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Glitch mars Dreamcast's stellar launch

Sega reports Dreamcast sales reached nearly $100 million in the first 24 hours, but some faulty game and Web browser CDs frustrate customers.

Sega got a mix of good and bad news today.

First the good news: The highly anticipated Dreamcast console reaped $97 million in sales during the first 24 hours on the market, beating even the opening day gross of this summer's blockbuster Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, the company boasted.

But the explosive debut of the game console was marred by some faulty game CDs that resulted in some early customer gripes.

Sega's Dreamcast console has been touted as one of the first products to realize the much-hyped vision of convergence between television and computer.

Priced at $199, the device ships with a Web browser on a disc that allows gamers to access the Net from their television. The console features a 200MHz processor, 3D graphics chip, and preferred Internet access from AT&T WorldNet.

Sony is expected to introduce the next generation of its PlayStation next year, which will compete head-to-head with Sega.

Because the Dreamcast combines high-quality graphics, gaming, Internet access, and Microsoft's Windows CE-compatible content, pundits have projected that the console represents the next wave of home computing.

But that vision became a little cloudier today, amid complaints that some Sega titles did not work. Some Sonic and Blue Stinger games and Web browser discs from one manufacturer were faulty, a Sega spokesperson confirmed.

Less than one percent of games and less than one percent of browser discs were affected, the spokesperson said. The total number of games shipped was not disclosed. Sega released 18 game titles with the Dreamcast. "It's a small amount, but it's still important," the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Dreamcast units are flying off the shelves. The 15,000 retailers participating in the launch reported $97.9 million in sales in 24 hours. Sega announced it is upgrading its original projections of 1 million units sold by the end of 1999 and 1.5 million units by the end of March.

"Our wildest expectations have been exceeded and we believe this is only the beginning," said Chris Gilbert, senior vice president of sales for Sega, in a statement.

Sega is recommending that customers with non-functioning games return the discs to their retailer or send an email to Sega customer service with "Web browser replacement" in the subject line. Customers can also call 1-877-383-3291, Sega said.