Sonic the Hedgehog was to blame for the failure of the Sega Saturn – Sega’s 32-bit follow-up to the Mega Drive that was supposed to rival the very first Sony Playstation.
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Or at least that’s what Tom Kalinske, the not-in-anyway bitter former CEO of Sega America, reckons.
First released in 1994, the Saturn lasted just four years before being discontinued amid disappointing sales and increased market competition from Sony.
Kalinske reckons the real reason the console failed to inspire much confidence among gamers, however, was down to the lack of a Sonic the Hedgehog game created specifically for the Saturn.
Speaking in an interview with Polygon.com, Kalinske revealed that the key flaw came with the decision to launch the console despite no Sonic titles being ready for sale.
Worse still, Sega would never go on to rectify this mistake, with Sonic failing to ever make an appearance on the doomed system which was, in hindsight, a bullet dodged for the Big Blue Bastard.
I think they just didn’t understand how powerful Sonic was in the western world. I mean, it’s kind of a strange thing to say, because they could certainly see the sales numbers and the amount of revenue that was produced, and the passion that players and users had towards the Sonic character, and the TV shows, and the comics and, you know, everything else that [came with] the licensing.
Kalinske estimated that the original Sonic game, released back in 1991, and its two sequels accounted for roughly 50 per cent of the revenue generated on the original Mega Drive – known as the Genesis in the US.
I think we probably would have been successful at a modest level without Sonic. I mean, it would have been better than it was, you know, before I joined the company, but I don’t think we could have possibly passed Nintendo in share of market. And I don’t think we would have reached about a billion and a half in revenue in the United States and 900 million in Europe without Sonic. So Sonic contributed tremendously to that. And certainly that made me a lot more successful.
Sega would go on to avoid making the same mistake with follow-up console the Dreamcast which boasted a veritable feature of Sonic games both good and shit. But, in truth, the damage had been done by the failure of the Saturn.
On a slightly more positive note, you can now listen to all of your favourite Sega soundtracks on Spotify.