I know that this petition has been up for quite a long time (since 2006) and that with my (at time of posting) petition being the most recent to date – that would have been as little as 461 signatures. The target is 200,000 signatures.
461 signatures! 200,000 is the target! Either that the publicity for this petition has not been widely heard even in today’s forest of blogs and web journals and whatever you bother to call it; or that consumers everywhere are simply thinking that it simply won’t work and then giving up.
Here’s what I think – signing the petition costs almost nothing towards your internet usage (you’d probably be surfing some inane celebrity news about the latest Britney Spears oddities or whatever…) and think of it as a productive riposte towards making the boring choice of deciding whether to buy the X-box 360 or the Playstation 3 or the Nintendo Wii. Let’s add another console to the market courtesy of the sleeping giant Sega and show the world that competition for prices would be good for consumers all around.
Obviously one competitor is going to fall by the roadside and end up like the Atari Jaguar console but such is the punishing world of business.
But I’d have to entertain you with more facts.
- 200,000 signatures alone may be even hard to convince the now software company to begin the costly R&D fundings needed to discover new, wonderful video game technology and to further explore the market and decide what the current video game market is actually most hungry for. Even then 200,000 signatures would at best indicate that only this number of consoles would eventually make its way into the homes of potential buyers, worldwide (That’s right, it’s a global figure and not just the US numbers). In video game console terms – this would be a flop and worse than other commercial flops such as Pepsi Blue (ugh) and ITV Digital. Sega’s worst-selling console to date (post video game crash of 1983), is the Sega CD with 6 million units sold in its support life. The next ‘flop’ would have been the Saturn (9.6 million units) and the cult-favourite Dreamcast console (10.6 million) but nothing beats the much-despised Sega 32-X with a sales figure too appalling to note. You may wonder that if a product could even reach a million purchasers, you’d have come out ahead. Sadly, in this age and time, a million consoles sold doesn’t indicate that the amount of video games to be sold would be around this figure. The astronomical sale of Playstation 2 consoles worldwide to the tune of 127 million units makes this figure almost impossible to beat for a long time yet. As and aside, we all know that the purpose of a company selling its own hardware is to maintain it exclusively for use with its own mutually exclusive software designed in-house. There would be no better platform for a video game company than to design its own games and then selling it for restricted usage on its own hardware. So, what I’m trying to say here is – 200,000 signatures is not enough; we need at least 5 million petitioners to make a difference and even then, it’s just rubbing shoulders with Sega’s hall of shame. We can do better than that! It’s not like Sega has already released a new console here and now and that the petition is a mere gloss to gauge the number of potential customers. Treat it like a survey and convince the folks at Sega that there is a definitely a market for it in the world of Xboxes etc.
- Sega has started a decline after their most recent summit in living memory with their Megadrive/Genesis console (29 million units sold) – their downward slide began successively with the Sega CD; the 32X; the Saturn and the Dreamcast. In short, nothing has gone right since the good old days of the Genesis. As a console buyer myself, I think that it’s reasonable to believe (even from hindsight) that this company has serious problems with its image as far as customer loyalty is concerned. No one wants to invest in a console with hard-earned money (recession may be afoot) and then watch helplessly as the console’s company declare that it would not be supporting it next summer. Still, I don’t think that there would be any doubting Thomases as to the potential quality of Sega’s products. Of course, one really doubts as to whether the same key personnel would still be there to steer the company to its once great heights – people like Yu Suzuki and Yuji Naka as the company’s objectives and goals have deviated largely from a console manufacturer to a sole software publisher and developer. The R&D people have been long gone…But – where there’s a will, there’s a way. Sega is still a rather respected name in the video game world – just look at Youtube’s comments about Sega’s games to see what I mean and you can see all that boost of sentimentality eventually convincing them to cough up the dough and do that. There’s a popular saying been bandied about – "if a problem involves money – then it’s not a problem". I’m a firm believer of this principle especially since my studies in the UK didn’t come cheap. Look at it this way – the company may have learnt from its past failures and start life anew. With Sega no longer at the forefront of the console market, everything done should be as meticulous as possible. There’s also the saying – those who are 2nd best (or 3rd or 4th best) succeed because they try harder to do so.
- Sega is now classified as a subsidiary company of Sega Sammy Holdings since 2004. Ultimately, decisions to develop a new console would require more than just the decision-makers of the powers that be in the subsidiary company but also the board of directors of the parent company as well. Simply put, if the BOD in Sega Sammy says "no, we’d have to invest more money into our flagging pachinko machines than investing in some upstart to the mature PS3-Wii-X-Box 360 market", then the idea would be just that – an idea. Still, if this petition works – it could possibly convince the Sega Sammy BOD that it could diversify its business and get ready to re-enter the console market. If we don’t try, we won’t ever know – the petition response may be overwhelming again despite the 2 year lull, who knows. Remember, businessmen are driven by profits and dollar signs not necessarily emotions and sentiments. Likewise, we can keep dreaming about the good old days but if we can do something about it becoming reality -why not take part in this miracle? After all, a new console about a possible Dreamcast followup was met with quite a buzz from the internet community.
