Sega New Challenge conference ’99’ software campaign

This article is slightly unusual but I thought it was worth doing to draw attention to a unique subset of games that I’ve not encountered any mention of previously. It concerns the five selected titles that Sega of Japan chose to accompany the reduced Dreamcast hardware that was announced at the Sega New Challenge conference ’99’. What was the Sega New Challenge conference ’99’ you might not be aware but it was the second instalment of a trade event that Sega of Japan organised to disseminate information about major events and games that would be coming to the Dreamcast. The initial New Challenge conference ’98’ was famous because it was the event in which the Dreamcast was unveiled to the public for the first time. 

The second Sega New Challenge conference ’99’ was held on the 1st of June 1999 and various information about upcoming Dreamcast titles was announced including Virtua Striker 2 being ported to the Dreamcast from the Naomi arcade original. The big reveal of the conference was Project Ares which was the pre-production code name for エターナルアルカディア or Eternal Arcadia which up until then was thought to be possibly a new entry in the phantasy Star franchise. I’ll cover the whole New Challenge conference ’99’ event in detail in the future but for this article i’ll concentrate on the software campaign that Sega ran in association with the newly reduced Dreamcast hardware.

The main news Sega released at the New Challenge conference ’99’ was information about the Dreamcast’s system price which was the much rumoured impending price cut in Japan from ¥29,800 to ¥19,000 which was officially confirmed at the event. The price cut was to stimulate sales and build up the installed user base in Japan before the impending release of new hardware from Sony, Nintendo & Microsoft. Below is a Gamespot Japan report from the New Challenge conference ’99’ event. Copyright (c) 1999 by Softbank Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.

https://web.archive.org/web/20001204040600/http%3A/www.zdnet.co.jp%3A80/gamespot/news/9906/01/news01.html

As part of this price reduction strategy Sega wisely chose to accompany the reduced hardware with a corresponding software initiative. This campaign would see Sega announce a price reduction campaign on five previously released Dreamcast software titles to act as a stimulus for software sales to accompany the newly reduced Dreamcast hardware. The campaign was designated to run from the 24th of June 1999 to the 31st of August 1999. The Five titles that were chosen to represent the campaign were by a mix of publishers not just solely Sega only published titles but also included third party titles.

The titles were all from the initial batch of games from the systems launch period. The five titles were ソニックアドベンチャー, Sonic Adventure, ゴジラ・ ジェネレーションズ , Godzilla Generations, バーチャファイター3tb, Virtua Fighter 3tb all published by Sega, ジュライ, July published by Forty Five & ペンペントライアイスロン, Pen Pen Trilcelon published by General Entertainment. The titles in the campaign would retail at a discounted price of ¥1,990 rather than the usual ¥5,800 while the campaign lasted. Below is an IGN report in English about the New Challenge conference ’99’ event. © 1996-2017 Ziff Davis, LLC Games

http://uk.ign.com/articles/1999/06/02/segas-new-challenge-conference-99-report

The reason for this article is to see how far invested Sega were in promoting the reduced price software. Most contemporary sources acknowledge the announcement but Sega went much further as actually printing new sample covers for the five titles to be used in the campaign. Each of the five new sample covers were exactly the same as the previous iterations apart from being adorned with a red circle that announced the new price of ¥1,980 and the dates the festival ran from 24th of June 1999 to the 31st of August 1999. While the campaign went ahead the cover variants were never released perhaps they were initially designed to promote sales of the titles but theres no evidence they were ever used or even made publicly available to Sega’s retail partners.

Such a limited campaign would be a logistical nightmare to implement it certainly would be cost prohibitive to recall and reissue the chosen titles with new covers for such a limited timed event. Japanese retailers normally would just affix card or stickers to sample covers or retail games to advertise the fact that they were reduced or on special offer this meant the retailer could change or withdraw any offers when they saw fit to do so. Below is a common example of a Japanese retailer using a sample cover for advertising purposes. ©2018 dreamcastcollector

A typical example of a Japanese retailer using a sample cover to advertise an upcoming title in this instance SEAMAN. In fact while the sample cover used is for SEAMAN its actually advertising the release of SEAMAN 2001 along with a list of improvements that the updated version of the game has. ©dreamcastcollector 

A typical example of a Japanese retailer using a sample cover to advertise an upcoming title in this instance SEAMAN 2001. In fact, while the sample cover used is for SEAMAN its actually advertising the release of SEAMAN 2001 along with a list of improvements that the updated version of the game has to entice buyers. ©  2018 dreamcastcollector

I had presumptuously assumed that Sega would just liaise with its retail partners to drop the price of the five selected titles while the promotion was active. Allowing retailers to reduce the price by using older promotional materials would have been the easiest way of promoting the campaign or perhaps issuing a poster showcasing the five selected titles with their new price point and the dates that they’d be available for at that price might have been the easiest and cheapest way to promote the games included in the campaign. Apart from the full set of five sample covers i’d never seen any official items relating to the software campaign.

