Piracy Killed The Dreamcast, Piracy Saved The Dreamcast

Piracy Killed The Dreamcast, Piracy Saved The Dreamcast

Marketing, timing and the PS2 all played a big part, but one of the other reasons cited in the untimely demise of the Dreamcast was the ease with which games could be pirated. That may be, but as Michael Gapper reminds us, it was also one of the best things about the system.

And I don’t mean in a “oh because the games were free” way, either.

As his excellent piece argues, easy access to foreign titles, unfinished projects, software improvements and games people might not otherwise have paid for gave Dreamcast users an experience – and the console an army of vocal supporters – other consoles could only dream of.

It’s an entirely academic point, of course. For all the side benefits of Dreamcast piracy, you’d have to be incredibly naive to have forgotten that people were also pirating the kind of games they would have paid for, affecting Sega’s bottom line (and those of publishers) and helping contribute to the console’s passing.

But hey, it’s been over ten years since the death of the Dreamcast. Academic points are all it’s got left to argue about.

Land of the free [Medium]


  • you’d have to be incredibly naive to have forgotten that people were also pirating the kind of games they would have paid for

    Prove it! 😛 OHH YOU CAN’T. It is such a generalization and regurgitated crap from the media to just state that because they played pirated game X they there for would have spent $xx on it there for leading to a massive decrease in profit!! (which is what every study sponsored by interested parties has said).

    In all seriousness tho, sure some would have but certainly not all, which is what these generalizations portray to people that have NFI. Don’t make it out to be so black and white! It’s not!

    • I pirated tons of games that I would have otherwise paid for when I was younger, so did most other gamers I know.

      Anecdotal I know but it’s about all we have to go on really.

      Disclaimer – I now pay for all of my games!

      • Really tho? I mean sure as a youngster (18) i had disposable income but realistically it would have eaten into my drinking budget and at that age i’d forgo food before giving up the weekend drinks and night life. Lets say you’re rich – awesome job when younger, how many of those games you did you pirate just because your friends did and in turn would you have ever even played said game? Word of mouth is a powerful motivator – there is so much to it heh – for me it’s really difficult to look back and say qualitatively that I would have bought this game and not that one or any at all.

      • As far as anecdotes go, I was spending all of my money at the time on Dreamcast games, N64 games, and food. At the some time I was gaining access to Dreamcast games I either didn’t have the money for or couldn’t import into the country without absurd expense.

        I take particular umbrage with article titles and phrases such as the one quoted by joeyjojo because the people who were buying Dreamcast hardware and games are being implicated in the death of the console. Understandably the Australian market for the Dreamcast was fringe at best, so perhaps there is weight to the claim that copyright infringement contributed to the downfall of the Dreamcast.
        However, those claims are as anecdotal as yours and mine; Plunkett’s statement is at best a transposition of a modern perspective on purported copyright infringment-sales relationships onto a very different market.

      • Same. If my older/oldest brother didn’t buy the games, I generally pirated them.

        Then one day we all had jobs, Steam was sitting there and piracy is now just too much of a dick-around for me to care enough. Even went back and bought a few of the games I had previously finished with little intention of playing again (JK: Dark Forces 2 comes to mind).

    • because they played pirated game X they there for would have spent $xx on it

      I’m not saying every pirated game was a lost sale, but piracy on the Dreamcast was so easy that any game you intended to buy you could get almost as easily for free (there were times when I actually did pirate Dreamcast games simply because I couldn’t find the games in stores). It wasn’t like with the PS1 where you had to buy the games from a bootlegger and get a mod chip. Most people I knew who had a Dreamcast didn’t buy a single game after finding out how easy piracy was for it.
      It may have just been because I was younger or it was coming off the back of the PS1’s piracy boom but it also felt like back then there was less social pressure to buy legit. It was so new to a lot of people who had been playing cartridge based games all their life or didn’t consider themselves tech savvy enough to pirate that it almost seemed like only idiots brought things they could pirate for free.
      That sort of ‘oh, you don’t have an e-mail address? I guess you’re not smart like me’ judgement was passed on people who weren’t pirating (because ‘put disc in, hit copy, wait 10 minutes, put blank disc in, hit ok’ was a code only a genius could crack).

  • You also have to remember that Dreamcast CONSOLE sales tanked at the same time. If it really was piracy, console sales would’ve continued to rise at the expense of software sales (like the PSX).

    • yeah but games were rarely ever that big. you could generally fit 95Z% of them on a standard cdrom, a few could be burned in overburn mode, and the rest people came up with ways to split them over 2 discs.

  • Stop talking about the Dreamcast. Its 15 yrs old. I had one at launch and it was ( & still is) shit. Ps2 killed it in every way possible.

  • There was more piracy on the PS1 and the PS2 than there ever was on the Dreamcast! Seems like a weird argument. To my mind it died due to lack of 3rd party support – the same thing killing the WiiU

  • It wasn’t piracy that killed the Dreamcast; it was flooding the market with consoles.

    Sega made the Master System -> Mega Drive/Genesis -> 32x/SegaCD -> Saturn -> Dreamcast.

    Sega was competing with the Playstation at the time(which also had substantial pirating problems), and its specialized 3D architecture and huge library of games. The Dreamcast was also not a cheap console… I think it debuted at $400(worth more back then). Why buy this expensive console when you can wait 6months or a year or something and buy the next one? I think that was the mindset of gamers and their parents. I wanted one, I bought one… I bought it for Marvel vs Capcom 1, and also had awesome games like Resident Evil: Code Veronica, and Marvel vs Capcom 2. Fans STILL play MvC2 on the Dreamcast over other consoles, because it is the BEST version aside from the arcade(Sega Naomi). Better than Xbox360 and PS3! However, unlike the 360/PS3, arcade sticks were and are not really available for the Dreamcast… which is how you NEED to play those games. I had to use my electronics knowledge to make my own, and was lucky enough to visit America at the time to pick up materials, and not everyone can do that.

    It’s a shame, because the Dreamcast was a GREAT console… it just didn’t have the consumer confidence and deep financial pockets of say Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo to prop it up(Compare say the Wii U which was released with sub-standard hardware for its time, but is now possibly gaining some momentum with MK8).

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