History of Sega in Germany

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History of Sega in Germany
Official Sega distributor(s): Ariolasoft (1986-1988), Virgin Games (1988-1991), Sega Deutschland (1991-2001), Big Ben Interactive (2001-2005), Sega Germany (2005-2012), Koch Media (2012-present)

West Germany

In the 70s West Germany was one of the countries where Sega imported its game machines.[1]

In 1986 Bertelsmann created subsidiary called Ariolasoft to distribute software. It got rights to distributed the Sega Master System in West Germany from October 1986. Early German Master System releases often had German language covers and instructions.[2]The initiative was not successful because retailers did not have trust in consoles due to heavy loses after 1984 video games crash. Mastertronic which was far more successful in UK, got premission to distribute system in Germany from September 1988 when Virgin Games was established. They manage to market Master System to more suitable audience and cleaned distribution network, but the brand catch on with Mega Drive.[3][4]


Virgin began marketing Mega Drive from Autumn 1990, Master System II from early 1991 and Game Gear from mid-1991. Virgin's European Sega distribution business was united in late 1991, with the new company named Sega Deutschland.

Mega Drive was very big in Germany and far more better in sales then Master System and any next Sega system[5], but it was not as popular as Super Nintendo and was one of the few markets in Europe were Sega did not beat Nintendo in 16-bit war. One of the main reason was that Mega Drive best games were often banned in Germany by youth protection law (see List of games banned in Germany), meanwhile Nintendo had more family-friendly hit games[6]. Of course, results between West and East Germany might be different due to economic situation where more expensive SNES was probably not as popular as cheaper Sega in East part of the country but this was not confirmed yet. Two systems were heavy promoted and Sega's main marketin campaigns were Games People Play, Wo ist mein Sega?, Der Bessere gewinnt and Games World.

When SNES marketed its games with Super FX, Sega tried to market Mega-CD II with Sega TV and Mega Drive 32X with Get Your Kicks but without much luck. In January 1996, TCI's technology group got the rights to distribute Sega Channel in Germany. Service was launched as a test service in Kaiserslautern by Deutsche Telekom.[7] Sega Saturn was not as succesful and sold more than 300 000 units which was less then Mega Drive, which sold fewer than 1 milion units.

Dreamcast was launch in the same time as rest of Europe and Germany was one of the key markets. Dreamcast internet was supposed to be carried on by VIAG Interkom.[8]

In 2001, Sega Europe closed its branch in Germany. This year, Sega Europe has chosen Big Ben Interactive as a distributor.[9]Sega Europe returned in April 2005 with Sega Germany[10] and Maxupport as customer service.[11]

Following restructuring in 2012 Sega Europe closed down it's German operations, handing over distribution to Koch Media.[12]


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