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RIP Dreamcast: March 2001

No one really liked it

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Reports that Sega was going to kill off the Dreamcast games console at the end of March have been confirmed by the company. It was costing Sega a small fortune and never really took off to the extent it wanted.

And so while Sonic sobs into his pint, Sega will concentrate on developing games for other platforms - PlayStation, GameCube and Xbox - and work at its Internet business. Not that any of this should come as a big surprise - Sega's chairman Isao Okawa said at a do in November 1999 that Dreamcast would be the last console and the company would move out the hardware market. Sega doesn't exactly rush into anything.

Dreamcast was first launched in Japan at the end of 1998 and was the first console to offer connection to the Internet. However, it immediately suffered from a lack of software - the games console curse time immemorial - and the Internet aspect needed more work. So it cut prices and offered all kinds of deals to tie people in with its Net portal SegaNet. This cost it a truckload of money and then PlayStation et al arrived and shat on it from high. And so it had to go.

News of the imminent death of Dreamcast was first broken a week ago in Japan's Nikkei newspaper. This was promptly "denied" by Sega US' professional white-lie teller Charles Belfield. "Sega remains committed to the Dreamcast format going forward," he said. The first sign of this commitment comes in the form of a 33 per cent slash in prices so Sega can get rid of stock. Dreamcasts will soon cost $100 instead of $150. We can't decide whether this is a bargain or not.

Now Belfield has said shopkeepers can ultimately decide the console's retail price, that it will be available throughout the year and Sega will make another 30 games for Dreamcast over the year. How much of that you want to believe is up to you.

So there you have it. RIP Dreamcast, 31 March 2001. [Unless of course this is some kind of huge April Fool's Day gag - you know how the Japanese love daft jokes.]

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