performance on the table WRT their Dreamcast games, which combined with smaller budgets and team sizes, likely left their PS2 efforts looking better even if Dreamcast was capable of more. You did have some 3P devs make the bigger investments and efforts, like Tecmo with DOA2 and Game Arts with Grandia II, but if you wanted most of the bigger AAA Dreamcast games you more or less had to count on Sega themselves (and keep in mind Sega did do smaller efforts too, obviously, like Chu-Chu Rocket, Samba de Amigo etc.).



It is complicated WRT Mega CD because that's really something Sega of Japan were pushing to revitalize MegaDrive in Japan. So your point, it holds true, but I think it holds much more true for SoJ than the Western divisions, because in the West MegaDrive/Genesis was doing very well. Due to that the Sega/Mega CD for them might've seemed more like a value-add to the ecosystem compared to being a wholly new hardware push, especially when you consider they sold it for a profit from the get-go while (IIRC) the Genesis/MegaDrive were sold for a slight loss (I don't think Sega particularly pushed the "razor & razorblades" model that Sony (and later Microsoft) did, but we know they didn't sell Genesis/MegaDrive for hefty profit the way Nintendo did their hardware).

12%-14% may seem like a bad install base ratio but it's not that much further off than what PS4 Pro was to PS4 sales, and I think that would serve as a better analogy. Like PS4 Pro, Mega CD wasn't intended to outright replace MegaDrive, but to expand revenue opportunities and expand the ecosystem offering. It was also a testing bed for CD technology experience that they went on to apply to the Saturn.



One thing I do think they should've done with Genesis/MegaDrive is push the SVP add-on chip a la Virtua Racing vs. what they actually did in 32X. 32X actually caused a shortage of SH2 processors for Saturn, since both systems used that processor and both used two of them in parallel. Apparently Sega's goal was to have 32X serve as a training bed for Saturn development, but the issue there is 32X used the 2nd SH2 for graphics while Saturn used completely different VDP1 & VDP2 chips for that task.

Basically a dev making a 3D game on 32X might've came up with a wholly unique pipeline and rendering technique done in software on the 2nd SH2, that would not be easily translated to Saturn because it used fixed/dedicated graphics hardware built to function its own way. So I don't really buy that line of thinking from people who put it out there. That aside, the Saturn didn't really have "bad hardware"; it was challenging to develop for yes, but if you learned the hardware you could make it sing. Sega managed to, certain 3P like Treasure did as well.

Hardware-wise Saturn's problem was Sega relied on the old documentation method; they provided all the hardware documentation necessary but it was a lot of stuff to read up on and learn and game development was about to increase drastically in complexity thanks to 3D. The early Saturn SDK was pretty poor, that didn't help things, and then Sony came in and built a very friendly SDK that emphasized programming in C while still getting almost 100% out of the hardware (to get best results from Saturn, you needed to code in Assembly language).

Sony read the changing winds of game development behind-the-scenes better than Sega or Nintendo, partly thanks to them being an outsider (in terms of being a platform holder), which allowed them to have a fresh perspective. Then, they were able to capitalize on that thanks to having a LOT more money and resources to them than Sega and Nintendo combined. There's a reason Nintendo took a different path shortly into N64 that wasn't directly competing with Sony: they literally couldn't justify it financially.

Sega would've came to that same realization if they weren't up in their own ass fighting among the different divisions, and that would've allowed them to lean in on their specific strengths (arcade gaming, merging/synergizing their arcade and home console efforts more cohesively), perhaps even stem the gradual downsizing of the arcade market in the West while at it.

Sadly, that's not what ended up happening.



Agreed that 32X being out of the picture would've been for the better, but I don't know if dropping MD in 1994 would've been for the best, either. Remember, MD/Genesis was doing very well in the West, it's just in Japan where they had done poorly.

By 1994/1995 SoJ had more or less left MegaDrive behind anyway, but with no 32X I think Sega could've pushed the SVP more. You mention Comix Zone for example: picture that as a SVP-enhanced Genesis cartridge with an accompanying audio OST CD that could run the game music and even some sound effects in CD-quality audio if the player had a Sega/Mega-CD unit attached as well.

