Former SEGA President Hideki Sato Says The Sega Genesis Was Made To "Beat Nintendo"

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During a short interview in the latest issue of Famitsu, former Sega president Hideki Sato talked about the launch of the SG-1000 – the company’s first console – and the tough time they had attempting to compete against Nintendo’s Famicom Disk System. He also talked about the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive’s early development, and how they really tried to take a share in the early video game console market.

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Sega’s former president Hideki Sato during a 1998 Developer Interview

A short excerpt from the Famitsu interview.

“In short, we just wanted to make a game console that could beat Nintendo. We released our very first video game console, the SG-1000, and it sold 160,000 units. Those were huge numbers, considering Sega has only made arcade games that sold no more than several thousand units up until then. However, it stood no chance against the Family Computer, which released on the same day…

Back then, we had some Sega employees check out department stores to see the product packaging and customer reaction, but instead what we saw were Family Computers flying off the shelves, right before our eyes. They said that it was about ten for every one who purchased the SG-1000.”

Additionally, Mr. Sato addressed some of the concerns he had with Sega’s software team and the company’s view on consoles.

“I thought the difference was in software. Honestly, the software quality wasn’t that great. The reason was because the company saw video game consoles as as an extra or bonus, in a sense. We couldn’t get our in-house development team to budge. We had no choice but to outsource the software, but against Nintendo’s fine software, it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Ultimately, while the SG-1000 was developed to “beat Nintendo”, it was simply the starting point which lead to the development and release of Sega’s first true competitive console – the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive – which launched with better graphics and processing power compared to Nintendo’s Famicom System.

You can read the full interview with Mr. Sato on Siliconera.

Hideki Sato served as the president of Sega from 2001 to 2003 but helped in creating
many of the Sega’s first hardware – including the SG-1000, Master System, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, and the Dreamcast.

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It’s surprising to hear that Sega, who was once a giant in the console industry, had to rush to get a console out to compete with Nintendo – only to be out-matched when it came to sales and software. But it all worked out in the end, as they went on to create some classic games and characters, such as the now iconic Sonic the Hedgehog.

And that’s it! What’s your take on this rather interesting news? What’s your fondest memory of Sega consoles? Did you own a Genesis/Mega Drive back in the day? Leave a comment down below. Give us any suggestions or feedback you have there, too.

Thanks for reading!

-Kanoa Howell

Further Reading/Sources

Former Sega President Talks About Making The Mega Drive To “Beat Nintendo”: http://www.siliconera.com/2018/11/05/former-sega-president-talks-about-making-the-mega-drive-to-beat-nintendo/

Kanoa Howell

Gamer, Anime Fanatic, Aspiring Voice Actor, and Writer, once you know me you can't forget me.

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