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Adventures In Tech: Dreamcast: Sega's heroic failure

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Adventures In Tech: Dreamcast: Sega's heroic failure

4:06 /

Sega's Dreamcast was an innovative console masterpiece with a great games selection. So why did it fail so hard?

-Lots of gadgets are rubbish and fully deserving of their inevitable tricks to the landfill. But the Dreamcast was one of the best consoles ever made and yet it failed so hard that it killed Sega's entire gaming empire. Here's how. In 1997, the Sega Saturn was losing its battle against the N64 and PlayStation so you needed something fresh, a console that waved goodbye to the boring black plastic and said hello to a new generation of gaming. Little did Sega know that what it was building would be its final console? But when you look at how inventive the Dreamcast was, you can see why it still held in such high regard. For instance, as well as advanced graphics, the Dreamcast featured a built-in modem for playing games online, something that's now a huge part of gaming. Meanwhile, the controller played host to the VMU memory card, which plays many games or showed extra info during the game like how much ammo or health you have left. Say you had basically invented the concept behind the Wii U years before Nintendo, something that Sega and I have in common. The Dreamcast hardware was invented but so with the games. In its short lifespan it played host to the visually striking Jet Grind Radio and the Sprawling Shenmue. Then there was Crazy Taxi, Soul Calibur, Power Stone, Virtual Tennis, Sonic Adventure, Chu Chu Rocket, Skies of Arcadia, Fantasy Star Online and Seaman arguably the most disturbing game ever made. -I guess you are just very comfortable with seeing your naked body in all those positions. -With innovative hardware and a great line up of launch games, it seems like Sega who done everything right. So then, where did it all go so wrong? The Dreamcast hit the West on the 9th of September 1999, making Sega $100 million in its first day on sale in the US. Two-and-a-half months later, North American sales hit 1 million and it seem like Sega was back in the console race. But the following year something came along that extinguish the Dreamcast's hopes overnight. The PS2 was more expensive than the Dreamcast and required a network adapter to go online. But Sony's console had a few super powers that Sega just couldn't compete with. For example, the PS2 play DVDs, that's the time when dedicated player was still expensive. It was backwards compatible too making it attempting to those who already owned the first PlayStation. Sony had a good rep with gamers and its last console would be in a big hit so had loads of cash to spend on promotion. Sega on the other hand was losing money, slashing prices in an increasingly desperate bit to make the Dreamcast the success. But shoppers just weren't interested. -Welcome back to our 500 Vegas everything must go Dreamcast price crash. We still have 150,000 units left that I've just been told that if you order now, you will get me [unk]. I've been told that's legal, so why not pick up the phone? -With the Xbox and Game Q blooming, Sega couldn't support to keep fighting. In January 2001, it confirmed it was abandoning the world of consoles to make games for other systems. The Dreamcast had been on sale in the US for less than 18 months. Sega's last console was the best ever built but it wasn't enough. However, the Dreamcast spirit can be seen living on in another system altogether. Microsoft's Xbox-- more than a passing similarity to the Dreamcast from its controller to its focus on online gaming, Microsoft contributed to the Dreamcast offering a version of Windows CE that powered some Dreamcast games and giving Bill Gates [unk] away to quietly experiment with the world of game consoles. There are even rumors that Sega wanted Microsoft to make the Xbox backwards compatible with Dreamcast games but it was not to be. That's the Dreamcast that have special blaze in your inside events or did it deserve to fail? Let me know and check back next time for another adventure in tech.

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