This Day in Gaming History: May 11th, 1995 – The Sega Saturn Receives a Surprise Launch

By Michael Mygind Twenty years ago today on May 11th, 1995, Sega released the Sega Saturn in North America. With an original launch date of September 5, 1995, just one week before Sony’s home console debut with the Playstation, Sega’s then president, Tom Kalinske, made a bold move at the 1995 E3 expo. In an…

By Michael Mygind

Twenty years ago today on May 11th, 1995, Sega released the Sega Saturn in North America. With an original launch date of September 5, 1995, just one week before Sony’s home console debut with the Playstation, Sega’s then president, Tom Kalinske, made a bold move at the 1995 E3 expo. In an attempt to undercut the Playstation and stir up more buzz, he announced that the Saturn would be released on that very day. This infuriated not only stores who weren’t included in the release due to no supply of consoles, but publishers whose development window was reduced drastically. Because of this, the system launched with Virtua Fighter as a pack-in game and only four launch titles: Daytona USA, Clockwork Knight, Worldwide Soccer and Panzer Dragoon. Several retailers such as KB Toys refused to carry the console, and various publishers jumped ship to produce games for the Playstation instead.

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This decision severed ties with retailers and publishers, which ultimately sealed its fate in America with its discontinuation in 1998. However, the Saturn still retains a dedicated fan base to this day. With near perfect ports of Capcom and SNK’s arcade fighters, a healthy dose of RPG’s and a collection of fan favorite Sega arcade titles, the Saturn still has a lasting legacy.