An interesting article on Sega's downward trend

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Shadow Hog
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Post by Shadow Hog »

G.Silver wrote:Without it, it would be like playing Sonic Advance on a screen half as wide.
<img src="http://www.comparestoreprices.co.uk/ima ... -ngage.jpg">
G.Silver wrote:If they really wanted Sonic to look more 3D they should have given him animations for running in more than four directions.
They did, actually. 8 for level surfaces, and then LOADS of other running sprites depending on what the angle of the surface was (ie, for loops and all that jazz), although I think <i>those</i> were, in fact, limited to four directions (left, right, into and out-from).

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Locit
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Post by Locit »

BlazeHedgehog wrote:I'm telling you, X-treme could've worked; I won't admit those videos are perfect, but with some elbow grease to try and bring in a few more elements of the Genesis games (better enemy design, for starters) it could've been really good.
I'm not saying it couldn't have worked, but when I watch the videos the bad design aspects of the game stand out to me more than the good. Some of what I'm basing this on is how easy it seems to be to fall off of any given ledge and die in the Death Egg video. If the fish-eye lens really solved that then a those concerns would go out the window.

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Post by Opa-Opa »

Still, "Sonic Robo Blast 2" looks better than X-Treme. And that was made with some modified DooM engine. DooM. We had DooM for the SNES.

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Post by Rolken »

The article seems to me to be less a chronicle of why than of how. Sure, the Sammy saga and the death of the Dreamcast were pivotal points in Sega's fall - but those weren't causes, just the inevitable result of events already set in motion.

Sega was not a coherent company. The Americans and Japanese were developing systems without even knowing what was going on in the other half of the company! That is not a way to operate, and it manifested itself severely in disasters like the halfbaked 32X and the haphazard development of the Saturn. They lost the support of developers, retailers and consumers alike, and with the Dreamcast they presented nothing that was good enough to lure them all back.

It's all well and good to make trite statements like the Dreamcast was about fun and it failed because people hate fun, but the reality is that it was a system that was incapable of appealing to people. Quirky and innovative games do not make a system. People tried to draw a comparison to Guitar Hero earlier, but that comparison is fatally flawed in that Guitar Hero has the strength that you can pitch it concretely in a single sentence: air guitar made real. Much like the Wii, just SEEING someone playing Guitar Hero is enough to give the visceral impression that it is a really fun game. No Dreamcast game can be so simply and effectively marketed - not Space Channel 5, not Shenmue, not Rez, not Chu Chu Rocket, and so on. With Sega's brand power exhausted, the Dreamcast's ability to make its case on its own, and a lack of heavy hitting developers behind it, it was really doomed from the start.

Sega was whittled away by its incompetent management and outmaneuvered by Sony. They needed to prove the viability of their platforms and the strength of their games, and they did neither. Whether their games were demonstrably fun AFTER buying the console and its games is completely irrelevant; without the strength of a proven brand, the Dreamcast's success hinged on making its games obviously fun through demos and marketing without the benefit of a console purchase, and they utterly failed to do so.

It's also worth noting that the whole hubbub around Sega losing their autonomy is a red herring. They were a subsidiary of CSK for decades, who (if Wikipedia is to be believed) dumped $40 billion (!) in cash infusions into Sega over the years to keep it afloat. This was not a sane situation, and it ended two years after CSK's Sega-loving founder died in 2001. Sega was a grown-up infant company living within the happy bubble formed by Okawa, and as soon as that ended the adjustment to reality took force and Sega hit the ground hard.

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Shadow Hog
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Post by Shadow Hog »

At least you can pitch <i>Skies of Arcadia</i> rather tersely... "Epic RPG featuring Air-Pirates!"

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Post by gr4yJ4Y »

Even Skies of Arcadia is hard to market though. I remember not being really interested in it until I tried out a demo that came with ODCM. And most people I'd spoken to when the games came out had never heard of the likes of Shenmue or Jet Set Radio. I remember hearing about how much money was being spent on DC's marketing and how disappointing the results were. DC was really picking up steam here in America just before Sega pulled the plug.

