Let's fix the Sega timeline

As I procrastinate doing something important, let's go back through time and figure out how to Fix Sega Forever and keep blue sky in games as a console choice, not just a software choice.

Presume that we can't move events forward (like launching the saturn in 1992) but we can move events back, cancel things, etc.

Here's my proposed first pass, which I'll split into eras/consoles:
SG-1000 (1983)/SMS(1985) era: no change. I'm content with how this went. Popular enough in the UK to keep the company going.

Mega drive (1988): My only suggested change is a different advertising approach in Japan to make the console more popular there. emphasize the RPGs, make a few more shooters, and maybe even appeal to national pride by talking about how the games from japan are so hardcore, etc.

Game Gear (1990): No change for the first couple years, EXCEPT I would launch close to simultaneously in the west and Japan. Then let tec toy do R&D and release a 2nd model in 1993-4 with a smaller form factor and more efficient battery usage, which you can then bring to the US, EU, and Japan. Translate the Last Bible games and get some pokemon stuff going with Game Gear.

Sega CD (1991): I'm torn here. I think the add-on worked but I almost feel like launching it AS the CDX or X-eye, an all-in one, might have been better. I'd also maybe delay the release to 1992 since in retrospect it wasn't that critical for the company to release this quickly, since the CD market wasn't crowded. Also here I would have sega document its processes better for developers, make better libraries faster for devs to use, and generally make the Sega CD as easy to develop for, and critically to exploit the new features of, as the pc engine cd was. More usage of the sound chip, more usage of the superscaler tech, less emphasis on FMV after the initial couple successes.

32X (1994): Here's where we get into interesting territory. I wouldn't actually scrap it, I would launch the 32X as a new console with Sega CD and Mega drive integrated, again with really nice documentation and tools, and give the genesis another two years of life. We'd have more 32x/32X CD games going into 1996/1997, but more "regular" mega drive games too. At the very lease release the Neptune instead of the 32X add-on.

Nomad (1995): Ditch the Nomad entirely and make a new handheld based on genesis architecture but with transparency support. Release this two years after the Saturn, once our long-running game gear has fizzled a bit, which will also be two years before the GBA. This lets devs make "enhanced ports" of genesis games to this new handheld console and let it communicate with the Saturn and Model 2 games. Genesis devs can continue to make games with tech they're familiar with too. This continues through the Dreamcast era.

Saturn (1994): Controversial again, but move the launch to late 1995 and base the system on the sega model 2 board architecture from the start, making model 2 arcade ports easy. Lose a bit of money on initial hardware sales but get the arcade scene totally on board with what you're doing. Create extensive tools and documentation for developers ensuring it's really easy to work on. More corporate espionage at Sony, and also: take Sony super seriously. I want nice 2D in here still but I'm not sure how to achieve that simultaneously without spending more money, in this era.

Dreamcast (1998): No change, though I'd also launch worldwide from the get-go! OR wait until 1999 to launch in all regions but with a slightly higher polygon-pushing processor. And now instead of trying to right the ship after the Saturn fails in the West, hopefully we now are building on its success.

In this way we hopefully get to a Dreamcast 2, and a handheld with the power of the Dreamcast that is basically a big VMU.

WELL those are my opinions, what have y'all got.

For the Saturn, have Yamaha develop the GD-Rom standard for that instead of for the Dreamcast, so you can hold more moves on the discs. Then for the Dreamcast use a DVD drive instead (not sure how sony would feel about that, but this is a game forum so who cares)

Also for the Saturn: _**use polygons instead of quads **_

Good points on the GD rom/DVD thing, and while my saturn “use model 2 architecture” pitch implied using polygons instead of quads, it's definitely worth stating outright.

