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Former Sega Prez Discusses the Dreamcast's Failure

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the who-would-want-to-play-online-anyway dept.

Classic Games (Games) 86

An anonymous reader writes "Former Sega of America president Bernie Stolar speaks out about the man who ousted him, EA's attempt to monopolize sports games on the Dreamcast, why the Dreamcast failed, and a legendary prank he pulled against Sony. 'I fought to have a modem on the platform. Maybe it was early — who knows. But I fought for a modem in the beginning because I wanted to have massively multiplayer online games on that system.' When asked about the console's online capabilities not catching on with consumers, he said, 'It doesn't surprise me, because there wasn't software tied into it. They were not building and going after software to start that. I mean, I was looking for developers and content providers to start doing that. Sega did not do that after I left. They just abandoned it.'"

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sounds like some rationalization going on (1, Insightful)

johncandale (1430587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29396563)

"The consumer judged that it was the right hardware and the right software. Look at the software that was on that system. Look at the sporting titles that". Compared with it's rivals, Nintendo 64, already out with a fair string of Great Mario games, Zelda games, and 3d party titles, ps2 was on it's way, as was xbox. " Look at the software that was on that system" You mean um, 'crazy taxi' (good for a little while, but wears thin) and um, Mavel v. Capcon 2? and um, well I"m sure if you owned the system you could think of more, but those are the only ones I ever saw that looked worth playing. That's the problem, even if it had great titles, no one was aware of them.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29396595)

That's the problem, even if it had great titles, no one was aware of them.

I suppose that's true; it DID have great titles, and you (for one) weren't aware of them. Obviously, the PS2 library is immense and excellent; but I think the Dreamcast library holds up well compared against the Gamecube and X-Box. Soul Caliber 2, the best Soul Caliber ever made. Shenmue. Ikaruga. Sonic Adventure (the last really good sonic game). Skies of Arcadia. Ah, I could name more, but lists of info are pretty meaningless. Suffice it to say, sadly, you weren't alone in not knowing much about the Dreamcast, and that is no doubt Sega's fault (with some blame to go to EA and Sony).

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29403641)

It's funny I almost couldn't tell whether you were talking about the Dreamcast or the Gamecube. Also wasn't the DC version Soul Calibur 1 (it was a sequel to a game called something like Soul Edge) while SC2 was on the PS2, Gc and Xbox with one exclusive character each?

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (2, Informative)

unfunk (804468) | more than 4 years ago | (#29396609)

Sonic Adventure
Sega Rally 2
Virtua Fighter 3
Dead or Alive 2
Soul Calibur
Resident Evil: Code Veronica
Powerstone
Head Hunter
Phantasy Star Online
Skies of Arcadia

That's just a handful I can think of off the top of my head. The hype for the DC was ridiculous at the time for a console.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29396627)

Shenmue

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29396633)

Gorillas
Nibbles

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 4 years ago | (#29397055)

Half-Life (yes I know, I know...)

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (3, Informative)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 4 years ago | (#29397115)

Hype? What hype? Here in Switzerland the kids often thought it was the PS2 or X-Box (having no idea about their actual release dates). You need to know that Sega, as far as I know, was never all that popular in Europe. I don't know about the rest of the world, but here nobody even knew they'd made a new console.

Hell, we had to look on the internet (without youtube) for the actual DC commercials since we didn't have even one around here (since Switzerland has German TV stations, I feel safe to say in all German speaking countries, there was a marketing black hole when it comes to that piece of hardware).

The games were great, the hardware was advanced and powerful. Just... nobody knew that.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400629)

Europe had always been a bit funny. You guys had a bunch of computers (Commodore, Amstrad, Sinclair, Acorn, etc.) that were pretty much unknown elsewhere.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

sowth (748135) | more than 4 years ago | (#29402811)

Commodore unknown except for Europe? The Commodore 64 was one of the most popular home computers in the US during the late 1980s. Everyone I knew who had a computer had one of those, but I had an Atari 130XE. There was the really old couple who had an IBM compatible (maybe it was a real IBM, can't remember), but everyone else had the C64. My junior high taught basic on C64s.

During the early '90s, all the other brands (Commodore, Atari, Apple) sort of faded away in the US. Apple being the only one who survived. I'm not sure what did it.

Some may say it was Microsoft's practices, but it seemed to me salespeople didn't want to sell cheaper computers. It could have been some sort of MS "incentive" program. After all, didn't they give special discounts to dealers who sold their products exclusively? There was also the issue of adaptibility. IBM compatibles hardware could be upgraded with cards, the others were hard-wired, so you were stuck with whatever it came with.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29403321)

During the early '90s, all the other brands (Commodore, Atari, Apple) sort of faded away in the US. Apple being the only one who survived. I'm not sure what did it.

Definitely not quality, the macs were slower and had lesser quality than the Atari STs which also served the same markets.
I personally think, that Macs could survive because of the graphics people who were so attached to their machines and they did not know the market. Apple was the cheapest page design solution when the Laser Printer hit the streets. And graphics people usually are not too much into looking outside of what works (hence the Photoshop being almost a monopoly in this area)
Atari was simply too late with their ST and so did Acorn and many others fail. Atari had made some inroad in Europe in the graphics and page design area but Atari did not understand their new core market and Europe alone was not enough to make an apple like living.

Anyway Apple could simply survive because they had their nieche market and a load of technologoy unaware customers who tend to stick with what worked for them, or in other words, call it pure luck. Heck those people even went trough the note usable osx 10.x and 10.1 era and I dont know how many times being ripped off by apple with semi useless hardware designs.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29403313)

Urgh, Commodore unknown, first it was an american company, secondly, the C64 was the most successful home computer in the "Pre PC" era.
Amstrad Sinclair and Acorn are not too well known over the pond I agree, althugh at least in the case of the Acorn it was undeserved, one of the many better than a Mac machines which could not cope with Apple on marketing level.

