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How Sega found success with Sonic the Hedgehog

Sega faced complete failure in its battle against Nintendo's NES, but the 16-bit Genesis was a huge success -- and a lot of that success is down to the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.
"I don’t care what you say. I hired this guy to make changes in the U.S. I promised him a free hand, so we’re going along with him."
- Sega president Hayao Nakayama, in a 1991 meeting With the Master System, Sega faced complete failure in its battle against Nintendo's NES, capturing only 6 percent of console market share, according to one former executive. But the 16-bit Genesis was a huge success -- and a lot of that success is down to the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. In a new extract from his book Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works, Keith Stuart interviews Sega's early '90s CEO Tom Kalinske about the experience of turning the company's business around. The quote above -- shared by Kalinske -- comes from a 1991 meeting in Tokyo, in which he planned to slash the price of the Genesis hardware and bundle Sonic with it to capture market share. "The Japanese board thought I was nuts," Kalinske told Stuart. But he prevailed, and the system ended up battling head-to-head with Nintendo's Super Nintendo for dominance in the 16-bit battlefield of the early 1990s. The entire extract is really worth a read. There was also a third 1990s competitor in the console war, the often-forgotten TurboGrafx-16. You can read about it in our extensive history of the console from this September.

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