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SegaNet

From Sega Retro

For the Japanese online service for the Sega Saturn, see Sega NetLink.
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SegaNet was a short-lived internet service provider operated by Sega of America in the early 2000s. Built on the experience gained at SegaSoft when constructing its PC-only online gaming service, Heat.net, SegaNet was tailored to provide North American Sega Dreamcast owners with a means to play against each other online.

History

Development

The Dreamcast launched in North America with a built-in 56k modem on September 9th, 1999, however like Japan (and the forthcoming European release), very few early titles made use of the feature. With a web browser disc one could surf the net and send emails, and some games (such as Sonic Adventure) offered free downloadable content, but the concept of playing games with others over the internet was in many ways still a pipe dream.

In early 2000 Sega released ChuChu Rocket!, the first Dreamcast game to support online multiplayer out of the box, however Sega's plans were more ambitious, announcing that they would be launching a dedicated internet service provider (ISP) engineered to offer low-latency online play for Dreamcast consoles using the built-in modem.

Eight severs were set up across the US, including in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Dallas, Tampa, Washington D.C. and Boston[1].

Release

SegaNet launched on the 7th of September alongside NFL 2K1, and within its first few weeks, roughly 20% of the North American Dreamcast base had signed up, giving the service 400,000 users in the region.[2]

Just over a month after launch, by October 27, 2000, SegaNet had 1.55 million Dreamcast consoles registered online, including 750,000 in Japan, 400,000 in North America, and 400,000 in Europe.[3] In comparison, Xbox Live, which later launched in 2002, took nearly two years to reach 1 million online users, in July 2004.[4]

SegaNet originally offered a $200 rebate with a two-year contract, to encourage sales of the Dreamcast.

Decline

In July 2001, Sega announced they would discontinue the service. At this point, all subscribers were given the option to transfer their accounts to EarthLink.

Online games on the Dreamcast initially allowed free access to their game servers, to be offset by SegaNet subscriptions and game sales. But with the demise of SegaNet, most games began charging for game server access, or closing down their servers altogether. The online gaming service was reactivated briefly in the fall of 2002 sans service charges, but was closed for the last time at the end of the year.

Promotional material

EGM US 137.pdfEGM US 137.pdf

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Electronic Gaming Monthly (US) #137: "December 2000" (2000-10-30)

ODCM US 10.pdf

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Official Dreamcast Magazine (US) #10: "Holiday 2000" (2000-11-28)

ODCM US 12.pdf

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Official Dreamcast Magazine (US) #12: "March 2001" (2001-01-28)

References

  1. File:EGM US 137.pdf, page 38
  2. File:EGM US 137.pdf, page 32
  3. SEGA ANNOUNCES NEW CORPORATE FOCUS ON NETWORKED ENTERTAINMENT (Sega)
  4. Interview with Larry Hryb, Director of Programming: Xbox Live
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