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The Very True story of how Dreamcast almost released in 1996 and could have beaten PS2

VGEsoterica

Member
Ok ok let me explain lolol.

Sega didn't have to exit the console market. There was a path for them to beat Sony at their own game...and that path led directly through 3DO. Yeah I know...but stay with me here!

3DO obviously wanted to sell M2 as a finished console and get out of the hardware game and they ultimately succeeded with that by selling it to Panasonic...who went on to kill the damn console before it released! But not before adding a DVD drive in 1999 and shipping it as kiosk hardware.

But in late 1995 Sega was in final negotiations to buy the M2 and it's planned expansion...MX. Only at the 11th hour did Sega pull out of the deal and abandon the M2 and MX hardware.

But MX...had basically the same polygon pushing power as well as DVD compatibility....and would be ready to ship in 1999...BEFORE Sony gets to market with the PS2

It's a lot deeper than that. I mean Sega did DEVELOP a game for the 3DO M2, that was demoed in 1998 and magazines wrote about!

Oh how different the console wars could have been. Next time I will tell the story of why the 360 is just a 3DO console in disguise ;)
 

VGEsoterica

Member
haha that's a great story. Sounds like a fun time

It's wild that Sega made a game (or at least a demo) for the M2. I've been hunting it for years...same with the shmup mentioned. No luck yet (well I have a model from the shmup, thats it)
 

RoboFu

One of the green rats
There was also a deal with Silicon Graphics that sega of america wanted to do instead of what the saturn launched as that would have been more like a N64 with a cdrom.

and also there was the blackbelt that was a pretty powerful console that was in planning stages before the dreamcast.
 
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VGEsoterica

Member
There was also a deal with Silicon Graphics that sega of america wanted to do instead of what the saturn launched as that would have been more like a N64 with a cdrom.

and also there was the blackbelt that was a pretty powerful console that in planning stages before the dream cast.
in my perfect world Sega rides the Sega CD / 32X at the expense of releasing Saturn and goes right to M2 in early 1996
 

RAIDEN1

Member
Sega were near bankrupt at the start of this century they didn't have the financial might to compete with Sony....also there is also the impact of one MGS 2: Sons of Liberty on the PS2...
 
I wonder what the industry would have looked like if sony or Microsoft never entered and It was just Sega and Nintendo.
It wasn't just Nintendo and Sega. Others would have kept trying just like the TurboGrafx, CDi, 3D0, Atari Jaguar, NeoGeo, etc all did and failed. PlayStation was just the first to succeed.

If they hadn't, it would have been someone else. The way Sega was heading, they would have likely failed regardless of PlayStation and Xbox. Their boneheaded decisions began before PlayStation began dominating the industry.
 
I remember my parents taking me out to breakfast at Boscovs one morning and I spotted the dreamcast. My dad saw me looking at it and must have bought it when I went to the bathroom and ran it out to the car and put it in the trunk. All I talked about on the ride home was Dreamcast and House of the dead 2. After we pulled in the garage and got situated he went in the trunk and called for me to carry a bag. When I got inside the house he told me to take it out and there it was. The Dreamcast.

I'll never forget these moments and since my dad passed a couple years ago they mean more to me than ever.
 
1 - The M2 doesn't seem like much of an upgrade over the Sega Saturn, and by that time Sega had been launching way too many consoles and upgrades, and losing way too much money with it. That was probably the motivation behind not going with another console so soon after the Saturn.


2 - There's no reason to believe the MX would perform better than the Dreamcast. Going by number of triangles alone is very reductive even for the late 90s. The PowerVR GPU in the Dreamcast is a tile-based renderer, meaning that by nature it only draws the triangles that are present in the screen. All other GPUs did a lot of overdraw in comparison, and continued to do so for a decade. Not only that, it used PowerVR Texture Compression for 2bit-per-pixel textures, supported bump mapping and 32bit color rendering, supported translucent polygons, among a bunch of other technologies that made the Dreamcast a lot more advanced than competing GPUs of the time.


3 - Lots of things killed the Dreamcast besides the impending arrival of the PS2: piracy for the console was rampant in a time when everyone could buy a CD-ROM writer and download games from the internet (the console would read CD-ROM games as GD-ROM ones just fine, and at the time there was no forced firmware update to stop it), and Sega of America was also suffering from a massive lawsuit held by 3dfx for supposedly leading them on developing a GPU that Sega ultimately didn't adopt.
 

