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Gaming History You Should Know: The Sega Channel November 18, 2016

Posted by Maniac in Gaming History You Should Know, Uncategorized.
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Nowadays we take our digital broadcasts for granted when it comes to entertainment content. Those coaxial cables currently running throughout our houses can provide us all sorts of entertainment content ranging from HD Cable, High-Speed Internet or Satelite TV, provided we use the proper decoder or modem to make use of it.  However, it didn’t always used to be that way.

As recently as two decades ago, those same coaxial lines could only carry analog video signals. While they typically didn’t need decoder boxes to function, there wasn’t a lot you could actually do with them. The original cable services were limited in a lot of ways.  It couldn’t provide internet access just yet, so users who wanted internet would have to get it through their phone line at exceptionally slow speeds or have to pay for an expensive fiber service.  Finally, analog picture quality could easily become distorted with interference and there were a lot of factors that could cause it.

In the early to mid 90s, Nintendo and Sega were fighting the 16-bit gaming war to a near standstill. However, both companies provided great products with quality exclusive games, making both companies successful.  Then, riding the enormous success of the Genesis console, Sega announced the Sega Channel, a games-on-demand service offered through your cable provider!  I’m not kidding, here’s the actual infomercial cable providers would broadcast to promote the service. I remember seeing it twenty years ago while I was cycling through TV channels and it blew my mind!

So that was just a tease for was offered to gamers through the Sega Channel in the mid-90s. Meanwhile, we’ve only had digital games-on-demand rental services for modern games within the past five years.  I never used the Sega Channel service back in the day but I had a good friend at the time who did and I can attest that the service worked exactly as advertised.  How was Sega able to do it?

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering how the hell analog cable companies with so many technical limitations could offer such a robust service two decades ago!  Heck, my local cable provider couldn’t even offer me high-speed internet until nearly half a decade after everyone else did, and yet my area had the Sega Channel in the 1990s!  How was that possible?

I have been waiting quite a while for someone to produce an in-depth video about this service and the great guys over at Retro Game On finally answered that question. I hope you all enjoy this video as much as I did!

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