A shadow cast over Dreamcast

Despite Sega's "amazement" with international Dreamcast sales, the Web-based gaming console has met with an "OK" response locally, according to Harvey Norman's John Slack-Smith.

According to Slack-Smith, Harvey Norman's general manager for computers and technology, the launch of Sega's Dreamcast was challenged even before the launch due to understocking.

"Only 70 per cent of our stores were stocked yesterday for the launch today," he said. "We had stock arriving at the other 30 per cent over the course of today."

Scott Millard, Sega's head of PR and promotions for the Dreamcast, said stocking difficulties were only due to retailer mis-estimates because there were enough consoles in the country to meet all retailer demands, he said.

Additionally, Slack-Smith said vital software and peripherals would only be made available this Friday.

"It's been a disjointed start to the program," he concluded.

Although the product could be used for low-cost non-games related Internet access through Telstra Bigpond, Slack-Smith said it was "very disappointing" to learn the browser to access the Net would not be available until the end of February next year.

Millard conceded Sega had considered launching the console in February -- along with the Internet software -- but decided to give consumers the chance to use the machine, even without the Internet.

He said consumers purchasing the product before February would be mailed the required software card as soon as it was released.

"Sales of this unit will go to two specific areas," said Slack-Smith. "Number one: the gamer, number two: people wanting a low-cost alternative to the Internet. We just wiped out number two," he said. Retailers such as Harvey Norman will provide exact sales figures tomorrow.

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