Impotaku

Member
Dreamcast could have never beaten the PS2, the PS2 library had everything any anything it had the most amazing weird & wonderful games from japan it was still at the point when playstation consoles had games that were made just because devs wanted to make them so you got to see the oddest and fun games to come out. Owned the DC twice and both times i have regretted it, i still stand that samba de amigo is the only game worth owning one for, compared to the output of the PS2 the DC library is weak.
 
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Drew1440

Member
Didn't Panasonic plan for multiple 3DO systems that were to be released every three years? I Remember an MX/Cagent in development which would have followed the M2 and would have featured eDRAM before the PS2 did.

Nintendo was supposed to be considering using MX technology for what would become Gamecube, I'll see if I can find a source for it but apparently it fell through because of the reliance of the PowerPC processor in the MX design, which the Gamecube used ironically.

Then there was Atari who was developing the Jaguar 2, only one prototype board surfaced and was very early in development. Seems it was cancelled and the team developing it went on to design the Nuon chipset.

Imagine what the game industry would look like had these projects become successful.
 

Drell

Member
The problem wasn't the competition against the PS2. I'm sure the Dreamcast would have at least sold as much as the Gamecube if Sega kept selling it during a "normal" console lifecycle (4 to 5 years back in the day). THeir only problem was their finances, they couldn't survive with the failure of the Mega CD, the 32X and the Saturn.
 

EverydayBeast

thinks Halo Infinite is a new graphical benchmark
“It's a lot deeper than that.” No it’s not, SEGA vs Sony and the PS2 was the worst possible matchup for the Dreamcast.
 

VGEsoterica

Member
Didn't Panasonic plan for multiple 3DO systems that were to be released every three years? I Remember an MX/Cagent in development which would have followed the M2 and would have featured eDRAM before the PS2 did.

Nintendo was supposed to be considering using MX technology for what would become Gamecube, I'll see if I can find a source for it but apparently it fell through because of the reliance of the PowerPC processor in the MX design, which the Gamecube used ironically.

Then there was Atari who was developing the Jaguar 2, only one prototype board surfaced and was very early in development. Seems it was cancelled and the team developing it went on to design the Nuon chipset.

Imagine what the game industry would look like had these projects become successful.
Yes. MX existed as a finished design and S42 was prototyped and running. That's what Nintendo almost bought for GameCube. Technically S42 was on par or exceeded GameCube in it's abilities
 

CitizenZ

Member
south park beat a dead horse GIF
 

ManaByte

Member
I'm not even sure about... Dreamcast failed before PS2 release so what make it could success being launched even early.

In simple terms PS2 had nothing to do with Dreamcast failure.

This is a joke post, right? Sega's death was brought on by Sega themselves. But the Dreamcast was stifled from Day 1 in the US due to the PS2 FUD that the gaming press was gleefully spreading coupled with EA's boycott of the system and promising Madden would be exclusive to the PS2. These days sports games aren't system sellers, but in 1999 a console was DOA without Madden.

A DVD powered Dreamcast with the MX power in 1999 would've cut out one of the huge "Wait for PS2" FUD points.
 

ethomaz

Banned
This is a joke post, right? Sega's death was brought on by Sega themselves. But the Dreamcast was stifled from Day 1 in the US due to the PS2 FUD that the gaming press was gleefully spreading coupled with EA's boycott of the system and promising Madden would be exclusive to the PS2. These days sports games aren't system sellers, but in 1999 a console was DOA without Madden.

A DVD powered Dreamcast with the MX power in 1999 would've cut out one of the huge "Wait for PS2" FUD points.
Joke?

Dreamcast was dead before PS2 release... what the point? If you can't even survive before the competition enters in the market then why blame the competition?

You guys seems to imply Sony killed Dreamcast lol
 
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Bragr

Member
It's not about who does what first, it's about how you manage the console. The Dreamcast was too expensive to make and Sega didn't understand how to handle that. The Dreamcast would die no matter what.

What Nintendo survived on was making cost-friendly hardware and playing to their own franchises. Sega and Nintendo simply can't compete with Sony and Microsoft in terms of high-end consoles, it's too expensive, Sega never got that.
 

ethomaz

Banned
Exactly what I said lol

Blame the non-competition for the failure lol
Imagine a "big" company saying that his product failed due FUD lol

C'mon.

