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Sega rents classic console titles via the Net

An olive branch to the emulation scene?

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Sega has begun offering Dreamcast users 30 games originally written for its pre-Dreamcast consoles for a Y150-a-title download. The service, dubbed DreamLibrary, provides Japanese Dreamcast users with both Sega MegaDrive (aka Genesis) and NEC PC Engine titles, all of which play under emulation on the Dreamcast. Essentially, users pay to download the game and play it for a day. Turn the console off and you lose the game, though you can re-download it for free during the rental period. It's a novel idea, and Sega can claim to have beaten Sony to it. Sony's plans to deliver PlayStation 2 users with a range of entertainment products via broadband Internet links includes the rental of PlayStation 1 titles. But Sony isn't due to launch its service until next year. However, novelty isn't necessarily Sega's only goal here - it's just as much about expanding Dreamcast's range of available software. And there's another side to all this: can the games be downloaded and run under any of the numerous PC-based emulators currently available? It's not clear at this stage whether that's possible or even whether Sega would countenance such a move if it were. But it certainly provides a neat way around the concern the games companies have over the use of technically illegal copies of games with emulators: if you can't beat 'em, sell to 'em. ®

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