Taking a look back at SEGA’s last home console.
As the community looks to the future on the day that Destiny is set to change our perceptions of how gaming should be we take a fond look back at SEGA’s last hoorah in the home console market as the Dreamcast turns fifteen years old.
Though originally launched in Japan on the 27th of November 1998, it was on the 9th of September 1999 that the SEGA Dreamcast made its debut in the United States with Europe following in early October and Australia shipping out in late November. Despite a troubled launch in Japan the US release went smoothly and the console was well received with 300,000 pre-orders and sales topping 500,000 within two weeks.
The Dreamcast came as a desperate attempt to regain the success that SEGA had enjoyed with the Genesis/Megadrive. Ground was lost as Sony seized the home console market with their debut Playstation and Nintendo’s more powerful N64 outperformed SEGA’s 32bit Saturn. The company set about developing their next console, even spending two years working with Microsoft on an operating system based on Windows CE.
It was Sony again who initiated a rapid decline in sales for SEGA’s machine with the announcement of the Playstation 2 which would hit the market in 2002 followed by Microsoft debuting their first console, the Xbox, in the same year. Without the resources necessary to compete and with the machine lacking in functionality promised by the new consoles (the inability to play DVDs proving key) SEGA conceded and discontinued the Dreamcast in north America in March 2001, Europe followed in late 2002 whilst limited support in Japan continued up until as late as 2007.
In many respects the Dreamcast was way ahead of its time. Each console came boxed with a modem to access the internet allowing users to play games online as well as introducing the ability to talk to others ‘in-game’ over the web. It could be said that the Dreamcast was the spiritual predecessor of the Xbox with many titles first available on the former receiving a sequel on the latter and a noticeable similarities between the Dreamcast and first Xbox controllers.
It wheezed, it spluttered and it had a fan that was loud enough to rival a jumbo jet, but it will be fondly remembered as a key step in console history towards the current generation that we praise so highly now. Dreamcast, we salute you!