Showing posts with label Mega Drive Mini. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mega Drive Mini. Show all posts

The Dreamcast Mini: Hopes and Prospects

Since Nintendo launched their NES Classic to commercial and critical acclaim in 2016, most video game console manufacturers of the '80s and '90s have been stirred to try and reproduce that success, dusting off long neglected brands and intellectual properties in the hunt for financial gains. 

Technically speaking the NES Classic isn’t all that innovative – ‘plug and play’ systems that enable users to sample a selection of old games straight out of the box had already been kicking around the market for many years. Dozens of these types of units were produced during the nineties and noughties, typically on the cheap, including a spate of abominable Mega Drive clones churned out by third-party manufacturers under license from Sega. 

One of the more famous Dreamcast Mini images one can find with a bit of Googling.

Although the fundamental premise was the same, the NES Classic had characteristics that distinguished it from what came before and established a framework to be emulated moving forward (good pun, right?). Here was a first-party designed and produced system that stayed true to the original's aesthetics, with a carefully curated set of games, and a decent build quality that gave customers a much more realistic reproduction of the console’s experience.

In its first year on the market the NES Classic sold over 1.5 million units. Rather than languishing in the darker recesses of the Argos catalogue or piling up in the gloomy discount bins of retailers, these new-old consoles sold like hot cakes, and competitors quickly took note. Sony’s PlayStation Classic was released in late 2018, while Sega were relatively late to the party, with the Mega Drive Mini hitting stores in late 2019.

The Mega Drive Mini, released in 2019, did well enough to warrant the release of the Mega Drive Mini 2 in 2022.

Inevitably, the question many gamers and industry hacks have persistently raised since the revival of plug-and-play system via the ‘Classic’ model is: what's next? Could it be feasible that Sega are secretly working away on a Dreamcast Mini as we speak? For some outlets, the mere mention of the Dreamcast in a survey sent to Japanese buyers of the Mega Drive Mini was enough reason to run pieces with rather optimistic headlines earlier this year.

While the anticipation felt by some for the possible revival of a personal favourite is understandable, the harsh reality is that to date no verifiable proof has surfaced to suggest that a Dreamcast Mini is on the horizon. This article could probably end here, but as we’re occupying that strange limbo period between Christmas and New Year with little else productive to do, let’s allow some leeway to ponder the prospects of such a product appearing in the near future.

No matter how much you’d love to have a teeny tiny version of a design classic sitting next to your TV, the first and foremost factor Sega will be considering is the potential profitability of a Dreamcast Mini. After all, behind the sparkly mission statements and corporate social responsibility lingo, they are a business with shareholders that only love Sonic as long as he is bringing home stacks of hard currency alongside the chaos emeralds.
Maybe a Dreamcast this mini would be taking things a bit too far...
Is there really a large enough audience for a Dreamcast Mini? One key customer profile in this respect would be those who are motivated to open their wallets by nostalgia. Middle-aged folks who want a momentary escape from the drudgery of modern life but can’t be bothered with the hassle of picking up second-hand hardware, or the need to trawl through forum posts to figure out how to re-calibrate their rickety GD-Rom drive. 

On this point, the Dreamcast is at a severe disadvantage, as without some serious mental gymnastics it is hard to be nostalgic for something that you never experienced in the first place. 9 million units sold is nothing to be sniffed at, but it is a drop in the ocean when we consider the figures racked up by the behemoths of Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.