Where do you stand on changing personnel within the company(/companies)? Because a lot of Sega‘s failures in the 90s come down to the divisions that emerged internally between the American and Japanese branches and how they prevented both companies from marshaling their full potential against Nintendo and later Sony, so I imagine changing out key players at the right time would go a long way toward averting that problem. For example, you could either change out whoever it was that proposed Sonic as a character and who Japanese management soured toward for, in their eyes, one-upping them (can you tell I haven’t gotten that far in Segagaga?), or you could change out Japanese management for people who would be less likely to react that way. That would lay a lot of the groundwork for their work in the mid-90s onward not to flounder the way it did (or at the very least, severely limit the extent of that floundering), and as for the Genesis in Japan…see, here it really seems like you'd have to move the date up earlier just so its home arcade premise could more reasonably compete against the PC Engine, which had already filled that niche by the time the Genesis came onto the scene.

Another potential complication I see for this thought experiment: how much of Sega's failures comes down to their own business decisions, and how much to who the competition was? Sony was a major electronics company by the time they entered the game industry, and Nintendo has (I don't know what their situation was at the time) the cash reserves they need to make a profit without selling their consoles at a loss. By contrast, Sega's financial base was always in the arcades, wasn't it? So between arcades receding from the 90s onward and Microsoft - another Sony-level titan - entering the industry in the early 2000s, there's an argument to be made that Sega just couldn't stay in the console business at all no matter how they approached it.

I feel I lack the knowledge of both Sega history and hardware design required to contribute meaningfully to the discussion but I wanted to point at the fact that I always felt Sega could have benefited from having more synergy between the arcade and home market. Something like Sega Ages nowadays is doing A LOT to uphold the legacy and history of the brand and, as was suggested, making it easier to port games from arcades to the home console at the moment could have done wonders.

I'd say that working within the frame of releasing X game on arcades and then porting it to console after a year or so, just enough time to let it breathe, maybe adding some extra content like a couple levels or new game modes for the domestic version could have helped. Making that the standard for the company feels retroactively like the right call.

Also don't know if this would have had a huge impact but maybe doing more cameos between games and trying to create a strong sense of brand and unity, all games being part of the same thing like Mario Kart games started doing early would have been cool. We are seeing this now in the way Yakuza implement historic Sega stuff as minigames and to me is a very powerful way to showcase the huge significance of the company, not only because you get to play Outrun and it holds up and that's awesome, but because also you see it in the context of a game that is trying to capture the feel of that era and provides context, feeling informative and "historically accurate" (even if that's not exactly true).

I am most interested in the 32X. I really think there was an interesting opportunity there. Sega kept selling the Genesis for the rest of the 90s as a budget system for kids to play. There is something there. The Neptune would have been the answer. I dunno, call it the Genesis 2. You can get a big library of games that already exist and a couple of next gen-ish games. The Model 1 games make a hell of a showing on there. And now here is the real trick. See that cartridge port on the Saturn? Make it accept 32X games. Maybe even sell an adapter if need be. But create this line of thought that you if you can‘t jump to Saturn now, you can get your kids the cheaper Neptune with the idea that down the road you’ll get the Saturn. God. I think basically if the Saturn had even Sega CD backwards compatibility it would have created a TON of good will for those people who might have felt burned.

Also I always feel if the OGXBOX had really gone full Dreamcast 2 and let you play GDroms etc things might be really different. I would be okay with Sega becoming a Microsoft second party. That might not have felt the need to buy Rare.

32X and SEGA CD are the two real weird ones of the bunch. I think I've expressed my opinion on this before, but the 32X feels like a good idea that was out of its place and time. It belongs in another reality.

If even possible, and in a perfect world, I agree with the squishing the SEGA CD and the 32X into one machine. I'd go a step further and say if such a product needed to happen, it should've launched in place of the SEGA CD, in SEGA CD's time slot. Replacing the Mega Drive, and maintaining support for Mega Drive carts. But like, how plausible would that be technically/financially for 1991/1992? :P

My biggest fantasy in regards to this kind of thing would be if the Saturn could be backwards compatible with the Genesis/Sega CD/32X. When I was a kid, I assumed that it was backwards compatible when I first saw pictures of it because of its cartridge slot. I‘m not sure how possible this really was, but I’ve long suspected that this was part of Sega's original plan before running into difficulties making the Saturn 3D compatible and shifting away from Genesis-based hardware.