Seems more like a excuse that he wanted to believe than actual reality.
What he wanted? No other consoles in the world? Just Dreamcast so it could be successful?

If he look at their side and he can't see what was wrong then nobody can help them and you understand why Sega is well Sega.

Edit - I will add more... Sega had no focus, released an outdated machine (it has some good advanced in some areas but overall it was way behind in several areas making it an unbalanced machine focused in Arcade experience that lacked key features for a home console system... it was basically a departure from what they tried with Saturn), had communication issues, internal issues between Sega Japan and America, no 3rd-party support (no incentive to developers put games in ther machine), etc.

But hey Evil Sony with it Lucifer PS2 killed my Dreamcast... it is indeed a big joke lol
 
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SkylineRKR

Member
Its really simple, Sony didn't kill Sega. And FUD can't be the sole reason another company falls. There has to be a catalyst for that to succeed. The catalyst was Sega themselves. They were bleeding money, they fucked over their fanbase with killing the Genesis prematurely while first promising it was their most important pillar. Then they fucked over retailers with the Saturn. Sega fucked everything themselves.

Because of all these actions there was little faith in the Dreamcast. It was another Sega product, it would probably be abandoned again. Sony was still riding the PSX, which was cheap at the time and they didn't stop supporting it. Not even when PS2 was on the shelves. The PS1 was a good choice in 1999. And, well yeah, Sony wanted PS1 players, which were a fuck ton by then, to wait for the PS2. The consumers eventually did that, not because Sony held them at gunpoint but because Sega was seen as unreliable and irrelevant. And not just because of FUD, but also because of brand awareness. You could talk to classmates who played PSX, and 7 of out 10 would probably not be aware of the Dreamcast. Because not many retailers carried it in the first place, and there wasn't that much buzz around it. And they didn't have some crucial mainstream software. Those consumers simply wanted the PS2 since PSX was the best and most well known system around. Playstation could get so big since Sega fucked itself out of the market and Nintendo was sticking to its old habits which didn't fly anymore.

Don't forget that Sega was a relatively small company. Even much smaller than Nintendo was at the time. Those companies were dwarves compared to Sony and Microsoft. They flourished during the cartridge era when gaming was rather small and tucked away in the bedroom, but when games became more complicated, 3D, more like blockbusters, they had a tough time keeping up. Nintendo could sustain because they were more healthy than Sega to begin with, and took less risks in general as well as their IP had more selling potential since everyone grew up with Mario. They almost never sold their console at a loss either. Nintendo essentially bailed out not long after Sega did. The Cube was their final traditional console based on power and standard controls. We've seen how that turned out, they couldn't keep up at all. Not even with newcomer MS. But Nintendo has certain vision, they changed handheld gaming with the DS and changed console gaming with the Wii. They gambled on a different gameplay experience and bailed the spec wars. The WII U was a failure, because it was a basic gaming system again. Worse yet, one with PS360 specs, ancient consoles at the time. But Sega, I don't think they would've been able to get something like the Wii on the market and let it succeed. Even though they had the games, lots of their arcade games were perfect fits for the Wii.
 
I wonder what the industry would have looked like if sony or Microsoft never entered and It was just Sega and Nintendo.
I think sega would be the exact mirror of Nintendo to be honest….in the 8bit/16bit era they both grew their first party games with sega being more arcade focused and Nintendo branching more into the family style

they both realeased similar hardware/handhelds and peripherals

I think sega would of easily taken the early 2000s and it would of been interesting to see what a sega wii counter console would of been and if we fast forward to now with the switch dominating a sega version of it would probably be a more hardcore focused device
 
Sega was always gonna be stomped by PS2. Sony were able to make deals with 3rd party left right and centre. Gta, mgs, final fantasy, dmc etc... This is what enabled them to dominate the market as well as catering to an older audience.

Basically, Sony went big on moneyhats and placating to an audience Western Sega had already been appealing to with the Genesis/MegaDrive (although they did build upon that, to be fair).

It wasn't just Nintendo and Sega. Others would have kept trying just like the TurboGrafx, CDi, 3D0, Atari Jaguar, NeoGeo, etc all did and failed. PlayStation was just the first to succeed.

If they hadn't, it would have been someone else. The way Sega was heading, they would have likely failed regardless of PlayStation and Xbox. Their boneheaded decisions began before PlayStation began dominating the industry.

