With the release of the Sega Genesis in 1989, Sega of America also began a very aggressive marketing campaign that targeted Nintendo’s NES system, which had owned nearly the entirety of the market up to that point. Because the Genesis had superior hardware to the NES, they focused on this fact in their ads. They also attempted to market their systems to a slightly older demographic, basically stating that the NES was just a toy for little kids while the Genesis was the console for more mature gamers. One of the slogans that many children of the 80s and 90s can easily recall is “Genesis does what Nintendon’t.” It was a commercial with this slogan that first introduced me to the Sega Genesis, and it was this marketing tactic that led me to ask my parents for a Genesis when I was finally able to convince them to buy me a new console.
The slogan was catchy and edgy, but it was also true. The Genesis was a next-generation console that had 16 bit graphics compared to the NES’s 8 bit. This meant that the Genesis was much better when it came to porting hit arcade games over to it and allowing people to play these games at home. With this in mind, the first game that came with the Genesis was the popular arcade game Altered Beast. While this game was short and simple, side-by-side comparisons between the arcade version and Genesis version showed that the Genesis was capable of bringing arcade games into people’s homes with only a slight downgrade in quality.
Thanks to the Genesis, Sega was able to grab a share of the market beginning in 1989. Nintendo, however, would not be outdone, and the real competition would come with the release of the Super Nintendo in 1991.