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Dreamcast Has Registers Ringing

The Dreamcast game console has become the gift that keeps on giving, at least for Sega of America, which has racked up more than 1 million in unit sales since the game started shipping in September.

Strong software sales are supporting the console, with an estimated 3.1 million titles having been sold, a 3-to-1 software-to-hardware attach rate.

Despite this im-pressive performance, the Dreamcast still has some ground to cover.

Sony reported earlier this month that it has shipped 25.94 million Play-Stations into the North American market since the product launched in September 1995. There are about 4,000 PlayStation titles now on the market.

The 128-bit Dreamcast, which carries a $199 suggested retail price, uses a DVD-ROM drive and has a modem for Internet play.

Industry analysts have said that the Dreamcast was Sega’s last chance to regain its former glory as the leader in the game console category. During the early 1990s the company fell behind Sony and Nintendo and now controls just 1 percent of the market. Sega laid off 1,000 employees earlier this year and reported a $378 million loss for 1998.

Nintendo is riding a Pokemon wave this holiday season, with Pokemon-related titles for the Nintendo 64 game console and GameBoy dominating sales.

Sony reiterated plans last month at Comdex in Las Vegas that the PlayStation 2 will begin shipping by fall 2000 in the U.S. The console will ship in March 2000 in Japan, where it is expected to carry a $360 suggested retail price. U.S. pricing has not been established.

Like the Dreamcast, the PlayStation 2 uses a 128-bit processor and has a DVD-ROM drive and a modem for Internet play. Nintendo is also expected to ship its next-generation product next year.

Sony has not taken the introduction of the Dreamcast lying down. Last month it updated Improvements to the site include community message boards, easier access to game information, a free e-mail news service on PlayStation events, and faster software downloads.