The Sega Saturn was a video game console made by Sega. It was the successor to the Sega Genesis and released in 1995. It competed against the Sony PlayStation and the Nintendo 64. It was succeeded by the Sega Dreamcast.
NOTE: This console has many redeeming qualities. This article will focus primarily on what caused it to flop.
- It lacked a true original Sonic the Hedgehog platforming game. There was going to be a game called Sonic X-Treme, but it was canceled and instead all it got was Sonic Jam (a compilation of the original Genesis trilogy with a 3D hub world), a port of Sonic 3D Blast, and Sonic R.
- The launch in the USA was a disaster.
- It was more expensive than its competitors with a price of $399 USD/44,800 yen at launch, compared to $299/39,800 yen for the PlayStation and $199/25,000 yen for the Nintendo 64. And it didn't help the fact that it was weaker than both consoles.
- The original controller is recycled from the Genesis 6 button controller.
- The 1 or 4-Meg cart that was used to expand the game's data wasn't sold outside Japan, thus one had to either import it or get an Action Replay device.
- Its complex design made it difficult for western third-party developers to program games for the system, so third-party games were limited on the system. Even Sega themselves had a hard time developing games for the system. The PlayStation, on the other hand, was very easy to develop for thus third-party developers often preferred making games for that over the Saturn.
- Rather than sticking with Segata Sanshiro commercials, which proved to be successful in Japan, the USA advertisements for the Saturn were rather surreal and confusing. Several of the commercials directly attacked the Sony PlayStation and the Nintendo 64 by calling them the "PlayThing" and "Pretendo", the former of which outsold the Saturn by more than 90 million units.
- The Saturn used CR2032 type batteries for save files, which dried out rather quickly and once it did your save files are all gone. This was especially true for Model-1 Saturns.
- That being said, there was a Back-Up RAM Cartridge sold separately for the Saturn.
- The main reason the Saturn was able to have so many games was that a large number of them were ports of Sega arcade games, despite being released at a time were arcade ports for consoles are on the way out due to many developers focusing on games for consoles and PCs in mind.
- The Saturn's 3D capabilities were also very lackluster compared to its competitors, likely because the system was originally just a heavily upgraded Sega 32X for most of its development, with a polygon processor hastily added in later on. The Saturn's rasterizer, like the 3DO's, could only render square polygons and not the usual triangles, a system most suited to sprites: as a result, Saturn games had to use complex engines to build even simple true 3D-looking objects. Many have claimed the system is not even truly capable of 3D due to this render method.
- Bernie Stolar, the CEO and president of Sega of America at the time, kept blacklisting all the good 2D games from ever leaving Japan because he believed that the market for 2D games are dying. This is ironic, considering that the Saturn was originally designed with 2D in mind.
- Despite being a commercial failure, the Sega Saturn has enough redeeming qualities to have an article on the Awesome Games Wiki.
Although well-received in Japan, worldwide, only 9.5 million were sold, with it failing miserably in the U.S. as well as in Europe and Australia. This failure would be a contributing factor to Sega abandoning its last console, the Sega Dreamcast because of the financial loss and damaged reputation Sega suffered from the Saturn. Stolar ultimately said, "Saturn isn't our future" and had the system discontinued too soon in 1998. In Japan, though, the Saturn continued to be officially supported until 2000. This move angered everyone who was invested on a Saturn and degraded Sega's consumer confidence, in turn many refused to support the Dreamcast.
Following the release of the Saturn, rumors began to circulate that Sega was already working on another new system called the "128 Platinum," with jaded Sega CD owners speculating that this was just to annoy anyone who'd bought a Saturn. A few years later it turned out that was exactly what they were doing.
Despite failing, the Saturn is considered a good console and having a decent game library of 596 games. Most of the reasons the Saturn failed were due to Sega's mismanagement and poor business choices, not the console itself. Today, the Saturn is considered a cult classic and is a valuable collector's item.