This week has seen a veritable barrage of news and
rumors about the future of the Dreamcast, and, by proxy, Sega. Reports began surfacing on
January 23 that Sega would no longer manufacture Dreamcast units. That same day, Sega sent
us, and many other gaming news organizations, a
press release confirming their support for the Dreamcast platform and giving a big
"no comment" about the rumors of halted production.
Part of the confusion has stemmed from the
fact that Sega of Japan and Sega of America are pretty different companies. While
decisions made in Japan still affect the American branch of the company, the Dreamcast has
done much better in the US marketplace. By January 25, the Japanese corporate heads were
confirming the rumors -- a global restructuring of Sega will take place and hardware
manufacturing will go out the window. That decision would undoubtedly affect the American
branch of Sega as well as the supply of Dreamcast units in the US.
So how can Sega do this to us? Are gamers in
Japan really so different that they don't recognize the prowess of the Dreamcast as a
gaming system? Did they not play Shenmue,
Jet Grind Radio, Chu Chu Rocket, NFL2K1, Skies of Arcadia, or any of
the other amazing Dreamcast titles? With amazing prices for both hardware and software,
why aren't more people catching on? And what about those of us who have?
For some, it sounds far too familiar, and
rumblings of Sega "letting us down again" have been heard across the web. The
fact of the matter is, Sega is in financial trouble, and they're doing what they think
will give them a way out. Developing games for other platforms, focusing on software and
online gaming are the lights at the end of the tunnel for Sega. But why not just stick
with their own kick-ass and very reasonably priced console?
We admit, it doesn't make much sense. Then we
started hearing a whole new batch of rumors. Just as we were wallowing in our sorrow,
finally accepting the truth of the situation, we started seeing things like this Gamers.com article. They have
a "secret source" who let them in on a big secret: The Dreamcast chip, developed
last year, will be built into the Xbox.
That's right -- the Xbox just might sport a whole extra gaming system under the hood.
That's right in line with Sega's professed plans to include the Dreamcast chip in various
electronic devices, thereby making everything a Dreamcast, too.
According to the Gamers.com article, the
Dreamcast chip has already been incorporated, and on the first day of the Tokyo Game Show
(March 30) Bill Gates will announce that Xbox will play Dreamcast titles right out of the
box. Although Microsoft released one of those oh-so-diplomatic statements reiterating that
it is not their policy to comment on rumors, the gaming industry expects Xbox-related
announcements at the Tokyo Game Show to include the unveiling of a partnership with a
large game publisher in Japan. Conventional wisdom says that publisher has got to be
either SquareSoft or Sega.
Add in the close relationship that Sega and
Microsoft have developed, the fact that the Dreamcast supports Windows CE, the similarity
of the Xbox controller to the DC controller, and Bill's leading comments about high-tech
chipsets that have yet to be actually implemented into the Xbox, and you've got yourself a
whole hell of a lot of rumor fodder. We're not trying to perpetuate unfounded rumors here,
but the thought of this deal really excites us. We won't know anything for sure until the
Tokyo Game Show, and even then we're sure that Microsoft and Sega will save something
juicy for E3, but rest assured that as soon as we know we'll give it to you.