TBF the Neo-Geo AES was not trying to directly compete with Nintendo and Sega, the price point alone gives that away. The Saturn was actually a quite fine system, and in a vacuum with no PS1 and an N64 that was still catridge-based, Saturn would've more or less came out on top that generation, though it'd be a close 2nd for Nintendo globally.

Both N64 and Saturn would've benefitted from no PS1, in somewhat different ways, but even in spite of 32X (which never got going in Japan or even most of Europe, FWIW) Sega were on an upclimb. No PS1 would've meant them supporting MegaDrive/Genesis longer.

1 - The M2 doesn't seem like much of an upgrade over the Sega Saturn, and by that time Sega had been launching way too many consoles and upgrades, and losing way too much money with it. That was probably the motivation behind not going with another console so soon after the Saturn.


2 - There's no reason to believe the MX would perform better than the Dreamcast. Going by number of triangles alone is very reductive even for the late 90s. The PowerVR GPU in the Dreamcast is a tile-based renderer, meaning that by nature it only draws the triangles that are present in the screen. All other GPUs did a lot of overdraw in comparison, and continued to do so for a decade. Not only that, it used PowerVR Texture Compression for 2bit-per-pixel textures, supported bump mapping and 32bit color rendering, supported translucent polygons, among a bunch of other technologies that made the Dreamcast a lot more advanced than competing GPUs of the time.


3 - Lots of things killed the Dreamcast besides the impending arrival of the PS2: piracy for the console was rampant in a time when everyone could buy a CD-ROM writer and download games from the internet (the console would read CD-ROM games as GD-ROM ones just fine, and at the time there was no forced firmware update to stop it), and Sega of America was also suffering from a massive lawsuit held by 3dfx for supposedly leading them on developing a GPU that Sega ultimately didn't adopt.

Watch Jenovi's Dreamcast documentaries, specifically the 2nd one IIRC which touches on piracy. People today have MASSIVELY overestimated the impact of piracy on hurting Dreamcast. Typical home internet speeds in 2000 were not even T1-level, let alone broadband, so that meant very slow dial-up for games approaching several hundreds of MB (and in some cases, GBs) in size. CDI rips of DC games were always compromised in some way, and circulation of them was very region-based, I'd even say down to specific towns and neighborhoods, so either you were nearby to buy or you didn't get them at all.

The 3DFX situation was actually 3DFX's fault, not Sega's; they leaked details on Dreamcast in court proceedings well before Sega were ready for them to come out, because they wanted to bolster their case. Sega, naturally, retaliated. Tech-wise it was for the better since the Power VR2 was more capable than what 3DFX had going for their prototype, but it was a messy falling out for sure.

Dreamcast could have never beaten the PS2, the PS2 library had everything any anything it had the most amazing weird & wonderful games from japan it was still at the point when playstation consoles had games that were made just because devs wanted to make them so you got to see the oddest and fun games to come out. Owned the DC twice and both times i have regretted it, i still stand that samba de amigo is the only game worth owning one for, compared to the output of the PS2 the DC library is weak.

PS2's library was pretty mediocre until around mid-2001, or over 1 year if going by the Japanese release date. Most people agree Dreamcast had the better library during that period, as PS2's big hitters of 2001 were back-loaded into the latter half of that year.

I don't know what you're going on about with the rest because Dreamcast has some of the weirdest games around; Seaman, SEGAGAGA, Napple Tale (which I'm playing right now and am very charmed with it), Rent-A-Hero, L.O.L (Lack of Love) etc. Lots of weird and charming oddball games there. Of course, not as many as PS2 but that would be obvious considering library size. But trying to boil down its worth to just Samba De Amigo is flat out an idiotic claim on an objective level, and a very odd one on a subjective one.

The problem wasn't the competition against the PS2. I'm sure the Dreamcast would have at least sold as much as the Gamecube if Sega kept selling it during a "normal" console lifecycle (4 to 5 years back in the day). THeir only problem was their finances, they couldn't survive with the failure of the Mega CD, the 32X and the Saturn.

Mega CD wasn't a failure; it did what Sega wanted, they made money off the hardware from Day 1, and it was the best-selling add-on in the industry up until the Wii Fit board and later still the Kinect. The North American library was definitely hampered by too big a focus on mediocre FMV games but the totality of the platform's library is markedly better and has some real gems present.

32X, on the other hand, was a very reactionary product and served no purpose that wasn't better served with expanding on the SVP chip concept they introduced with the MegaDrive/Genesis port of Virtua Racing.

