Later today Sega will make an exciting announcement -- they will be giving away free Dreamcasts. As with all offers that sound to good to be true, there is a catch. To get the free Dreamcast, along with a Dreamcast keyboard, you have to sign up for two years of Sega.com, which will begin providing service this fall.
What is Sega.com? Sega.com, Inc. is a company created by Sega, run by Brad Huang. Sega.com will provide internet service for gamers and non-gamers alike, in what promises to be a very interesting second attempt at an interactive Sega community.
Several years ago, in the days of the Genesis, Sega launched Sega TV. Sega TV was a cartridge that plugged into your Genesis, and then into cable. Through Sega TV you could get new games, and be a part of an online community. Unfortunately due to the fact that cable was not as widespread as it is today, and the cost ($20 a month or so), it was unsuccessful, and soon disappeared into history as the gaming community that failed.
In their second attempt, Sega is learning from their mistakes. Not only will they give away a free Dreamcast and keyboard to everyone that signs up for two years, they will also give the offer retroactively. In plain English, that means that anyone who's already bought the system and signs up for the service will get a free keyboard and a check for $200.
Sega.com will get a work over to suit the new ISP SegaNet, and will serve as a portal much in the same way AOL does. There will be chat, instant messaging, and message boards for the users on the site. There will be a store, a search engine, and VMU downloads. In addition to providing the gaming community, the service will be available for all your internet needs on your PC.
As if a free Dreamcast weren't promotion enough, Sega.com is offering an additional incentive -- faster internet access without anything more than a modem and regular phone lines. Although technological details are uncertain at this time, Sega.com has teamed up with a company called US Web to provide this faster access.
So much speculation has been made about the lack of high speed internet capabilities of the Dreamcast due to the lack of compatibility with ethernet, cable, and DSL. Sega.com has already drawn up plans for an ethernet adapter to take care of the first two modes of high-speed access, while they are investigating DSL so as not to exclude any high-speed customers. The ethernet adapter is scheduled to be out at the launch of the network.
In addition to all these plans for the hardware itself, there are plans for where the hardware will take you. Sega.com is looking for routers who can help create a strong internet backbone for their gaming community. By ensuring the quality of the connections mad to SegaNet, there will be less lag for those who invest in Sega.com's ISP. Less lag is something to strive for indeed, and Sega.com seems to have hit on an excellent way to acheive it.
So we know about the hardware plans, we know about the plans for the network, which leaves us one critical question: what games will this have to offer? Quake III, NFL2k1, NBA2k1, and Phantasy Star Online have already been announced as launch titles for the network. However, the possibilities go far beyond the four launch titles. Conceive of a network where you pay a flat rate per month for several online RPGs, instead of just one? It is quite clear that Sega.com could have quite an impact on the industry.
The doors open later today on Sega.com's headquarters in a district of San Francisco called "Multimedia Gulch." On May 11th, we can look forward to seeing a demo of Sega.com's website. From may it's a few hot summer months until the launch of this ambitious project in August.
Sega is not setting itself up for failure again. There is a slew of advertising being planned, including associating with the Video Music Awards, and sponsoring concerts by Blink 182, Korn, and Limp Bizkit. Sega.com is looking like a promising venue for online gaming, especially considering the effort they're putting into it. RPGamer will keep an eye out on this upcoming phenomenon so that you don't have to.