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News From February 1998:


Next Gen PowerVR RevealedTop

VideoLogic and NEC have announced their next generation PowerVR chipset, aka 'Highlander.' The set is feature rich and is much more powerful than the previous PCX1/2 chipsets. Many hardware improvements have been made in attempts to offload work from the CPU, more 3d effects abilities have been added as well. Unlike its predecessors, the chip does not rely on a PowerVR specific API and can work through the more standard DirectX 6 and OpenGL APIs. Target platforms include PCs, arcade machines, and Sega's next console. Here are some snippets from the press release:

PowerVR Announces Second-Generation 3D Technology;
New Family of Graphics Chips for PCs, Consoles, and Arcades to be Launched in 1998.

"Targeted for personal computers, game consoles, set-top boxes and arcade systems, the new technology will be used in five new graphics chips to be announced and shipped during the next 12 months...

PowerVR Second-Generation products will deliver 1.2million polygons/second and a fill rate of 120 megapixels/second equivalent.

The new technology provides full floating-point geometry and a texture setup engine on-chip; hardware tile acceleration; hardware translucency sorting; and high-performance texture compression. On-chip setup offloads polygon and texture shading setup from the CPU, resulting in an overall performance increase. On-chip hidden-surface removal...reducing 3D memory requirements and delivering market-leading price/performance.

Features Dramatic improvements in 3D image quality include perspective-correct ARGB Gouraud shading; specular highlights with offset color; unified frame buffer and texture memory for environmental mapping; 32-bit floating-point hidden surface removal accuracy; high resolutions up to 1600x1200 at true color (24-bit); and full-scene anti-aliasing using image super sampling. In addition, the PowerVR Second-Generation technology supports texture compression and a wide range of texture, filtering and blending modes, as well as advanced realism features, such as bump mapping and special effect volumes.

...introduced in the next 12 months...Product availability, specifications and pricing information will be released shortly.


More Details On Next ConsoleTop

Sega's current plans place the Japanese launch of the system in November of this year. The US release will then follow in April 1999, and September 1999 for Europe. I'm not sure April is the best time to launch a system, as its a very slow sales period for games. Perhaps Sega wants to get in the market when the kiddies have money..but there's nothing to buy...then the next console pops out with a bunch of cool games. Current plans for games include obvious Model3 ports such as Daytona 2 and maybe a Sega Rally sequel...then the VF series of course. For US release, a Sonic game, and a game featureing Ecco are in the works. Another interesting idea is that some aspects of the next consoles hardware will be released to the arcades as well. I saw this news snippet from Nikkei America:

Sega Enterprises Ltd. plans to offer by this summer a low-cost game board for arcade machines. The new board will share a high-performance processor -- currently under development by Hitachi Ltd. -- with Sega's home video-game machine due out next year.

Interesting eh? Specs and more details are expected at the E3. Numbers floating around include a 20-30% graphics performance boost over current Model3 boards, and a 50% cut on cost. Oh, and of course more than a million polys per second.


$100 Million Marketing Plan for Next ConsoleTop

Sega's next console when launched in 1999 in the US will be lead by a $100 million marketing campaign. COO Bernie Stolar has stated that they plan to have 10-15 titles available at launch and 30-40 titles within 3-4 months. Why don't I call it 'Katana'? Frankly, I think its a stupid name, probably something IGNs "sources" spewed forth. I prefer using 'next console' until Sega actually states what its going to be called (hopefully at the Spring TTS.) Stolar has mentioned that they are targeting people 16 and older, but with characters like Sonic, the target age group dips a little. They plan to get some Sony fans by their sports titles (a strong point of the Genesis v. SNES.) Stolar hops to get 50% of the market back with heavy 3rd party and retailer support, along with competitive prices. Their advertising agency is Foote, Cone & Belding and another unnamed promo group. Foote, Cone & Belding is the same company responsible for Sega's 'Hard Stuff' ad campaign (which really, really, really sucked.)


