I’ll just quote the wikipedia article, 10/29/2016, 6:38PM before reviewing it.
Sega released the Mega Drive in Japan on October 29, 1988, though the launch was overshadowed by Nintendo’s release of Super Mario Bros. 3 a week earlier. Positive coverage from magazines Famitsu and Beep! helped to establish a following, but Sega only managed to ship 400,000 units in the first year. In order to increase sales, Sega released various peripherals and games, including an online banking system and answering machine called the Sega Mega Anser. Nevertheless, the Mega Drive was unable to overtake the venerable Famicomand remained a distant third in Japan behind Nintendo’s Super Famicom and NEC’s PC Engine throughout the 16-bit era.
That’s pretty damn insane. Sega Japan had to compete with the launch of the Super Mario Bros 3, one of the greatest, well beloved and critically praised games and sequels of all time. You also have to keep in mind that Sonic the Hedgehog wasn’t a launch title with the Mega Drive. Even the PC Engine beat it. Only 400,000 units were sold in the first year. What is with SEGA and these awful non-record breaking sales numbers?
Sega announced a North American release date for the system on January 9, 1989. At the time, Sega did not possess a North American sales and marketing organization and was distributing its Master System through Tonka. Dissatisfied with Tonka’s performance, Sega looked for a new partner to market the Genesis in North America and offered the rights to Atari Corporation, which did not yet have a 16-bit system. David Rosen made the proposal to Atari CEO Jack Tramiel and the president of Atari’s Entertainment Electronics Division, Michael Katz. Tramiel declined to acquire the new console, deeming it too expensive, and instead opted to focus on the Atari ST. Sega decided to launch the console through its own Sega of America subsidiary, which executed a limited launch on August 14, 1989, in New York City and Los Angeles. The Sega Genesis was released in the rest of North America later that year.
The European version was released on November 30, 1990. Building on the success of the Master System, the Mega Drive became the most popular console in Europe. Since the Mega Drive was two years old at the time of its release in the region, more games were available at launch compared to the launches in other regions. The ports of arcade titles like Altered Beast, Golden Axe and Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, available in stores at launch, provided a strong image of the console’s power to deliver an arcade-like experience. The release of the Mega Drive in Europe was handled by Virgin Mastertronic, which was later purchased by Sega in 1991 and became Sega of Europe.
I guess we can praise that though. Those games are beloved by fans of the console and for good reason.
Other companies assisted in distributing the console to various countries worldwide. Ozisoft handled the Mega Drive’s launch and marketing in Australia, as it had done before with the Master System. In Brazil, the Mega Drive was released by Tec Toy in 1990, only a year after the Brazilian release of the Master System. Tec Toy produced games exclusively for the Brazilian market and began a network service for the system called Sega Meganet in 1995. In India, Sega entered a distribution deal with Shaw Wallace in Spring 1995 in order to circumvent an 80% import tariff, with each unit selling for INR₹18,000.Samsung handled sales and distribution in Korea, where it was renamed the “Super Gam*Boy” and retained the Mega Drive logo alongside the Samsung name. It was later renamed “Super Aladdin Boy.”
I have actually heard about the Samsunng Mega Drive due to Korean laws about Japanese products post-World War II.