- The late Sega former Chairman Isao Okawa once announced that the Dreamcast would be Sega’s last console. The transition has to be made from the old school style of developing your own machines and then writing games for them; to the new software and internet market which could be more lucrative in the long run, seeing that the age of multiplayer games (Starcraft and its expansion Brood War; Counterstrike; Unreal; Quake etc. ) could generate much more revenue from software sales rather than actually promoting the direct sales of PC hardware. You may recall that most PCs could last 3 years tops with a moderate-equipped system and easily 5-years with a high-end one. I’d my Voodoo Banshee (low-end gfx card) equipped system in 1999 and gasped its way into 2003 games with a great degree of effort but with conviction. In 2003, the Voodoo Banshee could still play FIFA 2002; Baldur’s Gate II and Return to Castle Wolfenstein with relative ease with most of the problem stemming from the low RAM rather than the VRAM. My point is – with hardware, you can get one system and forget it for another 3 years. That means, in a simplified way of looking at scheme of things – that no sales could be expected from a sector of customers for X number of years after they have acquired their choice of console(s). On the other hand, if you look at the marvelous way on how Sony managed to market its PS2 console and you’d get the opposite idea. Sure, Sony had the financial muscle to actively market the PS2 but it takes one thing to talk about a product and quite another thing to demonstrate that the new product could deliver the good things touted by Sony’s sales teams. 127 million is a staggering amount of consoles if you ask me and with the PS2 never close to coming cheap during its zenith before its slim edition. And the idea that a good stable of games is needed to sustain a console – we often read about consoles needing its killer-app. Think no further than Super Mario Bros for the old 8-bit Nintendo system; and the Sonic games for the Megadrive. These 2 games were watershed apps in their respective console’s history and can be said to help them sell well if not being the sole reason as to why these 2 machines broke all market expectations in the fickle but commanding US market. My summary is – old-fashioned or not; Sega needs a killer app to supplement its new console if it does release one. Saturn was rushed without a killer-app; Dreamcast addressed some issues with its Soulcalibur hit as did the expected new Sonic the Hedgehog release with each new console – "Sonic Adventure" but it did prove that Dreamcast has its own legion of fans if the right sort of games come along.
- Sega has the benefit of observing the market. All along – Sega was actually quite visionary in releasing new technology to the greedy world. Most of all, they’ve demonstrated that they have the pre-requisite hardware to show for it and not just some ambitious idea thrown into the air. The 32-X, for instance could have extended the Genesis/Megadrive life for another 1.5 years max and may also whet its customers’ appetites as to how the 32-bit world looks like from Sega’s perspective. The Sega Saturn doesn’t have that elusive Sonic the Hedgehog release – so it was their loss that time. Pin all the blame on the Sega Saturn if you like but apparently, the Genesis/Megadrive saga was the prelude to Sega’s downfall. The 32-X flopped after support for the its parent system was also dropped and a whole lot of angry Sega fans would wonder if the company’s management is still sane since the 32-X was supposed to extend the Genesis’ life; not prematurely end it even if it was in favour of a new console (the Saturn). You can see that Sony often waited until Sega has announced its releases before Sony decides to let loose their own secret weapons with the Playstation and PS2. Nintendo allowed all that overhyped Xbox 360 hoo-hahs to subside one year later before deciding that the time was right to join in the fray with Sony adapting their old market tricks with the PS3. The result? Wii is still able to compete with the Xbox 360 on a more or less equal footing although many online figures of sales are quite questionable with its high degree of inconsistency (According to Wikipedia, the Wii outsells the Xbox by close to 5 million units). Now, with Sega having all the time in the world to play the observer role, it’s quite possible for them to quietly survey the trends of video game consoles, which games are likely to sell well etc. However, I’m not short-sighted to acknowledge that Sega didn’t have any great games coming out for years now and it’d be quite a tall order to satisfy this requirement. Still, if the observation time has been put to good use….
So, there you go – there may be hope that Sega would release a new console or maybe not. I’d just say, give it a try and see how it goes. Perhaps, it’s possible that one day, the famous ‘Sega scream’ would one day grace homes again on another proud Sega console. Like I’ve said – you’ve got nothing to lose if you sign the petition and everything to win! Imagine that prices for the next gen consoles would be pared down if there is another competitor instead of the 3-horse race we see now.