Panzer Dragoon Saga Translation CompleteTop

Just a quick note to state that the translation of Panzer Dragoon Saga (Azel: Panzer Dragoon RPG) to English has been completed. The game should be released in late March in the US, and early April in Europe. Can't wait! The epic game spans 4 CDs so it should last you a while. Each CD has slightly different content as far as how long you spend on each disc and how much exploration/combat/story there is.


Daytona USA C.C.E. Net Link EditionTop

The header states it all. The game is available now direct from Sega for $19.99 + shipping. The telephone number to order direct is (800) USA-SEGA. In the game you can either play against the computer or another person online. Its great that there's another NetLink enabled game. However, why isn't Sega relasing these games to stores? The NetLink would be much more appealing if it appeared to have more than two games (only two NetLink games are sold at stores: Bomberman and Duke3D.)


SegaSoft Part 3Top

Shortly after writing the 'part 2' article, I came across this annoucement by SegaSoft Networks Inc employee greg.chiemingo@segasoft.com:

I'm writing from SegaSoft to let you all know we're not closed. Our parent company in Japan, CSK, recently announced the liquidation of three companies in the U.S. including SegaSoft. The truth is for tax purposes over there we were reformed last year as SegaSoft Networks, Inc. But our friends still call us SegaSoft. Sorry for the confusion. You can check us out at segasoft.com or heat.net. We're still very much alive! Please send me an email if you have specific questions. Thanks.


SegaSoft Shutdown Part 2Top

Relating to the previous article about SegaSoft being liquidated: anonymous sources have indicated that VPs and other higher ups at Sega Enterprises USA (not SoA) were caught 'flat-footed' as to the news of the liquidation...they hadn't heard anything of the closure. Delving further, sources have noted that CSK America, a subsidy set up in order to monitor the SegaSoft venture, would also be closing down. It is possible that the closures are a part of a way to recoup some of the Sega related losses that CSK (majority shareholder of Sega Ent. Japan) sustained over the past fiscal year.


Titles Hit The Bargain BinTop

Across the nation, some retailers have begun slashing prices on Saturn games. The most notable being Best Buy retail chain. The stores consistently stocked new Saturn titles, and thus had lots of new titles...games that are now being sold off for $10 or less. If you have one of these stores nearby, go there now before the good games like Steep Slope Sliders, Enemy Zero, and Duke are snatched away. Other stores beginning or continuing sell offs include: Target, Sears, Wards, and WalMart. Also beginning is that some Toys 'R' Us stores have marked down older Saturn titles. The games are marked for the normal retail price, but when checked on the register some are $10 - $20 off.


SaturnWorld Shuts DownTop

The IGN site SaturnWorld has been shut down. IGN pulled editors from running the site in order to pursue "new projects." SaturnWorld was one of the few commercial Saturn sites out there...while often having questionable professionalism, the site had a very large readership. The editors hinted at future Sega efforts such as a site for the next console. The web site will remain online as a reference site.


SegaSoft To Be LiquidatedTop

From Nikkei America:

CSK Corp. and Sega Enterprises Ltd. will liquidate SegaSoft,. their U.S. game software development venture, by the end of March, CSK officials said.

Plainly stated, SegaSoft will be shut down and sold off. THe question remains as to what will happen to customers and their online gaming ventures. The company developed PC games for Sega releasing games such as Lost Your Marbles, Rocket Jockey and Scud: The Disposable Assassin. SegaSoft never had much success in the US market, releasing mediocre titles at best. They were also responsible for the online gaming network, heat.net.



Sega of America is the arm of Tokyo, Japan-based Sega Enterprises Ltd. responsible for the development, marketing and distribution of Sega videogame systems and videogames in the Americas. Sega Enterprises Ltd. is a $3.6 billion company recognized as the industry leader in interactive digital entertainment media, and is the only company that offers interactive entertainment experiences both inside and outside the home. Sega of America's World Wide Web site is located at (http://www.sega.com).



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