Sega Corp., Las Vegas, said yesterday it will offer consumers free Dreamcast systems in exchange for monthly online Internet access fees. Customers who sign up for SegaNet, the company’s high speed gaming network introduced yesterday, for a 2-year minimum will receive $200 rebates, essentially covering the cost of the game system.
Sega formed a new group, Sega.com, which the company hopes will become the online destination for gamers and Internet users.
The company said the SegaNet, which launches Sept. 7, will cost $21.95 a month and feature 10-12 online games initially with more added over time. Subscribers will also get a free keyboard with the rebate.
The company is betting the rebate program will jump start sales of the system, which have been sluggish, and give Dreamcast a leg up on increased competition from Sony’s Playstation2 and others.
Playstaton2 is already available in Japan and is scheduled to be released in North America and Europe in the fall. In addition, Nintendo and Microsoft are also launching sophisticated set-top boxes in the near future.
Sega is hoping its new marketing scheme will give it greater access to the lucrative set-top box market, which some predict will take the Internet off of computers and onto people’s televisions.
“We believe this $200 rebate will drive consumers to retail outlets where they will purchase software, peripherals and other e-services from Sega,” said Peter Moore, Sega’s senior vice president.