This way, instead of a 32X in 1994, Sega could've released a merged MegaDrive/CD unit (which they already did in a way prior with CDX, and partners like JVC had done with WonderMega) at a cheap mass-market price, and saved the 3D enhancements for per-game SVP cart releases. The MegaDrive/CD unit wouldn't of been viewed as "yet another new add-on", and going with the SVP solution would have similarly avoided such an image, while still providing very decent (for the time, and for that generation) 3D (SVP was more capable than the SuperFX chip and IIRC not that far off from SuperFX2).

Meanwhile, with the Western market taken care of for a while (even into late 1995) via that solution, SoJ doesn't feel rushed to release Saturn in America too early, and they have more time to think of a response to PlayStation. Maybe they realize they can't outdo PS in terms of 3D, but they integrate something to a benefit in adding MegaDrive BC, and include enhanced SVP cartridge games to run via BC on Saturn as well. Keep the Saturn's internal design simple, and since you have the MegaDrive BC built in as well as functionality with SVP cartridge games, Saturn games wanting more graphical power could just do so either combined SVP & RAM expansion carts (Capcom-style), SVP & ROM expansion carts (KOF-style), or just have a future enhanced SVP-type graphics cartridge that can potentially be included with a new game release (a-la the RAM Xpansion cart with DK64 on N64), or sold separately at a cheap price ($40-$50) and then included in a new system SKU at a later date.

That way, you get extended MegaDrive/Genesis support in its best markets for 1994-1996 or even into 1997 (people forget the SNES still held majority marketshare worldwide even into 1997, where PlayStation finally overtook it) with pseudo-5th gen offerings thanks to MD/CD combo unit and/or expanded SVP-cartridge game releases, you get a 2D powerhouse/modest 3D Saturn for Japan in 1994 that also has MegaDrive & MegaCD BC support and easy expansion support including for enhanced 3D & 2D graphics capabilities, and to that effect, a Saturn that has a much bigger draw in the West thanks to BC support built-in from Day 1, which can potentially offset some of the momentum of PS1 thanks to still being capable of 3D but having more time to polish the launch lineup, MD/Genesis BC and being a more affordable system.

And in terms of Sega unifying the arcade & home initiatives better, well doing things like allowing for save transfers in arcade & home versions of games, maybe an early version of what we know today as Achievement & Trophy systems (probably built into the games themselves and on a per-game basis, but it'd of been a nice start), focusing on bringing unique arcade-style peripherals to the home market for fuller arcade-style immersion at home, etc. Giving them a unique identity from Sony and Nintendo that could've helped them continue their own path to success, instead



Maybe, but they still accounted for the lionshare of industry sales even into 1996. It seems like 1997 is when the 16-bit market finally collapsed, because that's around when Nintendo ceased official support for the SFC/SNES.

Sega didn't need to cease Genesis support in 1995, much less 1994, in the West. Not at all. There were more affordable options for them to still capitalize on that market and ease in better to Saturn without alienating fans. Their business mindset was just completely too borked to see, let alone contemplate, any of those options clearly.

TBF, budgets play a part in that. A lot of the big AAA 3P developers, especially Japanese but some Western ones too, they didn't put their biggest teams or budgets onto Dreamcast games. Yes companies like Capcom supported DC a lot but most of that were arcade ports outside of the odd RE: CV (which at least some RE fans will say didn't have the "A-team" insofar as the writing and scenario planners compared to the PS1 titles). Other companies like Namco just gave it one (maybe two) games and then dipped.

Others like Konami, basically relegated it to an enhanced port machine for PS1 titles (Capcom did this as well), but you'll also notice during that 1999-2001 period many of these same devs were obviously saving their bigger (and therefore bigger-budget) games for PS2: Devil May Cry, MGS2, Silent Hill 2, Final Fantasy X, etc. were all PS2 games and had much larger budgets than most of the 3P Dreamcast games of that period outside of Sega's own.

Also FWIW, 3P devs probably had more market incentive to put more resources towards those PS2 games compared to Dreamcast efforts, even in the first couple of years, considering where Sony and Sega were brand-wise by then. So a lot of them probably left more performance on the table WRT their Dreamcast games, which combined with smaller budgets and team sizes, likely left their PS2 efforts looking better even if Dreamcast was capable of more. You did have some 3P devs make the bigger investments and efforts, like Tecmo with DOA2 and Game Arts with Grandia II, but if you wanted most of the bigger AAA Dreamcast games you more or less had to count on Sega themselves (and keep in mind Sega did do smaller efforts too, obviously, like Chu-Chu Rocket, Samba de Amigo etc.).



