Sega Channel logo and mascot, Sega Pat
|Status||Discontinued as of 1998|
Sega Channel was an online game service developed by Sega for the Genesis video game console, serving as a content delivery system. Launching in December 1994, Sega Channel was provided to the public by TCI and Time Warner Cable through cable television services by way of coaxial cable. It was a pay to play service, through which customers could access Genesis games online, play game demos, and get cheat codes. Lasting until July 31, 1998, Sega Channel operated three years after the release of Sega's next generation console, the Sega Saturn. Though criticized for its poorly timed launch and high subscription fee, Sega Channel has been praised for its innovations in downloadable content and impact on online services for video games.
An online game is a video game that is either partially or primarily played through the Internet or any other computer network available. Online games are ubiquitous on modern gaming platforms, including PCs, consoles and mobile devices, and span many genres, including first-person shooters, strategy games and massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG).
Sega Games Co., Ltd. is a Japanese multinational video game developer and publisher headquartered in Tokyo. Its international branches, Sega of America and Sega Europe, are respectively headquartered in Irvine, California and London. Sega's arcade division, once part of Sega Corporation, has existed as Sega Interactive Co., Ltd. since 2015. Both companies are subsidiaries of Sega Holdings Co., Ltd., which is in turn a part of Sega Sammy Holdings.
The Sega Genesis, known as the Mega Drive in regions outside of North America, is a 16-bit home video game console developed and sold by Sega. The Genesis is Sega's third console and the successor to the Master System. Sega released it as the Mega Drive in Japan in 1988, followed by North America as the Genesis in 1989. In 1990, it was distributed as the Mega Drive by Virgin Mastertronic in Europe, Ozisoft in Australasia, and Tectoy in Brazil. In South Korea, it was distributed by Samsung as the Super Gam*Boy and later the Super Aladdin Boy.
Released in Japan as the Mega Drive in 1988, North America in 1989, and Europe and other regions as the Mega Drive in 1990, the Sega Genesis was Sega's entry into the 16-bit era of video game consoles.In 1990, Sega started their first Internet-based service for the console, Sega Meganet, in Japan. Operating through a cartridge and a peripheral called the "Mega Modem", this system allowed Mega Drive owners to play seventeen games online. A North American version of this system, dubbed "Tele-Genesis", was announced but never released. Another phone-based system, the Mega Anser, turned the Japanese Mega Drive into an online banking terminal. Due to Meganet's low number of titles, prohibitively high price, and the Mega Drive's lack of success in Japan, the system proved to be a commercial failure. By 1992, the Mega Modem peripheral could be found in bargain bins at a reduced price, and a remodeled version of the console released in 1993 removed the EXT 9-pin port altogether, preventing the newer model from being connected to the Meganet service.
The Internet is the global system of interconnected computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link devices worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail, telephony, and file sharing.
Sega Meganet, also known as the Net Work System, was an online service for the Mega Drive in Japan and later Brazil. Utilizing dial-up Internet access, Meganet was Sega's first online multiplayer gaming service, and functioned on a pay to play basis. The system functioned through the use of a peripheral called the Mega Modem and offered several unique titles that could be downloaded, and a few could be played competitively with friends. In addition, it shared technology and equipment with more serious services such as the Mega Anser, used for banking purposes. Though the system was announced for North America under the rebranded name "Tele-Genesis", it was never released for that region. Ultimately, the Meganet service would be short-lived, lasting approximately a year before it was discontinued, but would serve as a precursor to the Sega Channel and XBAND services, as well as a predecessor to online gaming services for video game consoles. Retrospective feedback praises the attempt by Sega to introduce online gaming, but criticizes the service for its logistical issues and lack of titles.
