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Tom Kalinske Explains Why He Left Sega Of America - Time Extension

Discussion in 'General Sega Discussion' started by jubbalub, Dec 4, 2022.

  1. doc eggfan

    doc eggfan

    Are you pondering what I'm pondering? Wiki Sysop
    GreatMegaLD, GreatSC3k, Great SG1k
    It was the only plan that made sense. Once it was determined that the 32X needed its own power supply, it might as well have shipped as a brand new console rather than an upgrade. By releasing it as an upgrade, you've limited your potential market to people who already own mega drives and just shot yourself in the foot.

    I understand there was a desire to maintain brand loyalty and to not infuriate people by replacing the mega drive so quickly after it really only gaining mainstream success 2 years prior, but you could have achieved the same thing by making the Jupiter backwards compatible with the Mega Drive - the same tactic they had been using with every successive generation since the SG-1000. It still dumbfounds me that the Saturn abandoned backwards compatibility.

    The only way a 32X style add-on concept would have worked is if it was something that could work without its own dedicated power supply. Something like a Sonic and Knuckles cartridge with Virtua Racing's SVP chip inside probably would have worked. You could have had a series of enhanced games like the SuperFX series on the SNES, but without making people pay for an expensive cartridge every time. It could have been sold like the N64 RAM expansion pack
  2. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    Not to turn this into a 32X topic, but contemporary views on the system were more along the lines of "where's the software?" rather than "the hardware sucks". Six months after launch all 32X development had essentially dried up - there was no software. That's bad.

    Obviously its whole existence is questionable, but it's relatively sound thinking - sell a 32-bit upgrade to your sucessful 16-bit machine at less than half the price of a Saturn, a year (or, as it transpired, six months) earlier. It's the Xbox Series S of 1994 - the theoretically cheapest way to get into next generation gaming. You laugh at it, but it sells more than you think.

    But again, no software. It's like Sega of America only budgeted for the nine months or so before the Saturn's planned launch, not realising that half the projects would be cancelled and the third-parties would drop support like a stone. So you don't pay less - you pay more, because lol get a Saturn now.
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  3. It's easy to say SEGA should have done this or that. In the end, I believe both SEGA America and Japan were trying their best and doing their upper most to do what they thought was right and their best. My biggest issue with Tom, is rather than just coming out and saying I made the wrong call, he looks to try and deflect all blame or responsibility and then comes up with how he and SONY could have worked on a system together; It's so much like a typical sales rep or a football manager.. Take call the credit for the good, but none of the bad and look to blame the 'evil' owners, when things go wrong.

    Honestly back at the time, I wanted SEGA to go with the Saturn and Jupiter plan, that made the most sense to me. I could see that in 1994 lots of people were getting bored of 16-bit gaming (other than Snes fans who were 2 years behind even SEGA) You could see it in mag reviews, shows like Gamesworld and how even the reviewers were getting bored of the same style of 2D games that scrolled from right to left, would read in EDGE and other mags the decline in sales and how many unsold carts the likes of SEGA had. I could see that with my friends we crew up on the ZX Spectrum and had enjoyed 16 bit gaming with the Atari ST and MD and wanted polygons , not more MD graphics or Add ons

    I wanted SEGA to totally drop all software support for the MD in 1994 and put everything it had into Saturn & Arcade development and all projects moved up, even games like Comix Zone, Vectorman Ect and. I also wanted SEGA to bring Sonic CD to the Saturn with better FMV and bonus stages and to thrown in Sonic the Arcade, ready for the USA launch. Those are what I wanted at the time and that's the GOD's honest truth.