Man even an Atari ST wiped the floor of every Mac and it already had major inroads in apples core domains, if it was not for the stupidity of Atari who never could figure out how to serve their customers (something which befell commodore also later in the Amiga days) Apple would be history and we probably all would be using Ataris instead. But oh well, what if games are always pointless to begin with.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29403357)

Well there were not too many commercials regarding consoles in german speaking europe to begin with, I think sony were the first to do even something remotely connected to their consoles. All I can remember is Nintendo doing some commercials for Starfox and Donkey Kong country, but only to tell people to stick to the platform because it can deliver PS1 like graphics (which was a lie in itself but some people probably bought that)

But I agree Sega was non existing, the consoles were sold, but I always had the feeling that in the 80s and 90s computers were more important here, the c64 was selling shitloads and a lot of people jumped to the amiga and later the PCs. The consoles were always there but not really that existent, probably due many people already having computers and consoles always felt more absymal to those gameplaywise and graphicswise and also to the fact that no one really promoted them.

The easy piracy on computers did the rest to make consoles not too popular.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29403655)

Funny considering the Sonic name is still a huge seller in Europe (at least the UK), much more than in any other region.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (5, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 4 years ago | (#29396641)

You mean um, 'crazy taxi' (good for a little while, but wears thin) and um, Mavel v. Capcon 2? and um, well I"m sure if you owned the system you could think of more, but those are the only ones I ever saw that looked worth playing.

You can't be serious. The Dreamcast had tons of great games. Among its US launch titles are Power Stone, Sonic Adventure, Soulcalibur, and Tokyo Xtreme Racer.

And soon came Rayman 2, Sonic Adventure 2, Phantasy Star Online, Toy Commander, StarLancer, Metropolis Street Racer, Shenmue, Skies of Arcadia, Grandia 2, Bangai-O, Crazy Taxi, Mars Matrix, Capcom vs. SNK, Mark of the Wolves, Sword of the Berserk... and if you played imports, Shenmue 2, Headhunter, Ikaruga, Zero Gunner 2, Rez, Guilty Gear X...

To sum it up -- the Dreamcast was a great machine with a kickass library.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29397519)

NERD FIGHT!!!!

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29414489)

No jet grind radio? Thats probably one of my fave DC games ever. Good mention on bangai-o though, so many people overlooked that gem.

The real reason for Dreamcast's downfall (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29396733)

And I so rarely see it spoken of. Easily pirated software. All you needed was the internet and a cd burner. No modding; burn and go. And everyone did it.

Re:The real reason for Dreamcast's downfall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29398813)

So true. Something tells me that all the nostalgia people have for the DC really stems from their massive game library built on pirated titles. The DC didn't do anything spectacular compared to the competition, and had no orignal titles anyone outside EXTREME HARDCORE fighting fans would even know how to pronounce. Honestly didn't know a single person who owned a DC. And I've only met a single person to date that likes the DC, and it's mostly because he can pirate the games so easily.

I don't know if that's irony, but it is to me since the one thing that made the console so popular was also its downfall. (Popular is a relative term here.)

Re:The real reason for Dreamcast's downfall (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399093)

If that were true, the console itself would have been immensely popular, but the games would have suffered from low sales. That's not what happened...

Lots of people don't pirate (1)

Geof (153857) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399615)

Easily pirated software. All you needed was the internet and a cd burner. No modding; burn and go. And everyone did it.

Not so. I'm sure many, many people did not. Not everyone is comfortable downloading and burning off the net. Many people will pay good money for bottled water, never mind colorful videogames.

I bought the system for one game only: Jet Set Radio. I saw a legit copy from Japan and couldn't get it out of my head. It was the only game I ever copied, because when I got my system it was not available in North America. As soon as Jet Grind Radio (the poorly-named American version) was released, I bought it. I never copied another game - though I bought a whole bunch.

The Dreamcast is the only console I have ever owned. And I have seen many consoles. I remember when Pac Man was released for Atari. But the Dreamcast was the only one that made me really, really want one.

Re:The real reason for Dreamcast's downfall (1)

Runefox (905204) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401713)

You seem to be thinking of another console, perhaps the Saturn - Widespread availability of Dreamcast game rips wasn't a reality until the latter part of the Dreamcast's life, and even then there were releases that required features to be removed, or audio/video/textures/etc having to be heavily-compressed, which caused issues during gameplay (Skies of Arcadia's rip in particular suffered from this). Dreamcast game discs weren't normal CD-ROM media - They were a variant called GD-ROM, which enabled up to 1.2GB of information to be stored on a disc, through use of a higher-density design coupled with a normal-density track on the inside with a TOC that ignores the rest of the disc (the Dreamcast read a different TOC). Therefore, placing a GD-ROM into a normal CD-ROM/DVD-ROM reader would yield only a small track containing bibliography/etc info and in some cases bonus content such as wallpaper. As I understand it, firmware hacking can be done on a normal CD/DVD-ROM drive to look for that second TOC if the drive's laser can pick off the high-density data, but that's a significant hack that won't work on every drive.

For a long time, the only (and still by far the easiest) way to rip a GD-ROM disc was to use the Dreamcast itself as a GD-ROM drive, using a Coder's Cable (serial, slow) or a Broadband Adapter (rare) and special software to transfer the data to a computer. Making rips was by no means an easy task, and broadband of the day made for unreliable download stability for such large files (in the absence of Bittorrent). Hell, in the early days, it was even necessary to make use of a boot CD to load the game!

Piracy wasn't a big concern for Sega - Certainly not nearly as widespread as it was on the Playstation.

