News From January 1998:
Sega Drops Saturn Prices - 1/23/98 - 7:25:09 AM
WD Brings Lunar To PSX - 1/16/98 - 2:47:48 PM
Sega Names New President - 1/12/98 - 2:50:19 PM
SoA Confirms Layoffs & New Console - 1/10/98 - 9:07:11 AM
Saturnworld's Behavior - 1/10/98 - 8:46:56 AM
Fox Interactive Drops Saturn - 1/8/98 - 3:04:56 PM
Layoffs At SoA - 1/8/98 - 2:56:59 PM
EA Drops Saturn Support - 1/06/98 - 6:57:23 PM
While it has been rumored for some time that Sega's next console would use some sort of Windows CE based OS, it has yet to be official. Until now the relationship between Sega and Microsoft has been also unofficial. Isao Ohkawa, chairman of Sega Enterprises, announced that Sega and Microsoft are developing a console machine together. Its probable that the WinCE OS rumors have some truth citing this announcement and the face that the SH-4 will also be used in future WinCE PDAs.
Sega has officially dropped the price of the Saturn console to $99US with no games, and $109US bundled with Nights. Retail support has continued to lag, as Electronics Boutique has now reduced their price of the console to about $80US, and there are rumors that Toys 'R' Us may eliminate Saturn stocks. Hard times are upon us, and this year will be difficult as a Saturn owner. Though, the year may also yield some suprises.....
Working Designs has announced that they have cancelled Lunar Star Story for the Saturn and will be bringing it to the PSX instead. The developer, GameArts has been working on a PSX version of the game since the summer of 1997. The new release will be completely reworked with new animation and more speech. Working Designs cited the necessity to reach a larger audience and move away from the "nearly defunct Saturn."
Sega Enterprises Ltd. will promote its vice president Shoichiro Irimajiri to president, succeeding Hayao Nakayama.
Ed. The article stated that the Irimajiri's goal was to boost Saturn sales.
-Source: Nikkei America
Many news sites have claimed Sega has released an official PR document. However, their PR agency has yet to issue it to the public so I can say that it was only issued to certain major publishers and networks (IGN and UGO.) The lowdown is that the previous layoff report is pretty much true. About 30% of SoA's workers have or will be laid off. Sega states it as a way to 'become financially responsible.' At the same time they also have stated that Sega's next console won't appear in North America until 1999. Saturn support will continue through 1998, however I'd say unfortunately most Saturn support will be coming through import shops and game specific stores.
Matching SoA's announcement Sega of Europe has also stated that the new console won't be out in Europe until 1999. They've also stated that Grandia is not being translated at SoE nor are there any current efforts to do so...but that 'things can change.'
In Japan, Sega's next console should be out by this year's end. Sega wants to give foreign markets a little extra time for developers to get things together. Bernie Stolar (unfortunately he's still in charge at SoA) has stated that the decision to delay an American release was that a '98 release was not in the best interest of customers, retailers, or software partners.
Saturnworld is probably one of the biggest Saturn sites out there in terms of traffic. Unfortunately, this site has become increasingly unprofessional. Especially in their responses to reader letters. Not taking letters seriously is one thing, however yesterday, the writers at SW have gone beyond that and were truly offensive. These are the following reader letters and editorial response. The content has been left fully untouched:
Since you guys run one of the biggest Sega sites there is I figured you guys should know this. We've started a Grandia petition at http://lunarnet.simplenet.com. If you've got any way that you might be able to help us out with this, we'd be very appreciative. This is a game that needs an American release.As you can see they are very childish remarks on the editors part. A professional site has no place for such garbage regardless of the context in which the responses were written. I'm assuming that since the letters were compiled by Douglass Perry, he was the one who responded to them. So, who exactly is Dougless Perry? Well, since no system specific internal IGN sites publish staff lists other than the [general] editors email address. I guess one can say this is so they don't have to personally answer for things like this. I do know that Mr. Perry is the editor of IGN's N64.com (firstname.lastname@example.org.) Other than that I cannot say what tasks he performs other than acting like a child in remarks as above. I'd take a moment and voice your thoughts to SW by emailing them: email@example.com. Saturnworld may issue an apology by Tuesday, their next update, however there is no excuse for their actions. If they are a professional site, you'd think they edit check stuff before posting..alas they do not.
Another third party drops Saturn support. Fox Interactive has cancelled all Saturn development. This means no Alien vs. Predator or Alien Resurrection.
As earlier predicted, with the return from Winter vacation, many employees at SoA returned to receive pink slips. The bulk of the layoffs is expected to be in the marketing, public relations, and development areas. No specifics were given as there hasn't been a formal announcement yet. Sega of Japan will handle most if not all of the remaining Saturn games distribution in the US. Sega of America is expected to do little until Sega's next console arrives.
The layoffs were pretty much well placed as they were in areas that failed abysmally for Sega. The marketing for the Saturn was almost non existent, and when the Saturn was marketed, it was done so poorly. Public relations was also a poor area...as they didn't do much in promoting the system. Development was low, as few native US developed titles were released by Sega...and those that were, were at best average games. Hopefully after the staff reduction, we'll see some very selective hiring of talented people. Then there's the unfinished question of who will function as CEO/COO once Bernie Stolar is on his way out....
Read about this yesterday morning, only now had a chance to post this. The header states it plainly. As of Dec 31, 1997, Electronic Arts will no longer publish games for the Sega Saturn. They cited a large decrease in profits, and lack of growth in Saturn software sales. This means we can expect to see no other EA games that haven't made it to the Saturn yet.
My take: While it is a blow to the general feeling toward the Saturn by retailers, it is not a major loss to gamers. As EA has become complacent in developing games since the beginning of the '32-bit era.' They once produced the best sporting games in about every category (even releasing a Rugby title in the States!) but now they've lots their crown to other developers such as Sega (Football/Soccer and Baseball) and SonySoft (American Football.) It's sad to see EA go, as they've been a long time Sega supporter, however their Saturn efforts haven't been very wholehearted with the release of mediocre titles. Lets hope EA tries a little more with Sega's next console....
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