If they did that there would have been fewer people bitter about the 32X because it WOULD have been a stepping stone into the next generation and developers would likely have supported the previous generation systems for longer since the games could be played by both all the folks who had Genesis with upgrades AND the folks who shelled out for the Saturn. The Saturn would be the expensive unit for people who want the next gen experience but the folks who bought the Sega CD and 32X wouldn't feel like they were having the rug pulled out from them. Maybe we'd even have seen games that really explored the capabilities of the 32X CD combination since they'd be compatible with the Saturn too.

I'd also like for Sega of America to embrace the Saturn as a 2D powerhouse and allow for more JRPGs and 2D games to be translated/released. Maybe even some games with visual novel elements like Sakura Wars! Embrace the anime aesthetic! Reinforce the idea that classic arcade games are worth playing!

I feel like this would have made the Saturn the global hit Sega needed it to be and would have gone a long way to extending the company's presence in the world of hardware.
The two changes I'd want to see for Dreamcast would be adding a DVD drive since a lot of folks bought PS2 just for that and requiring all games for the system to be 480p-compatible. DVD-R drives were less common than CD-Rs in those days, so piracy wouldn't have eaten into Sega's profits as much. They'd have more money to keep the DC afloat for longer and could probably stand on its own against the PS2/Gamecube/Xbox with its 480p graphics via VGA cable (or maybe even official component cables?), DVD-playing capability, and built in online capabilities. Hell, if the DC was more successful, Sega's partnership with Microsoft may have prevented the Xbox from coming out and instead resulted in Microsoft working on the Dreamcast 2...

I do think the cart slot thing - for 32x, or for genesis, would‘ve been great. And all of us thought that at the time, too - everyone assumed without being told that genesis games, AT THE VERY LEAST would go in that cart slot. there were even rumors on the early internet that there was an adapter that would let you play genesis games. There were news reports of parents feeling bamboozled because they had JUST bought a genesis a few years ago and now they had to buy this new thing and throw all the old games away!? etc. So yeah I do actually think that’s a big one.

I think maybe in this scenario you don't bring Sega CD along for the ride, because that gets too confused, saturn vs sega CD discs. And we get into weird territory with the 32X vs the saturn too. So I think if we're making the cart slot work, it only works for genesis games, and the 32x was kind of a stopgap stepping stone...? maybe in this scenario we abandon the 32x totally?

The issue with having the 32X and the Saturn exist in the same timeline continues to be stretched resources, not only within sega but within the game development community. Two similar platforms within the same company definitely splits the audience and becomes a strain on everyone's resources.

To @Video_Game_King I'm definitely in favor of talking about management shuffles, or at least mitigating the strife between regions. I should've mentioned also that it's US going back in time fixing this stuff, so we know what nintendo and sony are going to do in advance, ignoring any kind of temporal disturbance of us fixing THIS thing meaning sony does THAT thing, etc.

It's less "what would we have done with the knowledge we had at the time" and more "how do we go back and tell president lincoln to duck at ford's theater" or whatever. So yeah, go nuts on that stuff.

to @Nemoide I think the "translate more games" thing was more the answer in the late 90s/early 2000s but in 1994-5 what you needed was edgy american comic book stuff and sports. the anime thing just wasn't that big here at the time, not big enough to make a console sell like gangbusters. Maybe it would've helped in europe!? But here you needed like Comix Zone 2 and Madden exclusivity. Get Tecmo to put Tecmo Bowl out on Saturn maybe, and retain that weird flavor.

also:
https://twitter.com/kunta_/status/1334150338459308033

If the Saturn had backwards compatibility with Sega CD and Genesis/32X (using the cart slot… somehow) that would have been killer. Although the Saturn hardware was a bit of a mess to begin with, but this is blue blue skies thinking. Throw stock VCD support in there too. More direct arcade ports would have been incredible.

I wonder if Sega would have done better if they just stayed out of the handheld market completely. Perhaps if they launched the Game Gear later with hardware that was more battery friendly and less bulky.