Old Sega fans are more deluded than anyone when it comes to the Dreamcast. It was 150 million vs 10. There is no scenario where Sega wins

Roughly 1/3, or about 50 million, of PS2's sales came after its role as primary commercial platform for Sony (post-2006).

Of course 100 million is still legions more than roughly 10 million, but that's more to the reality of things and even that is pushing it because a better comparison would be PS2 sales during the 2000-early 2001 period since Dreamcast was officially discontinued January 2001. Kind of hard to sell new hardware for a product past its discontinuation period 'ya know.

I agree though that there was no scenario where Sega could outsell the PS2 that generation. That said, some things could've been done differently resulting in them being able to edge out a 5-6 year market presence and getting within Gamecube/Xbox territory of units sold.

Clearly not enough to stop PS2 that gen, but enough to potentially get by.
 

VGEsoterica

Member
Basically, Sony went big on moneyhats and placating to an audience Western Sega had already been appealing to with the Genesis/MegaDrive (although they did build upon that, to be fair).



TBF the Neo-Geo AES was not trying to directly compete with Nintendo and Sega, the price point alone gives that away. The Saturn was actually a quite fine system, and in a vacuum with no PS1 and an N64 that was still catridge-based, Saturn would've more or less came out on top that generation, though it'd be a close 2nd for Nintendo globally.

Both N64 and Saturn would've benefitted from no PS1, in somewhat different ways, but even in spite of 32X (which never got going in Japan or even most of Europe, FWIW) Sega were on an upclimb. No PS1 would've meant them supporting MegaDrive/Genesis longer.



Watch Jenovi's Dreamcast documentaries, specifically the 2nd one IIRC which touches on piracy. People today have MASSIVELY overestimated the impact of piracy on hurting Dreamcast. Typical home internet speeds in 2000 were not even T1-level, let alone broadband, so that meant very slow dial-up for games approaching several hundreds of MB (and in some cases, GBs) in size. CDI rips of DC games were always compromised in some way, and circulation of them was very region-based, I'd even say down to specific towns and neighborhoods, so either you were nearby to buy or you didn't get them at all.

The 3DFX situation was actually 3DFX's fault, not Sega's; they leaked details on Dreamcast in court proceedings well before Sega were ready for them to come out, because they wanted to bolster their case. Sega, naturally, retaliated. Tech-wise it was for the better since the Power VR2 was more capable than what 3DFX had going for their prototype, but it was a messy falling out for sure.



PS2's library was pretty mediocre until around mid-2001, or over 1 year if going by the Japanese release date. Most people agree Dreamcast had the better library during that period, as PS2's big hitters of 2001 were back-loaded into the latter half of that year.

I don't know what you're going on about with the rest because Dreamcast has some of the weirdest games around; Seaman, SEGAGAGA, Napple Tale (which I'm playing right now and am very charmed with it), Rent-A-Hero, L.O.L (Lack of Love) etc. Lots of weird and charming oddball games there. Of course, not as many as PS2 but that would be obvious considering library size. But trying to boil down its worth to just Samba De Amigo is flat out an idiotic claim on an objective level, and a very odd one on a subjective one.



Mega CD wasn't a failure; it did what Sega wanted, they made money off the hardware from Day 1, and it was the best-selling add-on in the industry up until the Wii Fit board and later still the Kinect. The North American library was definitely hampered by too big a focus on mediocre FMV games but the totality of the platform's library is markedly better and has some real gems present.

32X, on the other hand, was a very reactionary product and served no purpose that wasn't better served with expanding on the SVP chip concept they introduced with the MegaDrive/Genesis port of Virtua Racing.



Roughly 1/3, or about 50 million, of PS2's sales came after its role as primary commercial platform for Sony (post-2006).

Of course 100 million is still legions more than roughly 10 million, but that's more to the reality of things and even that is pushing it because a better comparison would be PS2 sales during the 2000-early 2001 period since Dreamcast was officially discontinued January 2001. Kind of hard to sell new hardware for a product past its discontinuation period 'ya know.

I agree though that there was no scenario where Sega could outsell the PS2 that generation. That said, some things could've been done differently resulting in them being able to edge out a 5-6 year market presence and getting within Gamecube/Xbox territory of units sold.

