The Dreamcast is Sega's last video game console and the successor to the unsuccessful Sega Saturn. An attempt to recapture the console market with a next-generation system, it was designed to supersede the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Originally released six months before the PlayStation 2 (PS2), and three years before the Nintendo GameCube and the Xbox, the Dreamcast is part of the sixth generation of video game consoles, Dreamcast was widely hailed as ahead of its time, and is still held in high regard for pioneering online console gaming.
In 1997, the Saturn was struggling in North America, and Sega of America president Bernie Stolar pressed for Sega's Japanese headquarters to develop a new platform which eventually became the Dreamcast. At the 1997 E3, Stolar made public his opinion on the Saturn with his comment, "The Saturn is not our future" and referred to the doomed console as "the stillbirth".
The Sega Dreamcast was released on November 27, 1998 in Japan; on September 9, 1999 in North America (the date 9/9/99 featured heavily in U.S. promotion); and on October 14, 1999 in Europe. The tagline used to promote the console in the U.S. was, "It's thinking", and in Europe, "Up to 6 Billion Players."
Sega Dreamcast was the first console to include a built-in modem and Internet support for online gaming. Previous consoles such as the Genesis, Saturn, NES and SNES had online capabilities, but these were comparably limited and/or required extra hardware (XBAND, NetLink).
Sega Dreamcast enjoyed brisk sales in its first season, and was one of Sega's most successful hardware units. In the United States alone, a record 300,000 units had been pre-ordered and Sega sold 500,000 consoles in just two weeks (including 225,132 sold on the first 24 hours which became a video game record). In fact, due to brisk sales and hardware shortages, Sega was unable to fulfill all of the advance orders.
Sega confirmed that it made US$98.4 million on combined hardware and software sales with Dreamcast with its September 9, 1999 launch. Sega even compared the record figure to the opening day gross of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which made $28.5 million during the first 24 hours in theaters.
Nevertheless, the Dreamcast failed to gather enough momentum before the release of the PlayStation 2 (PS2) in March 2000, and Sega decided to discontinue the Dreamcast in March 2001 and to withdraw entirely from the console hardware business. However, support continued in Japan where consoles were still sold and new games are still being made by the homebrew community.