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Creator / Sega
aka: Sega Pinball

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US Slogan, 1992-1995

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Once upon a time, Sega Games Co., Ltd., a big arcade video game company based in Tokyo, was part of the "big three" console developers, its main competition being Nintendo, and later Sony Interactive Entertainment (with the introduction of the PlayStation in 1994/1995). The company was founded in 1940 by Martin Bromley, Irving Bromberg and James Humpert in Hawai'i as Standard Games. Following World War II, the company was renamed to "Service Games," before relocating to Japan in the 1950s, when it became a creator and distributor of redemption games designed for overseas markets. As a result of these origins, many of their games are often designed for an international market (and as a side result, this is also why many of their games contain a lot of Engrish and spotty English voice work across different versions.) Sega moved into arcade game development in the 1960s, as U.S. governmental crackdowns on gambling machines and pinball, along with increased competition worldwide, made it difficult to turn a profit solely from redemption and slot games. At about this time, Sega was purchased by Gulf and Western, the owners of Paramount until 1989, and they would own Sega until 1984.

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In Japan, Sega Enterprises produced arcade pinball games from 1971-1973 and 1976-1979. Previously, most pinballs in Japan were made in the United States; these came with high prices due to import and shipping costs and cost 50 yen per game. In response, Sega Japan produced its own pinballs locally, lowering the price and appealing to Japanese gamers as a result. Unfortunately, Sega's poor field support eventually led to dissatisfaction from arcade operators, and they closed the pinball division in 1979.

At around the same time, Sega S.A. Sonicnote  (a.k.a. "Segasa"), the Spanish subsidiary, was introducing arcade games to Europe. Although they imported games from Williams Electronics and Sega Enterprises, Segasa also made their own pinball tables, becoming the only coin-op equipment legally produced in Spain at the time. Their pinball division lasted from 1974 through 1986.

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Sega also began developing arcade video games in The '70s, but did not find success until The '80s with worldwide hits like Space Harrier and OutRun. Sega also entered the console market when the Sega Master System (or more accurately, its' predecessors, the SG-1000 console and SC-3000 computer; the Master System would debut in 1986, as a Westernized variant on the successor to both console and computer, the Sega Mark III) was released on July 15, 1983. While it had little success in Japan and North America, the Master System became the console market leader in Europe and South America during the 8-bit era.

Sega eventually found some of its greatest success with the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis during the 16-bit era, and a marketable mascot in Sonic the Hedgehog provided a perfect rival for Nintendo's Mario. By the early '90s, Sega was the worldwide console market leader, everywhere except for Japan.

Behind the scenes, however, the company suffered from internal conflicts between Sega's Japanese head office (who were salty about being shown up by their foreign subsidiaries) and American/European branches. Lack of developer tools and support was a constant issue. What was available was expensive, poorly-documented and not always reliable.

This resulted in a string of failed hardware that eroded the company's star power. The only console they managed to get right was the Genesis. The portable Game Gear was superior to the competition, but it cost more and yes, it did keep the battery companies going. Backwards compatibility was another factor: The Sega CD and 32X were attempts to prolong the life of the Genesis. Both ended up as fodder for YouTube comedians. The Saturn was going to be the most advanced 2D system ever. But when it became known that the PlayStation was going to feature 3D graphics, there was a mad rush to slap 3D functionality onto the Saturn. The higher-ups at Sega tried to get a jump on the market and release the system several months early. At the event which was supposed to announce the release date, they literally announced that they were releasing the console right then.

The problem is, they didn't tell any of the game developers, who were just as surprised as the public. So the Saturn had a very limited number of launch titles, and a lot of developers who were pissed at Sega for leaving them out of the loop. Not helping matters was the Dreamcast, which was championed by the now-infamous Bernie Stolar. He pulled an Osborne with it: leaked info about the Dreamcast before the Saturn even went to market. The botched release of the Saturn killed their hardware business, and the Dreamcast was too little, too late. Ironically, the Saturn was Sega's biggest hit in Japan while simultaneously being their biggest flop in the Western world. Sega became a third-party developer on February 3, 2001, ending the company's 18-year run as a major hardware manufacturer.

Sega never got the major third-party support for their consoles that Nintendo and Sony received. In fact, a number of developers developed exclusively for Nintendo or Sony, meaning that Sega had to rely solely on their first-party games to bolster their library. Sonic the Hedgehog is wildly-popular, but beyond that, most fans would be hard-pressed to think of another Genesis-exclusive series, unlike Nintendo who could always rely on their wide selection of first-party games to get them through the slow times. The situation worsened with the Saturn. Their previous claim to having superior graphics was harder to justify, and gamers didn't respond to a console which was more expensive than the PlayStation, yet had an inferior library of games.

