With Nintendo already sweeping sales with Famicom, Sega responded in the fall of 1985 with the Mark III. A gaming console that followed the design of the SG-1000 Mark II line, and was its evolution. It also maintained SG-1000 backward compatibility. More specifically, in the triptych processor-graphics-sound used the combination of integrated Zilog Z80 - Texas Instruments TMS 9929A - Yamaha YM2413. In other words, it used the standard MSX hardware, slightly advanced. Compared to its big competitor, the NES, the Sega console is clearly ahead in terms of sound, but not in terms of graphics, as it outperforms the colors, but lags behind in the most important area of sprites.
Within a year, the Mark III has sold just under a million sales in the Japanese market without being able to threaten NES. The big bet was the US market, where the Sega console, after a complete redesign and renaming to Master System, made its arrival in the summer of 1986, at a price of $200. Sega's choices in the US market proved to be wrong. For the first two years, Master System was unable to compete with NES, with sales dropping to about 1/5 of NES sales. In addition, Nintendo's tactic of not allowing its franchises to switch to other platforms left Sega with minimal support from game developers. In 1988, Sega chose the gaming company Tonka to take over the promotion. Tonka, however, had no experience in this market and did not succeed. In 1989, while the successor to the Master System has already been introduced, the 16-bit Genesis, Sega also introduced a cheaper version of the console. Master System II was a more "light" and much cheaper version of Master System. And this choice turned out to be wrong, especially against Genesis, which did much better commercially than its predecessor. In total, Master System sales in the US did not exceed 2 million units.
But what the Master System failed to do in Japan and the United States, it did in the European market and in Brazil. Sega managed to take advantage of the fact that Nintendo promoted its console in Europe poorly (not at all in some countries). From September 1987, when the Master System entered the European market, until 1996, when its availability was completed, sales exceeded 6.5 million. 1.5 million in the UK alone. The success is also due to the fact that Sega has partnered with the most powerful local gaming companies. The device's European success was such that the following paradox was observed: American gaming companies made headlines for the Master System exclusively for the European market and not for the United States. He was even more successful in Brazil, where working with Tectoy proved invaluable. Tectoy not only promoted the console to the local market, but also developed a series of games in the Portuguese language, providing additional support. By 1996, sales of the Master System alone had reached 5 million units in the Brazilian market.