Sega has confirmed that it will launch its much anticipated Dreamcast gaming console with Internet access in the US on 9 September.
Sega?s announcement will undoubtedly put the heat on Sony, which is expecteed to release a souped up version of its popular Playstation console in Japan before the end of the year.
Sega?s Dreamcast will sell in the US for the recommended retail price of $199, around $50 cheaper than in Japan right now. This is the first time that a next generation gaming console will ship for less than $200 at launch. It will be backed by a $100 million marketing campaign.
"At $199 with our system's hardware and game library we feel confident that we will take back market share from Sony and Nintendo,? said Bernard Stolar, president and chief operating officer of Sega in America.
At the time of launch there will be 10 to 12 titles available for Dreamcast, Stolar confirmed. Around 20 first party titles are on track for 2000. These games, combined with numerous third party titles in development, will put the Dreamcast game library to over a 100 by next year, claims Sega.
The 128bit processor Dreamcast delivers faster and more realistic graphics than Sega?s earlier gaming consoles. It is 15 times more powerful than a Sony Playstation, 10 times more powerful than a Nintendo 64 and has four times the graphics processing power of the fastest Pentium II processor.
Dreamcast will be the first console to include handheld gaming through its Visual Memory Unit (VMU) that allows players to share games with friends in the home, arcade or head to head using two VMUs.
Dreamcast?s 56Kbps modem will enable consumers to play games over the Internet as well as send and receive email, chat and surf the Web. Sega?s full Internet strategy for Dreamcast is expected to be revealed at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles next month.
"The Internet strategy is very important to Sega and we are dedicated to doing something never before possible on a console or the arcade - to connect thousands of players together at one time under the same platform and create a sense of 'community' online for gamers," said Stolar.
Retailers have already booked more than 30,000 pre-orders for the machine and Sega said it expected that figure to climb to 200,000 by the launch date. Sega has sold one million Dreamcast consoles in Japan within four months. A European release date has yet to be confirmed, but industry watchers believe it could well be before christmas.
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