History of the Sega Dreamcast/Internet
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Unlike the Sega Mega Drive and Sega Saturn, where being able to connect to the internet was short-lived service bound by the lifespan of each console, the Sega Dreamcast was engineered around the idea of going online, with its services outlasting the console itself by a number of years. This page documents the history of the Dreamcast's relationship with the internet from its initial Japanese release in November 1998 to the present day.
Shortly before launch a deal was struck with networking giant AT&T, who would provide the online infrastructure to Sega in return for being the Dreamcast internet service provider of choice. Users could subscribe to one of three tiers of online usage (the top, $21.95/month "unlimited" plan coming with a free Dreamcast Keyboard) which would cover everything internet-related, including the future prospect of online multiplayer.
By August 2000 (with a full launch on September 7th) Sega were offering their own ISP, SegaNet, for low-latency online play geared specifically for Dreamcast consoles. Sega even offered free Dreamcasts (with a Dreamcast Keyboard, or $200 for those who already owned the console) to those who signed up with the service, in an effort to greatly increase the Dreamcast install base (the caveat being users had to sign up for minimum of two years at $21.95 per month).
Alternatively, users buying a Dreamcast between June 4th and August 31st 2000 were eligible for a $50 "connectivity bonus", should they sign up for one month's worth of SegaNet access.
After the six month extension period, it Sega of America announced that effective June 2003, all official Dreamcast game servers in the US would be disconnected, save for those behind Phantasy Star Online and Phantasy Star Online Ver. 2.
3,000 uses registered on Dreamarena in the first 24 hours, with 1.2 million internet minutes clocked over the first weekend. BT's servers were overwhelmed, forcing them to increase the capacity sixfold.
The Dreamcast took a while to get online in Australia. Having only signed an ISP contract the day before launch, all online services were delayed until March 2000 (although this ironically wasn't a problem, as the promised internet access discs were among the software held up in customs)).
A deal between Telstra and Ozisoft saw comma.com.au become the default Dreamcast homepage, powered by a similar Dreamkey service to Europe.
- Press release: 1999-08-04: Sega and AT&T Sign Strategic Network Gaming Alliance for Sega Dreamcast
- Electronic Gaming Monthly, "June 2000" (US; 2000-05-09), page 144
- Next Generation, "May 2000" (US; 2000-04-18), page 29
- Electronic Gaming Monthly, "August 2000" (US; 2000-07-04), page 46
- GamePro, "October 2003" (US; 2003-09-02), page 20
- Arcade, "December 1999" (UK; 1999-11-01), page 18
- Edge, "December 1999" (UK; 1999-11-24), page 11
- Edge, "January 2000" (UK; 1999-12-21), page 7