History of Sega in Belgium and Luxembourg
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|History of Sega in Belgium and Luxembourg|
|Official Sega distributor(s): Atoll (1987-1993), Sega Belgium (1993-1996), Atoll Soft (1996-2003), Atari Benelux (2004-2006), Sega Benelux (2006-2012), Level03 Distribution (2012-2015), Koch Media (2015-present)|
In the 70s Belgium was one of the countries where Sega imported its game machines.
Atoll were Sega's distributor for Belgium and Luxembourg for six years from 1987 until August 1993. During this time they released a magazine called Sega Masters Club News, available in both French and Dutch. As early Sega Master System games included French, but not Dutch in the instructions Atoll included separate Dutch language instruction inserts for many games. Later European releases would include Dutch as standard. There was also a bilingual Sega Hotline available. In the next years, Atoll distributed Mega Drive, Game Gear and Master System II. The Amstrad Mega PC was released in March 1993 by Amstrad Benelux.
Until June 30, 1993, there were 83,139 Mega Drives, 50,131 Super Nintendo, 178,616 Nintendo NES, 140,030 Master Systems, 318,310 Game Boy's, 39,616 Game Gears and 20,227 Atari Lynx in Belgium. Between January 1, 1993 and June 30, 1993, Mega Drive recorded the largest sales among 16-bit consoles (6,500 units, only 1,500 more than the SNES), and out of the 8-bit consoles, Master System (12,000 units, 6 times more than the NES).
In August 1993, Sega Europe took over product distribution and founded Sega Belgium based in Brussels. The relesed Mega CD II in 1993, Multi Mega and Mega Drive 32X in 1994, Sega Saturn in 1995 and Sega Pico. Until end of 1994, Sega had 160,000 active Mega Drive users, 7,000 active Mega CD users and 2,000 active 32X users. On March 1, 1996, Sega Europe closed its branch in the Benelux Union. The reason was the decrease in turnover in the Benelux countries by 50%. Atoll Soft took over distribution for the Benelux markets. In 1996, TCI's technology group got the rights to distribute Sega Channel in the Benelux Union.
After Saturn, Sega negotiation with R&P, Contact Data, Audax and Atoll Soft about selling the Dreamcast. Audax, which started talks in September 1998 planned to sell 100 000 units of Dreamcast in Netherlands by 2001. Atoll Soft on the other hand also planned to sell 100 000 units but in whole Benelux region.According to Audux, Sega agreed in December 1998 to give them rights to Netherlands and Atoll Soft was supposed to be distributor in Belgium and Luxembourg. At the beginning of 1999, Sega was supposed to sign the agreement but it didn't happen, mainly due to lack of communication, time, plans and finances for marketing because Sega wanted to focus on key regions (United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain). Six weeks before Dreamcast release, Sega signed contract with Atoll Soft which was now owned by Big Ben Interactive.
Dreamcast was released at the same time as in other countries of Europe, with 10 games available in first day.The goal was to sell 6000 consoles in 1999. Atoll Soft delivered only 3000 units of Dreamcast to shops and it is very likely that unitl end of the year, Dreamcast availability was quite low.Dreamcast Internet was available by BTfrom December 2000. By January 2001, more than 20,000 consoles had been sold in the Benelux countries.
- Screen Digest March 1995 page 60