By Akshat Ambekar
Sega is well known for its video game characters and consoles like the Sonic franchise and Prince of Persia. What you might not know is how the company began.
The franchise Sega originated as a game makers company for the US army in 1946. The name is an abbreviation of Service Games the service, for military service, and the Games, because they made slot machines and pinball machines at US military bases.
However, in 1952 the US banned slot machines at their bases as they were too distracting for the soldiers. So they started making them in Japan and were bought by the Japanese company Rosen Enterprises, becoming SEGA Enterprises or just SEGA. Then in 1965, the arcade machine gag began and everyone started making more and more machines. Games like Space Invaders, Dig Doug, and Donkey Kong were all the rage at that time.
This went on for Sega, the most successful game company until 1983 when in Japan, the company known as Nintendo created the Famicom at home console and Sega decided to compete. They provided Nintendo’s only competition until 1994. But this is about SEGA and when they saw Nintendo’s success with the Famicom, they released the SG-1000.
This is where it’s going to get a bit technical. The first console (SG-1000) used 8-bit graphics (and I’m mostly going to be focusing on the graphics and storage capabilities of the consoles in comparison to the sales games and other stuff that isn’t technologically based, so keep that in mind). It was a high-quality graphic design for the time because no other medium could even produce anything near the scope of the SG-1000 and the NES, but it was still very limited as it consumed too much storage and the graphics, while unavailable anywhere else, we’re still not the greatest.
However, this changed when Nintendo put up ads for their newest consoles, the SNES in the west and Super Famicom in the east. They used 16-bit graphics instead of 8 bit and that was a HUGE STEP-UP from 8 bit. It would be like if they went from 440p to 4k. That’s how much of a difference it was.
In response, SEGA made the Sega master system which used 16-bit graphics as well. This was around the time that Sega started to fall behind Nintendo. released the SEGA Game Gear which flopped, and was their first handheld device but with 8-bit graphics. Then SEGA released its final console that sold over 10 million copies, The Sega Genesis. The SEGA Genesis used 16-bit graphics which were even better than the master systems. They also started using CDs with the CD Addon for the SEGA Genesis, because of its better storage capabilities, and because they were smaller than cartridges. The cartridge could store a lot of games but it was tedious to keep around and CD’s were overall just much more compact.
After the release of the SEGA Dreamcast, SEGA’S decline turned into an avalanche, and they just couldn’t keep up with the demand, especially with the new PlayStation and Xbox. So finally, in 2004, they were bought by Sammy Corp for 2 billion dollars with Nintendo buying the rights to Sonic and its other games in 2007.
SEGA isn’t nearly as prominent as they were but they do still release games like Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games, and other titles mostly to do with Sonic.
The story of SEGA is a quick one that nonetheless has a sad ending, at least we can be satisfied knowing that Nintendo kept on going with SEGA’S IP.
“Evolution of Sega Consoles.” YouTube, YouTube, 24 Apr. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpYBdZkpYg4&t=80s.
Robbs, Matt. “Was Sega Bought by Nintendo? (Who Owns Them?).” Retro Only, Retro Only, 31 Aug. 2021, retroonly.com/was-sega-bought-by-nintendo/#:~:text=After%20that%2C%20in%202004%2C%20the,of%20investors%20for%20%2438%20million.
Saberspark. “What Ruined Sega? – the Fall of an Empire.” YouTube, YouTube, 8 Dec. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=GH7R2PEvzXo.