|Fast facts on Windows PC|
From a Sega perspective, the Windows PC platform is any computer capable of running the Microsoft Windows operating system, typically Windows 95 and newer. The Windows operating system is so ubiquitous among computers that it can be safely assumed that a PC is a Windows PC unless specifically stated otherwise.
Windows 95 is seen as the catalyst which spurred Windows to become the dominant operating system across all computer platforms. Windows was originally designed for IBM PC compatible hardware, but the vast differences between Windows and the then-dominant operating system, DOS, means "games for Windows" are typically treated differently than "games for DOS".
For the purposes of simplicity, Sega Retro considers the IBM PC line and Windows PCs as two separate platforms. Offshoots such as Windows CE (employed on the Sega Dreamcast), Pocket PC, Windows Mobile and to a lesser extent, the Xbox line, are also treated as separate platforms.
Following the demise of the SC-3000, Sega licensed its properties out to third-party publishers during the 1980s and early 1990s, allowing for Sega titles to appear on home computer formats. Sega did not enter any home computer market itself (save for the occasional early 80s release by Sega Electronics) until November 1995, when it released Virtua Fighter PC as a pack-in title with Diamond Multimedia's NV1-powered graphics cards. In Japan, a Sega PC unit was established specifically for creating PC titles.
For most of the 1990s Sega's PC output consisted of Sega Mega Drive, Sega Saturn and later Sega Dreamcast ports, usually arriving one or two years after their console counterparts with various degrees of enhancements. Sega's joint venture with CSK, SegaSoft was more active in the PC space, publishing games during this period before going on to develop and manage the Heat.net service. A joint venture was also established with Soft Bank in 1996, creating a short-lived North American publishing arm Sega Entertainment.
Aside from novelty items such as Sonic the Hedgehog The Screen Saver, Sega did not begin publishing PC-exclusive titles until 1997, when it began releasing PC strategy games for the Japanese market. Sega's first PC exclusive title to be released in the West was 1999's Yoot Tower.
Sega became more involved in PC development in the mid-2000s, after Sports Interactive was acquired. The subsequent purchasing of The Creative Assembly soon meant that Sega was managing both the annual Football Manager series and the real-time strategy franchise, Total War. The transfer of Relic Entertainment from the defunct THQ in 2013 would give Sega a surprise monopoly in the PC strategy market.
As console hardware converged more towards PCs in the mid-2000s, it also became more common to see multi-platform releases also include PC ports. That is to say, a game like 2011's Sonic Generations, typically viewed as a console game, was simultaneously launched on the PC due to the relative ease of making the conversion.
Advances in internet download speeds and the creation of platforms such as Steam meant that physical copies of PC games became far less common across North America during the late 2000s. In Europe, the change from physical to digital has been more gradual, and in countries where the online infrastructure is either lackluster or highly regulated, boxed versions of PC games are often still preferable.