It is complicated WRT Mega CD because that's really something Sega of Japan were pushing to revitalize MegaDrive in Japan. So your point, it holds true, but I think it holds much more true for SoJ than the Western divisions, because in the West MegaDrive/Genesis was doing very well. Due to that the Sega/Mega CD for them might've seemed more like a value-add to the ecosystem compared to being a wholly new hardware push, especially when you consider they sold it for a profit from the get-go while (IIRC) the Genesis/MegaDrive were sold for a slight loss (I don't think Sega particularly pushed the "razor & razorblades" model that Sony (and later Microsoft) did, but we know they didn't sell Genesis/MegaDrive for hefty profit the way Nintendo did their hardware).

12%-14% may seem like a bad install base ratio but it's not that much further off than what PS4 Pro was to PS4 sales, and I think that would serve as a better analogy. Like PS4 Pro, Mega CD wasn't intended to outright replace MegaDrive, but to expand revenue opportunities and expand the ecosystem offering. It was also a testing bed for CD technology experience that they went on to apply to the Saturn.



One thing I do think they should've done with Genesis/MegaDrive is push the SVP add-on chip a la Virtua Racing vs. what they actually did in 32X. 32X actually caused a shortage of SH2 processors for Saturn, since both systems used that processor and both used two of them in parallel. Apparently Sega's goal was to have 32X serve as a training bed for Saturn development, but the issue there is 32X used the 2nd SH2 for graphics while Saturn used completely different VDP1 & VDP2 chips for that task.

Basically a dev making a 3D game on 32X might've came up with a wholly unique pipeline and rendering technique done in software on the 2nd SH2, that would not be easily translated to Saturn because it used fixed/dedicated graphics hardware built to function its own way. So I don't really buy that line of thinking from people who put it out there. That aside, the Saturn didn't really have "bad hardware"; it was challenging to develop for yes, but if you learned the hardware you could make it sing. Sega managed to, certain 3P like Treasure did as well.

Hardware-wise Saturn's problem was Sega relied on the old documentation method; they provided all the hardware documentation necessary but it was a lot of stuff to read up on and learn and game development was about to increase drastically in complexity thanks to 3D. The early Saturn SDK was pretty poor, that didn't help things, and then Sony came in and built a very friendly SDK that emphasized programming in C while still getting almost 100% out of the hardware (to get best results from Saturn, you needed to code in Assembly language).

Sony read the changing winds of game development behind-the-scenes better than Sega or Nintendo, partly thanks to them being an outsider (in terms of being a platform holder), which allowed them to have a fresh perspective. Then, they were able to capitalize on that thanks to having a LOT more money and resources to them than Sega and Nintendo combined. There's a reason Nintendo took a different path shortly into N64 that wasn't directly competing with Sony: they literally couldn't justify it financially.

Sega would've came to that same realization if they weren't up in their own ass fighting among the different divisions, and that would've allowed them to lean in on their specific strengths (arcade gaming, merging/synergizing their arcade and home console efforts more cohesively), perhaps even stem the gradual downsizing of the arcade market in the West while at it.

Sadly, that's not what ended up happening.



Agreed that 32X being out of the picture would've been for the better, but I don't know if dropping MD in 1994 would've been for the best, either. Remember, MD/Genesis was doing very well in the West, it's just in Japan where they had done poorly.

By 1994/1995 SoJ had more or less left MegaDrive behind anyway, but with no 32X I think Sega could've pushed the SVP more. You mention Comix Zone for example: picture that as a SVP-enhanced Genesis cartridge with an accompanying audio OST CD that could run the game music and even some sound effects in CD-quality audio if the player had a Sega/Mega-CD unit attached as well.

This way, instead of a 32X in 1994, Sega could've released a merged MegaDrive/CD unit (which they already did in a way prior with CDX, and partners like JVC had done with WonderMega) at a cheap mass-market price, and saved the 3D enhancements for per-game SVP cart releases. The MegaDrive/CD unit wouldn't of been viewed as "yet another new add-on", and going with the SVP solution would have similarly avoided such an image, while still providing very decent (for the time, and for that generation) 3D (SVP was more capable than the SuperFX chip and IIRC not that far off from SuperFX2).