For Dreamcast, I agree with others that making the console DVD based would have been a massive insensitive to get people buying the hardware. Especially if they launched before the PS2. It might have been enough to keep them competitive for a bit longer. I can see a few of those early Sega Xbox games staying on the Dreamcast if it just stuck around. Also, put out more direct arcade ports from Naomi and Atomiswave.

https://twitter.com/MikeJMika/status/1334289380022890499?s=09

Send in golden boy.

Just writing this thought off the top of my head, but I think the key to the Dreamcast surviving the PS2 would‘ve required not just the DVD add on, but the Saturn dominating its respective era. The PS1 built a large, enthusiastic, and loyal customer base. The DVD definitely would’ve helped, but there was a consumer culture aspect that Sony acquired that SEGA lost.

It's the "What people call video games, is who is likely dominating" thing. Adults would say, "The kid is playing Atari." Then, "No Nintendo until after homework."

My perspective is that during the PS1/Saturn era, it was, "Finish your chores before Playstation." ... not Saturn.

I also wonder if the Dreamcast was poorly timed? Was there an advantage to firing first?

@exodus#10101 Yeah I am torn as I have a soft spot for the 32X. But I could definitely see it being better if it never existed. I could definitely go for a scenario where you can still plug Genesis games in your Saturn though. Maybe if they even had some kind of extra features if you played them on Saturn. Like a couple years of more budget or weirdo releases that can be played on both Genesis and Saturn. Kind of like we're getting with the Xbox Series this year. Maybe bring over some weird imports like Shockman and Alien Soldier at a budget price to keep both groups in games. I would definitely help during that awful first year of almost no decent games for the system.

Or shoot. Even if the 32X was pretty far in development you just scrap it as an add on and everything you've built for the launch gets incorporated into the Saturn launch. I dunno, like Daytona at $60 but also Virtua Racing Deluxe at $40. Might help with some of the sticker shock of the system. You'd get a better version of Doom and Virtua Fighter on the Saturn that way AND Knuckle Chaotix to appease your Sonic Heads.

Anyways its weird how we basically might never have the whole hard stop sell of your old system moment in video games ever again.

Saturn, hah the original console SGi proposed to them which in neutered form eventually became the N64.

Tempted to make a “Lets fuck up the Nintendo Timeline” thread. What awful business decisions could Nintendo have done to exit the game industry as a major player.

1) All in on the Virtual Boy
2) Keep the Snes around for another 2 years leaning heavily on the FX Chip
3) Nintendo partners with Sony on the Playstation to further extend the SNES's shelf life

@marlfuchs2#10455 YES. This is the kind of speculation I want. I‘m going to bed now, but I’ll see what I can think of tomorrow morning.

I think we are approaching an opportunity for SEGA to re-enter the hardware market. At this point there are only PCs and pseudo-PCs vs the switch. They should go the switch route, throw lots of money at indies and cash in the remaining nostalgia chips. Give the sonic mania people more cash for the “real” sonic 4 for ex. Not saying they would overtake nintendo/sony/msoft, but it seems to me there's room for a switch alternative platform for sega, indie, and weirdo 3rd party dev games. They could regain a foothold I think (I know literally nothing about business, intellectual property rights, or game development)

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@marlfuchs2#10455 1) All in on the Virtual Boy

> 3) Nintendo partners with Sony on the Playstation to further extend the SNES’s shelf life

[Ironically, these decisions probably would have worked out in Nintendo's favor.](https://www.badgamehalloffame.com/nintendo-virtual-boy/)

I'm real sleep deprived atm (nothing dramatic, my parents left the house for a very early morning flight and my one dog who really loves my mom thought she was alone so she howled mournfully until I went to go get her and get her to sleep on my bed wth me) and I got this Facebook ad and just thought, what the fuck, is insert credit putting out Facebook ads???

[upl-image-preview url=//i.imgur.com/KKxpOMc.jpeg]

1991: Cozy up with Docomo.

1992: Cozy up with Docomo.

1993: Cozy up with Docomo.

1994: Cozy up with Docomo.

1995: Cozy up with Docomo.

1996: Cozy up with Docomo.

1997: Cancel Dreamcast and offer Docomo to manage i-Mode’s future games portal for them.

See you in my diamond-encrusted Ristar-shaped space station, suckers.