Referred to as “the most damaging console launch in the history of gaming” by Forbes‘ Matt Gardner, the Sega Saturn's tale begins on a sour note. It all started at the very first E3; the fateful announcement was made that the new system was already available for purchase. While this might seem like it would have been a winning move on Sega's part, it was actually one of the company's biggest mistakes. Instead of thrilling gamers, many retailers were caught off guard and inadvertently snubbed, consumers were underwhelmed by the scant library, and the marketing failed to effectively promote the Saturn.
Unfortunately, the damage had a lasting impact, as some stores that were left out on launch day vowed to never carry another Sega console again. Why was the company so eager to rush this product out the door?
Sony's first PlayStation was around the corner, and Sega executives were concerned over the competition. The company wanted to beat Sony to the punch, but the move ended up backfiring tremendously, leading to Sony's famous price point announcement that crushed Sega.
The Saturn was not only pummeled by its competitors, but it set up its successor, the Dreamcast, for failure. Many E3s have happened since, but no announcement will hold a candle to the epic failure of the Sega Saturn.