SEGA’s strange habit of building up a franchise, forgetting about it, and then revisiting it when it’s too late

SEGA has done many, many things that have baffled the gaming world over the years. For example, most of the company’s systems (SG-1000, SEGA CD, 32X, Saturn) were only on the market for a few years and were poorly supported with software. In recent years the company has developed a penchant for rushing unfinished games out the door, placing the emphasis on cash flow and not quality or long-term customer satisfaction.

However, the strange SEGA behavior that baffles me most is their strange habit of establishing a franchise, forgetting about it, and then revisiting it when it’s too late. The examples are ABUNDANT.

ALEX KIDD
alex kidd art
– this guy was once SEGA’s mascot, starring in several games on Master System and one on Genesis. Then Sonic emerged and SEGA forgot all about Mr. Kidd, even though he was SEGA’s highest seller in the Master System days. To date, Alex Kidd has actually not been resurrected.

WONDER BOY/MONSTER WORLD
wonder boy art
– another name brand series from the olden days. Wonder Boy/Monster World was never megapopular but it was a consistent seller with 6 total games available between SG-1000, Master System, Genesis and the arcade. The series died in 1994, never to return.

TOE JAM & EARL
toe jam and earl art
– a very popular and beloved series with 2 installments on the Genesis and then nothing until the Xbox. I don’t get it – didn’t they think Saturn or Deamcast sales would have benefited from an installment?

STREETS OF RAGE
streets of rage art
– I really don’t understand this one. If vgchartz.com is to be believed, there were only about a dozen million-sellers on the Genesis. Of those, only six were published by SEGA and only one of those wasn’t a Sonic game. That game was the original ‘Streets of Rage’. It was followed by a couple of sequels and ports to the other SEGA systems and then the series was allowed to die.

GOLDEN AXE
golden axe art
– The original was a really big arcade hit and also popular on the Genesis. There was an arcade-specific sequel and 2 Genesis-exclusive sequels, plus Zelda-ish spin-offs on Master System and Game Gear plus a Street Fighter-like spin-off on Saturn. And then one of SEGA’s most recognizable franchises was allowed to die, only to be brought back in an extremely subdued manner several years later with a completely ignored Game Boy Advance game. This year, finally SEGA tried to bring the series back in style with a new next gen installment, but everyone hated it.

ECCO
ecco the dolphin art
– Ecco was one of the most famous Genesis series but old SEGA seemed to have forgotten about it during the Saturn years. Seriously, did they just forget about everything in the Saturn years? A new installment was released for Dreamcast, which was actually semi-well received. Then SEGA put the series to rest and Ecco developer Appaloosa went on to make a Jaws game!

SONIC
sonic the hedgehog art
– Yes! I said Sonic! Once again, because of the Saturn era. SEGA REALLY decided to limit the Saturn’s chances by failing to provide an original game in the main Sonic series. Instead, Saturn received an upgrade of the Genesis title ‘Sonic 3D Blast’, a racing game called ‘Sonic R’ (which I must confess to liking), and a collection of the old Genesis titles which featured a hubworld that featured a fully 3D Sonic and environment that felt like a miniature, Sonic themed, version of ‘Super Mario 64’. In other words SEGA said, “Well, we basically started a new Sonic game but we quit. Here’s a compilation of old games.”

PANZER DRAGOON
panzer dragoon art
– A popular series on the Saturn (by Saturn standards), SEGA didn’t manage to bother releasing an installment for Dreamcast.

There are probably many more examples that I’m forgetting. The moral of the story is that SEGA just didn’t seem to get it. Strictly from a business standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to establish a popular series and then forget about it when you release a new console. Really, any new console is vulnerable, which is why Nintendo attempts to stack so many of their big franchises in the first year and a half or so of a console’s release. Some of the series on this list probably couldn’t have helped the Saturn but imagine if SEGA had released a first-year lineup that included Sonic, Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, Toejam & Earl, and Ecco? It wouldn’t have guaranteed success but it sure would have helped.

kicknz

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