I remember this pretty vividly - This was back when I had a Sony 16x4x48x CD burner in my brand-new Pentium 4 1.5GHz Windows 98-based computer. I recall trying to download and burn some Dreamcast games that I wasn't able to get my hands on otherwise (Skies of Arcadia in particular was completely unknown around here for some reason) - The availability of rips and the likelihood that they'd work properly were both very low, along with the general quality level of the rips overall, many plagued with slowdown and inferior quality due to modifications made by the rip team. Quite frankly, it was a lot easier and less annoying to go out and actually buy the game legitimately.

Sure, you can find Dreamcast rips all over the place now in torrent form and even on some websites, but as a person who at one point during the Dreamcast's life cycle was looking to expand his Dreamcast collection beyond the paltry selection of games most stores in his area carried, I can tell you that it wasn't as easy as you think it was back in the day.

Re:The real reason for Dreamcast's downfall (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29403363)

You forgot that back in those days broadband connections were not that previvalent and CD burners also not everyones cup.
So piracy was not a big issue on the DC while it was to some degree but it definitely did not lead to the downfall.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (3, Insightful)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#29396903)

even if it had great titles, no one was aware of them.

Exactly the failure of the Dreamcast.

The dreamcast was a huge hit with the hardcore console gaming crowd, but the Spyro/Madden/Final Fantasy crowd that only picks up AAA or high visibility titles didn't care what was on the DC. When you look at games like Legacy of Kain, Shenmue, Capcom vs SNK, the casual gamer responds, "Who's Kain? How do i even pronounce Shenmue? And what's a Snick?"

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 4 years ago | (#29398599)

It's as I've said before, thanks to the PS1 and Sega's missteps with the 32X, Sega's audience was reduced to the hardcore arcade amd fighting game fanboys. And no matter how vocal they are on the internet, including Slashdot discussions of the Dreamcast where they still believe it was "Sony hype" that killed the DC, there aren't actually enough of them to sustain a system.

  I thought the DC was interesting, with that planetweb browser and built in modem. But the mistakes they made with the controller (waaaay too big and lacking a second analog stick), and that battery sucking low capacity VMU, turned me off. As well as the games. There were only 2 games that interested me, Skies of Arcadia and Phantasy Star Online. And even with PSO they made the mistake of making a Diablo clone, pay-to-play.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29399311)

"But the mistakes they made with the controller (waaaay too big and lacking a second analog stick), and that battery sucking low capacity VMU, turned me off."

I find the controller just fine myself. And consider the "lacking a second analog" stick to be a null argument given the PS1 launched without any analog sticks at all. The battery for the VMU was only needed if you were going to go playing mini games on it. It wasn't needed to use it as a memory card which is it's primary purpose.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29403339)

Well if the games are designed that way then it probably is forgivable, but camera control is really needed especially for third person games.
I would not want to play any tombraider without it anymore.

As for the PS1, the dual shock controller was so important that it was the first after launch equipment ever which became controller standard on an already launched console, so go figure how important the second analog stick really is.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400283)

Right, it wasn't Sony hype, it was the lack of Sega hype that killed the console. I really think though that Sega *could* have done it, had the right games(which I think they were close to having; nothing I could recommend as a must-have to casual gamers of that day) and slick marketing campaigns, which they've been hit or miss with.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400557)

But the mistakes they made with the controller (waaaay too big and lacking a second analog stick)

The Dreamcast controller was not perfect, but still, it was far more comfortable than the PS2's piece of junk and its ludicrously misplaced analog sticks.

Also... seriously, why would anyone need a second analog stick?

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401443)

Camera control? Analog aiming in third person and first person shooters? Analog gas/braking in Gran Turismo? You also get another action button with it (aka R3).

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401763)

Camera control?

Use the D-pad.

Analog aiming in third person and first person shooters?

Aim with the stick on the left, move with ABXY.

Analog gas/braking in Gran Turismo?

No, fuck no, that's terrible. The Dreamcast way: analog triggers!

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29403337)

Camera control?

Use the D-pad.

The D-pad is absolutely subpar for camera control, sometimes a digital input makes sense
especially if you need fast reaction times, but for camera control analog control is an absolute must
to get precise positioning.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 4 years ago | (#29403607)

If the camera needs that kind of control, it means it was not well designed in the first place. :-P

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29403679)

That means about 99% of all games are not well designed in the first place ;-)
Seriously i hate games where the camera control has locking mechanisms.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 4 years ago | (#29403583)

Use the D-pad.

For Camera control? What koosbane are you on? Digital doesn't work so well for camera control.

Aim with the stick on the left, move with ABXY.

Any PSP owner can tell you that is not as good as two analog sticks are. You also lose the use of the buttons for other functions.

No, fuck no, that's terrible. The Dreamcast way: analog triggers!

Too much resistance, and less play than the stick, though the DualShock3 is improved somwhat in this regard. USB Racing wheel's the best though.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 4 years ago | (#29403603)

You can't compare it to the PSP, its analog stick is really tiny, misplaced, and pretty much worthless. On the Dreamcast, this scheme works quite well.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29403331)

seriously, why would anyone need a second analog stick?

Two words, camera control. 3d camera positioning still is an issue and back then even more was than it is today, getting the freedom of having
a free floating camera attached to the second stick is a big helper. I would not want to live without it anymore.
It was so important that the controller with the second stick became a standard on the sony platforms despite being introduced after the initial launch of the console (I think it was the PS1)

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

Theoboley (1226542) | more than 4 years ago | (#29454205)

How are these "Ludicrously" misplaced...?? have you even HELD a playstation controller? its completely ergonomically correct, unlike the damn steering wheel of a controller that came with the dreamcast.