Electronic Arts were among the developers who got burned by the Saturn, and they took it characteristically poorly. At the E3 where Sony announced the PlayStation 2, the EA spokesman came onstage, openly mocked Sega, predicted doom, then dropped the bomb that EA were only making games for the PS2. (Sega Sports really blew up with the Dreamcast once EA Sports was out of the picture.) In addition, Sony quietly applied pressure on developers and forced them to choose: You can make games for Sega, or you make them for us. Not both. Sony's licensing was cheap and easy (just like with the PS1), they made their pressings cheaper, kit support, etc. By the time the Dreamcast came out, Sega had so little credibility that developers didn't want to invest the resources to make games for the console, and fans didn't want to invest money on a console to play one or two exclusive games.

Still, Sega has remained a major player in the game development world (though not quite what it once was) by shifting to third-party game development for all of the current-generation consoles, handhelds, and arcades. Ironically, Sega now publishes Sonic the Hedgehog games for play on Nintendo (and other) hardware. The only downside to this, however, is that since they no longer work on their own console, it gives them less time to work on their other properties.

Sega briefly returned to the world of arcade pinball in 1994 when they took over Data East's pinball division. They produced machines under the Sega Pinball name before leaving the market again in 1999, selling their pinball assets to Gary Stern, president of the division, who then founded Stern Pinball.

Eventually, the Sammy Corporation, best known for its pachinko machines, purchased a controlling share of Sega on August 1, 2004, and they became subsidiaries of their new parent company, Sega Sammy Holdings.

They are also the owners of animation studio TMS Entertainment (and by extension, Koko Enterprises/Dong Yang Animation, Seoul Movie and Mizo Planning) since 1995. In January 2013, they purchased Relic Entertainment from the THQ liquidation auction, and as of the end of that month it is confirmed that with it came an exclusive license to produce titles based on Games Workshop IPs, starting with Total War: Warhammer.

In September 2013, Sega purchased Atlus from Atlus' former parent company Index Corporation. As of September 2016, they are the new owners of all the IPs made by Technosoft.

See also Sonic Team, one of their best-known subsidiaries.


Consoles:


Pinball machines produced by Sega Enterprises of Japan (1971-1979) include:

  • Ali Baba/Arabian Night
  • Big Together
  • Carnival
  • Cha-Cha-Cha
  • Crazy Clock
  • Mikoshi
  • Monte Rosa
  • Sapporo
  • Sky Lover
  • Temptation
  • Woman-Lib

Original pinball machines produced by Sega S.A. of Europe (1974-1986) include:

Notable video games and franchises released by Sega:

Licensed games by Sega:

Pinball machines produced by Sega Pinball (1995-1999) include:

Outside Games/Franchises published by Sega in a set region:

Japan:

North America:

Asia:

Europe:

Oceania:

TV Shows produced by Sega:

Subsidiaries:


Tropes associated with Sega:

