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Software Key To Dreamcast’s Success

Sega can be expected to have a successful 1999 holiday selling season with its upcoming Dreamcast game console, but one industry analyst warned that the company must gain significant support from game developers if it expects long-term success against upcoming Sony and Nintendo products.

The 128-bit Dreamcast will start shipping on September 9 with a $199 suggested retail price and a handful of titles. By releasing the Dreamcast this year Sega gains at least one year of being the only company with a new game console on the market. Sony has tentatively scheduled the PlayStation II to ship in 2000, while Nintendo’s next-generation machine is due sometime later.

Gerry Kaufhold, principal analyst with Cahners In-Stat, Scottsdale, Ariz., said, “Sega has two killer game titles right now, but by Christmas it needs to have a road map available showing what will come out for it next year for it to succeed.”

Ed Roth, an analyst with NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y., said that Dreamcast will see success, although it will not dominate holiday sales. He was not sure, however, how the platform will fare against the new Sony and Nintendo machines.

Part of Sega’s strategy centered on Sony and Nintendo dropping the price of their respective games from about $125 to $99. Both companies have slashed prices on favorite games, and Sony has kicked off a multimillion-dollar marketing blitz.