Hell, even Microsoft learned REALLY quick that their oversized original xbox controller was awful and quickly modified that down to size.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 4 years ago | (#29397035)

> the system you could think of more, but those are the only ones I ever saw that looked worth playing.

Uhm, hello - did you even check any of the titles that were being sold at the time?

Tony Hawk Pro Skater (I hate sports games, but this was fun!)
Soul Caliber
Worms
Spider-Man
Shenmue

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29398585)

I think the Dreamcast was a lot more successful in Japan, where it actually had a respectable following for some years and had new titles published for it up till as recent as 2007. But if you're in the states or elsewhere, you're probably unaware of the library of games the platform offered.

Discussing what he believes to be the Dreamcast's strengths and weaknesses in order to analyze the reasons for the platform's commercial failure isn't rationalizing. It's a fact of life that good products & services don't always succeed commercially. Considering all the technical praise the Dreamcast has received despite its commercial failure, I think it's safe to say that it falls into the above category. And there's nothing wrong with pointing out some of the good points about a product that was a commercial failure. I think it's actually pretty important to assess the reasons why a well-engineered product was not the commercial success it should have been; especially as it happens quite often that a well-engineered product will perform poorly commercially, and even lose out to competitors that are technologically inferior. It's not as if the Dreamcast was a total bomb like the Gizmondo [wikipedia.org] .

Sony can probably learn a few lessons from the failure of the Dreamcast and Sega's downfall in the console gaming market. Sega began losing ground as soon as they replaced Hayao Nakayama with an investment banker as the head of the company. Nakayama was a businessman, but he was a businessman with a keen sense of the gaming industry. It's not always about cutting costs and squeezing every penny out of consumers. And even a strong product that is technologically sound can be self-sabotaged through mismanagement. The PSP is probably one of the best examples of a technologically impressive product whose potential is largely wasted due to corporate mismanagement. No, it's not a commercial failure, but Sony corporate has certainly done a fine job of drawing the contempt of its user and destroying any consumer confidence & good faith built up by the PSX and PS2.

On the up side, at least it appears that they're learning (albeit slowly and by the hard way) from their mistakes and improving on their business strategy regarding the PSP with each successive generation. It took them over a year, but they finally let gave PSP owners direct access to the PSN—without which PSP users couldn't play PSX games as Sony had heavily advertised—without having to buy a $500 (I believe that's how much the PS3 cost at the time) add-on. And they are finally taking advantage of the PSP's internet capabilities and giving up on the UMD. But the PSP could have been much more successful if they'd taken a clue from CFW users (who have long enjoyed longer battery life and practically zero loading time by booting ISOs off of the PSP's memory stick) sooner and gave consumers what they wanted. Let's see how long it'll take Sony to figure out that PSP users want to be able to rip their old PS1 discs and play them on their PSPs without having to re-purchase their entire game library on the PSN.

Re:sounds like some rationalization going on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29400057)

That's the problem, even if it had great titles, no one was aware of them.

It seems you are implying that marketing is just as important as development... Blasphemy! ;)

Bernie Stolar is my hero (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29396569)

But it is true that Sony was holding its first golf tournament -- I believe in Napa [California]...I forget which golf course. I had someone go to the golf pro, paid him money to take out all the Sony golf balls and put in Sega golf balls instead.

And I had somebody dressed up as Sonic driving around the course, and skywriters writing 'Dreamcast is coming' up in the air. That part is true, yes.

Re:Bernie Stolar is my hero (1)

tieTYT (989034) | more than 4 years ago | (#29416221)

When I got to Sega, there were 300 some odd people, and I took the staff down to 91 people

He's not my hero. I'd prefer to work for someone who would regrettably (or not) do this instead of be proud of it.

Love It (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#29396615)

I love my Dreamcast, it's an elegant gaming solution that had ~700 games. With so many excellent fighting games... Marvel vs. Capcom, Soul Caliber, Powerstone... Plus some of my personal favorites Shenmue and Tony Hawk 2. It was a wonderful system that in a different world could of dominated. Either way it holds a certain place in my heart that few systems will ever attain.

He makes the arguement that it's about software (3, Insightful)

joeflies (529536) | more than 4 years ago | (#29396631)

I agree with him. However, the Dreamcast had some of the best software available, including the best sports games, arcade games and fighting games. I play a lot of RPGs and still think Skies of Arcadia is one of the best ever. It had games that were ported onto XBOX and went on to become some of the best XBOX games. It had cutting edge online gaming with Phantasy Star, innovative arcade adventures like Shemue, and better graphic versions of exisiting hits like Tony Hawk (a truly superior version compared to PS1). So with all that great software, then there's still something missing to his arguement - if it's all about the software, and the dreamcast had a ton of great software, then maybe you need to come up with a better reason why it failed.

Re:He makes the arguement that it's about software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29396801)

I believe he made the argument that it was about hardware backing the software....

Re:He makes the arguement that it's about software (4, Insightful)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29397109)

The reason was neither piracy nor bad games. Piracy existed but I rather doubt it killed the Dreamcast, what killed the dreamcast was given the existing interviews which clearly stated the sales numbers, was the PS2 and its dvd capability.
If you watch the interviews then you would know one day before the PS2 was out the sales were excellent and then the day the PS2 came out the sales took a nosedive never to recover again, and the PS2 in the beginning also was used as a DVD player by a load of people.

Re:He makes the arguement that it's about software (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399087)

I found out about Skies of Arcadia because it had such a following on DC. I saw some screen caps and read about how others were raving about the game. So, I found it ported on the PS2. I'm not a huge RPG fan since it takes too long to play most games. But Skies is a memorable experience and I had much more fun playing it than FF7 - I found the story, characters and writing much better/more fun too.

I'd love a sequel!

