The Sega Saturn was the first true console from Sega in a while. Not an add-on like the CD & 32x I mentioned last time. The Sega Saturn was first released in Japan back in November 22, 1994, while the US release was a year later on May 11, 1995. It’s 32-bits much like the 32x and uses cartridges as the main media. So it uses the technology used for the 32x except they decided to make it a console rather than another add-on. Cause there’s nothing more Sega can do for the Genesis so it was time to move on to something entirely new. The console was in development since February 1993, it was top-secret at the time so it went under the code name “Aurora” until it was later revealed it was named after a planet. There was rumors that the Saturn was going to contain only one processor in its hardware but they decided to add another one after hearing that Sony had a console in development at the time that was going to exceed the capabilities of Sega’s own console. Sega even went at as far as making the then new 3DO console(I’ll do an article on that one soon) look bad by stating that they have a new console in development that is more powerful than the 3DO itself.
By 1994, the 16 bit era was about to end when 32-bit consoles were at the rise. At the 1995 E3 convention, Sega showcased their newly released console and even declared the day as “Saturnday” as they believe they have a winning chance in the gaming market when Sony’s Playstation won’t be available for purchase for another 4 months. The whole thing backfired for various reasons. One the Saturn was $399.99, while Sony announced at E3 the same year that Playstation will be $299.99. Two, the Saturn was released much early than expected, it was meant to be September 2nd, a week before Playstation’s release date. Three, only six games were available at the launch, because most of the third-party game companies were still developing the games for the upcoming September second release date. And fourth and finally, only four retailers were selected to sell the console: Toys “R” Us, Babbage’s, Software Etc. and Electronics Boutique, excluding Wal-Mart & KB Toys from selling the product. Both Wal-Mart & KB Toys felt betrayed for not being able to sell Sega’s Saturn console at the lauch date. Even when Sega try to get the console sold at those two stores they ended up getting the cold shoulder. The same will happen for the Dreamcast(next article). KB Toys was so angered that most of their retailers ended up not supplying anything Sega related and only include Playstation & Nintendo products. The console did poorly in the market when Playstation out sold more units than the Saturn did. While Nintendo was about to put their Nintendo 64 into the market by next year. Leaving Sega on the bottom of the competition when Nintendo now has Sony as the new competitor. A competition that has been going along smoothly since then.
In the end, the Saturn only sold 9.4 million consoles before it’s demise which was August 10, 1998. Three years is barely a qualified to be called a good life span for a console. While the console did had some memorable games, it unfortunately didn’t stand a chance against Sony who became a new face in the gaming market. While Nintendo was doing just swell cause they rarely had anything backfiring on their market. During the same year the Saturn discontinued, their next console the Dreamcast was released. Check out my next article to see how the most struggling game company finally threw in the towel in the console wars. Also be sure to check out these commercials which shows Sega destroying the Nintendo 64 & Playstation in various ways.