Amazingly it seems that Sega did actually issue all five titles in the campaign with a very similar looking sticker to the sample cover denoting the new price point and the dates that they were available at that price point for. I’ve never seen any of the actual software featured in the campaign with any sort of official branding until i managed to acquire a copy of July that had the sticker on its front cover. Below is a picture of July with its price campaign sticker. © 2018 dreamcastcollector

I'd speculate that the number of titles that were released in support of the price reduction campaign was relatively small for a number of reasons first most people who wanted any of the five-included title would likely already own them. The campaign ran for roughly a month which meant logistically it would involve de-stickering unsold titles once the campaign finished and the prices went back up.

The nature of having a sticker on the included games front cover means its quite an obscure variant to find. I’ve never seen any of the other four titles with the branding on them. 

There’s no indication of how the five chosen titles where distributed whether it was direct from Sega themselves or retail partners could exchange existing inventory for the newer stickered copy’s or if they were able to get access to the stickers and apply them to their inventory themselves. The five titles were all previously Japanese launch titles so unless it was to help clear out inventory the five chosen games would generally have been bought by those who wanted them already. The target demographic of new Dreamcast system owners would still probably be more interested in newer better received titles. The only exemption i can think of would be Sonic Adventure which was a popular title and a heavily reduced price point would certainly sell well alongside new system adopters.

Below you’ll find all five sample covers of the selected games in the price reduction campaign. The five titles selected have identical covers to the previously released sample covers issued for those titles with the only difference being the red circle denoting the games inclusion in the campaign which features information about the price point & dates the campaign was active for.

 

Sonic Adventure

 

Front

 

SAMPLE HDR-001 Sonic Adventure unused price reduction campaign front cover

SAMPLE HDR-001 Sonic Adventure unused price reduction campaign front cover

Back

SAMPLE HDR-001 Sonic Adventure unused price reduction campaign back cover

SAMPLE HDR-001 Sonic Adventure unused price reduction campaign back cover

 

Virtua Fighter 3tb

 

Front

 

SAMPLE HDR-002 Virtua Fighter 3 tb unused price reduction campaign front cover

SAMPLE HDR-002 Virtua Fighter 3 tb unused price reduction campaign front cover

Back

SAMPLE HDR-002 Virtua Fighter 3 tb unused price reduction campaign back cover

SAMPLE HDR-002 Virtua Fighter 3 tb unused price reduction campaign back cover

 

Godzilla Generations

 

Front

 

SAMPLE HDR-004 Godzilla Generations unused price reduction campaign front cover

SAMPLE HDR-004 Godzilla Generations unused price reduction campaign front cover

Back

SAMPLE HDR-004 Godzilla Generations unused price reduction campaign back cover

SAMPLE HDR-004 Godzilla Generations unused price reduction campaign back cover

 

July

 

Front

 

SAMPLE T-35401M July unused price reduction campaign front cover

SAMPLE T-35401M July unused price reduction campaign front cover

Back

SAMPLE T-35401M July unused price reduction campaign back cover

SAMPLE T-35401M July unused price reduction campaign back cover

 

Pen Pen Triicelon

 

Front

 

SAMPLE T-17001M PenPen Trilcelon unused price reduction campaign front cover

Back

SAMPLE T-17001M PenPen Trilcelon unused price reduction campaign back cover

SAMPLE T-17001M PenPen Trilcelon unused price reduction campaign back cover

 

An obscure set of sample covers and with the corresponding matching software hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading about this largely forgotten campaign. I’d as always like to say thanks for taking the time to read this entry about Sega’s New Challenge conference ’99’ if you can add anything i’ve missed about the five titles included in the price reduction campaign or you have any of the other four titles in the series please get in contact either through the site or on Twitter @dreamcastcollector. 

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