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Follow-up on Sega news below - True Red 2:48 am 01-24-01
Rumors have once again surged to the forefront of the Dreamcast newswire: the typically reputable Nihon Keizai Shimbun reports that Sega has concrete plans to cease production of its Dreamcast hardware in March, and will move forward with plans to develop for other hardware platforms, specifically, Sony's PlayStation 2 and Nintendo's GameBoy Advance platforms at the start of fiscal year 2001.
The story goes on to say that Sega will continue to market the Dreamcast console, but will cut off sales as soon as it gets rid of its existing inventory. The Japanese newspaper also indicates that Sega will continue to support the Dreamcast via software in 2001, with some 100 titles expected to hit the console over the course of the year.
Obviously, information like this is cause for some serious concern on the part of Dreamcast owners everywhere, so we got in touch with Sega to see if there was any truth to the report. Vice President of Communications for Sega of America, Inc. Charles Bellfield, denied any truth to the story, stating, "Obviously it's a very slow news day, and people are very bored."
He continued by explaining the source of the story, which has since spread across the 'Net to various game-related publications, as well as respected mainstream news sites like MSNBC, by saying that the whole thing was a complete misunderstanding and is 100% false.
"This is the continued misinterpretation of facts based on an announcement Sega Japan made last October 2000. It was a mistranslation then and it's a mistranslation now. It's rumor building upon rumor and I can honestly confirm on this point that Sega has said nothing about its intention to make PlayStation 2 or any other console games, except for Dreamcast. Dreamcast is a core part of our business. Next week you will see new announcements based on the further technology and improvements on the Dreamcast, which we will continue to support." Bellfield went on to explain that the source publication, Jiji news, apparently pieced together the story after hearing little back from Sega on the rumor, which has been circulating nearly as long as the Dreamcast hardware itself.
He continued, "The press releases from the business announcement we posted last year doesn't include other consoles, but other electronic devices, i.e. digital cameras, phones, etc. I realize that is a very bold announcement, but this current news story is rumor mongering and speculation. Sega will make these new announcements next week."
Just exactly what Sega's exact plans are going forward remains to be seen. Obviously, if Sega has plans to support the Dreamcast through this calendar year, owning up to outside console development this early in the game could be potentially damaging for the company's current interests. Add to this the fact that commenting on any software deals with current hardware publishers could easily hamper any negotiations with other players who plan to enter the market in the near, and you can see why Sega is being careful with its words at this point.
The release Bellfield mentioned above commented on Sega's intent to "take other strategic measures such as utilizing its vast software library of more than 1,000 titles to develop content for other consumer entertainment and mobile devices, making full use of Sega's renowned brand and characters to expand its game software business." The original wording of the document was somewhat vague, and an initial translation may indeed have led many to believe Sega was loosely proclaiming its intention to develop for other hardware platforms.
Sega quickly refuted such rumors, reiterating its continued commitment to Dreamcast, and as was the case last October, Sega has released an official statement today about the latest rumblings saying:
"Sega of America stated today that the company globally reaffirms its commitment to Dreamcast. In fact, Sega has more than 100 games worldwide coming out for the platform in the next year. It is not Sega's policy to comment on rumors and the company has not made any statement regarding ceasing manufacturing of Dreamcast or development for other videogame platforms."
What is curious about such a statement, however, is that it does little to address the specific nature of the allegations found in said article. The piece, which also said that Sega would release over 100 Dreamcast titles in 2001, claimed that Sega has as many as five PlayStation 2 titles presently in development, and that in March, Sega plans to stop taking orders for Dreamcast hardware -- neither of which Sega even slightly hinted at in said announcement.
It is interesting to note that earlier rumors linking Acclaim to Sega-developed PS2 titles also listed the number of titles in development at five. It remains to be seen if said titles are, in fact, the same titles mentioned above, or completely different projects.
Also curious is a new hardware package which Bellfield hints at in his quotes above. Could these rumors of halted Dreamcast development have to do with a new hardware configuration? Or is Sega really calling it quits? The picture remains a bit cloudy at present, but we will continue to follow the story, and should have some sort of update next week following Sega's announcement.
Says Bellfield, "In the next week or so, Sega will make some new announcements about the Dreamcast that will help to explain our future strategies. At that point you'll be able to see that Dreamcast technology will incorporate a whole new videogaming experience. Our future is very, very rosy." For the sake of the millions of Dreamcast owners worldwide, we hope you're right, Charles.
Sega developing for other platforms and dropping the Dreamcast! - Bumper 15:19 pm 01-23-01
Well, well... looks like Sega is taking out the DC and is becoming a developer. Below is more on this breaking story.
Yahoo! Japan News has a report from the Jiji Tsushin (sort of like a Japanese version of the Associated Press) that confirms what many have been expecting: Sega, after battering losses and dwindling Dreamcast market support, will soon begin creating software on the PlayStation 2 platform. According to Jiji, this move is part of a massive company restructuring that will be officially announced before the end of the month. Development for Microsoft's Xbox will also reportedly come under consideration.
When asked for a comment, Heather Hawkins, Marketing Communications Manager for Sega of America, replied, "Our official stance is to not comment on rumors. These are just more of the same [rumors] that have been floating around for a while."
Rumors of imminent earth-shattering events at Sega have run wild for several weeks now -- Sega had to deny that Nintendo was going to buy them after a year-end New York Times report alleged that negotiations were underway. News of Sega's PS2 support had popped up on Japanese game-news sites early Monday, but Jiji is the first reliable source to divulge the info.
And then, later in the day, this was reported...
According to the Nikkei, Sega of Japan will not only make software for other systems, such as the PlayStation 2 and the Game Boy Advance, but also will cease all production of the Dreamcast console by the end of March. Sega will market the machine through fiscal 2001, but will stop once inventory is thoroughly depleted. Despite ceasing production, Sega still will support the system with software in 2001, and expects to release around 100 titles throughout the year (presumably first-and second-party titles). This report also provides more information on Sega's plans to develop for other consoles. The company is reported to have at least five titles in development for the PlayStation 2 and two titles for Nintendo's Game Boy Advance, which launches on March 21 in Japan.
Earlier today, Sega of America Marketing Communications Manager Heather Hawkins told us, "Our stance is to not comment on rumors. These are just more of the same [rumors] that have been floating around for a while." But with multiple reliable Japanese news sources (like Yahoo! Japan, Jiji, Nihon Keizai Shimbun and Nikkei), it seems irrefutable that Sega is indeed abandoning the hardware market and changing its strategy to a multiplatform software approach.
Sega of America will have a more official statement for the press later today. We'll keep you posted.
Well, this is big news, and will soon get much reaction after Sega releases their official statement...