Sega of America held a press conference on Thursday morning at 9:30am PST to officially announce Dreamcast in the US. Yes, that is the final US name for the system - there is no naming difference between territories.
Sega of America president Bernie Stolar opened this morning's teleconference with: "A few years ago an associate of mine said 'go big or go home.' And that's what we're doing today - we're going big." The announcement of a new system is always a big event, but Dreamcast seems to have higher goals than simply a new video game system. Instead, it's attacking areas of gaming never before handled by a console system, including network gaming and the integration of a handheld system into a home system.
Sega of America confirmed on Wednesday that while the system will be coming November 20 to Japan, US gamers will have to wait until fall 1999. Dreamcast, a marriage of the word "dream" and "broadcast," not only is the name of the system, but also describes Sega's cast of partners in the new machine, a roster including Microsoft, Hitachi, NEC, Videologic, and Yamaha.
According to Sega, the system will be "the first video game console to offer standard networking features for multiplayer gaming, bringing the best features of console, PC, and online gaming together on one system." While many have tried to lend consoles this feature through add-on peripherals like Sega's own NetLink, this is the first time that such features have been built in from the beginning.
Stolar said that the system "provides a performance level that goes beyond the bit count battle that has defined our industry in the past." Sounds very similar to what VMlabs has been preaching with Project X - and what will define the next generation of machines is no longer simply specs, the industry is getting much more gamecentric.
Stolar mirrored the words of Sega president Shoichirou Irimajiri and Sega chairman Isao Okawa by saying in a statement earlier this morning, "Dreamcast is Sega's bridge to worldwide market leadership for the 21st century. The Sega you see today is driven by two important goals: delivering the best new gaming experiences this industry has ever seen and winning back the number one position in the console category. We'll do whatever it takes to get there."
"Our goal is very straightforward - in short, we will be the number one platform. We plan to own more than 50 percent market share of the next-generation console market in the near future," Stolar said. "However we know that this will only be possible through a combination of advanced hardware and the most authentic and original new software."
Stolar said that Wednesday's announcement is just one of many announcements the company will be making in the future regarding the machine. Sega of America will hold a press briefing next Wednesday, providing a further look at the system - probably on par with what was shown in Japan today.
Stay tuned to videogames.com for complete coverage of additional Dreamcast announcements.