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Sega ISP to launch 7 September

Focus shifts to PC as well as Dreamcast - so that's it for the console then?

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Sega is putting its full weight behind online gaming, when it launches its SegaNet ISP on 7 September, part of a major attempt to keep its head above the marketing tsunami that will mark the launch of Sony's PlayStation 2 in the US and Europe.

And, in a major shift of strategy that de-emphasises console gaming, Sega will push its ISP at online gamers who use other platforms.

Sega today announced it has licensed French software developer NexGen's TCP/IP software, NexGenIP, to allow Dreamcast games authors to build online multiplayer action into their upcoming titles.

Tucked away in the release is the phrase: "On September 7th, Sega will take gamers where gaming is going - which is online." Licensing NexGenIP now doesn't give developers much chance of meeting that deadline, so the announcement must be something more than a mass software release. Sega announced SegaNet, an ISP aimed initially at Dreamcast users, last April. SegaNet was then said to be scheduled for an Autumn launch, and indeed, 7 September appears to be the date Sega has pegged for the ISP's debut.

And then there's this: "SegaNet is also an ISP for Sega Dreamcast and PC users, offering gamers everything they need to know about gaming." [our italics]

Clearly Sega is hoping to tap not only into the broader PC-based online gaming community, but may even be hoping to leverage the 'PlayStation envy' of gamers fancy the PlayStation 2 but are unwilling to splash out on the hardware having invested in one of the alternative platforms.

Late last year, Sega chairman Isao Okawa hinted that Dreamcast would be Sega's last console - instead the company would look to software and services as the basis for its business. Sega's moves during 2000 to launch an ISP and to use a $200 rebate on Dreamcast purchases to sell subscriptions to that ISP (see Sega US preps free Dreamcast lure for its ISP) suggest that Okawa was indeed describing a new 'if you can't beat PlayStation 2 and X-box, join 'em' strategy.

Not that Sega has abandoned Dreamcast. The NexGen licensing release also states that "Sega Dreamcast currently has more than 80 titles available. The total Sega Dreamcast game library count will be more than 200 in the year 2000". In other words, the console's list of titles will more than double in the last four months of 2000. Hmmmm... don't hold your breath, we say. ®

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