ONLY TWO UNITS KNOWN TO EXIST FROM ABANDONED ‘PLUTO’ PROJECT
The Sega Pluto-02 Console Prototype from Sega’s canceled project to create a second model of the Sega Saturn console is among the most intriguing lots in Heritage Auctions’ comics and comic art auction scheduled for July 9-12.
“Project Pluto,” as it was known internally at Sega, was likely kicked off due to “The Price Heard Around the World,” as it is now called. Sega announced the U.S. release date and price of the Sega Saturn during its press event at E3 in 1994, only to have its $399 retail price famously mocked during Sony’s own press release minutes later with its $299 price announcement for the PlayStation. Despite the Saturn’s commercial success in Japan, the PlayStation’s cutting-edge polygonal graphics and its lower price point were a devastating blow to Sega’s under-produced, 32-bit console in the U.S. market.
Sega set out to make a second, lower-priced version of its Saturn Console to market exclusively to its U.S. customers, but the project was never officially disclosed to the public. Known internally as “Project Pluto,” this new version of the Sega Saturn would have included a built-in NetLink Internet Modem and hard drive. Had the project been completed and released to the public, it would have been the first video game console to have internet capabilities straight off the shelf.
“There are only two prototype units known to exist from this project, the Pluto-01 and the offered Pluto-02,” says Valarie McLeckie, video games director at Heritage Auctions. “Had a former Sega employee not disclosed the existence of this prototype, with photos of this offered unit, it’s certainly possible that this unannounced project ultimately could have been lost to time. We expect the provenance of this particular unit will make it especially alluring to both prototype and Sega collectors.”
A Nintendo PlayStation Super NES CD-ROM prototype (c.1992) realized $360,000 at a March 2020 Heritage auction.