Clearly not enough to stop PS2 that gen, but enough to potentially get by.
Anyone who knows L.O.L gets an A+ from me. Legit amazing gem of a game
 

VGEsoterica

Member
I think sega would be the exact mirror of Nintendo to be honest….in the 8bit/16bit era they both grew their first party games with sega being more arcade focused and Nintendo branching more into the family style

they both realeased similar hardware/handhelds and peripherals

I think sega would of easily taken the early 2000s and it would of been interesting to see what a sega wii counter console would of been and if we fast forward to now with the switch dominating a sega version of it would probably be a more hardcore focused device
Had Sega not folded with Dreamcast my guess would have been NAOMI 2 at home. It could outperform PS2 handily and it was just an evolution of DC / NAOMI. Devs would have had a super easy time developing for it
 

A.Romero

Member
I think SEGA had problems that translated into the decisions that turned into the Dreamcast.

Following what you said, what stopped them from including DVD on the Dreamcast instead of GDRom? Personally I think that including DVD is one of the key decisions that led PS2 to be the Juggernaut that it turned out to be. I mean, even Microsoft would charge for it separately. Sony was visionary in that sense.

I also think decisions like pouring crazy money in something like Shenmue reflected in poor vision for their products. I loved the game back then, it was revolutionary, but Suzuki had 20 fucking chapters planned. Even Final Fantasy hasn't reached 20 mainline games for that franchise and they started with NES. That goes beyond being greatly optimistic.

While broadband speeds weren't widely available, secondary markets like Mexico did have access to piracy because you could buy the disks in street markets. The games were burned into regular CD's. I mean, what was the point of GDRoms then? You didn't even need to chip the device. It was also capable of reproducing video cd's back then when using special (pirate) discs, why not have that functionality baked? It could have been a killer media device for that time.

Don't get me wrong, I loved the Dreamcast (it has been the only Sega console I ever owned). It seemed full of possibilities and had tech that came from the future (I loved downloading saved games from the console itself and playing online easily) but I don't think the main reason it wasn't successful was because of the PS2 launch.
 
Had Sega not folded with Dreamcast my guess would have been NAOMI 2 at home. It could outperform PS2 handily and it was just an evolution of DC / NAOMI. Devs would have had a super easy time developing for it
The arcade stuff they got out of that board was insane….their first party stuff was in a league of its own
 

fallingdove

Member
Wasn’t the Dreamcast rushed to market as it was? There would have been N64 level droughts if Dreamcast would have released in 96.
 

Celcius

°Temp. member
The dreamcast releasing in 1996 would have been even less powerful and that wouldn't be a good thing
 

alf717

Member
Yes. MX existed as a finished design and S42 was prototyped and running. That's what Nintendo almost bought for GameCube. Technically S42 was on par or exceeded GameCube in it's abilities
Hey thanks for the info. I love reading about the earlier beginnings of consoles. Nintendo being my favorite company I really enjoy reading up on things like this. Found this during some google sleuthing. https://www.neogaf.com/threads/3do-...ost-used-in-an-n64-successor-for-1999.350196/

Although experts acknowledge that the video games business is surprisingly
incestuous by even Jerry Springers standards, recent developments taking place
within two of Seattles biggest corporations have made that fact clear for the
whole world to see. Next Generation Online exclusively reports on how Nintendo
and Microsoft wound up eyeing the same companys chipset for the year 2000s
biggest game console.



Few in the video game industry are aware of a rift that formed between Nintendo
and partner Silicon Graphics, Inc. just as their jointly-developed 64-bit game
console rolled off production lines. Already beginning to feel financial
strains due to changing market conditions for their high-end graphics
workstations, Silicon Graphics found itself arguing over component profits with
notoriously tight-fisted Nintendo as the systems American launch MSRP
was lowered at the last minute before release. Although the companies
maintained their working relationship, the decidedly traditional and hard-
lined management at Nintendo had taken offense, and no longer considered SGI a
lock for development of Nintendos post-N64 game console.



Then several important events took place during 1997 inside of Nintendo, SGI
and one of their former competitors. Weak Japanese sales of the N64 and its
software lowered the companys confidence in the N64 platform, and American
sales were projected to fall off as key internal software titles were
continuing to miss release targets by entire seasons. Demonstrably strong sales
of PlayStation games in the inexpensive CD format had weakened the appeal
of Nintendos third-party development contracts, and Nintendo started to
believe that it was in the companys immediate interest to prepare a new
console for release as soon as Fall of 1999. At the same time, a number of
Silicon Graphics key Nintendo 64 engineers left the company to form the new
firm ArtX, with the express intention to win a development contract for
Nintendos next hardware by offering Nintendo the same talent pool sans SGIs
manufacturing and management teams.



