The Sega Saturn was a console released in 1995, but many people are wondering what happened to it. This post discusses the history of the console, why it didn’t do well, and what could have been done differently.
The Sega Saturn was developed in response to the rapid rise of the Sony PlayStation. It was initially planned for release in 1994, but its release date was pushed back several times before it finally came out in 1995.
The main problem with the console is that when it launched, it had barely any games available (only ten were released at launch) and very few titles were ready to be released or even in development to be released roughly one year later. This is speculated to have been due to Sega’s rush to deliver a product by their announced launch date; since game developers were not able-bodied enough to meet this goal, they opted instead for continuing releasing games on the Sega Genesis until more could be developed. Not only did this hurt the initial sales of the Sega Saturn, but it also gave developers a bad impression of it.
What the Saturn had going for it
- The Sega Saturn’s game discs were initially cheaper than PlayStation game discs.
- They also had an existing fanbase that could be reached by the release of new games for their console.
- The Sega Saturn was not region-locked and permitted players to import games that the PlayStation did not.
- It also had a cartridge port for data storage.
- Its CD-ROM drive could read recordable CDs which allowed players to make their own game discs (this is where the risk of piracy entered).
The Saturn’s System Architecture
So why did this product fail? The Sega Saturn was not technologically inferior to the PlayStation at all; however, games for the Playstation were easier to make and more developers were familiar with their system architecture. Many developers stated that there was no benefit in developing for multiple consoles because of all the time they would spend on making new game engines, graphics tools, and other things like that rather than spending all their time on creating one game engine that could then be used throughout development on different games.
The final nail in the coffin for the Sega Saturn was an incident in which Sega of America refused to publish Sonic X-treme. Although Sega of Japan permitted the game to be released in Japan on October 29th, 1995, there is no word on how many copies were sold. All evidence points towards this game being unfinished
Was it always doomed to failure?
In my opinion, I believe that if Sega had done a few things differently when launching the console, they might have been more successful in their sales and business ventures. They should have released multiple games at launch or shortly afterward to add value to the system and show consumers what it is capable of doing. This would allow them to gather a larger audience for their console right from day one and since this is one of their goals in general it would be perfect solution.
Secondly, if they had continued to release new games as they did with the Sega Genesis, this would have shown that their developers were willing and able to continue providing quality games for consumers.
Thirdly, if they had marketed the console correctly I think more gamers would have been interested in it and perhaps turned on to its superior capabilities. Not only was the focus of advertising pointing toward things like 3D graphics and cinematic cutscenes (which by 1997 were no longer a novelty), but there wasn’t even a promotional video available demonstrating what the console could do at launch. I think if consumers knew what many games are capable of, they would be less likely to give up on it entirely.
Lastly, Sega should not have tried to gain superiority over one console by competing for better graphics. The Sega Saturn was the first 32-bit console, which allowed for advanced cinematics and a better overall experience than 16-bit consoles would have been capable of doing at the time.
I believe that this console was somewhat overlooked because it wasn’t marketed or developed well so it turned people away right from launch. However, if Sega had done a few things differently – such as delaying its release date – perhaps it could have been met with more success and larger sales numbers.
In 2000, the Sega Saturn was discontinued. Only 10 million units were sold in total over its lifetime. Despite this, it had a great library with games like Nights into Dreams and the Panzer Dragoon series that are still remembered today. Many people thought that this console’s failure ended Sega’s history as a game developer.
But if you’re looking for a trip down memory lane, perhaps the Sega Genesis Classic might be a happier path to choose.
What games are on the Sega Genesis Classic Game Console?
The original console was released in 1988 in Japan and 1989 in the USA and is now available for purchase again. There are 81 games included. In the list of built-in titles are some of the most popular games from back in their day such as Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Altered Beast, Virtua Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master, Phantasy Star II, Golden Axe 3 and Streets Of Rage 2. You can learn more about it at Sega Genesis Mini.