    With the benefit of hindsight, there maybe could have been a case of a S&K style cart, with a SVP that would allow MD users to enjoy a powerboost and only pay once for the SVP chip.
    But I was done with the MD and for me (at that time) 5 years is more than enough for any console .
  4. doc eggfan

    doc eggfan

    Are you pondering what I'm pondering? Wiki Sysop
    GreatMegaLD, GreatSC3k, Great SG1k
    This discussion has given me an idea that I will never have time to actualise. I'd love to make a game where you're in charge of Sega during the 90s (yeah I know SGGG exists), and you can play out every "what if" scenario you could ever dream of. The catch is that there is no win state and every alternative history scenario leads to failure. Ludicrous add-on route = failure. Be more patient like Nintendo, bake the Saturn in the oven a little longer = lose user base to new competitors. Launch new console early = hardware underpowered against future competitors. Dreamcast with DVD playback = hemorrhage money twice as fast. Every alternative decision had pros and cons. Maybe I'm too pessimistic, but I don't think there was a path for Sega to survive even if they made all of the right decisions.
  5. Nintendo weren't that patient with the SNES mind, they dropped it like a stone as soon as the N64 launched and if not for a delay, the N64 would have come out in 1995, so the SNES support from Nintendo would have been even less and Nintendo didn't look to wait around when the Cube was ready either. Its a misconception that Nintendo supports their hardware for longer than the likes of SEGA. Sure they might do on a hardware level, but making games in-house no quite so and look to make follow up consoles even sooner than SEGA did at times

    I agree with you mind on the DC having a DVD drive that would have bankrupted SEGA for sure. If I was to look back and be able to make soom changes that maybe wouldn't have killed SEGA and would may have been possible. I would have liked to seen SEGA as soon as the Mega CD 2 was made, for it to be all in one unit and that would then be the only Mega Drive unit SEGA would sell. The Saturn to have better launch tools and for its to have 3D transparent support and for the Saturn to have onboard sound compression - Those are the 2 main aera's, the PS really out did the Saturn (for a me) and to had had Sonic Team design and make a Sonic 3D instead of NiGHTS.

    On the DC I wished SEGA had kept the Saturn 3D pad and instead of the SH4, looked to have used the Power PC and instead of having WOW make SEGA GT had AM#2 to have made it using the F355 engine and looked to have had the World Wide Soccer team make a direct follow up on the DC.

    I really would have liked to seen SEGA buy CORE Desgin and Lobotomy back in the day too.
  6. Trippled


    my what if's fantasies of sega actually are just limited during their 3rd party years lol. if sega was just a fine and dandy 3rd party company with quality sonic games under it's name, this whole angle of discussion would not be as frequent.

    the industry back then was the wild west and nobody knew the right decisions. nintendo made it's own bad decisions, but there were not as numerous and costly as sega's. but at least sega outlived atari, 3DO etc. as a gaming brand.

    sega kind of did a stupid in how they supported the xbox. all those exclusives were failures. either they should have gone 100% with MS, and be bought out by them, or ignored them entirely and be like other publisher and supported the ps2 first and foremost (some of the gamecube exclusives made sense at least). and we know the ps2 was difficult to work with, which is why deadline oriented game development was also a big mistake which should have been avoided (ps2 version of sonic heroes etc.)
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2022
  7. Deathscythe


    Hmm, I'm not sure if they would have done better with GameCube or PlayStation 2. I know we Sega fans love IPs like Panzer Dragoon and Jet Set Radio, but they were never big sellers.

    Microsoft did throw a bone by bundling JSRF/Sega GT 2002.
  8. Trippled


    We'll never know but we know that IP that debuted on PS2 and Gamecube, enjoyed a much longer life. Monkey Ball, PSO, Virtua Fighter, Sakura Wars having entries even now, for example.
  9. Azookara


    yup Member
    I really love this topic and it keeps coming up over time, so I feel like one of us needs to make a topic about the 'what if's if we haven't already... hell, I may have and forgot.

    Anyways yeah I've always felt Tom Kalinske was a hack. Nothing he says holds under much scrutiny; I mean you guys remember him and Madeline Shroeder trying to take credit for creating Sonic 'as we know it', right?
  10. It's not like all of SEGA's early PS2 stuff sold well either. I was amazed at the relatively lowish sales of VF4 on the PS2 and it wasn't like Yakuza was a massive hit at the start. You're so right we will never know. Though I can't help but feel Skies of Arcadia and Shenmue 2 may have done better on the PS2?

    It was seeing the 10% complete JSRF at E3 2001 on SKY TV that made me decide on the XBox, after not knowing which platform to go with next as my main one with SEGA pulling out and been a Xbot ever since

  11. MastaSys


    My two cents?