In April 1993, Sega announced the Sega Channel service, which would utilize cable television services to deliver content.National testing in the United States for the service began in June, and deployment across the United States began in December, with a complete U.S. release in 1994. By June 1994, Sega Channel had gained a total of 21 cable companies signed up to carry the service. Fees in the United States for the service varied depending on location, but were approximately US$15 monthly, plus a $25 activation fee, which included the adapter. The Sega Channel expanded into Canada in late 1995, with an approximately Can$19 monthly fee. During the planning stages of the service, Sega looked to capitalize on the rental market, which had seen some success with the Sega CD being rented through Blockbuster, Inc., and was looking to base the service's offering of games and demos to help sell more cartridges.
Cable television is a system of delivering television programming to consumers via radio frequency (RF) signals transmitted through coaxial cables, or in more recent systems, light pulses through fiber-optic cables. This contrasts with broadcast television, in which the television signal is transmitted over the air by radio waves and received by a television antenna attached to the television; or satellite television, in which the television signal is transmitted by a communications satellite orbiting the Earth and received by a satellite dish on the roof. FM radio programming, high-speed Internet, telephone services, and similar non-television services may also be provided through these cables. Analog television was standard in the 20th century, but since the 2000s, cable systems have been upgraded to digital cable operation.
The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States and its territories per the United States Constitution since 1792. In practice, the dollar is divided into 100 smaller cent (¢) units, but is occasionally divided into 1000 mills (₥) for accounting. The circulating paper money consists of Federal Reserve Notes that are denominated in United States dollars.
The Canadian dollar is the currency of Canada. It is abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or sometimes Can$ or C$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies. It is divided into 100 cents (¢).
In early 1995, Sega CEO Hayao Nakayama decided to end development on the Sega Genesis and its add-ons, the Sega CD and Sega 32X. This decision was made to support the Sega Saturn, which had been released in Japan already.This placed the release of the Sega Channel right at the height of the Genesis' decline from the market. At its peak, Sega Channel had over 250,000 subscribers, but by 1997, the number of subscribers had dropped to 230,000, two years after Nakayama made the decision to shift focus from the Genesis to the Saturn. Though Sega looked at options to bring the service to PCs, the service was eventually discontinued by July 31, 1998.
A video game accessory is a distinct piece of hardware that is required to use a video game console, or one that enriches the video game's play experience. Essentially, video game accessories are everything except the console itself, such as controllers, memory, power adapters (AC), and audio/visual cables. Most video game consoles come with the accessories required to play games out of the box : one A/V cable, one AC cable, and a controller. Memory is usually the most required accessory outside of these, as game data cannot be saved to compact discs. The companies that manufacture video game consoles also make these accessories for replacement purposes as well as improving the overall experience. There is an entire industry of companies that create accessories for consoles as well, called third-party companies. The prices are often lower than those made by the maker of the console (first-party). This is usually achieved by avoiding licensing or using cheaper materials. For the mobile systems like the PlayStation Portable and Game Boy iterations, there are many accessories to make them more usable in mobile environments, such as mobile chargers, lighting to improve visibility, and cases to both protect and help organize the collection of system peripherals to. Newer accessories include many home-made things like mod chips to bypass manufacturing protection or homemade software.
The Sega Saturn is a 32-bit fifth-generation home video game console developed by Sega and released on November 22, 1994 in Japan, May 11, 1995 in North America, and July 8, 1995 in Europe. The successor to the successful Sega Genesis, the Saturn has a dual-CPU architecture and eight processors. Its games are in CD-ROM format, and its game library contains several arcade ports as well as original games.
A personal computer (PC) is a multi-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and price make it feasible for individual use. Personal computers are intended to be operated directly by an end user, rather than by a computer expert or technician. Unlike large costly minicomputer and mainframes, time-sharing by many people at the same time is not used with personal computers.
After making the initial purchase and paying the activation fee, Genesis owners would receive an adapter that would be inserted into the cartridge slot of the console.The adapter connected the console to a cable television wire, doing so by the use of a coaxial cable output in the rear of the cartridge. Starting up a Genesis console with an active Sega Channel adapter installed would prompt for the service's main menu to be loaded, which was a process that took approximately 30 seconds. From there, gamers could access the content they wished to play and download it into their system, which could take up to a few minutes per game. This data would be downloaded into the adaptor's on-board 4 MB RAM, and would be erased when the system was powered off.
