NOTE: This console itself is actually good. This article will focus primarily on what caused it to flop.
The Dreamcast was a game console developed by Sega succeeding the Sega Saturn and was the first console released in the sixth generation of gaming.
It was the final console developed by Sega before they retired from the first-party home console market.
Why It Flopped
- Poor release timing: When the Dreamcast was released the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation were still very relevant and popular, by the time other 6th generation consoles were announced the Dreamcast was already seen as "old news" by many.
- Like the Sega Saturn, many of its games were arcade ports, which while still solid games, were lacking in actual content and arcade ports in consoles were declining in popularity at the time.
- The previous failure of the Sega Saturn had left Sega in an extremely precarious financial state. This led to a lack of confidence in the system's future, both from customers and third party developers. Some publishers such as Electronic Arts outright refused to support the console and many third-party games were just ports of N64 and PS1 games.
- The PlayStation 2 quickly overshadowed the Dreamcast as soon as it was announced for multiple reasons:
- The PS2 had a built in DVD player, which at the time was a big selling point as it made the PS2 the cheapest DVD player on the market, meanwhile the Dreamcast had no DVD functionality.
- Sega, already struggling financially from the failure of the Saturn, drew themselves into a price war with Sony, and ended up selling Dreamcasts at a completely unsustainable loss.
- The PS2 was fully backwards compatible, letting PS1 owners play their old games with slightly improved graphics, and giving it a massive existing software library to attract people without a PS1. The Dreamcast, on the other hand, wasn't compatible with the Saturn at all.
- The online functions were very primitive due to technological limitations at the time.
- There weren't many standout 3D platforming and JRPG games exclusive to it, both of which were some of the most popular genres at the time.
- Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2, Skies of Arcadia, and Grandia II were the only big standout exclusive games in either of those two genres and all of them were ported to other platforms after the Dreamcast's discontinuation.
- The Dreamcast controller lacks a second analog stick and only has one pair of L/R buttons, this made camera control uncomfortable in many games.
- It should be noted that the Dreamcast is perfectly capable of supporting a controller with two analog sticks (since there was one) and this fault in the Dreamcast could probably have been rectified if the console hadn't failed.
- The controller is also pretty big (something the Japanese market is known for not liking).
- It used Sega's proprietary GD-ROM discs. These were designed to be superior to CDs with their 1 GB capacity and better copy protection, but were quickly outmatched by consoles using 4.7 GB DVDs. It wouldn't have been bad if it was used for Saturn instead, but since DVDs have four times as much space as GD-ROMs, it quickly fell out of favor.
- The Dreamcast relied on software sales to turn a profit, however it was quickly found out that games could be burned to CD ROM discs and read by abusing the console's MIL-CD support. This exploit resulted in rampant piracy that substantially impacted sales of legal Dreamcast discs.
- Pirated discs tended to downgrade the performance of games because they needed to cram 1GB onto a CD-ROM.
- The last batches of Japanese Dreamcasts (3030 model) generally cannot read CD copies of games due to the removal of MIL-CD support and other alterations, but by that point it was far too late.
- The optical drive is prone to scratching discs, this indirectly encouraged the sale of pirated discs. The read head motor is also very loud.
- Another common issue with the optical drive causes games to crash randomly and display a message saying "Please wait while disc is being checked"
- The cooling fan, along with the optical drive together is noisy.
Despite being a short-lived commercial flop, the Dreamcast is a good piece of hardware and won itself many devoted fans. See its good qualities from Sega Dreamcast.
When first released, the Sega Dreamcast was extremely popular and highly successful, with it breaking several records at the time. However, its popularity was very short-lived, as it was quickly overshadowed by the PlayStation 2. The system was discontinued less than 2 years after its North American release due to bad sales and lack of funds from Sega, with a lifetime total of 9.13 million Dreamcasts sold.
As Retro Gaming became popular, the Dreamcast gained a massive cult following. It is widely considered the best console Sega ever made and is well remembered for being the final Sega console. Ironically, the MIL-CD support problem that severely damaged software sales during the console's life is a big part of this, as it is used to run homebrew software on the system.
Ever since the Dreamcast's discontinuation, many Sega fans remained hopeful that Sega would eventually release a new console. Over the years there have been multiple attempts to convince Sega to return to the console market, all of which have gone completely ignored. This is essentially wishful thinking, since the Sega that exists today no longer has the facilities or resources to develop and release a new console, and most people that worked for Sega during their console manufacturing days left the company long ago. Even Sega's once-mighty arcade machine division is a mere shadow of its former self.