The Dreamcast launched in November 1998 in Japan without much excitement, but the North American debut on September 9, 1999, was a great success.
Thanks also to a solid line-up of titles, including the likes of Soul Calibur and Sonic Adventure among others, the Dreamcast had a very good start. Sega sold 500,000 consoles in just two weeks, including a record 225,132 during the first 24 hours, and after its first price cut in mid-2000, it actually passed the N64 in terms of sales for a few months.
The Dreamcast was truly a pioneering product thanks to its internal modem
and online playing capabilities, but the times were not mature enough yet for such technologies. Internet infrastructure and penetration were still gaining momentum and things started turning ugly pretty quickly. Some high profile titles like Shenmue (which included the planning for two sequels and an overall budget as high as $70million) didn’t perform as well as expected despite critical acclaim, and when Sony released the PlayStation 2 in 2000, it was clear who would rule the new generation
Ultimately, Sega decided to discontinue the Dreamcast in 2001 after 10.6 million units were sold and to completely withdraw from the console hardware business to focus exclusively on software instead.
The Dreamcast, SEGA’s last console and the first to include a built-in dial-up modem and Internet support for online play.
Dreamcast is designed to reduce costs through the use of standardized components, including a Hitachi SH4 CPU and a NEC PowerVR2 GPU. If the Dreamcast is received fairly coldly by the Japanese public, its launch in Europe and the United States was a success, partly thanks to the vast marketing campaign launched by Sega. But the public interest in the console diminishes as Sony multiplies the announcements concerning its future console, the PlayStation 2. Despite several price cuts, the turnover does not meet Sega’s expectations and the business continues to experience significant financial losses. After a change of direction, Sega ceased marketing the console in March 2001 for North America, in 2003 for Europe, and in 2004 for Japan. The firm does not produce a new console and thus withdraws completely from the hardware environment of home video games by restructuring to become a third-party publisher. When production of the console was halted, 10.6 million Dreamcast consoles were sold worldwide.
Although the Dreamcast has had a short lifespan and limited support from third-party developers, critics have called it a console ahead of its time. Its game library contains many games considered to be creative and innovative, including Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio and Shenmue, as well as quality portages of many Sega games released on the NAOMI arcade system.