SEGA has always had a certain aura or mystique about it that has held the fascination and admiration of many. It probably has something to do with how easy it is to root for an underdog, and for the most part, SEGA has always been that scrappy company that hung around with giants such as Nintendo and eventually Sony. Unafraid to take anyone on, SEGA had the perfect mascot in Sonic the Hedgehog that exemplified that can-do attitude and hipness that captivated so many in the 90s.
Since the collapse of the Dreamcast, however, SEGA has played it very safe. Choosing to focus on its most profitable franchises such as Sonic the Hedgehog, and keeping many of the older IP that 90s gamers fell in love with, locked away. Freeman, like many other SEGA fans, remembers those glory days quite well, and believes that SEGA has what it takes to return to form:
“They have a lot to offer us still. I think it [Project Dream] is about reinventing SEGA. Bringing something back that everyone wants, especially today when it’s cool to be a retro gamer and people also want something new,” Freeman said.
“It’s not like SEGA is incapable of making new things. It’s just because of the past, how things preformed, the awful timing that they had, they felt it was better not to risk it. And then they carried on focusing more on what sells more of Japan.”
Despite SEGA’s conservative approach in recent years, the company’s grip on many 90s gamers still holds strong, and is probably why fans are whipped up into a frenzy of excitement every time there is a hint that SEGA could return to its golden age. Project Dream wants to take an active role in utilizing that excitement and loyalty to make a Dreamcast 2 a reality, even if it means not waiting around for the slim chance that SEGA makes a move on their own.
The group is dedicated to to doing the legwork themselves and not relying on SEGA or contributions from fans to push Project Dream forward. Following a change.org petition which gained some popularity late in 2015, the Project Dream team followed up by launching a website where fans were able to see mockups designed by Project Dream team members. Also, in the meantime, Wiseman and Freeman have reached out to friends and business contacts around the world to get an idea of what it would take to actually produce some kind of hardware.
“We have a really good hardware guy that likes to remain anonymous,” said Freeman. “He has a few existing businesses and we have a lot of samples of things if it were to go into production – what it would be like, what the price range would be for the materials that we want to use, and of course whether we want to use the images that are on the site or have a look at newer designs. Or some of the things that fans have submitted to us by mail and say, ‘hey that looks really cool!'”
When asked for specifics on potential hardware, Freeman said they were not allowed to say much, but did note they “have talked about 3D printing.”
All of that said, the group is still only in the research phase of their plan for a Dreamcast 2. First on the task list is to find a way to market themselves successfully to SEGA. A lot of that pitch seems to be centered around doing as much of the research as they can themselves for SEGA.
Wisemen went on to explain the proposal’s current goal: “We have had some side chats with marketing on how to get this done, so at the moment it’s kind of ongoing. I have [a business contact] in Brazil who wants to help out with commercial stuff. So I’m in talks with him at the moment about how to market us to SEGA. This is all kind of new to us.”
It’s important to remember this is all new to the Project Dream team. Even under the most optimistic of scenarios for Project Dream, this is a process that is likely going to take some time. Still, in a lot of ways, Project Dream has gotten further than many might expect. Namely, actually getting SEGA to acknowledge their efforts.
Freeman described to Twinfinite in detail her story of getting in touch with a high ranking member of SEGA Sammy Holdings.
“It went from me ringing up to pester them for not replying to our mail and the receptionist asking for a full lowdown on what we wanted to talk to people about,” said Freeman. After multiple pitches, contacts and phone calls, the team says they have made contact with multiple SEGA names, including a senior member of SEGA Sammy, who Project Dreamcast requested remain anonymous.
“It all kind of happened quite quickly,” Freeman shared, “and by the end of it, he finished chatting with me on the phone and sent one of our team members a message to say ‘send what you got through when you’re ready, and I’ll make sure it gets to the right people.’”
By no means did SEGA confirm an interest in creating a Dreamcast 2. Let’s make sure that is crystal clear.
Instead, it’s more likely that SEGA doesn’t mind the extra attention, and hasn’t taken any issues with anything Project Dream has done thus far. SEGA really has nothing to lose by letting Project Dream do their own thing provided they don’t step on any legal toes. From that perspective, it’s easy to see why that individual from SEGA Sammy would have no problem taking a look at what Project Dream comes up with eventually.
SEGA’s willingness to listen, and the avoidance of a flat out cease and desist, has given Project Dream and fans of a new SEGA console hope, regardless of how likely a Dreamcast 2 may be.
“It is exciting,” Freeman shared. “It’s a first step. He could have turned around and gone, ‘well… no. You’re just a bunch of fans, why do I even need to take this call.'”
It’s very easy to dismiss online petitions and fan-driven movements such as Project Dream as unrealistic and pie in the sky. However, you don’t need to go that far back to find successful fan movements in video games that seemed just as unlikely.