Meanwhile, with the Western market taken care of for a while (even into late 1995) via that solution, SoJ doesn't feel rushed to release Saturn in America too early, and they have more time to think of a response to PlayStation. Maybe they realize they can't outdo PS in terms of 3D, but they integrate something to a benefit in adding MegaDrive BC, and include enhanced SVP cartridge games to run via BC on Saturn as well. Keep the Saturn's internal design simple, and since you have the MegaDrive BC built in as well as functionality with SVP cartridge games, Saturn games wanting more graphical power could just do so either combined SVP & RAM expansion carts (Capcom-style), SVP & ROM expansion carts (KOF-style), or just have a future enhanced SVP-type graphics cartridge that can potentially be included with a new game release (a-la the RAM Xpansion cart with DK64 on N64), or sold separately at a cheap price ($40-$50) and then included in a new system SKU at a later date.

That way, you get extended MegaDrive/Genesis support in its best markets for 1994-1996 or even into 1997 (people forget the SNES still held majority marketshare worldwide even into 1997, where PlayStation finally overtook it) with pseudo-5th gen offerings thanks to MD/CD combo unit and/or expanded SVP-cartridge game releases, you get a 2D powerhouse/modest 3D Saturn for Japan in 1994 that also has MegaDrive & MegaCD BC support and easy expansion support including for enhanced 3D & 2D graphics capabilities, and to that effect, a Saturn that has a much bigger draw in the West thanks to BC support built-in from Day 1, which can potentially offset some of the momentum of PS1 thanks to still being capable of 3D but having more time to polish the launch lineup, MD/Genesis BC and being a more affordable system.

And in terms of Sega unifying the arcade & home initiatives better, well doing things like allowing for save transfers in arcade & home versions of games, maybe an early version of what we know today as Achievement & Trophy systems (probably built into the games themselves and on a per-game basis, but it'd of been a nice start), focusing on bringing unique arcade-style peripherals to the home market for fuller arcade-style immersion at home, etc. Giving them a unique identity from Sony and Nintendo that could've helped them continue their own path to success, instead of the nightmare that actually transpired.

Well, we can always dream can't we...



Maybe, but they still accounted for the lionshare of industry sales even into 1996. It seems like 1997 is when the 16-bit market finally collapsed, because that's around when Nintendo ceased official support for the SFC/SNES.

Sega didn't need to cease Genesis support in 1995, much less 1994, in the West. Not at all. There were more affordable options for them to still capitalize on that market and ease in better to Saturn without alienating fans. Their business mindset was just completely too borked to see, let alone contemplate, any of those options clearly.
16 bit sales were in decline, even Nintendo saw a reduction in their profits. I don't agree with you sorry, SEGA should have dropped all Software support and moved on to the Saturn and just left it for 3rd parties to developer on the MD along with price cuts to the Hardware. Kind of like SONY did with moving from the PS to the PS2.

Talking on the might of SONY needed SEGA 100 focused on the Saturn
 

Fafalada

Fafracer forever
So I'm not sure I'm following the strategy here.
The 'improved' plan to a console that failed due to finance issues of a company that released 2 consoles in 4.5 years - is to instead release 3 consoles in the same time-frame? Because launching a console every 2 years is how you... save money and not-fragment the userbase?

That aside, does anyone really think DVD was something DC couldn't have due to some hw-restriction? They opted for 199$ launch price (presumably as 'over' reaction to Saturn entry price, but still), DVD was never going to fit into that. Remember PS2 launched at 399 in March 2000, and they were still losing money on it.

M2 / MX design apparently did influence some Sony designers when it came time to develop their consoles like PS2 and PS3 apparently, I find that architecture fascinating.
Is there more details on the MX anywhere? I'm always skeptical when there's assumptions about 'performance' relative to different architectures, ie. I just see no way that a 3DFX powered Dreamcast (which people also make assumptions on frequently) would ever come close to the actual hw we got with PVR, but I know next to nothing about MX arch.
 
12%-14% may seem like a bad install base ratio but it's not that much further off than what PS4 Pro was to PS4 sales, and I think that would serve as a better analogy. Like PS4 Pro, Mega CD wasn't intended to outright replace MegaDrive, but to expand revenue opportunities and expand the ecosystem offering. It was also a testing bed for CD technology experience that they went on to apply to the Saturn.