Coaxial cable, or coax is a type of electrical cable that has an inner conductor surrounded by a tubular insulating layer, surrounded by a tubular conducting shield. Many coaxial cables also have an insulating outer sheath or jacket. The term coaxial comes from the inner conductor and the outer shield sharing a geometric axis. Coaxial cable was invented by English physicist, engineer, and mathematician Oliver Heaviside, who patented the design in 1880.
Programming and transmission of the Sega Channel's monthly services started with a production team at Sega, which would put together content every month and load it onto a CD-ROM. It was then sent to a satellite station, GHz, to the local cable providers. In Canada and across South America and Europe, however, the satellite transmission stage was bypassed altogether in favor of direct uploads of the Sega Channel CD-ROM via a cable television headend. In order for the signal to function properly, it had to be clear of noise in order to prevent download interruptions. To ensure no issues, cable providers had to "clean" their broadcast signal.located in Denver, Colorado. From the station, the signal was transmitted via a Galaxy 7 satellite, which uploaded at 1.435 GHz and downloaded at 1.1
A CD-ROM is a pre-pressed optical compact disc that contains data. Computers can read—but not write to or erase—CD-ROMs, i.e. it is a type of read-only memory.
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object that has been intentionally placed into orbit. These objects are called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as Earth's Moon.
Denver, officially the City and County of Denver, is the capital and most populous municipality of the U.S. state of Colorado. Denver is located in the South Platte River Valley on the western edge of the High Plains just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The Denver downtown district is immediately east of the confluence of Cherry Creek with the South Platte River, approximately 12 mi (19 km) east of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Denver is named after James W. Denver, a governor of the Kansas Territory, and it is nicknamed the Mile High City because its official elevation is exactly one mile above sea level. The 105th meridian west of Greenwich, the longitudinal reference for the Mountain Time Zone, passes directly through Denver Union Station.
The Sega Channel service (also known as "Sega On The Line") hosted up to 50 Genesis games at any one time. Titles would rotate monthly;however, some updates happened on a weekly basis. In 1997, Sega changed the number of games hosted at a time to 70 and the update frequency to biweekly. Games for the service included titles developed by Sega, such as Sonic & Knuckles , Eternal Champions , and Space Harrier II ; as well as titles developed by licensees of Sega, such as Bubsy 2 and Aladdin . Some of these games had reduced content compared to their cartridge release so that they could fit the adapter's memory, such as Super Street Fighter II . Sega Channel also hosted games in some regions that would not receive a cartridge release, such as Pulseman , Mega Man: The Wily Wars , and Alien Soldier , which were hosted on the service in North America. The service also offered demos of upcoming games, such as Primal Rage . Though games and demos rotated on a regular basis, categories into which games were placed remained static and did not change. With parental controls in mind, all games for the service received a rating from the Videogame Rating Council. The service also contained a lockout system which would allow parents to set a passcode in order to access mature rated content.
In addition to games and demos, Sega Channel also hosted other features. Cheat codes were directly accessible from the network, as well as game hints.The service also hosted contests, such as a promotion with Electronic Arts' Triple Play '96 , and a 1995 event where players who completed Primal Rage during a brief 24-hour period where the full game was accessible were given a phone number to call, making them eligible to win prizes.
During its lifetime, Sega Channel won one of Popular Science's "Best of What's New" award for the year 1994. Likewise, in August 1995, a survey conducted by Sports Illustrated found that children between 9 and 13 years old were five times more likely to subscribe to Sega Channel than to purchase a Sega Saturn or the upcoming Nintendo 64 or PlayStation.The service would go on to garner as many as 250,000 subscribers; however, Sega had anticipated having over one million subscribers by the end of its first year, and had made the service available to over 20 million households.
