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The SEGA PlayStation

Discussion in 'General Sega Discussion' started by Skaarg, Jul 13, 2013.

  1. doc eggfan

    doc eggfan

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    But without that ease of piracy, we wouldn't still be getting dreamcast releases to this day. It was bad for profits, but actually good for market penetration. It's just a shame Sega couldn't ride it out and sunk far too much money into Shenmue.

    I think one of the biggest factors was the delayed and gimped release of Bleemcast. If that had been available much earlier and allowed backwards compatability with all PSone games, we would have had a different story on our hands. I know it would have been a rather cheeky way to win the wars, but I reckon it would have worked.
     
  2. Covarr

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    It's astonishing how much "it plays games you can already play on your other system" is a selling point (or a bitching point, this generation).
     
  3. One other important factor you need to take into account is the high budget of Sega's Dreamcast games.

    No matter how much you like titles like Shenmue, the fact is that it cost Sega so much that there was no realistic way they could've recouped it - especially when Dreamcasts were being cut to $99 and less, and outright given away for free at points. Sega's poor budget management was almost as big of a factor as their past failures, and definitely moreso than piracy (Which honestly only really got crazy with the selfboots when the writing was already on the wall for Sega anyway.).
     
  4. Black Squirrel

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    Dreamcast piracy wasn't a thing in 2000*. People didn't own CD burners and the knowledge of this stuff didn't really spread until a few years down the line. It wasn't a mainstream selling point back then, it's something that sells the system today.

    At the end of the day, the Dreamcast was going up against a strong brand name, a cheap DVD player in an age where DVD players weren't cheap, and backwards compatibility in a home console which hadn't been seen since... the Mega Drive? I'm not sure you could have predicted most of that - Sega didn't.


    *PlayStation piracy was, but from what I recall this took a few years to really kick off - I remember pirate PlayStation games and modchips becoming a thing in... 1997? 1998? Yes this stuff was available from near launch but it didn't start to hit the mainstream until a lot later, and it's the mainstream that matters.


    The Wii U situation is very different. Aside from the fact the industry is far bigger than it was fifteen years ago (as in, to the point where the old ways are unrecognisable), the Wii U arrived late, was priced higher than its (superior?) competition, has been shedding developers and publishers since birth and is a very confusing and awkward piece of hardware for the masses to comprehend. The Dreamcast wasn't really any of those things (losing EA for political reasons, not economic ones) and the Saturn only failed on the price test (until 1997 at least, and you could even argue price isn't much of a factor (when home computers in the UK were big we paid like... £5 for a game, not £50 as became the "standard")).

    Hell the Dreamcast sold pretty well in its first year. Broke a few records IIRC (although the records don't date back very far). In some respects it's like saying Burger King fails because it doesn't have as many outlets as McDonalds - you can come in second or third or fourth and still do very well. Sega's financial woes came from projects like Shenmue and the bizarre "we want to be the next Disney" policies the company had back in the day - not strictly consoles. It's just a big deal because once upon a time Sega ruled the roost and now they don't. Apparently a similar thing happened to Pepsi when up against Coca-Cola - similar marketing too, read up on it


    as for the wider discussion... it's just... well... you're looking at everything as if we were still living in the 80s or 90s. I think you guys totally underestimate the massive shifts this industry has undergone in the last decade or more - very few of the old players are on the same form as they were two decades ago, and many have been repurposed to suit smaller markets. The only thing linking the modern Sega and the Sega of the 90s are some trademarks - yes the western and eastern arms talk to each other now, but the topics are so mundane and disinteresting in comparison to ye olde console wars it's really not worth caring.

    There are staff at the US branch who like to pretend this is 1996 but ultimately Sega has absolutely no desire to return to past levels of craziness. It's just a continuation of the long-running trend of terrible North American marketing. And there's nothing really wrong with having a different strategy, it's just tedious when this fact is covered up
     
  5. Uberham

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    No, but you usually need a year or two for any console to be reliably hacked with modchips and suchlike, and for the piracy scene to develop. I genuinely did not know a single person who had a dreamcast, sometimes from launch, who didn't have a boot disk and a shitload of pirate games.

    IIRC the first Dreamcast modchips were around in 99, and boot disks hit in late 2000.
     
  6. Josh

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    I really don't think that's accurate. Just about everyone I knew with a computer owned a CD burner by 2000, and I know for a fact that pirated releases were a regular and ongoing thing at the time. Add to the fact that the Dreamcast, by its nichey, enthusiast nature attracted a LOT of hardcore gamers who would KNOW how to figure this stuff out, and I'm positive that piracy impacted the Dreamcast in some way. Budget deficits didn't help at all, either.

