Microsoft vs. Nintendo vs. Sony

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A tribute to the Sega Dreamcast

Before I begin, thanks to all loyal reader of my blog!! I wrote this because I think the Dreamcast was a kick ass system with cool features. I was also reminiscing about past video game consoles I own and wanted to write a tribute about Dreamcast. I'm so glad I still have mine. It will always have a special place in my heart in gaming. I also wanted to talk about it since it has been a decade since the end of the Dreamcast.

Anyways, onwards to the greatness of SEGA..

The great Dreamcast Games:

The Sega Dreamcast was released on November 27, 1998 in Japan; on September 9, 1999 in North America (the date 9/9/99 featured heavily in U.S. promotion); and on October 14, 1999 in Europe. The tagline used to promote the console in the U.S. was, "It's thinking", and in Europe, "Up to [6 Billion] Players."

Sega Dreamcast was the first console to include a built-in modem and Internet support for online gaming. Previous consoles such as the Genesis, Saturn, NES and SNES had online capabilities, but these were comparably limited and/or required extra hardware (XBAND, NetLink, Sega Channel).

Sega Dreamcast enjoyed brisk sales in its first season, and was one of Sega's most successful hardware units. In the United States alone, a record 300,000 units had been pre-ordered and Sega sold 500,000 consoles in just two weeks (including 225,132 sold on the first 24 hours which became a video game record). In fact, due to brisk sales and hardware shortages, Sega was unable to fulfill all of the advance orders.

Sega confirmed that it made US$98.4 million on combined hardware and software sales with Dreamcast with its September 9, 1999 launch.



In April 1999, Sony announced its PlayStation 2. The actual release of the PS2 was not until March 2000 in Japan, and October 26, 2000 in the United States. Sony's press release, despite being a year ahead of the launch of the PS2, was enough to divert a lot of attention from Sega. With the looming PS2 launch in Japan, the Dreamcast was largely ignored in that territory. While the system had great initial success in the United States, it had trouble maintaining this momentum after news of the PS2's release. The PS2 sparked the DVD market and hadn't caught on in Japan at the time and also was the cheapest DVD player.

Dreamcast sales grew 156.5% from July 23, 2000 to September 30, 2000 putting Sega ahead of Nintendo 64 in that period. For the month of November 2000, Dreamcast passed the Nintendo 64 as the second best selling system. During that time, the PlayStation 2 was plagued by production shortages, with people often paying in excess of $1000 on eBay for Sony's next-generation console. However, Dreamcast's online capabilities through SegaNet, and a price cut around the second half of 2000 (which made it half the price of the PS2) did little to help sales once the PlayStation 2 was launched. American public attention also noted the Playstation 2's much hyped graphics and its ability to play DVDs, as it cost less than a standalone player at the time.

A key to Sony's relatively easy success with the PlayStation 2 was that they already enjoyed brand-name dominance over Sega after the huge success of the original PlayStation, while Sega's reputation had been hurt due to commercial failure of the Sega Saturn, Sega 32X, and Sega CD. In particular, Sega's attempt to quickly kill off the struggling Saturn (which lagged in North America and Europe) in favour of Dreamcast had angered many third-party developers in Japan, where the Saturn had still been able to hold its own. While initial Dreamcast sales were strong, many prospective buyers and game developers were still skeptical of Sega and they held off from committing, possibly to see which console would prevail. By early 2001, game publishers abandoned Dreamcast development en masse in favor of the PlayStation 2 and canceled many nearly completed projects (notably Half-Life).

In 2000, the announcements of the Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube were widely regarded as the last straw for Dreamcast, which fueled speculation that Sega did not have the resources for a prolonged marketing campaign.

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