Part piracy, part marketing (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401575)

This was back when people believed the hype about the Emotion Engine. Squaresoft hyped a possible FF7 remake, and the possibility of viewing scenes rendered in realtime from Final Fantasy: Spirits Within. The hype killed desire for the Dreamcast.

The rest was because people were pirating games on the Dreamcast left and right.

And here it goes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29396643)

Let me predict the comments on this topic. Everyone praises the dreamcast, how great it was, or always wanted to buy one. Well, I got some news for you. It's your FAULT it died. You should had mentioned its greatness back when it mattered and perhaps its fate would had been different today wouldn't it?

Re:And here it goes (4, Funny)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29396679)

The Dreamcast is the correct choice! [somethingawful.com]

Because the syst...
The games are cheap
And Sega is a developer who I respect
And arigato
And you can play Sonic
And Sonic loves us all
And Sonic saves animals
And he doesn't care that Tails is gay

Re:And here it goes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29397285)

Burma Shave!

Re:And here it goes (1)

Grimnir512 (1449641) | more than 4 years ago | (#29396945)

Not my fault that I was about eight when I wanted one and got told I couldn't have one! :( I do plan on getting myself one off ebay at some point, though. It seems like there was a whole set of games I missed, judging by the comments here.

Re:And here it goes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29398547)

Speak for yourself!
I own 2 Dreamcasts, 2 additional controllers, 4 VMUs, 1 S-video cable, 1 VGA box, 25 games, and Bleem! for Gran Turismo 2 and Metal Gear Solid. All of them bought before its EOL.

Re:And here it goes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29402285)

Two Dreamcasts, Four controllers, Eight VMUs, Two keyboards. Three games left at this point.
I sold the light gun (that I snagged for $5) to someone on eBay for much more than I paid, simply because it was made by MadCatz -- I don't allow MadCatz peripherals in my house unless they're broken (long story) -- so that shut me out of a number of interesting games like House of the Dead and Confidential Mission. (Aggravating, but true: The MadCatz gun was the official gun for the system.)

Yeah, I ended up burning a few games, but it wasn't as easy as people said it was, simply because the disc images were usually made with DiscJuggler, which I never seemed to keep on hand for some reason.
There are some that just wouldn't burn right and would make a coaster, no matter what.

At least the homebrew stuff was awesome when I didn't have a DVD player (I was late to the DVD age. Big whoop, wanna fight about it?) -- I'd burn a VCD, and watch it on the Dreamcast. Great for sneaking things I "shouldn't be watching" into the living room after the family went to sleep back then.
Yeah, 27" TV without a DVD player in 2001. Funny, right?

Posting as anon because it seems like the right thing to do.

Who's to blame? (1)

rm999 (775449) | more than 4 years ago | (#29396671)

I had one, and it was a great system, RIP.

But I dislike how this guy tries to shift the blame throughout the interview - the Dreamcast was a lot like the PS3 of this generation - too ahead of its time. It's not that it was overpriced like the PS3 was, but developing for it was a big pain in the ass (although there were some great games because of its powerful hardware). When the PS2 came out soon after, it had a DVD player and truly felt next-gen. The modem this guy pushed for was a pretty crappy feature compared to a fully-featured DVD player.

Re:Who's to blame? (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 4 years ago | (#29396725)

the Dreamcast was a lot like the PS3 of this generation - too ahead of its time. It's not that it was overpriced like the PS3 was, but developing for it was a big pain in the ass (although there were some great games because of its powerful hardware)

Funny, I recall it differently. I read somewhere that developers loved the Dreamcast because it was very easy to code for... unlike the PS2.

When the PS2 came out soon after, it had a DVD player and truly felt next-gen.

Does a DVD player make the PS2 a better game system? Sony's hype machine and press ignorance made it seem far more "next-gen" than it actually was. And games like Shenmue, Metropolis Street Racer, Sonic Adventure 2, and Under Defeat show the Dreamcast could hold its own regarding quality graphics.

Re:Who's to blame? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29396807)

While the dreamcast was a solid system it came out at a bad time.

The PS2 followed shortly after, and it not only functioned as a DVD player, but had a massive library of PS1 games supporting it. It comes down to the PS2 having the legacy support of the old games, and being an all around better value. If I'm going to drop 200 bucks on a system, I'd rather get a DVD player with it, especially when a DVD player at the time of the PS2's release was something that was expensive. It's sort of like how a lot of people bought PS3's simply for the blueray player.

Re:Who's to blame? (1)

Joe Tie. (567096) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400023)

The dreamcast was amazing to write for. It was a while back, so my memory is a bit fuzzy. But my experience with the normal sdk, the windows cd sdk, and kalios for homebrew were all wonderful. They had flaws, to be sure. But the documentation was great, they gave very easy access to all the hardware, everything was abstracted if you wanted it and nothing keeping you from getting closer to the metal if you needed to.

Re:Who's to blame? (2, Informative)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29403241)

Does a DVD player make the PS2 a better game system? Sony's hype machine and press ignorance made it seem far more "next-gen" than it actually was. And games like Shenmue, Metropolis Street Racer, Sonic Adventure 2, and Under Defeat show the Dreamcast could hold its own regarding quality graphics.

Well it does not make it a better game system but it helped to sell the hardware. Go to youtube and dig out the IGN dreamcast interviews, all the Sega people interviewed pretty much said that the Dreamcast sales took a nosedive the day the PS2 hit the streets, and that at least in japan the PS2 was heavily used as a DVD player also because it was the cheapest of its time.
(Probably the other countries also used the PS2 heavily as a DVD player). Face it, while nowadays it is unimportant due to having DVD players left and right just like CD burners back then. The time the PS2 came out the DVD functionality was one cornerstone which sank the Dreamcast and almost sank the gamecube.

Re:Who's to blame? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29397273)

The modem this guy pushed for was a pretty crappy feature compared to a fully-featured DVD player.

