Internal 90s Sega documents reveal it believed it was “killing” Sony’s PlayStation

by Danny Craig  · 
Internal 90s Sega documents reveal it believed it was “killing” Sony’s PlayStation

A massive 272-page PDF containing classified internal Sega of America documents from the mid-1990s has surfaced, providing some insight into the company's state during the Sega Saturn's lifecycle. Nobody knows where the document came from, or why it suddenly appeared over 25 years later.

The details:

  • The PDF contains information such as manufacturing costs, retail margins, and sales. Sega historian John Harrison, a.k.a. Mega Drive Shock, pointed out in his Twitter thread about the document that the Sega Saturn's $232 manufacturing cost resulted in a retail margin of only 6%, resulting in retailers making only $15 profit per console sold and concern within Sega that retailers may abandon the console due to the profit margins.
  • Former Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske's emails also appear in the leak, with the executive claiming that the company was "killing" Sony in Japan and that "Saturn hardware is sold out and there are stacks of Playstation" in stores across the country. "I wish I could get all our staff, salespeople, retailers, analysts, media, etc. to see and understand what's happening in Japan; they would then understand why we will win here in the U.S. eventually," Kalinske said, which was certainly not how things played out in the West, with the Saturn flopping in the US after rushing the console's launch to beat out Sony and Nintendo, who were gearing up to release the PlayStation and Nintendo 64, respectively.
  • Only months after the email was sent, Kalinske resigned from Sega, claiming in an interview in 2022 that the American branch was "forced" to reveal the console five months early and that Sega Enterprises President and CEO Hayao Nakayama used to berate employees in Japan by using Kalinske's success, causing further friction between the two sides of Sega.
  • Several in-development marketing materials, product strategies, and reports are also included in the PDF, revealing that Nights’ marketing strategy was influenced by Crash Bandicoot and that Saturn versions of VectorMan, Jurassic Park, and Shenmue were planned.

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