Actually, it might be a better idea to compare the Mega CD to it's contemporaries. In particular the most successful console add-ons to this date: the FDS and the PC-Engine CD (Using Japanese sales numbers as reference due to the FDS only releasing in that region).
PC-Engine Base vs. CD: 5.84 million Base/1.92 million CD. Close to 33%.
Famicom base vs. Famicom Disk System: 19.35 million base/4.4 million FDS. Close to 25%.

When you look at those attachment rates and see how the Mega CD did in comparison, it doesn't look nearly as good for the platform. While it could be argued that the "add-on platform" was a dying trend after the Mega CD anyway, which is true in retrospect, it's definitely not like Sega themselves understood that if they thought the 32X was a good idea.
 
16 bit sales were in decline, even Nintendo saw a reduction in their profits. I don't agree with you sorry, SEGA should have dropped all Software support and moved on to the Saturn and just left it for 3rd parties to developer on the MD along with price cuts to the Hardware. Kind of like SONY did with moving from the PS to the PS2.

Talking on the might of SONY needed SEGA 100 focused on the Saturn

But that's the problem right there: Sega COULDN'T take Sony head-on, even if they aligned everything right. The reasons? Sony had a lot more money, a lot more divisions that could "foot the bill" and supply PlayStation, and a lot more distribution channels and general hardware/software resources not to mention networking connections in the electronics and entertainment industries.

Sega and Nintendo's 1P output was miles ahead of Sony's (though Sony's started to catch up in the back half of the 5th-gen and in some ways surpassed Sega & Nintendo's if looking at very specific genres like racing simulators i.e Gran Turismo), and Sony knew this, which is why they courted 3P devs and pubs so hard, swaying as many away from Sega and Nintendo as they could with their fat pockets.

Even if 16-bit sales were declining post-1994, the point is Nintendo still made profits on SNES/SFC between 1994 and 1997, which helped them weather the early part of 5th-gen when they had no next-gen console on the market. Sega cutting off Genesis/MegaDrive in the West when they did demonstrably hurt them financially, there's too much proof to verify this. Suggesting they dropped 16-bit support even harder than they did - in 1994 no less - would've just hurt them even more if they stuck to their Saturn plans as they were.

That idea only works if they also decided to lean into their niche successfully, and made the Saturn BC with MegaDrive & Mega CD games, while thinking of more innovative ways to bring the arcade experience home in a unified manner.

Actually, it might be a better idea to compare the Mega CD to it's contemporaries. In particular the most successful console add-ons to this date: the FDS and the PC-Engine CD (Using Japanese sales numbers as reference due to the FDS only releasing in that region).
PC-Engine Base vs. CD: 5.84 million Base/1.92 million CD. Close to 33%.
Famicom base vs. Famicom Disk System: 19.35 million base/4.4 million FDS. Close to 25%.

When you look at those attachment rates and see how the Mega CD did in comparison, it doesn't look nearly as good for the platform. While it could be argued that the "add-on platform" was a dying trend after the Mega CD anyway, which is true in retrospect, it's definitely not like Sega themselves understood that if they thought the 32X was a good idea.

Well that's one way to look at it, but I'm still not sure if that tells the whole story. the FDS isn't really Mega CD's contemporary since it was something from the generation prior, IMO. PC-Engine CD's ratio is certainly higher relative the base system's, but that's partly helped by the fact the PC-Engine didn't get anywhere near MegaDrive/Genesis install base numbers in the first place, and there's no evidence that the ratio would've remained that high if in fact it did.

I do personally miss add-on systems and expansions for base hardware; with consoles moving increasingly more PC-like in design and architecture I think it as an idea could resurface with consoles a few years later, but that is a different type of discussion.
 
But that's the problem right there: Sega COULDN'T take Sony head-on, even if they aligned everything right. The reasons? Sony had a lot more money, a lot more divisions that could "foot the bill" and supply PlayStation, and a lot more distribution channels and general hardware/software resources not to mention networking connections in the electronics and entertainment industries.

Sega and Nintendo's 1P output was miles ahead of Sony's (though Sony's started to catch up in the back half of the 5th-gen and in some ways surpassed Sega & Nintendo's if looking at very specific genres like racing simulators i.e Gran Turismo), and Sony knew this, which is why they courted 3P devs and pubs so hard, swaying as many away from Sega and Nintendo as they could with their fat pockets.