While this is true, the DC came out almost a year before the PS3. I specifically did not buy one not because the PS2 was supposed to play DVDs, but because it was supposed to be twice as fast as the Dreamcast. We all know that turned out to be pure fucking lies from Sony, but this guy obviously doesn't want to say anything bad about Sony, as he avoids answering the question "what's different between Sony and Sega" which is by far the most interesting question in the interview. I want back the time I spent reading this valueless, misdirecting piece of shit.

Re:Who's to blame? (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29397283)

(and yes, I know he answers it after he refuses to answer, but he gives a shitty answer. He obviously had another answer and changed his tune in mid-song. At least the interview is great for making that clear.)

BS: Let me just say this: It was a great team of people who were there at the time. When I got to Sega, there were 300 some odd people, and I took the staff down to 91 people, and we built it.

Translation: I fired the two-thirds of the people working at Sega and built a console that failed, and I'm proud of that.

Re:Who's to blame? (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 4 years ago | (#29397473)

the Dreamcast was a lot like the PS3 of this generation

I don't see how the PS3 is too ahead of this generation. It's expensive, the development kit is difficult in general and has a steep learning curve.

Re:Who's to blame? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29399719)

Reports of the PS3s early demise are CLEARLY exaggerated. It is selling strong, and has a big enough hardware base to assure we'll see a PS4.

Re:Who's to blame? (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400767)

Reports of the PS3s early demise are CLEARLY exaggerated.

I'm not arguing about PS3's demise, only the rubbish that it's "ahead of it's time".

Re:Who's to blame? (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29403301)

Reports of the PS3s early demise are CLEARLY exaggerated.

I'm not arguing about PS3's demise, only the rubbish that it's "ahead of it's time".

Wellt, Sony marketing bullshit, can you remember the super computer thing when the PS2 was released, all the PS2 did was to pack 2 simd units onto two already out of date slow processors (which also have a superbly designed instruction set, I always loved mips for what it was)
The cell is pretty similar in this regard, except for the fact that the design was not entirely outdated when the PS3 came out but it nowadays with modern gpus running circles left and right and with modern desktop processors delivering good power is.
The main issue is, that consoles always have to take cost cutting measures, in the case of the PS3 we have a shitty general purpose core, and with shitty I mean shitty, and way to low ram to begin with, it was even to low when the PS3 came out.

But Sonys marketing departement probably would even brand some donkey shit super computer output (because a donkey has more logical reasoning than any computer, but that is system inherent).

Re:Who's to blame? (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29403257)

the Dreamcast was a lot like the PS3 of this generation

I don't see how the PS3 is too ahead of this generation. It's expensive, the development kit is difficult in general and has a steep learning curve.

Besides that if you look outside of the sony marketing papers, the hardware is not that powerful to begin with, it has some edge over the xbox 360 in the simd area, but compared to a modern pc it severely stinks.
It was Sonys dream that the cell could do everything, a very similar design to the ps2 with 2 mips processors with attached simd units doing everything but then the xbox came and sony realized that modern gpus were more powerful for 3d so they delegated the cell down to being the multi purpose processor and sound processing engine only,however multi purpose processing is a task where the cell really stinks. However the cell can get some revival now that physics are more integrated this is one area where it again can shine. The dreamcast however had a straight forward design, it used one single processor (i still dont know what the affinity of the japanese is to get a high number of shitty processors into consoles and let everyone figure out how to use the stuff) which was a known entity, and adding to that a POWERVR chip also a known entity from the PC world, however on the PC world the graphics processor could not shine due to using a different 3d paradigm, that emulation layer could be removed for the dreamcast and it could shine.

Btw. modern handhelds like the iphone use follow up 3d chip. The design has moved from the PC area down to the handheld segment where it is used due to its low power consumption, pretty similar to arm.

"Former Sega Prez Discusses" "prez"? (0, Offtopic)

johncandale (1430587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29396909)

"Former Sega Prez Discusses" "Prez"? Prez??? Who wrote TFA title, and it is from the article, not /. A highschool AOL reject?

So... it wasn't because of piracy? (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 4 years ago | (#29397101)

BS: When Nakayama was pushed out and when I was pushed out, I think what took place was, Mr. [Isao] Okawa, who then became the chairman of the company -- he was an investment banker from CSK [Holdings Corporation].... I don't believe he was committed to the hardware. He just believed it should be a software company. [. . .] Yeah, the company didn't put the money into it. The company basically abandoned the system.

So it was because the company hired someone who basically didn't care about the (hardware) product. That sounds epic on the same level of Apple hiring John Sculley... yeah, a soft-drinks guy is really going to understand how to sell computers.

Not only that, but the guy actually believed they could distribute games through the internet... in a day when modems were still king? And then they released the Ethernet module in such low quantities the US, just as broadband was on the rise.

I signed up for the extra run [slashdot.org] of BBAs, but nothing ever came of that. (and that company's domain is now owned by squatters) I only ended up with one because of a lucky Buy It Now on ebay.

Imo, Sega just has really bad management (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29397195)

When they get it right, they get it right. Their arcade titles, the Genesis and Dreamcast were awesome.

But when they get it wrong, they really get it wrong, like when some genius decides to release 9 million awful add-ons for the Genesis. Getting out of the hardware biz was supposed to make them better. It hasn't. They mainly make awful rehashes of their old franchises. Madworld is the only Sega title I've considred buying for years but even then I know it won't be great so I'll pick it up cheap.

I get the impression Sega was a company that had great developers and poor managers and as time goes on the good devs leave and more bad managers come on board.

[Long Pause] (1)

fortapocalypse (1231686) | more than 4 years ago | (#29397293)

That's a question I'd rather not answer.