As it turns out, most of the industrys top 3D chip experts have been lured
away from smaller firms by accelerator developers NVidia, 3Dfx and NEC, so
Nintendos pool of potential partners was already shrinking when it began to
shop around for a new console design team. Enter CagEnt, a division of consumer
electronics manufacturer Samsung, and heres where the confusion begins: CagEnt
was formerly owned by 3DO, where it operated under the name 3DO
Systems and developed the M2 technology that was sold to Panasonic for $100
Million some time ago. When 3DO decided to exit the hardware business, it sold
off the 3DO Systems division to Samsung, which named it CagEnt and gave it
roughly two years to turn a profit. CagEnt owned three key technologies: a DVD
playback system, a realtime MPEG encoding system called MPEG Xpress, and a
completed game console with a brand new set of console-ready chip
designs called the MX. Adrian Sfarti, who had formerly developed the graphics
architecture design for SGIs Indy workstation, was the head of the MX project.



The MX chipset was a dramatically enhanced version of the M2 chipset sold to
Panasonic and Matsushita, now capable of a 100 million pixel per second
fillrate and utilizing two PowerPC 602 chips at its core. (CagEnts executives
also boasted of a four million triangle per second peak draw rate, though the
quality of those tiny triangles would of course have been limited). Nintendo
executives Howard Lincoln and Genyo Takeda were among a group of
visiting dignitaries to tour CagEnts facilities, culminating in late 1997 or
early 1998 with a formal offer from Nintendo to acquire CagEnt outright. At
this point, Nintendo had terminated its development contract with SGI (see
SGI/MIPS Loses Nintendo Business).



As purchase negotiations continued, Nintendo worked with CagEnt engineers on
preliminary plans to redesign the MX architecture around a MIPS CPU, as
Nintendos manufacturing partner NEC has a MIPS development license but none to
produce the PowerPC 602. Nintendo and CagEnt flip-flopped on whether the
finished machine would include a built-in CD-ROM or DVD-ROM as its primary
storage medium, with Nintendo apparently continuing to insist that ROM
cartridges would remain at the core of its new game system. Yet as DVD and MPEG
technologies would have been part of the CagEnt acquisition, Nintendo would
probably have found some reasonable use for those patents eventually. The
MX-based machine was to be ready for sale in Japan in fall 1999 -- in other
words, development of games for the new console would begin within literally
months, starting with the shipment of dev kits to key teams at Rare and
Nintendos Japanese headquarters.



Although the asking price for CagEnt was extremely low by industry standards,
talks unexpectedly broke off in early 1998 when Samsung and Nintendo apparently
disagreed on final terms of CagEnts ownership, leaving Samsungs management

desperate for a suitor to buy the company. CagEnt aggressively shopped itself
around to other major industry players. SGIs MIPS division, reeling from the
loss of its N64 engineers to ArtX, allegedly considered
acquiring CagEnt as a means to offer Nintendo the technology it had already
decided it liked. Sega, 3Dfx and other companies toured CagEnts facilities and
finally CagEnt found a suitor.




In early April, Microsofts WebTV division ultimately acquired all of the
assets of CagEnt and hired on most of its key personnel. WebTV and Microsoft
apparently intend to use the MX technology at the core of their next WebTV
device, which as might be guessed from the graphics technology, will no longer
be limited to simple web browsing and E-mailing functionality. The next
generation WebTV box will be Microsofts low-cost entry into the world of
game consoles, melding the functionality of a low-end computer with a
television set-top box and game-playing abilities. Having worked with Sega
behind the scenes since 1993 or 1994, Microsoft has been quietly gathering the
knowledge it needs to market and develop games for such a device, and now it
has the hardware that even Nintendo would once have wanted for itself.