Even if 16-bit sales were declining post-1994, the point is Nintendo still made profits on SNES/SFC between 1994 and 1997, which helped them weather the early part of 5th-gen when they had no next-gen console on the market. Sega cutting off Genesis/MegaDrive in the West when they did demonstrably hurt them financially, there's too much proof to verify this. Suggesting they dropped 16-bit support even harder than they did - in 1994 no less - would've just hurt them even more if they stuck to their Saturn plans as they were.

That idea only works if they also decided to lean into their niche successfully, and made the Saturn BC with MegaDrive & Mega CD games, while thinking of more innovative ways to bring the arcade experience home in a unified manner.

SONY, NEC, Nintendo all had way more money than SEGA, hell so did Philips too and yet SEGA was able to compete with the best of them. The issue was SEGA simply allowed too much market share to go to SONY. Sony had the better hardware and none of the bad habits of an established console maker. Still, a SEGA just behind the Saturn could have put up a real fight with SONY, until FF 7 demo in Japan, SEGA Japan was doing just that.

Nintendo had to stick with the Snes, the N64 hardware was delayed for a year and also it's worth remembering the Snes launched 2 years after the MD, but no one looks to factor that in
When the N64 launched how many In-House games did NCL produce for the Snes?. Why you do think SEGA dropping software support for the MD would have been cutting it off? You could still make the hardware and just leave it up to 3rd parties to make games, while the In-House teams look to develop games on their successor, it only what SONY and Nintendo did

The 16 bit market in decline and oversaturated it was said that SEGA alone had 3 million unsold SF II Carts. Both SEGA and Nintendo saw big reductions to their profits in 1994
 
SONY, NEC, Nintendo all had way more money than SEGA, hell so did Philips too and yet SEGA was able to compete with the best of them. The issue was SEGA simply allowed too much market share to go to SONY. Sony had the better hardware and none of the bad habits of an established console maker. Still, a SEGA just behind the Saturn could have put up a real fight with SONY, until FF 7 demo in Japan, SEGA Japan was doing just that.

I agree in the sense that Sega let too much marketshare go to Sony that gen, which in a way benefited Nintendo too since it meant less competition at the end from Sega. I'm just not 100% sure Sega pushing Saturn as a DIRECT heads-on competitor to PlayStation, as in trying to do everything the PlayStation ended up doing, would've worked to Sega's full advantage.

Yes the N64 was a competitor for PS as well, but Nintendo basically found their own identity there. They leaned into different genres very hard to find on PS and Saturn (3D platformers, MP-centric racing and party games, etc.) and leveraged their 4-player couch co-op feature as a way to differentiate themselves from the others, very well. They also became home for many of the best console FPS experiences thanks to IP like GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, really good versions of Quake and Duke Nukem 3D, as well as innovative FPS like Turok.

In a lot of ways Saturn's issue in that sense would've been providing many of the same type of games the PS got, while not providing as many of the 3P cinematic action-adventure story-centric games PS1 started getting a lot more of post-1997. Genres like survival horror, for example, really settled home on PS1, same with car simulators, rhythm games, and a lot of 3D action-adventure games in general. These were not genres particularly well-represented on Saturn even in the early years, meanwhile even if Sony themselves didn't provide a lot in terms of 3D fighters, 2D fighters, arcade racers etc., they had very good support from companies like Namco and Capcom who filled that void, even some of those being exclusive to PS1 and at least right up there with Sega's 1P efforts in those genres.

So, if they went all-in on Saturn by doing what you suggested, and end MegaDrive/Genesis support in 1994, does them suddenly pushing into genres they never had done before, make things better for them in a head-on fight against PS1? Does yet still ignoring having MegaDrive/Genesis BC in Saturn, work to their advantage (especially considering that would've made them unique compared to Sony and even Nintendo)? Keep in mind a lot of new developers sprung up around the PS1 such as From Software, do you think Sega is able to convince From Software to choose Saturn over PS1 for King's Field? Does going all-in on Saturn in 1994 allow Sega to lower licensing costs and SDK costs to be more competitive with Sony on that front? How?