Backwards Compatibility (1)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29397889)

In the last two generations of consoles, the big winners are the ones that offer a single feature:

Backwards Compatibility.

PS1->PS2 = WIN (against DC which was a superb system)
GameCube -> Wii = Win (against VASTLY superior hardware)

In the case of the Wii, the hardware was actually substandard when compared to PS3 and XBox Live. The innovative control setup made a difference, but a lot of us parents eneded up buying Wiis because we could get away with buying 2-3 Wii games and the kids could still use all the old Gamecube games. I would venture a guess that close to 85-90% of Gamecube owners bought a Wii, just like PS1 owners upgraded to the PS2. The allure of $10 games (old PS1 games and old Gamecube games) is huge for families that are buying a game system.

Re:Backwards Compatibility (1)

sodul (833177) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401357)

In the last two generations of consoles, the big winners are the ones that offer a single feature:

Backwards Compatibility.

PS1->PS2 = WIN (against DC which was a superb system)
GameCube -> Wii = Win (against VASTLY superior hardware)

You forgot to mention PS2->PS3 = FAIL.

Re:Backwards Compatibility (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29403265)

Actually you are somewhat right, although in case of the dreamcast the assumption is wrong, it was simply the PS2 and its dvd compatibility killing it. It probably would have been able to survive just like Nintendo did with their N64 and Cube if there was more money, but SEGA already was operating at the edge and would have risked the company if they tried to hold on the hardware business.

Anyway backwards compatibility can be a real issue, so far the only console really backwards compatible still is the PC, Nintendo at least keeps the compatibility to the last generation. As for the PS3 I personally think the missing compatibility on many of the PS3s is a real issue, more than the price ever was. I know a shitload of people who simply do not upgrade because they do not want to have two consoles in front and then having four controllers lingering around and they do not want to retire their (sometimes) big investment into the games.
One of the reasons why I came back after 2 years on the Wii to PC gaming, you donÂt have to retire your games investment like you have on most consoles after a few years. Heck I even can play my old infocoms from the early eighties on my modern PC or my Ultima 7 from the early nineties (one if not the best RPG ever made)

Today's SEGA (1, Troll)

lhoguin (1422973) | more than 4 years ago | (#29397915)

Alright I post this as someone who wasn't really interested in the DC or most of SEGA until fairly recently. But I can probably provide some insight into what SEGA has become in the recent years, which pretty much match the thoughts of this man.

Two years ago I started playing Phantasy Star Universe, the successor to Phantasy Star Online. Many people know about PSO which was one of the first MMO so I don't feel the need to explain that many people had huge expectations for the game. But management killed its potential and the lifetime of the game is just a flow of bad decisions.

First error was to build hype around the game (as they do with all their games, and they do it pretty well) only to release it with next to nothing to do online. A couple missions, that's it. You could play everything from the beginning and be done in a day. Then you could replay them over and over to reach the cap. Pretty poor for an online game. Why did they do that? Because they didn't have much content and they wanted to make it last as long as possible. Every two weeks or so they release maybe a new mission (or a new difficulty of an existing mission) that includes "new items" that were available on the original disc. 3 years after the release they still have a handful of items from the original disc they never released. Frustration and quitting ensue.

What does that tells us? That they made as little investment as possible with the hope to make it last long enough to collect many monthly fees. They also got a substantial amount of money by selling the discs (original game and expansion).

Now I won't bore you with more of the many details about this game and will go on to one of the last chapter. Recently they added a cash shop (in addition of the monthly fee and the price of the game). This cash shop doesn't give your usual items like EXP or drop boosts though. Through the cash shop you can obtain many exclusivity including: the best weapons in the game for almost each category (account bound, can't be traded), cool clothes available on the original disc, a service to upgrade your weapons and armors in a way that gives a huge advantage to those who do, etc. In other words, they went and made playing the game almost pointless because you can just buy everything you need. It's also expensive. Frustration and people quitting ensue.

This feature gives them an additional revenue stream that gives them money "right now" despite being immensely negative on the game later on. Because the end-game at this point was still to improve your character. Now there's no more end-game, therefore no reason to play after you buy what you need.

Those two points show that they don't have a long term goal. They're only trying to find cheap ways to get the maximum money without investing much. Instead of using the old method of building a great game and making your customers happy.

They can do that because of their old reputation and their extensive hype-building skills. Old fans always look forward to the next game even if the previous wasn't all that good.

So yes, the indie developer feeling isn't there. The management and marketing feeling is very strong though.

Great Sonic (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29398181)

"BS: I think theyâ(TM)re going through some really difficult times. I donâ(TM)t believe they have the content, developers, and producers there that they had at one time. I donâ(TM)t know their financial position, but theyâ(TM)re probably not spending the type of money they should be spending. You tell me the last time you saw a great Sonic game."

He obviously doesn't read /.

2D Sonic [slashdot.org]

Dreamcast was a profoundly lost opportunity (1)

prometx42 (1107413) | more than 4 years ago | (#29398535)

I actually worked at Sega when the Dreamcast was released, and it was quite ahead of its time which, admittedly, given the console development timeframe, is not the coup that it might be, but none the less, a market edge. Sega, IMHO, has miscalculated many such opportunities to get a "leg up" in various market areas. They were also pioneers, or at least robust competitors, in online game matchmaking, a la Steam, etc. They also failed to invest in, nurture and capitalize on that market angle. It's unfortunate, because earlier on they had so much brand cache and they seem to have frittered that away.

Let's not forget the #1 reason people bought it... (1)

tisch (1371229) | more than 4 years ago | (#29398695)

CD Copy Protection could have saved the system.
For any of you who owned the Dreamcast you know how easy it was to obtain pirated copies of games.
Or how easy it was to find tutorials on copying games yourself from your local blockbuster.
It's funny how people blame it's failure on other business reasons, management, marketing, timing, when really you can attribute a lot to the hacks.
Just like the Saturn, some of the games were second-to-none.