As for Nintendo, all signs point to a very unpleasant near future for the
Japanese giant. Lacking internal hardware engineers with the necessary
expertise to develop the next high-end chipset, Nintendo is now all but forced
to either partner with ArtX, or one of the 3D accelerator makers who have been
sucking the industry dry of all its most talented people, or perhaps join with
one of its other major rivals. The latest word has it that ArtX and
Nintendo are in talks to work together, perhaps under circumstances similar to
those under which Nintendo would have acquired CagEnt. Unlike CagEnt, however,
ArtX does not have a finished console or even half-completed chip designs to
sell Nintendo, and it would be unlikely that Nintendo would be able to scrape
together a reasonable system by Christmas 2000 with ArtXs present limitations.
Additionally, SGIs recent series of strategic lawsuits
against Nvidia and ArtX seem to be intended to serve as garlic and crosses to
stave off any Nintendo alliance with its tastiest potential allies: Nintendo
might well fear developing a new console only to find out that its core
technologies or employees are depending upon infringed patents, regardless of
the merits of those patents or the lawsuits.



Meanwhile, the company continues to harbor tremendous concerns for the future
of the Nintendo64 platform, which appears to be sinking deeper and deeper in
Japan by the day. Nintendos negotiations with CagEnt shed light upon the
tremendous dependence the Japanese company now has upon Rare, which has been
responsible for a number of the Nintendo 64s best-looking games and at least
two of the machines most popularDiddy Kong Racing and Goldeneye 007.
As Nintendos Japanese development teams have never been known for their
ability to stick to release schedules, the companys third-party rosters have
remained bare and its management has remained dogmatically fixated upon silicon
chips as its sole means of profit, Nintendos problems have set the stage for a
truly interesting set of negotiations come this E3.



To sum up, readers need to understand that decisions and relationships made
early in the design process of a new console can dictate a companys standing
in the industry for the following five years. Ripple effects from these
decisions can be felt in a companys bottom line can be felt for even longer.
Nintendo has found itself in the unenviable position of being without an
established partner and with the clock ticking down. If Nintendo should
choose to go with ArtX (assuming its able to fight off SGIs lawsuit), it will
need to complete a chip design is an extremely short period of time. If it
doesnt go with ArtX, Nintendo will have to find a technology that is already
suited to the console market or one that can readily be changed to suit a
similar purpose. Either way, at this point the chances of Nintendo hitting its
desired 2000 release with a new system are extremely slim.

The earliest I remember reading about GameCube was back in my high school days. I was in homeroom reading the daily paper and an article I believe which was from the wall street journal spoke of how Nintendo was teaming up with IBM to create the then codenamed Dolphin.
 

Drew1440

Member
Thinking about it, the M2 was initially conceived as an add on to the 3DO before it became its own console, and there were rumors Sega were going to release a Sega 64X type add on for the Saturn which would give it stronger 3d capabilities compared to the N64. So it's possible the M2/MX was considered for that, but Real3D's graphics processors (who made the 3D hardware in the Sega Model 3 arcade board) was also being considered, and then there's 3DFX also.
Which also would have lead to SegaDVD coming out, possibly using dreamcast hardware at that point.
 

Panajev2001a

GAF's Pleasant Genius

Panajev2001a

GAF's Pleasant Genius
Ok ok let me explain lolol.

Sega didn't have to exit the console market. There was a path for them to beat Sony at their own game...and that path led directly through 3DO. Yeah I know...but stay with me here!

3DO obviously wanted to sell M2 as a finished console and get out of the hardware game and they ultimately succeeded with that by selling it to Panasonic...who went on to kill the damn console before it released! But not before adding a DVD drive in 1999 and shipping it as kiosk hardware.

But in late 1995 Sega was in final negotiations to buy the M2 and it's planned expansion...MX. Only at the 11th hour did Sega pull out of the deal and abandon the M2 and MX hardware.

But MX...had basically the same polygon pushing power as well as DVD compatibility....and would be ready to ship in 1999...BEFORE Sony gets to market with the PS2

It's a lot deeper than that. I mean Sega did DEVELOP a game for the 3DO M2, that was demoed in 1998 and magazines wrote about!

Oh how different the console wars could have been. Next time I will tell the story of why the 360 is just a 3DO console in disguise ;)
M2 / MX design apparently did influence some Sony designers when it came time to develop their consoles like PS2 and PS3 apparently, I find that architecture mysterious thus fascinating.
 
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Calverz

Gold Member
What would happen to sales of current consoles if Sony announced ps6 with something like 8k 60fps as standard???
 

Azurro

Member
VGEsoterica VGEsoterica interesting piece of history, but certainly a masterclass in click bait. :)

Sega was already broke due to years of mismanagement and needed to sell like 7 games per Dreamcast just to break even.

Of course Peter Moore will blame the competition when he fucked up that massively. :)
 
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