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Post by Bo »

Did Sega ever really make any good business decisions after releasing the Mega Drive? As far as I remember the story of Sega, it was a story of continual mis-investments and awkward timing.

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Post by FlashTHD »

Something like that, but speaking of mis-investments, IGN's reporting that Sega-Sammy Holdings has taken a dive for the third year running. Which, I believe, is how long they've been running.
SEGA Sammy's recently announced earnings for its 2006 fiscal year, ended March 31, 2007, show the company continuing to bleed yen. The parent company of SEGA of America sold 528.2 billion yen ($4.4 billion) worth of software and pachinko machines, down 4.5 percent from last year. But the real hit came in SEGA Sammy's net income, which fell 34.4 percent to 43.4 billion yen ($361 million).

SEGA and Sammy merged three years ago, and each year since has seen disappointing financial results.

According to GameDaily BIZ, SEGA largely attributes the poor performance to lackluster sales of its pachinko machines. "The Company was unable to deliver a truly distinctive machine that could capture the market's imagination," Sega Sammy explained.
Pardon me.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA!
SEGA Sammy notes on its investor relations site that the company saw strong software sales during the fiscal year, up 32 percent over the previous year. The largest percentage of these sales came from North America, where consumers picked up large quantities of the new Sonic the Hedgehog (despite the best efforts of many a game reviewer). SEGA has been open about its shift in focus to Western markets, and it looks like the effort is proving successful, at least in terms of sales.

During fiscal 2007, SEGA Sammy expects sales to continue to rise (26.8 percent) and income to continue to fall (as much as 20 percent).
Wait, did Sonic Next pick up in sales all of a sudden, or are the bean counters over there now making up numbers that are out of their reach? Last I heard it was struggling to hit 100,000 units sold.

So assuming they're not lying: the pachinko market Sammy wanted Sega to pick up on is slipping out of their grasp, and the home entertainment end that they wanted Sega to drift away from is maintaining momentum. You think, by jumping into this merger so brazenly (and with a hint of vendetta fueling their top brass), Sammy may have set themselves up to be torpedoed if this keeps up?

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Yami CJMErl
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Post by Yami CJMErl »

It certainly SOUNDS like it.

In fact, this almost reminds me of that thing with Chrysler that ahppened the other day: two companies that merged and were unprofitable during their entire existence...

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Post by Arcade »

Sonic Rush is good, I got it a few days ago, the idea of using two characters was good, and it was before the whole "Eggman Nega is the Eggman of the future" thing...

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Post by Blue Mage »

If Sega manages to seperate from Sammy and start pulling their heads out of thier asses they might be good again.

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Post by Arcade »

Blue Mage wrote:If Sega manages to seperate from Sammy and start pulling their heads out of thier asses they might be good again.
Dude, Sammy only bought Sega because Sega needed the money, and they needed the money because of "the industry" rejecting the Dreamcast until it was too late.

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Post by gr4yJ4Y »

You're right, if the industry would've rejected the Dreamcast sooner, Sega would be in a better financial situation these days.

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Post by Locit »

I think he was implying that at some point late in its life the Dreamcast was accepted by "the industry". Whatever that means.

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Post by Isuka »

Three words: assload of text (the Dreamcast section is still going through some rewriting at the end).

For the most part it's pretty obvious that SEGA had a lot more going against it from it's own inner self than from it's competition (actually I don't mean that Sony wasn't an economical threat, but it wasn't exactly such a dreadful and unstoppable monster back in 1994).
With some differences here and there it's pretty much like Sony nowadays and Nintendo before it... and Atari before Nintendo.

As for Sonic X-treme, it looked like some interesting title for that time when three-dimensional gaming was "searching for it's identity"; infact, X-treme would've drawn any and all competitive comparisons with Crash Bandicoot to itself, leaving NiGHTS into Dreams... free and away of such nonsense.
Also, it was said that maybe Sonic Adventure wouldn't be created if Sonic X-treme did launch. Given the fact that it could have potentially driven Saturn sales a good deal, as well as the two games were developed by completely different teams, I think that it would've only delayed SA's release date, infact giving Sonic Team more time to fine tune the game.

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