Welcome, one and all, to what I’m hoping will be a fun, speculative post. You see, the news hit social media that SEGA is set to make an announcement on June 4th that is on the same level as the PS5 reveal and will ‘rile up the games industry’. All we know for certain so far is that the announcement is not a Dreamcast 2. But what might it be? Well, I have an idea, and it comes in three parts.
Part One: A New Console
But I said it won’t be a Dreamcast 2, right? Well, the Dreamcast ceased to be an active console in 2001. So, why would they make a new version after almost 20 years? I mean, if they were going to do a sequel system to an older one, it would more likely be the Mega Drive/Genesis, simply because that was more successful for them. Regardless though, I don’t think it will be a sequel system.
If the announcement is a new console, it’ll be a whole new thing. To be on the scale that we’re talking about, it would need to be absolutely revolutionary. Now, SEGA has dipped its toes into attempting to be revolutionary before. Again, looking at the Dreamcast, it did a lot of things that other consoles simply didn’t at the time. So, the idea that SEGA could innovate isn’t out of the question.
However, I don’t think it’s simply going to be a whole new venture into the console market. This wouldn’t be a system designed to compete against the current big hitters or entice AAA developers. No, this would be another nod to the past. Which brings me to…
Part Two: The SEGA Channel
Between 1994 and 1998, SEGA had a streaming pay-to-play service. Basically, think pf it as a gaming Netflix before Stadia. You basically placed an adapter in the cartridge slot of your Mega Drive/Genesis, hooked up a coaxial cable, and off you went. It wasn’t a bad selection for the time either, hosting 50 games at a time, with a mix of SEGA produced and third party titles. What scuppered it more than anything was the price; back then, $13 a month was seen as very expensive.
Now though? Not so much. Picture this: SEGA announces a new console, but it’s not a console in the traditional sense. It’s a box that runs on WiFi or can be hooked up via LAN cable. You know, like a Fire Stick. It’s compatible with all the USB and wireless SEGA controllers that are being put out by the likes of Retro-Bit. And, for a small monthly fee, it gives you access to a streaming catalog of SEGA games from across their history.
This would include those already out there of course. You know, the same games they keep re-releasing. But it would include much more too. Master System titles. Mega CD and 32X releases. Saturn and Dreamcast games. All available to relive at last. But, there would be more…
Part Three: Expansion
Such a system would have a finite life cycle without some expansion over time though. The obvious next step would be to license more games from the old Third-Party library. Rocket Knight Adventures, for example, would be a great get! But I think this sort of system would mean something more: open source development.
There are still people making games for the old SEGA systems. Imagine if SEGA allowed developers to produce titles to run on a virtual Mega Drive, for example, and after testing them themselves, simply let them have a percentage of the income for uploading it onto the system? We’d be seeing new retro titles sat alongside the old ones, and all officially released for the first time in years.
So, to put this in a simple statement. I think – and would love – to see the SEGA announcement as this:
SEGA is releasing a new console that, for a monthly fee, lets you experience games from across the company’s history. As well as allowing new developers the chance to work with SEGA to expand the selection.
The best thing is, it would be so retro focussed that it wouldn’t interfere with SEGA’s work with the current main console developers. We’d still see new titles on Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch. But we’d also get SEGA embracing the past in the best way possible.
But, of course, that’s just my guess. What do you think though? Might I be right, and if I am, what would you think of it? Could SEGA win a console war against Stadia? If you think I’m wrong, what do you think the announcement will be? Let me know in the comments below!