Is Sega the most underappreciated company in gaming?

I was going through some boxes in my garage earlier and came across a Wolverine comic book. It was issue #88 – December – 1994. On the cover, Magneto appears to have defeated Wolverine and is holding his lifeless body overhead. I have this comic a bunch of times and I just couldn’t help but to read it again. Good times.

 

As I read through the pages, I came across some advertisements for the Sega Genesis. It reminded me of a very different time. A time where Sega was a major household name for game consoles. The biggest question was always “do you have Sega or Nintendo?” My answer? “Both.” 

 

Nintendo was always the more popular of the two consoles back then. Sega consoles were awesome, but Nintendo had the edge until the Sony PlayStation was released. Console war stuff aside, I look back at what Sega brought to the table and if you aren’t familiar with the companies endeavors, you might be surprised to hear that Sega was (at least in my opinion) the most innovative company the game industry has ever seen to this day. That’s a lot to swallow, but hear me out.

 

When it came to consoles, Sega really put in a lot of work into giving gamers more than they were really ready for, but would eventually adopt in the future. They brought us Sega CD and the amazing Sega Game Gear. When they really began to understand and utilize disc based games with Sega Dreamcast, it was sadly too late. With the high cost of manufacturing the Dreamcast and less than stellar sales, Sega had opted out of the console industry and became a game publisher instead. 

 

The one angle most important imprint Sega really had on the industry, though, was the Sega Channel! Sega Channel just happened to debut at the same time that Wolverine comic was released. December, 1994. Coincidence? It did lead me to writing this article and I just now found out that both the comic and Sega Channel debuted in the same time frame. What are the odds? 

 

Back on track here. Sorry for the detour. As I was saying, Sega Channel might be the important thing Sega did back in the day. It was the Netflix of games. For $15.00 (USD) per month, you would get 50 games to play on your genesis every month. The games available would rotate out each month and often rotate back in. Using an adapter that was hooked up through coax cable, you would just put the adapter into your Sega Genesis like it was a game and press power. A menu with all the games available was simple and we just clicked and played. 

 

The service entered homes before the internet became a common household utility, but after 3+ years of operation, Sega Channel came to an end. While it would seem that Sega Channel ultimately failed as a Pay to Play service, it literally created the stepping stones of what we have for streaming services today. PS Plus, Xbox Live, Netflix, Hulu, even traditional cable companies offer some type of streaming service. Sega knew what the future would bring, but they tried to bring it a little early.

 

Sega was working on amazing tech, but innovation didn’t make up for what the company lacked. For starters, they didn’t really know how to sell what they had. I mean, they know they had something special, but I don’t think they knew how to convince the world it was something we needed. Honestly, they needed Steve Jobs and if anyone could have saved them at the time, it would have been him. 

 

The other issue that could very well have been one of their biggest mistakes, was not knowing how to utilize Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic was and still is an awesome character. Sega just doesn’t know how to use him yet. I say yet because they still miss the mark with the Blue Blur today. Sonic has potential, but Sega limits him. The first 3 games featuring Sonic are great, but it really goes downhill from there. It’s either the same old, same old or when they do try and innovate Sonic, it’s just not that good for the most part. Get it together Sega! 

 

Sega’s missteps aside, this is a company that just isn’t talked about enough. Sony, Microsoft and even Nintendo owe a big thanks to Sega for having the guts to take big risks and almost lose it all, in order to pave the way for what we know as the gaming industry today. Under appreciated and almost forgotten. We owe a lot of thanks to Sega as gamers in general. Sorry we didn’t buy enough of your products, but thanks for making them anyway. 

 

What game consoles did you grow up playing? I have had just about every console I can think of since the Atari 2600. E.T., not so good times, but yes, I played it after picking it up from a yard sale and it just didn’t make sense. But that’s a story for another time. Thanks for reading and be sure to share your thoughts in the comments!

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