Is your body ready for the SEGA DREAMCAST 2? It probably isn’t, click to find out why!
See what I did there? Clickbait almost on the scale of IQ draining sites like Buzzfeed! It’s what the masses seem to want these days, the internet equivalent of a cliffhanger from a second week 1980s Doctor Who story.
I do have five reasons as to why the “Dreamcast 2” isn’t something that is going to happen in the foreseeable future but a little background first. I just can’t bring myself to do the actual Buzzfeed garbage of posting a picture with a half-baked line beneath it and call it an “article”.
I know passions about this subject are high among nostalgic fans who pine for the glory days of the 90s when the Genesis was the cool system to have and ignoring the 32X/Saturn problems, the Dreamcast was cool to have too. Well at least it is cool now, it obviously wasn’t enough to keep Sega in the hardware business against the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube.
On Arcade Heroes I got a laugh out of a troll by the name of “Zac Morris/James Braselton” who ran a blog dedicated to making grandiose claims about upcoming Sega hardware and their future in the business. PC-based arcade boards were not being made into home consoles, it was simply Sega continuing the tradition of giving their arcade hardware code names, which they have done for a couple of decades already. This post about the unveil of Ringedge/Ringwide preserves some of that history, if you want to call it that. When Ringedge ended up being exactly what I told him, it turned to Ringedge 2 being the home system with “AMAZING REAL TIME RAYTRACED GWAFIX!”. That didn’t pan out to be even close to true either and his last claim was that Sega Orbi was the next infusion of Sega hardware, sneakily entering into homes through a powerful set-top box except…it turned out to be a virtual zoo. Whoops. I’ve not seen him around making any more claims but for a time some were duped by his trolling.
On certain forums online you still will come across the subject, some people just can’t give up on the idea of having Sega branded hardware in their home. I came across such a thread today and I laid out a response to which I will repeat here with more detail. I know this is a “Fun Police” kind of thing but some people waste a lot of time getting their hopes up based upon fantasy data.
Sega releasing a new console right now would be a complete disaster because:
1) Sega is not in a financial position to undertake the R&D, manufacturing, marketing and software development support that a console would need to be successful. It can take not just millions but billions of dollars to make a successful dedicated They laid off a lot of people in the past few years and stated that their focus was going to be on a handful of IPs. October 2013: Sega Of America Confirms Layoffs / April 2014: SEGA’s European Offices Experiences Layoffs. Sorry but a turnaround isn’t happening when you don’t have the cash flow to keep people on your payroll. If only Sega was the US government where they could print and tax prosperity until they could afford it, amirite?
2) Console sales are not in a really good place at the moment. Sony is touting that the PS4 selling great right now – it is if you ignore sales from the last generation, where sales are DOWN from where they were. The economy has sucked for the past 6/7 years and in North America has posted a decline with the last GDP results (and if you believe it was because of that horribly unforeseeable thing called “Winter” then I’ve got some oil from a snake to sell you). There are probably a few million Sega fans that would buy it up initially but you need more than that to turn a profit on hardware that can compete. A large number of people need disposable income to spend on elaborate game consoles but little things like food and shelter might take precedence for most individuals and families.
Conventional wisdom in the past was that the market couldn’t handle more than 3 consoles but at the moment you have the stuff from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, plus the upcoming “Steam Machines”, PC gaming and a bunch of Android-boxes trying to figure out how they can win your loyalty. How exactly is Sega (or anyone else) supposed to jump into this and blow everyone away? Even companies like Apple and Amazon are taking the “safe” approach of the Android box. Why should I buy either of those? You tell me, I haven’t discovered any jaw-dropping selling point for any of them so far.
3) The Sega of the 80s or 90s isn’t the same company and exact group of people that it is now. They do have some talent there but likewise a lot of the talent has moved on to do other things. When some Sega fans discuss the company, they sound a lot like the same fanboys that discuss Rare and the glory days of their N64 development. “If only they would be like they were when they were independent. Curse Microsoft for holding them back!”. That is ignorant of reality in that none of the original guys that made Rare what it was in your childhood are with the company anymore, they haven’t been for a while now. Granted some of that in the Sega hardware side might be a good thing considering the 32X fiasco which led the company down the path of armageddon. But talent is important for any company, just ask AMD. You need people with knowledge and vision to create games and hardware that are remembered and you need to be able to pay those people (see point #1). Sega could get the necessary talent on board, if they could afford to pay them.
4) What does a game console need to thrive on the market? It either needs to be just as capable or more capable as it’s competitors in graphics/audio; if it lacks that then it needs a convincing gimmick about it that drives sales (see the Wii) and it needs a lot of games that make people say “I have to spend $300/$400/$500 on that system!”. You need those exclusive games that are so important it convinces the hardcore base to buy the system for that reason alone. They drive the hype but you need to build a really good variety of titles to get a more general audience to spend that cash on your products.
What is it that Sega has done as a software company in recent years that the fans really went crazy over? With their focus on Sonic those games have received OK reviews but would Sonic Lost World or Racing Transformed move units like Mario games have the power to do on Nintendo hardware? Not from the numbers we’ve seen. They focus on the Aliens license too but sometimes that doesn’t end well, see Aliens Colonial Marines. Like many companies, Sega thrived in the home sector because their arcade division was pumping out most of the hits that people wanted to play at home. That relationship doesn’t exactly exist now and Sega would be foolish to release all of their arcade stuff to home immediately as it would destroy their arcade market. That’s also known as shooting yourself in the foot. Also keep in mind that their main focus in arcades is to work with licenses like Transformers or Plants Vs. Zombies not creating brand new IPs or reinventing their old games, which is what many fans claim that they want.
5) This leads us to the cumulative fact that the risk is just too high and something like trying to support a console would bankrupt the company. Maybe some would like to see Sega go down in one last blaze of glory but I doubt that the people who remain working for the company want to risk that.
Notice on the arcade side where they still do hardware, they just modify PCs now. They don’t develop new stuff like the Model 1/2/3 series because it is not cost effective to do so. So the last truly unique hardware that they created was the Hikaru, made shortly after the Dreamcast and NAOMI. Everything else has been Dreamcast or PC-based. It was reported to be a very expensive board so with cheap PC hardware it became a risk-management venture to work on future systems.
So there you have it, if my logic is flawed I am sure I will hear about it but I just don’t see how they could possibly make it in the current market. They certainly understand that too which is why you never hear Sega suggesting that a new console is in the roadmap for their future. The same thing goes for Atari, they used to be top dogs in the industry and I know of a few Atarians clamoring for a new systems but I have no idea why they would want to spring for that under the current management, who is going down the road of underpowered mobile hardware and “exclusive Youtube content!” that no one is asking for.
I’m not saying it will “never” happen but at the moment there is nothing about the possible endeavor that makes any sense.