    But the biggest reason for the Dreamcast's failure was undoubtedly Sega's own reputation. The Sega CD, 32X, and Saturn had made them a joke among most gamers. I remember my mom telling me about the day she picked up my Sega Saturn for Christmas, and the guy at Toys R' Us laughed and said that she should get me a PlayStation instead.

    People to this day adore the Dreamcast because it was one of the last consoles targeted EXCLUSIVELY at gamers. But in retrospect, most gamers at the time were going to pass on it and wait for the PS2 no matter HOW good the DC looked. It would've been better for Sega to take the hit, put in a DVD drive, and target the mainstream for a bit with a cheap DVD player, because that was just about the ONLY thing carrying the PS2 for the first year or so of its release.

    The PS2 launched in the US in October 2000. But it was announced (complete with bullshit specs) in April 1999. You drew a parallel to the Wii U, and I will too. I think it would've been better for Nintendo to wait and launch THIS year, and have fucktons of games at launch and in the pipeline. But if Sega had delayed the launch to 2000 and tried that, it still wouldn't have mattered. The PS2 hype train was just too strong, and no matter how much they'd dropped the price, a lot of people would've just ignored it. It was a catch-22: people expected Sega to abandon the Dreamcast early like they had so many times before, and that expectation forced Sega to do just that.
     
  7. Andlabs

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    Actually, Sega DID do that with the Dreamcast: it was launched in November 1998 in Japan with only four launch titles, and from then to the North American launch, a sizeable list of games were released in Japan (some Western-developed) that would be come launch titles overseas.
     
  8. Black Squirrel

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    You're looking at it retrospectively. From today's perspective yes, it looks like a niche console which commands high praise solely from gaming enthusiasts, because that's more-or-less the only audience the Dreamcast can possibly appeal to in 2013. In 1999 and 2000, the console was fairly mainstream for a bit - normal people bought it, and I stand by the fact normal people didn't own CD burners (and even if they did, word didn't spread of the Dreamacst's loose protection amongst the mainstream until well after this stuff could have affected sales).

    I don't think I knew anyone with a CD burner in 1999 that they could easily access and use (bearing in mind we were kids, and consoles are often bought for kids). Maybe we were living in some povety-struck area but I honestly doubt it - even if you take the practical knowledge of this stuff out of the equation, it presents moral dilemmas, and I'm sure many hardcore Sega fans prefer to support the company in a legitimate way (and own legitimate copies of products)

    And I'm genuinely not convinced the Sega brand had been tarnished all that much in the UK - 32Xes, Mega CDs, Saturns - they weren't so much "damaging" systems as they were "forgettable" ones (and I suspect Mega CD and Saturn owners were reasonably satisfied with the product - not like an Atari 5200 which you can barely use). I mean look at how much support the Amstrad CPC received over the course of its life - the UK games market was very keen to keep the underdogs in the race. But there's lots of little factors that could affect things - the Dreamcast retailed for something like £199 at launch, which might make up for the fact previous systems hadn't delivered - that sort of thing

    The Nintendo 64 did uh... "reasonably" well in the UK I suppose (they were pretty common during my childhood anyway). That was off the back of a poor NES and SNES showing where Nintendo charged too much and cared too little. I just don't think this stuff was big enough for reputations to be destroyed by consoles that could only manage second (or third) best. But I imagine that was different in the US


    the best comparison I can think of here is Microsoft, or more specifically Windows. Windows 7 sales weren't really stunted by Vista, and I'm sure people would pick up Windows 9 if it u-turned on some of the stuff introduced with Windows 8. I suspect people are willing to forgive Microsoft for blunders after decades of good service - Sega was very good to people between about 1987 and 1994 so the same rule kind-of applies here. People didn't give up on Coca-Cola after New Coke. There's been some supposedly dodgy top class Ferraris but that brand is still sought after, etc.
     
  9. JaredAFX

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    We sure did have a CD burner in our PC. Maybe it depends on where you lived at the time, but here in the US, I know that my dad's Win98 (maybe 95?) Dell desktop had a CD burner. Then when we got a new Dell in 2003 or so, it had dual DVD drives for burning.

    I do see where you're coming from with the moral dilemma thing, though. However, I thought we already established that they killed themselves by having no idea of what a budget is. If that's true, than no amount of grief-filled gamers could have saved them.
     
  10. Hivebrain

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    CD burners weren't uncommon in 2000 (I got one off ebay in 2001). The problem is no-one could copy GD-ROMs, and most people still had dialup or slow broadband connections.

