September 22, 2000
TOP 10 THINGS OZISOFT SHOULD DO TO SAVE THE DREAMCAST
To say that Ozisoft have been less then stellar with the release of the Dreamcast is stating the obvious. So many things went wrong at launch that it made news worldwide. But most of these problems still remain and while some of the problems stem from Sega Europe and Sega Japan many can only be attributed to Ozisoft. The following Top 10 list covers all the items that Ozisoft need to fix before the Dreamcast becomes the success that it deserves to be. Anyway onto the Top 10 list....
10. Official Magazine
After promises of EMAP producing an official Dreamcast magazine were scrapped the duty was handed over to Next Publishing, the makers of quality Australian magazines such as PC Powerplay and Hyper. Unfortunately, Next Publishing's response has also been a little on the slow side with a magazine still some way off, and rumour that they have handed back the rights. Ozisoft have confirmed that when (or if) it does appear the magazine will have a demo CD and will be available bi-monthly. We can only hope that the magazine comes out sooner rather then later as there is no better way to grab peoples attention then with some of the latest game demos.
Outlook: It's doubtful that we will see anything until late this year or early next year due to a low installed user base and a lack of interest from the print media.
9. Lower the peripheral prices
Peripheral prices is definately one area where I get a bit annoyed. Nearly every peripheral is overpriced in Australia. Why buy a VMU for $AU49 when you can import one for $AU35? $AU69 for a keyboard. Are they kidding? PC keyboards can be picked up new for $15-$20 and it's now possible to import a keyboard converter that also allows the use of PSX and PC controllers on the Dreamcast. Why are we paying so much more? Even Americans get a free keyboard (and now Dreamcast) when they signed up with Sega's official ISP.
Outlook: Don't expect any changes in the peripheral prices in the near future. Some stores, such as th Telstra Shop, are giving away a keyboard with the system. If your on a tight budget have a look at importing, but just check on compatibility. (Light Guns are a problem)
8. Get the titles into stores
Do you realize there are already 90 titles available in Australia for the Dreamcast? It's true. Unfortunately, people are walking into major department stores such as BIG W, Target and Telstra Shops and seeing the same 5 or 6 select launch titles (Blue Stinger, Sonic Adventure, Soul Calibur, Formula 1, Virtua Fighter 3tb, HOTD2) on the shelves and thinking the system is already on the way out. Why aren't these major department chains stocking hits such as Crazy Taxi, Virtua Tennis, Marvel Vs Capcom 2, HOTD/Gun, NBA2K and Sega Bass Fishing? Ozisoft need to do something about this fast. Not many casual gamers really have a close look in specialist shops such as Electronics Boutique or Harvey Norman.
Outlook: It's not good. Most major retail chains that I have spoken to are already looking towards the Playstation 2 with little respect for Ozisoft and their treatment of retailers. Still, BIG W have started stocking a wider range of titles, including some reduced to $AU29.95.
7. Stop threatening people about mod chips
I thought Australia had free speech. Well not on the official Dreamcast web site, http://www.dreamcast.com.au. On more then one occasion posts and links have been removed from the forum because people have been discussing mod-chips. Mod chips aren't a big problem for Sega because people can't easily copy their games, unlike the Playstation. But Ozisoft see things a little differently. Every game that is imported means less revenue for them. But I have to sympathise with the public. If Ozisoft had enough copies of games on the shelves people wouldn't have to look overseas for titles. Where is Marvel Vs Capcom 2? The mod chips aren't the problem, it's the constant delays of games and the complete lack of availability when they trickle into the country.
Outlook: Ozisoft will keep on pounding importers and to an extent they have the right to do so. They are losing sales every time someone imports a game into the country, which reduces their profit. Fortunately, most of the major titles are now arriving in plentiful supply albeit delayed.
6. Reduce the price of the system
Even though the Dreamcast has been reduced to $AU299 here in Australia we are still being short changed compared to America. Americans can now buy a Dreamcast Sports Pack which for $US169 ($AU310) which inceludes a black Dreamcast, controllers plus both NBA2K and NFL2K, two of the best sports titles ever.
