, The Dreamcast Junkyard: An Open Letter To Discotek Media

An Open Letter To Discotek Media

Dear Discotek Media,

Congratulations on securing the rights to release Hi☆sCoool! SeHa Girls on physical media in North America (and by default, the rest of Western civilisation). As self-confessed Sega fans, we are eagerly awaiting this release and look forward to the extra content and interviews you will be including alongside the full 13 episode series.

We suspect you guys and gals may also be big Sega fans yourselves, as many of the older series you've published have ties to classic Sega titles as well, such as Fist of the North Star, Golgo 13: The Professional, and Super Dimension Century Orguss. There is certainly a lot of scope for overlap between the Sega and Anime fandoms and markets.

Fist of the North Star (aka Hokuto no Ken) was released as
Black Belt in Western markets. 
This is why we are penning this open letter. There is an exciting opportunity for you to capitalise on the recent “Dreamcast Renaissance.” No less than six new independently published games were released this year, two successful kickstarter campaigns funded additional games for the coming years, and the phenomenal success of Shenmue III took everyone by surprise and elevated Sega and Dreamcast nostalgia back into the mainstream consciousness. The Dreamcast is once again hot property and its star will only continue to rise.

As a publisher of non-interactive content, you are probably wondering how this benefits you. Earlier this year, one of our intrepid reporters uncovered some information about plans for an alternative disc media specifically tailored for playback on Dreamcast systems – the Dreamcast Video Disc (DcVD). The full article is available here, but essentially it's just like an old fashioned Video CD, but uses the self-booting MIL-CD format to utilise the Dreamcast's processing power to decode a modified MPEG-1 video codec known as Sofdec. This codec can provide up to 38 minutes of 704x480 quality video per disc - just a hair's breadth away from DVD quality.

With Hi☆sCoool! episodes being quite compact at 11 minutes long, you are probably starting to see what we can already see. The stars have aligned and everything is serendipitously falling into place: The Dreamcast is in vogue, the DcVD format has been uncovered, and the upcoming release of Sega Hard Girls stars an anthropomorphic Dreamcast in vignettes short enough to use the DcVD format effectively. The iron is red hot and there will never be a better opportunity to strike.

Image included for figurative emphasis
Understandably, you may be hesitant to start throwing time and development costs at an unproven format, but consider your audience. Independent Dreamcast games are often sold at premium price points (2 disc limited editions typically range from $80-$120), and yet the Dreamcast community is undiscriminating and hungry for content. These games often sell out of their initial production runs fast, desirable not only to the gamers who want to play them but also for collectors wanting to invest in the exploding retrogaming market. These limited editions typically retain their high values for years to come.

Also, keep in mind that there are a number of independent Dreamcast developers out these that could freelance and assist you with this and it is unlikely to be a complicated job. A DcVD release would only requires some simple interactive menus to select and play episodes and the means to decode and playback the video files, either using a non-proprietary video codec or possibly even using the Dreamcast's native Sofdec format as was originally intended for DcVDs. We imagine it would not be too dissimilar to the recently released interactive point-and-click FMV adventures Elansar and Philia that were ported to Dreamcast earlier this year.

Elansar and Philia is available to purchase direct from our good friends at HuCast and
our even gooder friends and competition sponsors Play-Asia
[I expect some free stuff in the mail]
While there is certainly a market for the Hi☆sCoool! series to be released on physical discs, many potential customers may already be satisfied with merely watching the series via streaming services, or (heaven forbid) illegally downloading torrents. Releasing them with extra content is certainly a step in the right direction, but it may not be enough to recoup the cost of the license.

By publishing the series in the first ever commercial DcVD release, you would most definitely make a splash in both the anime and retrogaming news media and create a buzz across social media networks. The publicity generated would be massive and would go a long way to tempting even the most reluctant of thrift conscious customers. The strategy will also pay dividends with your regular DVD and/or Blu-ray edition sales too, as consumers who purchase the 480p DcVD release for the novelty value may also double down on a 1080p Blu-ray copy for the higher definition video quality.

You know it makes sense.
Of course, we don't know the exact details of your licensing agreement. This kind of outside-the-box thinking might be beyond the scope of what was agreed, perhaps restricting you to DVDs and Blu-rays only. You would also need to consider how difficult (or necessary) it is to apply for formal permission to publish brand new discs for the Dreamcast using the MIL-CD format. The format hasn't been officially supported by Sega for over a decade, but the independent releases published during that time have not been expressly prohibited either. Out of all the publishers, you are probably uniquely positioned to make some formal inquiries about the possibility of an officially supported DcVD/MIL-CD release, via the connections you've made in acquiring the SeHa Girls license from TMS Entertainment and, by proxy, Sega themselves.

Please give the idea some serious thought. We are confident that if you proceed there is every chance that it would be a very successful venture. It may even generate an appetite for more DcVD releases in the future. sparking a brand new and unique revenue stream that sets you apart from your competitors.

Yours truly,

The Dreamcast Junkyard Team.

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