Few things capture the imagination of 90s gamers more than the whispers of SEGA getting back into the hardware business. Since the death of the Dreamcast and the shift towards third party development back in 2001 however, that’s all it has ever been, whispers. While some faithful have held out hope that SEGA’s setback was only temporary, nearly 15 years later, many have finally moved on. Most fans have accepted that SEGA will never make another home console.
There exists a group of mega fans though that, despite the overwhelming odds against them, are dead set on convincing SEGA to return to the console battlefield. The most determined of these fans make up the core of Project Dream, a group dedicated to helping SEGA get back into the home console hardware business, seemingly by doing some of the work for them.
Project Dream team members Bertie Wiseman and Joanne Freeman recently met with Twinfinite, and made their end-game quite clear.
“Project Dream is about getting SEGA back into hardware and reviving the Dreamcast,” Wiseman said. “It’s also about bringing SEGA back to what it was in the 90s. Bringing it back to the Golden Age, that’s what it’s really about. They haven’t been the same company since 2002. They have left so many games untapped and there’s a hunger for something new.”Mockup via the Project Dream homepage.
How are they going to make that happen? Project Dream has a multi-faceted approach which includes proving support via petition signatures, creating visual mockups for the console, researching production methods, and developing a marketing strategy. All of these elements make up a proposal that, in a perfect world for Project Dream, will convince SEGA to reenter the hardware business via another home console, the hypothetical Dreamcast 2.
Let’s back up, though. The cynical (read: realistic) reader might be wondering how a fourth home console could survive in a market that can barely support three? The Wii U isn’t exactly thriving and is already planning a successor only a couple of short years after its release, and the Xbox One is a distant second to a strong-selling PlayStation 4. Where would SEGA even hope to fit in?
Even putting that aside, how could SEGA even manage such a feat? The company dropped out of the home console race to avoid total financial ruin, and even still, hasn’t been in great shape anyway. SEGA continues to frequently post losses, especially in their video games division. SEGA Holdings, the parent company of SEGA, owes a lot to their pachinko machines (popular in Japan) for keeping the company afloat in these rough years.
Freeman believes that even with SEGA’s potential competition, a Dreamcast 2 could capitalize on a retro revival and carve out a market niche:
“Of course people haven’t given up on playing PlayStation and Xbox, but things like Steam Machines and retro gaming or playing with an emulator is [sic] all cool now,” said Freeman. Even more, she believes a new SEGA console can benefit from modern console features.
“On PlayStation, I’m amazed that I can broadcast on Twitch on it, I can watch Amazon videos on it, and go on YouTube,” Freeman continued. “When we were talking about consoles ideas, I thought ‘it’s so nice nowadays that all I can play all generational games and do so much more on my console than just put a disc in’.”
“The whole team really wanted to create something that really is an everything you want it to be box. So can you play your old SEGA games, and you’d be able to watch Amazon Video, YouTube, Netflix, and possibly broadcasting. It would be a fun thing to have all those SEGA games on one console and give people access to more games that people wouldn’t usually play.”
Though the team envisions a strong mixing of retro favorites and current-gen technology, it could be difficult for a (now) niche company in Japan to acquire a seat in the current home console ecosystem, an ecosystem that has in a lot of ways has shifted away from the Japanese-centered structure of the 90s, to revolving around the western audience. Project Dream, however, thinks SEGA had too big of a cultural impact to go down quietly.