That's why I still believe it would've been a hard fight for them and likely impossible. A lot of Sony's advantages that gen came down to having a shitton of cash and a shitton of tech resources readily available to them, and the will to use them to benefit PlayStation. The last part is the difference between them and, say, NEC or Matsushita, who always treated gaming as a side venture at best (the former was only in on producing PC-Engine hardware (and a glutton of accessories) while the latter was only in to produce one variant of the 3DO. Both were more interested in driving profit through whatever units they sold versus making a real push to be #1 in the market as a platform holder). Sony, specifically Kutaragi, wanted to outright beat Sega and Nintendo in the gaming space, and they leveraged their resources to arrange deals the way Sega & Nintendo never could, produce advanced tech and control manufacturing production in a way Sega & Nintendo never could, handle hardware & software distribution on a global scale in a way Sega & Nintendo (who both often relied on other regional companies to distribute their stuff in certain foreign markets like Brazil (Tec Toy) & South Korea (Samsung)) never could...

IMO Sega's best path that gen would've been to continue MegaDrive/Genesis support into 1996 and scrap 32X altogether. Focus on per-game SVP chip cartridges, and a cheaper MegaDrive & Mega CD revision unit for $150 - $180 or so Holiday 1994 and onward. Make games like Vector Man, Comix Zone, Pulseman, Alien Soldier etc. SVP-enhanced games that may also have CD-quality OSTs if also using a MegaDrive or the hypothetical revised MD & MCD unit. Make Saturn BC with MegaDrive/Genesis out of the box, allow for expandability through the cartridge slot with a future 3D card expansion, similar to the ROM & RAM cartridges (it could even have its own on-board RAM, the cartridge slot basically acting like a PCIe slot in rough terms (closer to a RapidIO port in practice due to chip-to-chip, module-to-module support whereas PCIe is mainly only for peripheral "slave" devices)). In the meantime, key Saturn releases could come on CD & cart in double packs, using the carts to accelerate game performance, if needed.

Meanwhile, support proto-Achievements/Trophies with Saturn & arcade STV releases (or even Model 2 releases), bring a greater range of arcade-style control peripherals to the home market to sell on the immersion factor, something PlayStation can't do and Nintendo wouldn't be able to do much of either, but Sega could thanks to being deeply involved in the arcade scene at the time. All of that adds up to a unique value proposition and brand identity different enough from Sony's PlayStation, and Nintendo's N64 (and Gameboy) to set Sega apart and ensure more market success, even if PlayStation ends up becoming the #1 seller anyway.

Sega was too busy reacting to threats during 1994-1996 period instead of establishing their own, wholly unique market identity that didn't rely on being compared to other platform holders. That's the reason for their eventual downfall as a platform holder. By the time they started to do this with Dreamcast & NAOMI, it was too late.
 
I agree in the sense that Sega let too much marketshare go to Sony that gen, which in a way benefited Nintendo too since it meant less competition at the end from Sega. I'm just not 100% sure Sega pushing Saturn as a DIRECT heads-on competitor to PlayStation, as in trying to do everything the PlayStation ended up doing, would've worked to Sega's full advantage.


It is simple you get Market share you get wide development support and a wide range of games, no different from the MD or PS. Car games have been around for years, I think the likes of Horror and music games owe a lot to PC development myself. I remember the amazing Virtual Guitar on the PC in 1992 or 93, you had Alone in the Dark series and you even had the likes of Dr Huazer on the 3DO, The PS just made everything more mainstream and I'm not knocking it for that.

Also, you talk of supporting the MD late, but it got SEGA nowhere. The likes of Comic Zone, VectorMan 2, Ristar Ooze all flopped or sold in low numbers. It was clear that after 7 years of being on the market Mega Drive owners had enough and were looking for new stuff, even the later Sonic games like S&K, Sonic 3 sold in nothing like the numbers of Sonic 1 or 2 despite a massively expanded userbase. SEGA thought people wouldn't have the money to jump on the next gen, but they did and we were ready to jump and that was SEGA's huge miscalculation in the west IMO

I'm not saying your view is wrong BTW, but that's what I think. I do agree with you over the SVP chip mind; Again SEGA should have stuck with the original plan of making it in a lock-in cart, so the user would only need to buy it once and it could have opened up the door to some more 3rd party games. But for me SEGA needed to do what basically Nintendo does, Sony did and what MS did with the Xbox. You drop more or less all In-House support and have all your In-House teams move to make games for the new consoles and leave the old console to price cuts and 3rd party developer support




 
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