Games are moving to the next level.
Following the heavily publicized successful launch on Sept. 9 of the new Dreamcast video game system from Sega of America, San Francisco, Sony Computer Entertainment, Foster City, Calif., announced key details of its upcoming PlayStation 2 gaming platform. Meanwhile, Nintendo of America, Redmond, Wash., embarked on a cross-promotional alliance with Dr Pepper, Plano, Tex., for the holiday selling season.
Dreamcast's launch was marked by record sales, but marred by reports of defective software. Sega of America reported that Dreamcast broke the record for the most entertainment retail sales in a 24 hour period, totaling $97 million in sales. The previous record, Sega said in a release, was the opening day ticket sales of the movie, "Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace," with $28 million in May 1999. Dreamcast is priced at $199. Retail sales for the first four days of availability were over $132 million, also a record, the company claimed.
"Original projections were to sell 1 million consoles by the end of the year and 1.5 million by March 31, 2000, however, in the light of the past 24 hours, we are now reevaluating those forecasts," said Chris Gilbert, Sega's senior vice president, sales. Two retailers, Toys R Us, Paramus, N.J., and Electronics Boutique, West Chester, Pa. reported hardware sell outs.
However, Sega acknowledged that some Dreamcast software does not work, according to media reports. The games affected are "Blue Stinger," "Sonic the Hedgehog," "Hydro Thunder" and "Ready to Rumble." The company said the problems were with the software only, and not the hardware units.
Hot on Sega's heels was Sony with its equally well-publicized announcement of technical and release details for the next generation PlayStation, which will be available in Japan on March 4, 2000 and in the United States next fall. This is several months later than the company had previously said.
The new PlayStation will be priced in Japan at the equivalent about $370 and will use DVD software. Besides the dedicated games, the machines also will play the audio CD and DVD-video formats. "We hope a new type of entertainment will be created," said Ken Kutaragi, president of Sony Computer Entertainment. "We would like to offer entertainment content beyond people's imagination."
Nintendo also has a new system in the works, code-named "Dolphin," but is saying little about it as it continues to promote its Nintendo 64 format. To support the Nov. 22 release of the game, "Donkey Kong 64," Nintendo will cross promote with a Dr Pepper sweepstakes involving 2-liter bottles and 12-packs of cans, and an instant win contest on 20-oz. bottles. In-store display materials will be available promoting both brands and a "multimillion" television ad campaign is planned, according to a Nintendo release.
"The popularity of Nintendo among children and adults alike makes the return of an all-time great video game character a perfect fit with Dr Pepper," said Peter Main, Nintendo of America's executive vice president, sales and marketing. "Consumers will go ape over this fun-filled, family-oriented promotion, which links two of America's most familiar and popular brands, said Cindi Clark, Dr Pepper's senior vice president-marketing.