    Kalinske always claimed it was him against SOJ, taking advantage of the language barrier to sell his stories of absolute perfect success.

    As as the world became smaller and smaller with time, history flows better and now we know that Nakayama was way more supportive of him than originally was let on.

    This is just a new attempt to control the narrative, pretty obvious how he's trying to sell this as a new story when everybody that was looking at it for years already knew it.
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  12. Gryson


    Here are my "what if" and hindsight-inspired thoughts regarding the Saturn (keeping the hardware unchanged):
    • Sega and Nintendo could never beat Sony, no matter what changed. Sega and Nintendo saw their consoles first and foremost as means to sell their own games. Third parties hated this because they were always at a disadvantage and had to give money to their competitors. Sony gave third parties a hardware platform dedicated to them with a revolutionary software distribution system, low royalties, and strong development support.
    • Sega never had a long-term chance in Japan, because the Japanese market at the time was determined solely by which platform Square and Enix published on, and they were never going to choose Sega over Sony.
    • Sega had a chance in North America, if:
      • SOA immediately got fully on board with the Saturn in 1993.
      • All (or nearly all) software development shifted to the Saturn in both Japan and North America. Japan shifted more focus to titles for the Western market (in place of 32X development).
      • Yuji Naka and STI began work on a showcase Saturn Sonic title after Sonic 2 (Saturn dev hardware wasn't ready, but they could have simulated it on workstations like with Panzer Dragoon). They were already working on a 3D Sonic at the time (with the SVP chip), so the timing would have been great.
      • SOA worked on funding some strong second party Saturn titles like Doom. A good Doom port on the Saturn early on could have been a killer title.
      • SOA helped build up the Saturn's development libraries and hardware. I think they were better positioned to realize how vital this was and could have made a big impact.
      • The Saturn launched simultaneously in North America and Japan at the end of 1994, as originally intended. With launch titles including Sonic, Doom, Virtua Fighter, and more, it could have carried some strong momentum into 1995 when Sony launched in North America.
    Sega might have been able to survive in North America (like Nintendo). The key was for SOA to support the Saturn more, rather than rejecting it in favor of the 32X and in the belief that the Genesis would still be healthy from 1994. The Saturn hardware was difficult to work with, but I think it was good enough to see Sega maintain a healthy market performance.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2022
  13. Deathscythe


    Monkey Ball I'll give you, but VF and SW were big IPs so already so not naturally they performed better. I reckon something like VF4 would have done well on Xbox, considering DOA3 (3D fighting game by Japanese developer) did.
  14. Trippled


  15. One could have said that about a lot of SEGA 3rd party stuff tbh. I really didn't see VF4 doing better on the XBox, it should have been on all Platforms IMO. I remember when Outrun 2 flopped on the XBox, many saying it should have been on the PS2, whenOutrun 2006 comes out on the PS2 it doesn't sell much better and its not like a lot of SEGA stuff sold well on the PS2. I don't remember the likes of REZ, Blood Will Tell selling that great and SEGA Rally 2006 was a bitter disappointment and the less saod about Nighshade the better

    Looking back, it may have been better if SEGA team lead on the OG Xbox (so you get the best gfx and sound) but ported all their games to the other systems, for the best possible sales.
    Its so sad what happned to the SEGA and the XBox mind. I remember Smilebit saying that had another 4 games in devlopment for the system, but were dropped; I'm sure one of which ended up becoming Yakuza
  16. Deathscythe


    Interesting, I found this thread of Sega PS2/GC/Xbox NPD sales:

    Nintendo Gamecube | Total |
    SONIC ADVENTURE 2 BATTLE |1,275,344|
    SUPER MONKEY BALL 2 | 772,289 |
    SUPER MONKEY BALL | 735,776 |
    SONIC HEROES | 685,995 |
    SONIC ADVENTURE DX | 671,447 |
    SHADOW THE HEDGEHOG | 257,004 |
    PHANTASY STAR ONLINE I & II | 190,204 |
    BILLY HATCHER | 170,259 |
    NFL 2K3 | 142,516 |
    NBA 2K3 | 101,606 |