Outlook: Some stores here are offering non-official bundle deals but they are no where near the value offered in the American Sports Pack. Once again, Australia is paying a higher price for the product.
5. Send out Demo Disks
Does anyone remember the DreamOn 1 disc that came bundled with the Dreamcast? It's hard to believe that it is the only demo disk available here in Australia. The UK are a lot more privileged however in that they are already up to DreamOn Volume 12. Yes, the 12th version of the disk. Consumers in the UK admittedly have to buy the Official Magazine to get the disk but it wouldn't hurt Ozisoft to import the disks and do a mail-out or send them to stores to give out with each game purchase.
Outlook: Who knows. It's unlikely that we will see any demo disks here until the magazine comes out, which won't happen for quite a while. Perhaps we might get an unexpected gift in the mail. Then again, perhaps not.
4. Reduce the price of some games
Pricing of games can be a bit of a sore point with people. No one wants to pay close to $AU100 for a game only to find that it provides only a couple of hours gameplay or is so outdated you can pick it up for a quarter the price on PC. Almost every Dreamcast game so far retails for $AU89.95 to $AU99.95. But Ozisoft's games such as Incoming, Dynamite Cop 2 and Pen Pen may be a lot of fun in the short term, but aren't going to have you playing until the sun comes up and making people pay full price for these games is highway robbery. Surely introducing a lower and more reasonable price point such as $39.95 or $49.95 for these titles would be a better option. People respond to these prices because they are cheap enough and become an impulse purchase. Parents also respond better to this price point for gifts when a game is only $10 more then a video or CD.
Outlook: Some older games have started reducing in price from mid-year. Already some companies are clearing out stock although they aren't official price reductions. Christmas will likely see cheaper official "Platinum" games from Sega, but Ozisoft still haven't said a thing about it yet.
3. Get some displays in-stores IMMEDIATELY
Just prior to the (failed) September launch Ozisoft forwarded me some technical drawings of displays which were to be sent out to stores. Unfortunately, they never eventuated, even for the November 30 launch. Ozisoft assured me that they would be in stores soon after some problems with their manufacturing. It is now September, 10 months after the launch and there is still only a handful of in-store displays. Companies such as EB's and BIG W who have set up displays have done so with their own time and stock.
Outlook: The displays have hit some retailers but major retailer BIG W still doesn't have any display units. There can be no denying that they are very cool, but there isn't enough of them.
2. Advertise everywhere
These advertising campaigns are so big that you can't miss them. Well that's how it should be. In reality there isn't nearly enough advertising to even get people to remember what the ads were about. Surely there should be big in-sore posters (like the ones advertising videos and other games), as well as many more ads on TV during prime-time. Ozisoft are claiming that they have sold 30,000 systems in Australia which would equate to roughly $AU3 million profit (assuming $100 per console). If you add in profit from peripherals (they must be making a fortune on those) and games they should have made several million dollars. I'm certain that not nearly enough of this is going to advertising.
Outlook: Unfortunately, Ozisoft just don't understand how to market a machine. In order to make sales you need advertising everywhere. Where was the ad campaign when the system was reduced to $AU299. Expect more advertising at the end of the year for the Playstation 2 launch and Christmas.
1. Online Gameplay
Online gameplay is almost a "Dream" in Australia. Even the most basic of games Chu Chu Rocket has been delayed time and time again from March to apparently October 16, although few have faith that this will happen. When it comes to major online games such as Quake 3 Arena, Out Trigger and POD II there could be some major problems. Online gameplay is now going strong in America with NFL2K1 and Europe is close behind. Unfortunately this looks like another hassle that Ozisoft can't handle.
Outlook: With delays of almost a year already for the most basic game it's hard seeing Ozisoft managing to get online gameplay all set up in time for Christmas. Miracles happen, but not too often.
Well I hope you enjoyed reading this Top 10 list as much as I did in creating it. If you have any comments or questions E-mail me at : firstname.lastname@example.org