(Sorry, I am a SEGA fan boy)

Re:Let's not forget the #1 reason people bought it (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29403281)

Actually piracy did not kill the dreamcast, sales were quite good until the day the PS2 hit the streets.
Then everything took a nosedive, so go figure how much impact piracy had in the death of the dreamcast.
So far no console has been killed by piracy, in fact some have become number one by being easily piratable
(PS1, Nintendo DS)

The only console I can remotely think of of might be being killed by being easily piratable is the PSP, but there are
also other factores which are slowly killing the system.
Heck not even the AMIGA was killed by piracy it was killed by SVGA on the PC and on that system as well as the C64
everyone and his mother was pirating games.

A great platform for it's time but.... (1)

rcolbert (1631881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399039)

I loved the Dreamcast and was a huge fan when it was released. Soul Calibur on the DC was the most visually stunning game available in the home at that time. However, there were a few things that hindered the platform in the US. The catalog of software was large, but was largely tailored to the tastes of the Japanese player. Lack of strong US-style franchises left an opening for Sony and others. Also, within a few years there began a rise in PC games with broadband/network capabilities that drew some loyal console players into the PC world - e.g. Battlefield 1942, Unreal Tournament, etc. It would be a few years later with the introduction of Xbox Live before consoles really could play in the new, connected experience. The Dreamcast modem was a nice try, but clearly even with software and supporting infrasturcture the prospects for a good connected experience were dim in the days prior to the rise of pervasive broadband at the home. Still, the DC remains one of my all-time favorite platforms, and was a massive visual step forward for consoles in its day.

The real reasons, IMHO are (1)

ravyne (858869) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400499)

What it came down to, in my mind, was momentum --

Sega was coming off a long string of failed consoles (particularly in America, where the Saturn was never popular against the playstation). They had the stench of desperation about them, and brought out a console a year earlier than its biggest (and rising star) competitor. They came to the party *early*, and that's social suicide. Not to mention that many Sega fans has finally accepted the failure of the Saturn and jumped ship just a year or two before. Many publishers and developers lost faith in Sega, including EA who was/is, for better or worse, the biggest player in the game -- Madden moves consoles in the US (even though I much preferred the Sega Sports versions, personally), and FIFA moves consoles everywhere else. The Dreamcast got neither.

Now Sony, who had mopped up the floor during the Saturn's generation, and was the new, exciting player in the console space, was right there shouting "We have movie-quality graphics! We Have tons of developer support! PS1 was a success! Oh, and we play DVDs too!!!" -- Everyone was excited about DVD in particular and many a PS2 were sold to parents looking for a cheap entry to DVDs that the kids could also enjoy, and to younger folks wanting DVDs and games.

The irony, of course, is that the DC actually delivered -- The hardware was quite powerful, It was cheap to develop and produce (off the shelf hardware), and it was a joy to develop for. They even had many greats in their library despite the tepid response from developers.

The Dreamcast wasn't really killed. It was born on life-support.

Stolar should have been fired earlier (1)

Czurnabog (1197943) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400625)

People seem to forget why Stolar was fired in the first place. He was instrumental in killing the Saturn (though he certainly doesn't shoulder all of the blame for that). People complain that Sega has always had terrible management, well Stolar was at the top of that list at that time.

Of course this is my opinion, but I think that one of the reasons the Saturn couldn't compete was lack of diversity in software (ironically, the very thing he touts in the interview). Stolar was obsessed with sports titles. He was convinced that Americans would play nothing else (probably came up with that idea from the popularity of Genesis success with sports titles), and he became notorious for blocking developers of anything else. The Saturn's library stagnated due to Sega's worsening relationship with developers, while Sony went out of their way to put anything and everything on the PS1.

Stolar was not the genius that could have saved the DC, he is the cancer that killed it before it had a chance. It's unfortunate that Sega didn't fire him during the Saturn days - it might have saved their future.

SIDE NOTE: I think it's funny that, even after all these years, all that Stolar can talk about is sports. Every anecdote he has in that interview is sports related. Some things never change.

Re:Stolar should have been fired earlier (1)

silly_sysiphus (1300705) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401049)

A fair point--consider Stolar's perspective (in the Saturn era) that Americans didn't want RPGs--meanwhile, SCEA had this little game called Final Fantasy 7...and 8...and 9...etc. The PS1 is probably the best single console for RPGs ever, and meanwhile, Bernie Stolar blew off Working Designs et all. Smooth. Ultimately, though, I'm inclined to agree that the lack of a DVD player (combined with Sony's excellent marketing/lying) is what killed the Dreamcast. The piracy concerns were valid, but your average gamer geek didn't necessarily have a CD burner or an internet connection good enough to facilitate downloading game ISOs...heck, I was the only kid on my block with cable internet back then, and I wasn't exactly living in slumsville....

Re:Stolar should have been fired earlier (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401107)

None of the interviews i have seen so far has been blaming piracy, the sales numbers are a clear indication that the dvd capabilities of the PS2 killed the dreamcast (as well as id almost killed the gamecube)
I dont think piracy really was an issue, so far no console has been killed by piracy not even the ps1 which has been the most pirated console ever.

competition scares EA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29400881)

so EA wouldn't develop sports games on the dreamcast if the best deal Stolar could offer them was them being the only 3rd party sports publisher and sega being their only competitor? one competitor was too scary for EA? do their games really suck that bad that such a good deal scared them off?

Re:competition scares EA (1)

dodgyville (660660) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401771)

And how could that kind of deal be legal any way? Sounds like collusion or cartel practice to me!
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