Sega may be emerging from the vidgame console graveyard: Dreamcast, its latest entry, which bows on retailers’ shelves Sept. 9, has logged 300,000 pre-sale orders, besting market leader Sony PlayStation by 200,000 units.
The record signals that Dreamcast could once again make No. 3 Sega a player in the competitive vidgame console market, currently dominated by Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo’s N64 systems.
Sega recently retired its pricey and unpopular 32-bit Saturn system, hoping to hit the restart button with Dreamcast.
Developed with Microsoft and NEC, Dreamcast features 128-bit graphics (Nintendo’s N64 features 64-bit; PlayStation is 32-bit) and is the first vidgame console to be Internet-ready, with a built-in 56K modem that enables players to compete with other players across the Web and also check e-mail and chat using the Sega Dreamcast Network. The system will retail for $199.
Dreamcast could also further boost already strong vidgame sales, which are projected to reach $7.3 billion this year, topping last year’s $6.3 billion mark.
As of June, Sony had shipped more than 58 million PlayStation units since 1994.
Sales of Sega Dreamcast alone are expected to bring in nearly $45 million during the first 24 hours at retail.
Backed by a $100-million marketing campaign, Dreamcast will be sold in more than 15,000 stores nationwide. Once at retail, Sega expects to sell more than 400,000 systems in the first 30 days, 1 million by Dec. 31 and 1.5 million by March 31.
“Consumer demand for Sega Dreamcast continues to accelerate at an astounding pace,” said Chris Gilbert, senior veep of sales, Sega of America. “The unprecedented 300,000 pre-sell order solidly positions Sega Dreamcast to break every sales record in entertainment history on 9-9-99.”