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Why Did Sega CD Fail?

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Sega was a well-known gaming brand in the 1980s. It is a Japanese game developing company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. They spread Sega in many parts of the world including North America and Europe. Richard Steward and Martin Bromley founded it on June 3, 1960.

During the 1980s, Nintendo was the market dominator. It was seen as the King of the gaming market. Nintendo was having its monopoly and competitors could not stand against him. Then Sega came into the market with its video gaming consoles, which gained great support from consumers. Sega continued its functioning and launched many new consoles and add-ons for them. One of those add-ons was the Sega CD.

So Why DId the Sega CD Fail?

There are many reasons why the Sega CD failed. Poor marketing, being just an add on, high prices, and newer consoles coming out are a few of the main reasons why the Sega CD failed.

If you would like to know more about why the Sega CD failed, you will want to keep reading this article. You can also check out this short video to learn exactly why the Sega CD failed. 

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Sega CD

Sega CD is also known as Mega-CD in regions outside Brazil and North America. It was a CD-ROM accessory for Sega’s fourth generation gaming console, Sega Genesis. They released Sega CD on December 12 1991, in Japan; October 15, 1992, in North America; and on April 2, 1993, in Europe. It was used to play CD-based games on Sega Genesis and to add some hardware functions like faster central processing units and enhanced graphics.

Sega CD helped consumers to play and store large games as Sega CD provided larger storage which allowed 300x larger games than the Genesis cartridge. Sega sold 2.24 million units of Sega CD in 4 years. Consumers liked it a lot. It was considered ahead of its time, but after 1996, Sega discontinued the production of Sega CD to focus on its new console.

Sega CD Issues

The Sega CD was a great device, but besides its features, it was a failure. Some reasons for the failure of Sega CD are:

  • Poor Marketing

Marketing is the most essential part of any product design. Sega was not the best with its marketing skills. With the launch of the Sega CD, some consumers were unaware that it even existed. Sega ran vibrant and colorful advertisements that were not very effective.

The expectations were more than reality. Consumers were expecting a great product but with the release of Sega CD as an add-on, it disappointed them. It had a limited reach in the market. Sega could not present the value in its Sega CD. This led to poor sales of the Sega CD. Although it had sold 2.24 million units, it was not as many as expected by Sega.

  • It Was Just An Add-On

They presented Sega CD as an add-on for Sega Genesis, which could increase its storage capacity and improve some graphics. It was such a strong device that gamers were expecting it as a new console, but when it was launched, they were amazed to see it as an add-on for Sega Genesis.

Being an add-on of Genesis, people only who already had Genesis could use it. It limited the scope. And consumers do not feel it as a value for their money. Why buy a Sega CD just to play a few new games? Buying a new add-on at such a high price does not seem to be a good decision. Because of this, the presentation of Sega CD as just an Add-on for Sega Genesis became one of the reasons for its failure. If it has been a stand alone as a new console, it would have had more success.

  • High Price

Sega CD was a high tech add-on, but it was high on the price as well. Sega launched it at  $299. It was funny to buy an add-on which cost $299 for a console worth only $199. The add-on was more expensive than its console. Moreover, was it a good choice to buy an add-on that was compatible only for one console? This discouraged the gamers, and they refused to purchase the Sega CD. So, Sega’s pricing decision was another reason for its failure. Because of this highly marked price, the sale of Sega CD was limited and not as expected. Sega was compatible, but the games were also of mediocre level only. This ruined the excitement of buying the Sega CD.

  • A Shift Toward The New Console

Soon after the launch of Sega CD, Sega launched its new console Sega Saturn in 1994. By launching a new console, Sega shifted its focus from Sega CD to Sega Saturn. They engaged in developing the Sega Saturn without paying attention to Sega CD. And the Sega CD was just lying idle.

With time, Sega lessened its efforts towards Sega CD and it also decreased its support. This discouraged gamers and developers as well. Gamers were regretting their decision of buying the Sega CD as there was a whole new gaming console on the market. Developers also shifted towards the development of games for Sega Saturn rather than Sega CD, since it was a newly launched console.

This launch of a new console created a mess and an internal competition in Sega. This resulted in the declining sale and failure of the Sega CD. Eventually, Sega withdrew its support from Sega CD.

  • Mediocre Games

No doubt, Sega CD was high tech and made for heavy gaming. It increased the efficiency of Sega Genesis by improving its storage capacity and graphics interface. Consumers were excited and were expecting some high-end games for Sega CD and they got them when it first started but within some time, the quality of new games was not up to the mark. Games were of mediocre level, which was unexpected. It was one of the most powerful devices of its time.

Developers focused on making unpopular full-motion games (FMG). And with this, Sega launched Mega Drive2 and Multi Mega which confused gamers about purchasing Sega CD or these new versions.


Although Sega CD was a fantastic device and received several popular games like Lunar: Eternal Blue, Sonic CD, and some poor FMV games. It was a mixed outcome for Sega CD, with such amazing technology but still a failure because of the above-mentioned reasons like a high price, lack of support and other launches.

It sold 2.26 million units by March 1996 and after that Sega discontinued to focus on it and set up a new console, the Sega Saturn. Even though it was discontinued, many people