How Sony Outclassed Sega in The Console Wars. One of the most interesting times in video game history was in the 1990s. it was an interesting time in the history of video games, with 3D visuals and gameplay coming to the fore through titles like “Descent” and “Quake.”
And then moving to even more mainstream or at least video games that could be considered at the time, thanks to home consoles from Nintendo, Sega, and Sony that did their best to capitalize on the technology.
How Sony Outclassed Sega in The Console Wars
1994 in particular was a really exciting time, that winter saw the Japanese release of the Sega Saturn and the Sony PlayStation, and was followed by the Nintendo 64 in the year 1996.
At that time, there were tons of consoles still on the market. Atari’s Jaguar in 1993, Sega’s 32X in 1994, Nintendo’s Virtual Boy in 1995, Panasonic’s R.E.A.L 3DO in 1993. It was quite overwhelming, to state it mildly. There were tons of choices, and if you selected the wrong hardware, you would essentially find yourself saddled with some expensive paperweight.
The three big gaming companies tried their best to stand out by pushing “true” 3D games. But even at that, the waters became so muddied with consoles that it was expected for at least one of them to exit the race.
The Beginning of the End
Well, things started going wrong for Sega quite early as Saturn’s November 1994 launch in Japan put it in direct sales competition with Sony’s PlayStation that was set to launch the following month. The excitement for Sony’s first-ever Video game console outweighed the interest in Sega’s Follow-up to its Genesis-Sega CD-32X hybrid pretty much everywhere except in Japan.
Sega tried their best to beat Sony by making changes to their US release date in May 1995, which was about four months before the PlayStation’s launch, but that only made things a lot worse for them.
Saturn came with a much smaller launch library with about six games versus the PlayStation’s eight which in particular was due to the release date bump as many of its planned third-party launch titles had to stick with the original release projection.
The Saturn’s library was no slouch once it hot its footing, with several well-regarded games to its names like the Panzer Dragoon series and Virtua fighter, but the PlayStation had more. Then when it came to the cost, the Saturn has about $100 (roughly about $185 more in 2022 money) higher than the PlayStation. Well, the choice was, on a surface level, at least to pay more for less, or to pay less for more.
Then issues came in the hardware aspect. Sega wanted the Saturn to be able to compete with the PlayStation’s 3D prowess, but originally, it was designed to work as a sprite-based 2D machine. The internal tech was changed around a little bit to offer more 3D power, but the result brought about a console that was more difficult to make games for, especially games in 3D.
PlayStation Defeated Dreamcast
Sega managed to survive through Saturn’s rough patch, but it was behind. The company needed something huge to recoup its losses and place itself once again at the top or at least, closer to the top. And they decided to launch the dream cast in Japan in November 1998, then in the US the following year in September 1999.
At that time, the console was incredibly advanced, offering a built-in 56K modem and four controller ports, and it has much better support for 3D games than Saturn. Well, unfortunately, the Dreamcast was very expensive to produce, so Sega had to sell each of the units at a loss. But it still managed to perform great with the PlayStation and Nintendo 64, but then the PlayStation 2 was launched in March 2000 (October in the US)
Sony’s PlayStation 2, which had comparable graphical capabilities, could capitalize on the PlayStation’s popularity, had access to popular licenses like the “Final Fantasy” Series, and came with a built-in DVD player, which was a first for a home console at that time. This buried the Dream cast. A lot of people that were waiting to buy a dream cast decided to wait for the PlayStation, even when Sony had some issues with inventory during the period of the launch.
With all that, Sega has no way to recover – at least not as a part of the console market. In January 2001 the president of Sega of America at the period in time, peter Moore, announced that the company would cease its role as a console manufacturer and place its focus on being third-party game developers for other platforms.
Despite the fact that their console failed, there’s still a lot of love for the Dreamcast, including “new” games releases and modifications, but both it and Sega were dealt too many bad hands.