    In the late 90s there was a sort of "market stall" (consisting of a few stacked crates) in Sheffield that sold pirate PlayStation games. Occasionally the police would show up and the pirates would grab everything and run away. It was hilarious.
     
  11. Uberham

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    Those dudes were great, bread crates on top of cardboard boxes, with 3 mates keeping lookout for the coppers, epic stuff :)
     
  12. Josh

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    Well yeah, GD-ROMs were proprietary, but people VERY quickly figured out that the Dreamcast, for some reason, could still boot games from standard CDs. There was a little-used Japanese format called MilCD that could include pictures and video when inserted in a computer, and the Dreamcast could also boot them. Hackers used this to trick the DC into loading commercial games from CD. VERY late models removed this functionality. A lot of games could fit fully on one CD, but games like Shenmue had to have the voices downsampled.

    Maybe, but a lot of "normal" people didn't yet own computers in 1999, either. My point was that everybody I could think of with a computer (which was getting to be pretty substantial by that point) had a CD burner by 2000 or so, unless of course they owned one of those clunky old laptops.

    Well, the UK was always an incredibly loyal stronghold for Sega, so that may well have been the impression on that side of the pond. I mean, I'm pretty sure you guys had the only market where the Master System squashed the NES, and that's just mind-blowing from my perspective, haha. In the US though, it was a different story. You know how these days, even though Sonic's had a couple great games in a row now, every gaming journalist just HAS to start their preview of Sonic Lost World by babbling about the Sonic Cycle and "let's see if Sega can finaly get it right," and whatnot? That was kind of what a good chunk of gaming press was doing to the Dreamcast at the time. It was treated with a TON of skepticism, and every preview of the system pontificated whether you should get a Dreamcast or just wait on the PS2.

    As for piracy itself, according to the old SegaBase history pages, the first Utopia Bootdisc came out in June of 2000, and coincided nicely with virtually ALL of Sega's second-wave software titles completely failing to get anywhere near sales expectations.

    I don't know if I agree that it was THE major factor, as we've talked about. But I mean... a few years back, an independent duo called Duane and Brando released their first album online for around $8. It was paid for thousands of times and pirated hundreds of thousands of times. For a big name music group with a record label and a touring schedule and merch deals, piracy wouldn't hurt them so much. But when you're a smaller outfit, struggling along as Sega was at the time, it definitely impacted them pretty hard.

    It's easy to say what Sega should have done in retrospect. The Sega PlayStation could've turned the industry on its ear, but Hayao Nakayama certainly thought he was right to disregard Sony at the time, and given what he knew, I'd have agreed with him. Sega should have cut the price of the Dreamcast after holiday 1999 and built up as much of an install base as possible before the PS2 happened. Sega should've remembered that the Dreamcast could boot MilCDs, and included its planned protection against piracy with their games. Sega should NOT have spent so much money developing stuff like the zip drive, the DC MP3 player, and letting Yu Suzuki run wild with Shenmue when they were in no position to finance it.

    I think Sega knew that if the Dreamcast was anything other than a resounding success, they were going to have to drop out of the hardware market, and they blindingly pushed forward with everything they had to try to make it a success. That attitude shows through in the games of the time, in the marketing, and it's a big part of the reason the DC is so well-loved and remembered today.
     
  13. doc eggfan

    doc eggfan

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    Well, I remember Cartman was lusting over a Sega Dreamcast in an old episode of South Park, so things for the Dreamcast in North America can't have been that dire - it at least entered the zeitgeist of America for a short while.
     
  14. LockOnRommy11

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    He did with the Wii too, and no matter how much that sold, it was never as popular for proper gaming as the PS3 or 360.
     
  15. Dark Sonic

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  16. "proper gaming" what does that mean, exactly? Last I checked "gaming" meant playing video games, and if memory serves the Wii was pretty good at handling that. It might not've been as popular among neckbeards, but the numbers don't lie, that thing sold. I have family that are STILL playing Wii Sports at family functions.
     
  17. Chibisteven

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    I did. In fact I didn't know anyone that actually had a boot disk and I didn't know what that was until the Dreamcast was tooken out back and shot. Piracy was not a major issue (if in fact a minor one), LOL, come to think about the average Dreamcast owner didn't bother with it back then. People may have had burners in the computers but most people didn't really know how to use them or knew they had them until someone pointed it out. 1999 was a lot different compared today. The average TV had composite connectors, few people were aware of Dreamcast VGA capability and most soccer moms didn't even bother to get anything that fancy for their kids. The average connection was 56k.