After refinement of the PC-Engine it was released in America in 1989, with its name changed to TurboGrafx-16. As the first 16-bit system in a market ready for a new format, the TurboGrafx-16 initially sold quite well, selling more consoles in its first month than its competitors had during the same period.
Video game players are a capricious lot. Trends in popular genres change yearly, with nearly as much modishness as the fashion industry. A particular type of game or system that is popular today, can become an embarrassment to own tomorrow. Unfortunately for NEC, the TurboGrafx-16 was to become the poster-child for this phenomena.
When the Sega Genesis was released, its dramatically more impressive graphics, sound and gameplay turned the TurboGrafx-16 passé overnight. The TurboGrafx became a stigma.
Ultimately, NEC was to blame for this. Having never produced entertainment software before, NEC designers had taken a casual approach to producing games. Many games had all the
flash of a 16-bit title, but with little by way of depth of gameplay. NEC also depended on third-party developers to build a library of games. However, most developers were contractually obligated to Nintendo, and could not produce software for NEC. In addition to all of this, the TurboGrafx was not true 16-bit. While its graphics processor was 16-bit, its main CPU was merely 8-bit (a 6820, to be exact).
Despite the poor sales of the TurboGrafx, NEC continued to promote the system. A CD-ROM upgrade made it the first CD console, and a refined, scaled down version would be released as a portable system. Its CD capabilities would give one very well known CD producing company, Working Designs, their start. However, NEC would never achieve much success with their TurboGrafx CD. The reason, as Sheff put it, was that "NEC has arrived too soon with too little." The TurboGrafx would later be reincarnated as the equally ill-fated TurboDuo, once again in direct competition with Sega. During its life, however, less than 1 million TurboGrafx-16 units were sold.