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Analysis Retro Hardware Sega Europe's Dreamcast launch planning document from June 1997 (GAF EXCLUSIVE!)

nush

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I just rediscovered this document tucked away on a memory stick. Thought Sega fans might like a look at what Sega Europe's early internal planning for launching the Dreamcast in Europe looked like. To put this document in a historical perspective this is a snapshot of the planning process from June 1997, the Dreamcast name and first public showing was not revealed until May, 1998 at the Sega New Challenge Conference in Japan.
So the cover page says Dural and then other times in the document it's also called Blackbelt due to the actual console name not yet decided. Even the hardware spec is not completely locked down at this point either. There's a section that covers what developers and publishers they wanted on the platform as well, Square were not ready to shoot themselves in the foot just yet.

Apologies for the image quality, back in the day I did not have a scanner so it's only photo's of the document. plus GAF has a strict 1M image attachment means I need to go back and resize the images if they are just.1 over 1M.






I have the whole document but I think for discussion its more interesting to release them part by part. More to follow...
 
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Neff

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I can assure you it's not, I've explained the shitty image quality and to make it that shitty would be more effort than result.

There's no property claim on the first page, inappropriate wording and grammar for a formal document ('learnt', 'pissed-off' etc), the wording is generally bizarre and lacks context which is a must for crucial communication in planning. It looks scruffy. Not buying it.
 

bitbydeath

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There's no property claim on the first page, inappropriate wording and grammar for a formal document ('learnt', 'pissed-off' etc), the wording is generally bizarre and lacks context which is a must for crucial communication in planning. It looks scruffy. Not buying it.
A lot of the stuff you’re expecting didn’t become common until much later. Things have changed a lot over the years.
 

Neff

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A lot of the stuff you’re expecting didn’t become common until much later. Things have changed a lot over the years.

I'm 45. I know what a communications document from the '90s looks like. I'm pretty sure a multinational corporation planning a massive consumer launch like Dreamcast could scrape together something more professional, articulate and illuminating than this, draft or not.

I'm not outright saying it's fake, maybe Sega Europe really was that ghetto back then, but it looks like internet fan fluff from where I'm sitting.
 

nush

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I'm 45. I know what a communications document from the '90s looks like. I'm pretty sure a multinational corporation planning a massive consumer launch like Dreamcast could scrape together something more professional, articulate and illuminating than this, draft or not.

I'm not outright saying it's fake, maybe Sega Europe really was that ghetto back then, but it looks like internet fan fluff from where I'm sitting.

You've only seen 3 pages. The whole thing is like that as it's an internal document not something to be published. We were still using faxes back in 97. I agree you would expect something more professional looking, when I'm finished with this I'll share the "Panties fax" which is professional and absurd.
 
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bitbydeath

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I'm 45. I know what a communications document from the '90s looks like. I'm pretty sure a multinational corporation planning a massive consumer launch like Dreamcast could scrape together something more professional, articulate and illuminating than this, draft or not.

I'm not outright saying it's fake, maybe Sega Europe really was that ghetto back then, but it looks like internet fan fluff from where I'm sitting.
This isn’t a communications document, it states confidential in the footer. In-house doc only.
 
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GamesAreFun

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Fascinating, thanks for sharing.

What does powerful CE brand refer to? Can only think of Windows CE which the Dreamcast used, but that section seems to be talking about the Saturn.

Never realised the UK launch price was £399, makes the PS5 and Xbox Series seem incredible value in comparison.
 
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Very cool; gonna probably have to wait until the weekend to read it but I'm heavily looking forward to doing that. Remember Eilodinn's Inn, they had a whole treasure trove of info on Sega history on the console side. Learning more of this type of stuff is always fascinating.

Really interesting that they were considering publishing for Sony well before they pulled out of the console market.

At one point SoA wanted to work with Sony on a joint 32-bit console venture, but SoJ turned them down. Similar to how they turned down SoA's Dreamcast prototype (Blackbelt) in favor of SoJ's Katana, though 3DFX kind of screwed that up themselves (EA had some investment in 3DFX tho and I'm guessing because they weren't chosen, it may've been a major factor in EA not supporting the Dreamcast).
 
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Alright

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Fascinating, thanks for sharing.

What does powerful CE brand refer to? Can only think of Windows CE which the Dreamcast used, but that section seems to be talking about the Saturn.

Never realised the UK launch price was £399, makes the PS5 and Xbox Series seem incredible value in comparison.
I'll take a £400 Dreamcast and library over Xbone/Ps4 any day. 🤷‍♂️

nush nush Cheers for sharing.

Dreamcast is the best console ever.
 
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Clear

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Looks legit to me. Although most likely a draft/non final version as its missing the usual logos and junk that you'd add to prettify the thing for final delivery
 

Cattlyst

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Genuine question. Why would Sega Europe draw this up? Wouldn't Sega Japan simply tell them what the plan was? Just curious.
 

marquimvfs

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Wait... i though that you had found this document saved in a memory stick. Did you printed it and took photos?
 

onesvenus

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I find really interesting how they only talk about PC and Sony as competitors and not Nintendo.
I can understand if it were now because it's obvious Nintendo is going for another market but back then?
 

nush

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Wait... i though that you had found this document saved in a memory stick. Did you printed it and took photos?

I never had the digital version, just the hard copy. I took pictures of it a few years ago to share with a private group. I found those pictures I took on the memory stick and thought I'd put them up here as I'd forgotten I'd even had these.
 
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nush

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I find really interesting how they only talk about PC and Sony as competitors and not Nintendo.
I can understand if it were now because it's obvious Nintendo is going for another market but back then?

Doomed to repeat history...

 
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marquimvfs

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I never had the digital version, just the hard copy. I took pictures of it a few years ago to share with a private group. I found those pictures I took on the memory stick and thought I'd put them up here as I'd forgotten I'd even had these.
Oh, my bad. Now I understood.
 
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Nakasan

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"Longer Hardware Lifecycle" :messenger_loudly_crying:

I feel they nailed their USPs at launch buuuuuut... Dural board?? Is that what became Naomi?

This is fascinating. Thanks for going to the effort of getting this up for us.

Reading it actually leaves me feeling sad. Had to force my way through some of it. Probably not a normal/healthy reaction I admit.
 

Gp1

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When did EA jumped off the boat?

They were still negotiating at this point (according to this doc.)
 

LordBlodgett

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This is great! Loving going through this and remembering the Dreamcast. It is still one of my favorite ever consoles. If they had just been able to make it harder to pirate they might have stood a chance. They were so early to so many cool things. I played my first online console game on the Dreamcast. I actually used the VMUs in the controllers for several things. It had really good JRPGs and some super interesting weird games that I loved. Sega's peak creatively unfortunately wasn't enough to make it profitable......
 

deriks

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Holy shit, this is archive gold in there

"invite Nintendo and Sony to publish on our new format". Sega thought that GD was the next shit... Oh, darling... DVD was already a thing back in 97. I love Sega, but they asked to fail.