The Dreamcast is a console from the renowned console and game developer SEGA. The console was released in 1998 in Japan and in 1999 in Europe and North America. The Dreamcast was the successor to the Sega Saturn. The Saturn had expensive hardware at the time, including two processors that made it difficult for developers to develop games for system. Compared to the Dreamcast was the PS1 a lot cheaper, easier to develop for and Sony had managed to attract many game developers. As a result, the Saturn lost out to Sony’s first console. The Saturn sold relatively poorly and contributed to the demise of Sega as a renowned gaming company.
Sega wanted to make up for the mistakes of the Saturn with the Dreamcast. The Dreamcast was a lot cheaper to produce than its predecessor. The console featured a single Hitachi SH-4 CPU and a NEC PowerVR2 GPU. Both processors were ‘off the shelf’ and could therefore easily be mass-produced. The processors were also comparable to those used in PCs. This made it easier for Sega to distribute development kits to developers early in development. It is essential to have a solid lineup at launch. Initially, Sega wanted to equip every Dreamcast with a modem (just like Apple with its Pippin 5 years earlier), but since this would increase the cost by $15 per unit, they decided to make the modum optional.
As the primary storage medium, Sega did not opt for the already established CD-ROM, nor for the new DVD technology. In the end, Sega decided, just like Nintendo traditionally did, to opt for its own standard, namely the GD-ROM. The GD-ROM was jointly developed by Sega and the Yamaha Corporation and could be mass produces at a similar price to a normal CD-ROM. This made it much cheaper than the DVD, but with 1GB it had more storage capacity than the CD-ROM (650 MB). Also, the GD-ROM standard made it difficult to illegally copy games that had plagued consoles like the 3DO and PS1.
Sega was very confident that the new Dreamcast system would be a success. The Dreamcast received a lot of media attention and was heavily pre-ordered. However, a shortage of chips threw a spanner in the works, so that the Dreamcast only appeared on the market in 1998 in Japan in a limited edition. Although the Dreamcast was completely sold out on the day of its release, sales dropped rapidly in the following weeks. The console wanted to quickly expand its market share before the PS2 appeared. However, this only worked to a limited extent. When major game developers such as EA, with its popular sports and racing games, declared that they would not develop games for the console, the Dreamcast fate was signed. The price of the console was lowered, causing Sega to lose out on sales. The sales of the games could not or hardly compensate for this loss on the hardware. In the end, the Dreamcast sold 9.13 million copies. Just under the 9.23 million Saturns sold. And in a much shorter time frame. Times had changed, however, margins narrowed, and a console could only be profitable with a substantially larger market share than the Dreamcast possessed.
Sega discontinued the Dreamcast on march 31th 2001, withdrawing from the console business and restructured into the third-party publisher they are today. In total, 9.13 million Dreamcast units were sold worldwide.
Although the life span of the console was very short, the Dreamcast is very popular among ‘hard-core’ gamers. The console was ahead of its time and its game library contains many games that have become cult hits, including Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio, Shenmue and many others.
|Dimensions||195.8 mm × 190 mm × 75.5 mm (7.71 in × 7.48 in × 2.97 in)|
|CPU||Hitachi SH-4 32 bit RISC 200 MHz.|
|GPU||100 MHz PowerVR2|