Retrospective reception of Sega Channel praises its innovation and role in the development of online gaming, but criticizes its high subscription fees and timing into the market. IGN writer Adam Redsell notes how Sega Channel caused many cable companies to clean their broadcast signal and its role in the development of high-speed internet, stating "...the very fact that you’re enjoying broadband internet right now could well be thanks to SEGA."Levi Buchanan, also writing for IGN, credits Sega Channel with its role in the development of modern gaming and content delivery services, such as Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, stating "SEGA and the entire industry learned important lessons from the SEGA Channel. SEGA was still committed to the idea of downloads and online, as evidenced by the Dreamcast's SegaNet... You can also see the DNA of early services like the SEGA Channel in modern portals like XBLA and PSN, where demos are now a staple." The staff of UGO Networks also credits Sega Channel with being an important step in the development of both services.
Ken Horowitz of Sega-16 criticizes Sega's poor timing of the launch of Sega Channel and the subscription's high price. According to Horowitz, "Who would spend $13 a month to play games for a dying system? This horrendous blunder (one of many by Sega Enterprises) caused retailers to dump their inventory of systems, thereby sealing the fate of the Sega Channel once and for all."Buchanan echoes the same sentiments, stating, "Perhaps if the SEGA Channel had been released earlier in the console's lifecycle—the Genesis launched in 1989 in America—things might have turned out differently. After all, the service did gain notice for its advancement of gaming and technology." UGO also notes the potential Sega Channel could have had with some more development time in the field of competitive multiplayer, stating, "If the Sega Channel had come a little earlier in the life of the Genesis it would have seen much more exposure, and maybe online play would have been feasible for games that could have been developed directly for the service."
The 32X is an add-on for the Sega Genesis video game console. Codenamed "Project Mars", the 32X was designed to expand the power of the Genesis and serve as a transitional console into the 32-bit era until the release of the Sega Saturn. Independent of the Genesis, the 32X uses its own ROM cartridges and has its own library of games. The add-on was distributed under the name Super 32X in Japan, Genesis 32X in North America, Mega Drive 32X in the PAL region, and Mega 32X in Brazil.
The Sega CD, released as the Mega-CD in most regions outside North America and Brazil, is a CD-ROM accessory for the Sega Genesis video game console designed and produced by Sega as part of the fourth generation of video game consoles. It was released on December 12, 1991 in Japan, October 15, 1992 in North America, and April 2, 1993 in Europe. The Sega CD lets the user play CD-based games and adds hardware functionality such as a faster central processing unit and graphic enhancements. It can also play audio CDs and CD+G discs.
A video game console is a computer device that outputs a video signal or visual image to display a video game that one or more people can play.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is a platform game developed and published by Sega. It is the sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992) and was released worldwide for the Sega Genesis in 1994. Following the events of Sonic 2, Doctor Robotnik's spaceship, the Death Egg, crash-lands on a mysterious floating island. There, Sonic and Tails must once more retrieve the Chaos Emeralds to stop Death Egg from relaunching, while making rounds with the island's guardian, Knuckles the Echidna. Gameplay is similar to previous entries, with players controlling Sonic and Tails through side-scrolling levels at high speeds while collecting rings and defeating enemies.
The Sega Master System (SMS) is a third-generation 8-bit home video game console manufactured by Sega. It was originally a remodeled export version of the Sega Mark III, the third iteration of the SG-1000 series of consoles, which was released in Japan in 1985 and featured enhanced graphical capabilities over its predecessors. The Master System launched in North America in 1986, followed by Europe in 1987, and Brazil in 1989. A Japanese version of the Master System was also launched in 1987, which features a few enhancements over the export models : a built-in FM audio chip, a rapid-fire switch, and a dedicated port for the 3D glasses. A cost-reduced model known as the Master System II was released in 1990 in North America and Europe.
