By Shawn Rider
Peter Moore, President and Chief Operating Officer for Sega of America, held a press teleconference this morning to detail Sega of America's plans for 2001 and to comment on Sega's worldwide strategy. In addition to announcing a new $99 price tag for Dreamcast beginning February 4 (the Sega Smash Pack will now be priced at $119), the company has decided on some strategies to move Sega from a lagging hardware manufacturer, to a "top of the heap" software developer and publisher. Moore outlined a three-pronged approach that will go into effect April 1 this year and continue through at least March of 2002. The basic approach involves the following: Sega is now a "platform agnostic" third-party game developer/publisher. Sega will license the DC chipset. Sega will focus on network strengths.
Sega will publish games for both the PlayStation 2 and the Game Boy Advance. So far, Moore announced the current lineup for the PS2: Virtua Fighter 4, Space Channel 5, Sega Sports Titles, and Sakura Wars. These games will not be ports; rather, they will be sequels developed specifically for third party systems. Games in line for Game Boy Advance include Sonic the Hedgehog Advance, ChuChu Rocket, and Puyo Puyo, although Puyo Puyo may never wind up on US shores. All of these games will be released this year, most likely between August and November.
Sega plans to suport all platforms, including the Xbox and Gamecube, and Moore confirmed that the company is in talks with both Nintendo and Microsoft. However, those talks are only about game development. Moore emphatically denied the rumors that Xbox may contain a DC chipset, as well as previous rumors that Nintendo was thinking of purchasing Sega.
Sega will still release 30 titles this year for Dreamcast, including Crazy Taxi 2, Shenmue 2, Seaman 2 and World Series Baseball 2K2. The decision to get out of the hardware market is mainly due to the shortening hardware cycle and the loss that hardware manufacturers absorb in order to keep prices reasonable. According to Moore, companies lose between $50-250 per hardware unit sold, and Sega could not continue to accept such losses. There is no finite time period for the life of the Dreamcast. Sega plans to support the system with new titles as long as the DC remains viable and gamers keep buying games for it.
Sega hopes to become the #1 game publisher in the US. Last year Sega was ranked #6 against other game publishers, and that was with an install base of only 3 million DC units. Sega plans to climb the ranks as their potential consumer base increases.
The Dreamcast chipset will also be installed in various devices. Sega announced a partnership with Palm to provide both online and offline gaming. Moore hinted that as the Palm hardware becomes more focused on wireless connectivity Sega and SegaNet will become a more important aspect of the devices. In addition, Sega announced a deal with Pace Microtechnology to include the DC chipset in their set-top box. Pace is currently Europe's largest set-top box manufacturer. Sega will also provide games for Motorola cell phones. These games will be Java-based and available this year to Motorola users.
SegaNet will also begin working with any platform. They are willing provide online gaming possibilities to any device or platform, including the Palm and cel phones, and possibly PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox. SegaNet hopes to be a part of the continued evolution of online gaming on console systems as well as new devices and platforms.
It's a whole new direction for Sega, but not completely foreign territory. Moore commented that the new focus would change how the company conducts itself, and couldn't specify what kind of presence Sega might exhibit at E3 this year, where they've stolen the show for the past two years. But one thing that Sega is good at is creating really fun and innovative titles, a strategy that should keep them at the top of gamers' lists.
The company hopes this move will solve their financial worries and earn them the audience they deserve. Sega has undoubtedly created some of the best titles of the past year, and they have a long history of revolutionary game development. Sonic the Hedgehog is the only non-Disney character featured at Disney World. If that doesn't say "mainstream cultural saturation" nothing does.
First Impressions: Too Human
Lost: Via Domus Review
BioShock DLC and Plasmid Details
Should You Buy An Xbox 360 Hard Drive? (editorial)
Top 20 Things We Want in the Dead Rising Sequel (editorial)
How To Get Podcasts on Your Xbox 360 (how-to)