Friday, July 01, 2016

Sega Saturn was a worse failure then Wii U

The Sega Saturn and the Wii U- both share so many similarities. Both were systems that were coming off of an unprecedented high for their respective companies (the Genesis and the Wii, respectively), both were systems that entirely failed to catch on, seeing a catastrophic decline in their marketshares, as well as a mass exodus of the third party support that had characterized their previous systems. Both saw their companies and their brands sink into near irrelevance, and both received some niche third party support. Both saw a huge loss of mindshare, and both saw their respective companies preparing to ditch them in just about four years, as they hurriedly readied successors.
The question is, which was the bigger failure?
Market Life- 3 years six months (in Japan), 3 years in North America, Less than 3 years in Europe and Australia
Total Damage- $1.07 billion lost
Best Territory- Japan, where the Sega Saturn actually went toe to toe with the PlayStation for at least 18 months, and received several high profile third party games
Games- Several- the Saturn received some niche but sought after titles from Japanese third parties that make it a desirable console for collectors today. Unfortunately, less than 1/4th of those games made it over to Japanese shores. Sega's own first party output also suffered on the Saturn- while Virtua Fighter II, NiGHTS, and Panzer Dragoon are undeniably great, the lack of a proper Sonic game, the persistent delays and cancellations of several high profile Sega games, as well as the fact that the first batch of Sega's games on the Saturn (notably the original Virtua Fighter) were buggy is inescapable
The Saturn ended up being a respectable second place to the PlayStation in Japan- think of it as the PS Vita to the 3DS's PlayStation in the country. However, in the west, it was a complete nonentity, selling less than 2 million units in the US, and less than a million in Europe. It had no market relevance or presence, no mindshare, and was dropped by several retailers publicly. It had an abysmal software attach ratio, and its highest selling game sold little over 2 million units worldwide.
Market Life- Still on market after 3 years and 2 months; unofficially projected to be 4 years
Total Damage- $190 million in net profits so far
Best Territory- North America
Games- Not a whole lot at all- the Wii U may go down as the mainstream console with the smallest retail game presence in history. Its retail games situation is roughly the same worldwide, unlike Saturn, which at least claimed some presence in Japan. It had a fair few high profile third party multiplatform games in its first year and a half, but then support entirely dropped up. That said, Nintendo's first party has been on fire on the Wii U, with several games that are widely considered to be the best in their series- such as Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. 4, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Super Mario Maker, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. In general, Nintendo has managed to maintain a steady and high standard of quality on the Wii U with their own games, ensuring that it has a small- but desirable- library. Third party exclusives, like The Wonderful 101, Monster Hunter 3, and Bayonetta 2, also help. Several high profile indie games on the Wii U also add to its library.
The Wii U has been a massive loss of marketshare and support for Nintendo- and it has no territory where it has done well (while the Wii U currently leads in Japan, and is overall in second place in several mainland European countries, such as Germany and France, this has not translated to third party support, like it did in the Saturn's case). However, it has not lost Nintendo any money overall (and certainly not lost as much money as Saturn did)- as a matter of fact, it's made Nintendo some money overall, and Nintendo has managed to keep the console retain some mindshare thanks to several high profile releases such as Splatoon and Mario Kart 8. It's also got some pretty respectable software sales, and it still has the highest selling exclusive game of this generation so far in Mario Kart 8. The Wii U's biggest blow will probably be in terms of long term third party support- whether or not the exodus of third parties it saw from Nintendo's platform is permanent or not remains to be seen.
Alright, so those are the facts, as they are, with as little commentary or editorializing as possible. Which one do you think was the bigger failure? And why?