  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Alex Kidd was their initial answer to Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. series, but that was eventually taken over by Sonic the Hedgehog.
  • Always Second Best:
    • Since the time of SG-1000, SEGA seems to always strike in second place behind Nintendo, with occasional third or worse place in some situations (PlayStation and PlayStation 2 era, as well as the classical Console War in Japan, where the PC Engine actually outsold the Genesis.)
    • Averted in some markets, such as Europe (especially the UK) and South America, where Sega's dominance was unquestioned. In the 8-bit era, the NES (thanks to bad marketing decisions by Nintendo) was practically mythical in the UK but the Sega Master System was pretty popular. To this day, unlicensed Master System clones are still on the market in South America.
  • Cash Cow Franchise: Sega's attempts to trickle out AAA games have yielded varying results. A retraux sequel to Streets of Rage made waves in 2020. Phantasy Star had a bit of a renaissance as an MMO. Ecco the Dolphin comes in at a very distant third, but it has a cult fanbase. Currently, their only true example of this is Sonic the Hedgehog, followed by Yakuza.
  • Compilation Re-release: Extremely fond of them, especially concerning their Genesis library. They range from being franchise-specific, to encompassing as many games from a given platform as they can fit into a cartridge, disc or downloadable file package.
  • Console Wars: The Sega vs. Nintendo war (mainly Sega's Mega Drive/Genesis vs. Nintendo's SNES) is possibly the most famous one of them all.
    • Also worth noting that someone at NEC tried to start a war with Sega of all things in the Johnny Turbo comics by creating a Bland-Name Product Evil Corporation called FEKA in said comic, and then indirectly bashing Sega for claiming that the Genesis was the first 16-bit console (protip: Sega was right, the TurboGrafx-16 had a 8-bit CPU coupled with a 16-bit GPU- which resulted in a lot of games looking good but playing abysmally. The Genesis on the other hand had a 16-bit CPU). Cooler heads prevailed though and the FEKA plot was dropped after two books.
  • Content Warnings: After the controversy surrounding Night Trap and Mortal Kombat flared up, Sega started their own self-regulatory classification system known as the Videogame Rating Council, which rated games' content within three levels: GA for General Audiences, MA-13 for Mature content suitable for people over 13, and MA-17 for people over 17. However, there was little consistency in the difference between an MA-13 and an MA-17, with only a few games receiving the latter for seemingly arbitrary reasons.note  With the subsequent formation of the ESRB, Sega quietly dropped the now-redundant VRC.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Sega" derives from Service Games, their official name is Sega Games Co., Ltd. So the company's current name iteration in full is "Service Games Games Co., Ltd." similar to Detective Comics Comics.
  • Derivative Differentiation: Their early games started off by shamelessly ripping off of other popular games of the day—for example, Congo Bongo, an obvious clone of Donkey Kong. Their original mascot, Alex Kidd, was an obvious attempt to ride the coattails of Super Mario Bros.. Even their Sega Master System clearly patterned itself after the NES, right down to having identical controllers. Despite success in other countries, they all badly underperformed in the US due to Nintendo having a very strong grip on the gaming market. Realizing that playing by Nintendo's own rules would get them nowhere, they decided to go in the opposite direction and become Nintendo's antithesis with the Sega Genesis, aiming for older audiences and darker games with slicker graphics, action and very lax censorship policies—their first own pack-in game was Altered Beast, a gory beat-em-up that would never have been allowed on the NES. Their newest mascot for the console, Sonic The Hedgehog, was a unique contrast from the Mario series in art and gameplay, and also a contrast to the Mario-derivative Alex Kidd (who was quickly abandoned by the company once the technicolor insectivore made waves). Unsurprisingly, it worked.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Sega was originally just a regular arcade game company for decades before they jumped into making video games around the 1970's. Also, their original mascot, Alex Kidd, was more genial in tone and gameplay than Sonic.
  • Family Business: Since Sammy's acquisition of the company,
  • Frivolous Lawsuit / Disney Owns This Trope: In December 2012, they filed a lawsuit against Level-5 demanding 900 million yen (US $11 million) for allegedly infringing two patents they got in 2009 and 2011 on using drag-and-drop and tap commands on a touchscreen to control characters (i.e. using a touchscreen as a freaking touchscreen). Over a game that Level-5 released in 2008. Level-5 called them out on their patent trolling and tore them a new one in quite possibly the most epic pwning ever to happen via corporate public statement.
    • Also happened when child company Atlus (which they freshly bought off Index Corp.) tried to sue the developer of PlayStation 3 emulator RPCS3 despite it already being tried in the past (Sony vs. Connectix, and Sony lost) just because it allowed the PS3 version of Persona 5 to run on a PC. They were quick to back down when several digital rights non-profit organizations called them out on it. See Atlus' page for full details.
  • Iconic Logo: In fact, Sonic was originally going to be a lighter shade of blue, but he was given a darker shade in order to match him up with the logo's.
  • Logo Joke: Before the arrival of the Sega Saturn, nearly every single game booted up with the Iconic Logo appearing onto the screen, with elements of the game the system's playing usually interacting with the logo or the screen it appears on in some way. Here's a list of them all.
  • Mascot: Formerly Alex Kidd. Now, it's Sonic the Hedgehog.
  • Mascot with Attitude: Sonic the Hedgehog, the Trope Maker by which all others are based on.
  • Never Accepted In His Home Town: Sega saw great success in markets such as Europe, South America and eventually North America, but never did well in Japan. Part of the company's downfall is due to obsessing over trying to capture the Japanese market while casually throwing away the loyal fanbase they had built up abroad, by designing the Saturn (and to a lesser extent, the Dreamcast) largely around things that tried to appeal to Japanese rather than western gamers (painfully obvious when they rebooted the Sonic continuity outside of Japan with Sonic Adventure).
    • Subverted now with their arcade division, as they are not only the most prolific arcade manufacturer in the world, but the most profitable arcade company in Japan. Whereas ventures like Sega World London at the Trocadero proved to be too much of a financial commitment to maintain abroad, Sega still has the largest assortment of large-scale arcades throughout Japan and Asia as a whole.
  • Put on a Bus: After Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle flopped with critics and retail and Sonic the Hedgehog made Sega realize the technicolor insectivore was their real answer to Mario, Alex Kidd was dropped as their mascot in favor of Sonic and permanently retired from the companies game line-up. Kidd has made the occasional cameo since then, but he is largely forgotten today.
  • Screwed by the Network: The Dreamcast was too good to last.
  • Sigil Spam: Sonic the Hedgehog makes a lot of cameo appearances in the companies games. He even appeared in the Sega CD and Sega Channel boot up. He is their mascot, and they want you to know it.
  • Title Scream: Read the caption below the image. First heard in Japanese Sega commercials, it was most famously used internationally at the start of all the major 2D Sonic games. Variations on the scream can also be heard on start-up of Panic, all the Project Diva games and K-On! Houkago Live!.
    • Enforced because the reason for the scream being there in the first place is because it's actually filler to replace an early Sound Test idea that never came to be in Sonic the Hedgehog. In fact, this one sound byte takes up more memory than entire levels do.
    • US commercials that reveled in the X-treme 90's image they were portraying at the time also often ended with a different voice quickly screaming "SEGA!"
  • Take That!: Their entire advertising campaign throughout their console years famously consisted of lobbing Take Thats at competing consoles.
  • The Wiki Rule: The Sega Wiki.



Alternative Title(s): Sega Pinball

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