Lets Talk About Sega, The Game Gear Mini, And Your Reaction To It
- 8 minute read - 1588 words
Sega recently celebrated their 60th anniversary. This is great news for gamers of all walks of life. Congratulations Sega, and I really mean that.
They celebrated the occasion by harking back to one of the greatest characters in advertising from the last 30 years. I’m talking about this guy:
check out our earlier article on Segata Sanshiro here
Why is this so important? Because Segata Sanshiro is an important part of Sega’s legacy. In his final appearance he literally
and in a rather over-the-top manner, associated with over-the-top Japanese characters
saved Sega’s headquarters from a nuclear missile which was launched band of French terrorists.
… seriously, check out the video at the end of our previous article on him for proof.
The Legacy Continues
As a way of celebrating their 60th anniversary and looking back at their previous products, Sega produced several adverts for the Japanese market featuring a school student who was later revealed - through a series of flashbacks - to be the child of Segata Sanshiro. In this adverts he is seen using some of Sega’s older hardware - the Sega VR glasses, playing a Game Gear in class
interestingly, one of his classmates asks whether it is a Switch
and carrying a Sega Saturn on his back.
All of this created a way of positive nostalgia towards Sega’s legacy, some of their best titles and pieces of kit, and accidentally kick-started a wave of rumours in the West. We’ll come onto that in a moment.
Then Sega announced that they were going to celebrate their 60th with a brand new product. Exactly what that product was going to be, they didn’t say. Preferring to fuel the hype machine rather than give away specifics. This, in my opinion, was a bad move and reflects the fact that Sega has never really been good at PR. For proof of that, take a look back at how they advertised the Dreamcast in the US and the UK.
In the US, there were strange posters put up everywhere. These posters didn’t really convey anything about what “Dreamcast” was, or even that it was a Sega product:
Worse still, the UK PR was limited to getting the name “Dreamcast” on the front of the Arsenal football club player’s shirts:
And that was it. There are allegorical tales of the Western arm of Sega wasting up to 18 months of advertising budget on those two things alone.
Sure, the videos featuring Segata Sanshiro’s progeny were great and even managed to hit you in the feels once or twice
not to mention the fact that they were created in very simple Japanese, making it impossible to translate them incorrectly
But what came afterwards was a complete disaster. However, they weren’t entirely to blame for it.
What Happened Next?
So Sega announced that they were making a new product, but didn’t say what. What could go wrong with that? Well, let’s look at what actually went wrong:
Within hours there were videos all over YouTube with creators claiming that they’d heard it was going to be a new Dreamcast console. The Internet equivalent of “some bloke down the pub told me…” has always been “my uncle works in video games” or “the rumour is…”. And these rumours are almost always created by some person on some forum who is trying to say something like:
Wouldn’t it be great if it were a Dreamcast 2
but likely with more spelling issues, and not as well worded
The problem with this is that it only takes one person to incorrectly quote them in a single tweet for the great Internet machine to wake up and start the postulation device. This leads to - and certainly did in this case - hundreds of YouTube videos being created almost instantaneously, all with the same message:
Dreamcast 2 Confirmed!
This created a level of hype which Sega would never be able to live up to and potentially never be able to recover from
in the West, at least
because they weren’t (and likely never will be) working on a Dreamcast 2. Sega of Japan all but confirmed, back in the late 90s that they wanted to get out of the home console business as quickly as possible because of the absolute failure that was the Saturn
in the West, at least
Bernie Stollar - who was VP of Sega of America at the time - has confirmed this on several occasions. In fact, it’s something that he is asked about in almost every video gaming interview he’s ever done. My favourite retelling of this is in Andrew Dickinson’s “Dreamcast: Year One”
we interviewed him about the book not so long back, and you can listen to it here
Essentially, Sega of Japan didn’t want to release any new hardware after the Saturn and wanted to do everything that they could to make Bernie’s ideas come crashing down. After the Dreamcast was officially end-of-life’d, less than three years after it was released, Sega actually entered into a deal with Microsoft to help them create the Xbox. And if you look at the Xbox hardware, the controllers, the aim - recreate arcade-perfect titles on home consoles - you can see the echoes of the Dreamcast. You might say that the Xbox was, indeed, the Dreamcast 2.
Why All The Hate? What Did Sega Actually Do?
Sega announced that they were going to release a series of Game Gear Micro devices. There would be four colours, and each device would hold a different subset of games. Meaning that if you wanted to play them all, you’d have to buy them all.
These devices sure are small. How small? Here’s one “in-situ” as it where:
Naturally, YouTubers got bent out of shape about this announcement. In fact, it was precisely those YouTubers who had started and perpetuated the “rumour” of a new Dreamcast who were yelling the most. Which is bonkers, really.
I think that more level headed folks said it best when:
And I could not agree more. If Nintendo had done it, folks would be claiming that it’s the best thing since sliced bread. But because it’s not the Dreamcast 2, folks reacted as though the sky was falling. Which is what I meant by this:
I think you’ll all agree that that single tweet was the progenitor of this blog post.
But That Wasn’t Even It
The most interesting point about this whole debacle was that the Game Gear Micro was a side announcement. It wasn’t even the main attraction. What Sega really wanted to wow people with was a new system that they are calling “fog gaming”.
“The fog” is a real term from software development
aside from working on the Waffling Taylors, I’m also a computer programmer
albeit a weirdly named one. The idea behind fog computing is that you use “edge” devices to do all of the heavy lifting rather than using the Internet backbone. That’s a bit of a complicated way of saying “low powered machines, closer to you than the servers”. If you’ve ever heard of or used a CDN, that’s what it is.
For folks who haven’t heard of a CDN, imagine that they could bring the server closer to your house. So close, in fact, that your ping times effectively drop to almost 0. By having the servers physically located closer to you, the data transfer rate feels faster because it doesn’t have so far to travel.
Anyway, “fog gaming” is essentially a way of using idle arcade machines to stream video game content to home consoles. It’s actually quite smart, but not entirely a new idea. It’s very similar to Folding@Home
using the spare cycles of your CPU and GPU to help with research into protein folding and other medical research
Who Is To Blame?
So their actual news story was buried by the reaction of YouTubers who were incensed that Sega didn’t announce the thing that they wanted to them to announce. Just think about that for a second.
I totally get that the Dreamcast was an innovative machine. I had one myself, back when they came out, and I absolutely loved it. In fact, I continue to play Dreamcast games - although via emulation, as Squidge has my OG Dreamcast these days - on the regular. I had a lot of fun playing the games that came out for it, and I love learning about the new games which are still being released for it.
one of these days, I’ll get hold of the dev kit, flex my C-based muscles, and create something for it
But in the words of Gregory House:
Well, like the philosopher Jagger once said: "You can’t always get what you want."
Who is to blame for these YouTubers and Twitter users being upset? They are, for perpetuating the “rumour” that wasn’t even vaguely reflective of reality.
As Terry Pratchett once said:
A lie can get around the world before the truth has managed to get it’s trousers on
As my old Dad used to say:
Leave a comment in the section on this page and let us know what you liked, what you didn’t like and which games you’d like to hear us waffle on about next time.