Dreamcast - local success a pipe dream?

Dreamcast - local success a pipe dream?

Australian retailers have been disappointed with sales of Sega Dreamcast since its launch last year, but Sega still has high hopes for the gaming console.

Dreamcast was launched locally in December, amidst retailer and consumer confusion surrounding arrival dates of the product's Internet access, peripherals and software. According to OziSoft, vital peripherals for the console were not made available to consumers until at least one week after it's launch.

The product's Internet access software will not be available until early March - more than two months after its local release.

Marcelo Flaksbard, OziSoft's PR manager for Dreamcast, said in Australia about 15,000 Dreamcast consoles had been bought by consumers. `This is not the amount that was released into the market, but the amount that has been sold in the market itself', he qualified.

`It's actually not sold too badly considering all the problems we had with the launch.'

Stephen O'Leary, communications manager for OziSoft, said that following the product's relaunch next month, OziSoft expects to have sold 200,000 consoles by the end of this year. OziSoft would also launch an `aggressive marketing strat-egy' for the Dreamcast, including a `price drop' of the product later in the year.

Peter Geer, Myer Grace Bros' buyer of computers and software, said sales of the Dreamcast had been `softer than what we would have hoped'.

He said lukewarm consumer uptake of the product had been caused by the disjointed release of the bundle package.

His company, and con-sequently consumers, had been reluctant to buy the product without all its necessary components.

`We only ran it [Dreamcast] in six stores . . . In the initial period, we felt that there were a number of things that needed to be addressed to ensure the demands met the expectations Sega had of the product. One of these demands was that it had an adequate level of software, and the other was that it needed to have [Internet] access. It wasn't all there at the initial launch,' Geer said.

Flaksbard agreed the launch of the Dreamcast without Internet access had stunted consumers' interest in the product.

`One of the things people wanted on the Dreamcast was Internet access. Because that wasn't ready when we released the Dreamcast, a lot of people backed out from buying it. It was one of the key aspects of the Dreamcast,' he said.

OziSoft was currently fully stocked with Dreamcast consoles, and the vendor was in the `final stages of testing' Web access software cards for the console, he said.

According to Leary, 1.4 million consoles have been sold in Japan since its release there one year ago. In the US, 1.7 million units have been sold in the four months since its launch, he said. In Australia, 15,000 Dreamcast consoles have been sold in two months.

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