Sega shares its Dreams

At its New Challenge Conference, Sega cut Dreamcast prices and announced an online network.

TOKYO - Sega held its New Challenge Conference '99 on Tuesday to announce its future strategy for the Dreamcast system.

The biggest announcement (one that GameSpot News broke in a story two weeks ago) was that Sega will drop the Dreamcast's price to $165 (19,900 yen) in Japan's retail stores starting on June 24. This is a markdown of $82 (9,900 yen) from its current price. To coincide with this markdown, five games (Virtua Fighter 3tb, PenPen Tri-Icelon, Sonic Adventure, Godzilla Generations, and July) will be retailed at $16 (1,990 yen) from June 24 through July 31.

Sega also announced that Shenmue has been delayed until October 28, due to Sega's need to "further polish" the game. However, the company did announce that it would soon start promoting Shenmue. Sega will give away videocassettes featuring Shenmue footage to people who buy the Dreamcast console or those purchasing Dreamcast games after June 24. Also, a playable demo of Shenmue will be handed out with new purchases of the Dreamcast console and future games.

New online gaming network
The conference also played host to several new project announcements. Sega and CSK will spend $165 million (20 billion yen) to build an online gaming network called Dreamcast Heat, which will span Japan, Europe, and the US. Once the network has been completed, gamers will be able to play their Dreamcast games with people in other continents.

Basically, it will offer the same kind of experience we've come to know with TCP/IP networks, but Sega claims that the connection latency will be much shorter than that of existing networks. Dreamcast Heat is expected to start by the end of this year in Japan, and the first game to use the network will be Interplay's RPG Baldur's Gate. Sega will use its new Dreamcast network for other services, including a video-chat feature that will use a video-camera peripheral for the Dreamcast.

Adding to the games already displayed at last month's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Sega officially announced a few more games for the Dreamcast:

Project Ares: A fully polygonal RPG from the people behind the Phantasy Star series. There's no release date yet for the game.

Virtua Striker 2 DC: The popular arcade soccer game is finally confirmed for a Dreamcast release sometime in the fourth quarter of 1999. Unfortunately, it isn't listed as an online game.

Super Robot Taisen: The highly popular simulation/RPG from Banpresto will make its way onto the Dreamcast. The game features many giant robots from the TV anime series of the same name. The Super Robot Taisen series of games has appeared on several other game systems since the early days of the Famicon/NES.

Sega also confirmed that Virtual On, D2, and Bio Hazard Code: Veronica are scheduled for the fourth quarter of 1999. Grandia 2 and F355 Challenge are expected to be release early next year. At the conference, Sega didn't mention anything about F355 Challenge (a recently announced Naomi Ferrari simulator) coming to the Dreamcast, but the game was listed as a confirmed title.

With all these new games, intensive programs, and gimmicks, Sega is expecting to sell 1.5 million Dreamcast consoles in the US, 700,000 in Europe, and one million in Japan, within this fiscal year.