Sega today bet its future in the console market on the launch of Dreamcast, billed as the big successor to the thrones of Sony?s Playstation and the Nintendo 64.
The 132-bit Dreamcast is the key to Sega?s survival as its predecessor, the 32-bit Saturn was knocked out of the ring by Sony?s playstation which in the first half of this year captured 70 per cent of the Japanese console market. The Saturn took 9 per cent and the Nintendo 64 around 5 per cent.
Sony?s runaway success with the Playstation has cost Sega heavily with the company reporting its first loss last year.
The Dreamcast, which was rolled out in Japan today, has a double-density CD-Rom, providing additional memory for more sophisticated games. Its NEC-made graphics engine provides faster, more realistic 3-D graphics than 32-bit machines, maintains the company.
Future sales figures for the Dreamcast, however, will depend on games software being available, analysts said. At its launch today only five titles were available. Another 19 are slated for release before April next year Sega said.
Sega has a head start on the next generation of games consoles, but it isn?t out in front and alone. Sony is known to be secretly working on a successor to the Playstation. Nintendo also has a 64-bit system in the wings.
Dreamcast has already hit production problems with its graphics chip, which may mean that only 500,000 machines will be produced this year - along way from the 1 million target Sega had set itself for Christmas.
The big test, however, will come next autumn, according to analysts, when the Dreamcast hits North America and Europe.
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