The Genesis Nomad is a handheld game console by Sega released in North America in October 1995. The Nomad is a portable variation of Sega's home console, the Sega Genesis. Based on the Mega Jet, a portable version of the home console designed for use on airline flights in Japan, Nomad served to succeed the Game Gear and was the last handheld console released by Sega. In addition to functioning as a portable device, it was designed to be used with a television set via a video port. Released late in the Genesis era, the Nomad had a short lifespan.
GameLine was a dialup game distribution service for the Atari 2600, developed and operated by Control Video Corporation (CVC). Subscribers could install the proprietary modem and storage cartridge in their home game console, accessing the GameLine service to download games over a telephone line. GameLine had an exclusive selection of games, and its pioneering business model eventually gave rise to America Online.
Sega Net Link is an attachment for the Sega Saturn game console to provide Saturn users with internet access and access to email through their console. The unit was released in October 1996. The Sega Net Link fit into the Sega Saturn cartridge port and consisted of a 28.8 kbit/s modem, a custom chip to allow it to interface with the Saturn, and a browser developed by Planetweb, Inc. The unit sold for US$199, or US$400 bundled with a Sega Saturn. In 1997 Sega began selling the NetLink Bundle, which included the standard NetLink plus the compatible games Sega Rally Championship and Virtual On: Cyber Troopers NetLink Edition, for $99.
1994 has seen many sequels and prequels in video games and several new titles such as Super Metroid, Donkey Kong Country and Sonic & Knuckles.
XBAND was the first competitive online console gaming network, and was available for Super NES and Genesis systems. It was produced by Catapult Entertainment, a Cupertino, California-based software company. It is the only modem released in America to have been officially licensed by Nintendo. It debuted in various areas of the United States in late 1994 and 1995. Online console gaming networks were eventually stabilized in the sixth and later generations of video games, such as Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and Nintendo Switch Online.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a platform game developed and published by Sega for the Sega Genesis console, released worldwide in November 1992. It is the second main entry in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, and introduced Sonic's sidekick, Miles "Tails" Prower, controllable by a second player. In the story, Sonic and Tails must stop series antagonist Dr. Ivo Robotnik from stealing the Chaos Emeralds to power his space station, the Death Egg.
The GameCube is one of Nintendo's home video game consoles and part of the sixth generation of video game consoles. Although the competing PlayStation 2 and Xbox consoles supported substantial amounts of online games, the GameCube had only eight games with internet or local area network (LAN) support. Nintendo never commissioned any servers or internet services to interface with the console, but allowed other publishers to do so and made them responsible for managing the online experiences for their games. Nintendo remained pensive with its online strategy for the duration of the GameCube's lifespan, defiant of growing interest from players and the success of Microsoft's Xbox Live online service. Company leaders including Shigeru Miyamoto and Satoru Iwata based their stance on concerns with maintaining quality control over their games and doubts that players would want to pay subscription fees.
PlayCable was an online service introduced in 1980 that allowed local cable television system operators to send games for the Intellivision over cable wires alongside normal television signals. Through the service, subscribers would use a device, called the PlayCable adapter, to download the games for play on their Intellivision. It was the first service that allowed users to download games for play on a video game console. PlayCable was not widely adopted, due in part to high costs for users and operators, as well as limitations of the PlayCable adapter. The service was discontinued in 1983.
A ROM cartridge, usually referred to simply as a cartridge or cart, is a removable memory card containing ROM designed to be connected to a consumer electronics device such as a home computer, video game console or, to a lesser extent, electronic musical instruments. ROM cartridges can be used to load software such as video games or other application programs.
Online console gaming involves connecting a console to a network over the Internet for services. Through this connection, it provides users the ability to play games with other users online, in addition to other online services.
The Sega Genesis Mini, known as the Mega Drive Mini in regions outside of North America, is a dedicated video game console modeled on Sega's Genesis in miniature. The Mini will emulate the original console's 16-bit hardware and include 42 pre-installed games, including two that were never released for the original console, which were ported by M2. It is set for release worldwide on September 19, 2019.