Released on Nov. 27, 1998 in Japan, and on Sept. 9, 1999 in North America, the Sega Dreamcast was the last console system released by the company, bringing to an end a lengthy and rich history in the home video game history. The question is, and has bothered fans of the system for years, is just what the heck went wrong that killed off a system that had a very loyal following.
On Feb. 14, 2002, Sega announced that it was discontinuing official support for the Dreamcast gaming console after only about three years in the marketplace. Fans were so devastated by this news that there were even shirts being sold in some stores in Japan at the time that showed the well-known swirl logo with the font spelling out “Dreamover” beneath it.
So the question people have wondered for years was what brought about the death of the much loved system. There really is no one answer from my research, but there is also a glaringly obvious answer: there were just too many consoles in the marketplace.
The Dreamcast was initially launched in 1998, and it suddenly had the following problems in fighting for shelf space:
- Playstation 2 – Launched March 4th, 2000 in Japan, and Oct. 26, 2000 in the USA
- GameCube – Sept. 14th, 2001 launch in Japan, Nov. 18th, 2001 in the USA
- Xbox – Launched Nov. 15th, 2001
There were now four major systems in the market. If you look at the date the system was killed in Feb. 2002, Sega had probably received the final sales figures for the 2001 holiday season and saw that its system just wasn’t going to be able to survive the onslaught of what was going on.
One of the biggest issues, was that the Playstation 2, beyond being a follow up to the insanely popular original PlayStation, was an affordable DVD player in a market where stand-alone players were still just too expensive for most people. Since it was also completely backward compatible with the original consoles games, it had an immense library games at launch that just couldn’t be competed with.
There were actually games for the Dreamcast released up until five years after the system was killed off due its popularity with its die hard fans. I fully admit I was a rabid Dreamcast fan, and I even bought a second system shortly after the announcement so I have a backup unit in case my original ever dies. Even with my admitted love of the system, I’m not sure I could tell you why I loved it so much. It was just a fun system, and I even fought buying one for about a year after its release until a friend just kept forcing me to play his and I fell in love.
Sadly it was just released at an odd time in the history of console. It came out sort of between generations and while it was ahead of one, it was way behind the next. Unfortunately the eventual death of the system brought an end to the Sega console legacy, and while the company continues on with producing games for other systems, it’s still somewhat sad we will never see another Sega branded console on the shelves.