    Microsoft Xbox | Total |
    NFL 2K3 | 303,929 |
    SONIC HEROES | 266,425 |
    HOUSE OF THE DEAD III | 219,225 |
    ESPN NFL FOOTBALL | 205,615 |
    NBA 2K3 | 186,314 |
    ESPN NBA BASKETBALL | 155,937 |
    PANZER DRAGOON ORTA | 129,625 |
    NBA 2K2 | 119,135 |
    NCAA FOOTBALL 2K3 | 114,799 |
    CRAZY TAXI 3 | 107,535 |
    NFL 2K2 | 103,847 |
    JET SET RADIO FUTURE | 101,533 |

    Sony Playstation 2 | Total |
    NFL 2K3 | 843,955 |
    VIRTUA FIGHTER 4 | 624,607 |
    SONIC HEROES | 613,207 |
    NBA 2K2 | 467,481 |
    NBA 2K3 | 407,515 |
    NFL 2K2 | 359,799 |
    SHINOBI | 288,046 |
    VIRTUA FIGHTER 4 EVO | 284,621 |
    ESPN NFL FOOTBALL | 222,621 |
    ESPN NBA BASKETBALL | 207,343 |
    NCAA FOOTBALL 2K3 | 186,172 |
    SHADOW THE HEDGEHOG | 184,012 |

    Seems to be a recourring pattern of the only games selling well being Sonic, Sports, Monkey Ball and VF4. Don't think a change of platform would have really changed much.

    Edit: Hmm, actually I do notice some subtle differences. Look at the difference in sports games for examples.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2022
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  17. I see Tom Kalinske is back with ever lies and spin in the Bug documentary

    To make out that SEGA of Japan blocked SEGA America from making a Joe Montana game is for the birds and I tell you why Fifa was on the Saturn early Tom, it was because you were too busy getting it for the 32X. To this day he still wouldn't admit that his call to go BIG with the 32X was the big cock up and what really cost SEGA 32-bit battle.

    It was a shame SOJ didn't allow Realtime to make an early Sonic game mind. I get why you would look to have an internal team to handle such an important project, but Realtime Associates would have done a far better job of it than STI, so would have Travellers Tails IMO. For me all In-House Mega Drive software should have been stopped in 1994 and the teams moved to Saturn the Sonic Team should have had no choice but to make a Sonic game early in, even if was the Japanese side who worked on Sonic CD and Chaotixs

    Its a real shame what happened with Bug. I thought it could have been something really special, but it was just too hard for its own good and you should have been able to save at every checkpoint and they should have been more of them.
  18. Ch1pper


    Fighting the Battle of Who Could Care Less Member
    A Bug documentary? Could we get a link please?

    Also, your hateboner for SoA is strong. I can kind of agree with your general idea, but your rants about them... you seem to take it so personally.
    Yes, the American bigwigs' impressions of trying to rewrite history to better shine in their favor are laughable, but like, thinking about the actual games and teams below them that worked on that stuff? Maybe cut 'em a bit of slack? (shrugs) It's just kind of jarring, is all.
  19. The Joebro64

    The Joebro64

    Not to mention Tom Kalinske is approaching 80 and recounting things that happened three decades ago, he’s obviously not going to get every single detail correct. I don’t think assuming bad faith for everything he says is a healthy mindset.
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  20. Azookara


    yup Member
    I feel like listening to what Tom has to say, but taking it with a hefty grain of salt, is the right way to go about it.

    He seems to want to try to tell the stories best he can, but he also has a legacy to upkeep. One that has obscured the truth about Sega's history pretty heavily to the western world, so I understand the ire. But it's not like everything that comes out of his mouth is lies, either.

    All this said, I'm glad Realtime Associates didn't get the rights to making a Sonic game. STI wasn't the pick and neither were they (Bug doesn't look or play too far from Xtreme in the first place). Sonic Team was the only right answer for making the first 3D Sonic. Even if TT were involved, Sonic Team would've had to lead the way. Not a soul overseas had any idea what ST did to make the classic games work. Asking them to translate that into 3D was an impossible task.