Leaked Sega Document Shows Saturn’s Downfall and PlayStation’s Triumph

The PlayStation killer illusion shattered as the leaked confidential documents reveal many things.

A confidential document of Sega from 1997 has been leaked online, which our team at Top Tier List has found. The document has a lot of inside information on what was going on during the period when Sega was still manufacturing the consoles. The document is available here if you want to take a look. We will be going through some of the major things from the document.

In a Nutshell 

  • A document from 1997 has leaked online; it takes us back to the days of the Sega Saturn and shows the business plan Sega had for the console. The is a lot of information from the inside of the company. 
  • We have cherry-picked some of the most interesting things from the document, including the price difference, software library, and marketing expenditure and what the plan of Sega was for that.
  • Saturn may have lost this console war, but we get to see some of the interesting things in the documents, like Sega equity being damaged by 32x and SegaCD, and it shows how they were financially in a bad condition, and they even acknowledged it to be one of the reasons PlayStation was doing well.

One screenshot of an email shows how Sega was happy that Saturn was killing Sony in Japan, and Tom Kalinske, who was the then CEO of Sega, was asking his team how to show this in E3. It is to be noted that the Sony PlayStation was launched in Japan in December of 1994, while in November of 1994, the Saturn was launched by Sega in Japan. The email was sent in March 1996, and both the consoles were not yet released in North America, and Tom wanted to showcase their success in Japan to the Americans. 

Leaked Confidential Sega Documents
Thursday, March 28, 1996, 11;49AM

In the document, there is a graph that caught the eyes of our team. It reflects the difference in the marketing expenditure of Saturn and Sony’s PlayStation. Both were big competitors, but Sony’s marketing was at another level. Sega was a well-established gaming company at that time, but they were facing financial issues during the Saturn era. This graph shows that it was maybe one of the reasons Saturn failed despite it being a good console.

Leaked Confidential Sega Documents 2
The Marketing Expenditures

One of the other things that caught our eyes was the Sega of America’s FY97 Business Plan for Saturn. They assumed that Sony was going to launch the PlayStation for $249, and then in the fall, it would decrease its price to $199. They were not yet aware of Nintendo 64’s plan and couldn’t make an assumption till late fall. They had two plans in place, the 450k plan and the 800k plan. 

The one plan we assume was for the $249 launch price of Sony’s PlayStation, and the 800k plan was for when Sony would cut the price to $199 in the fall. They wanted to place Saturn as a technically superior next-generation system, and they were focused on pre-empting Sony strategically. Nintendo was right about the price slash, as Sony did cut the price by 25%.


We will end this report with this, it seems to be the most interesting one. Point one here is very relevant and one of the reasons that Saturn failed. Saturn was launched in North America for $399, while the PlayStation was cheaper and only cost $299, the $100 difference was a big thing. Saturn had cut the price by $100 dollars since launch, but it was too late; the damage had been done.

The second point, if you know a little about gaming history, you would know that the PlayStation had a larger and more diverse software library while Sega relied on arcade games, not realizing that consumer behavior was changing and they were now more interested in role-playing video games.

Overall, the PlayStation had a more straightforward and developer-friendly architecture, making it easier for game developers to create games for the platform. This contributed to a larger and more diverse game library for the PlayStation compared to the Sega Saturn. PlayStation was generally regarded as having an edge in terms of performance and visual quality, and Sega has acknowledged it here.

They were not happy about the dent that Sega 32x and Sega CD had given to the company and how Sony had better equity from their consumer electronics. 

sega of america confidential document
How Did Sony Do It?

That is it from old-school gaming news; if you want to read about the new gameplay leak of Pay Day 3, then head over to our report here.