Today on Facebook, Americans might have seen an exciting little news nugget in the corner of their homepage. "Dreamcast 2," it read, "Sega Reportedly to Release New PC-Console Hybrid." All day, "Dreamcast 2" has been one of the top items on Facebook's Trending Topics feature in the US, which launched last year and has been particularly awful in recent months, helping propagate all sorts of half-truths and misleading information on the world's biggest media platform. The articles and trends showcased on this Facebook feature are frequently useless and sometimes misleading or straight-up false.
Just look at what happened today, for example:
Of course, this isn't true, nor is it even rumoured to be true, and it's likely that many Facebook users will be in for some disappointment when they find out that this Sega Dreamcast successor isn't going to happen. (A message I got from Jalopnik's Mike Ballaban this morning: "jason is this real please let this be real.")
So what's actually going on? Well, there's a fan campaign, run by a group of Sega devotees who launched a change.org petition earlier this year in hopes of convincing the Japanese publisher to release an HD-supporting limited edition of the Dreamcast. The campaign, organised by a handful of people including Sega fans Ben Plato and Patrick Lawson, has a Facebook group called "Dreamcast Revival" with 882 members.
Lawson has been giving interviews to several websites over the past few days, which has led to incorrect headlines like "'Dreamcast 2′ Reportedly Under Development, Could Be a PC-Console Hybrid" and "The Sega Dreamcast 2 Wants To Answer PC Gamers' Wishes." That's what led Facebook to conclude that Sega "reportedly" plans to release a successor to the Dreamcast nearly 15 years after leaving the hardware business. It's been one long game of broken telephone, exacerbated by the reach of Facebook's trending topic algorithm.
But Lawson, who works for the hotel chain Marriott International, says his group has yet to make contact with Sega and in fact hopes to pitch them on their big hardware project next year. "We are gathering backers," he told me this afternoon. "We're looking for one million to help fund the upcoming [Kickstarter] and will be revealing some surprises as well as some big proposals to Sega in Japan."
In other words, this is simply a group of fans with ambitious goals. Lawson said he didn't want to go into specifics on their proposals -- we'll certainly keep you updated if his group does meet with Sega -- but even he doesn't know where the idea of "Dreamcast 2" is coming from.
The proposal they plan to make to Sega, Lawson says, is called "Ringedge Zero" after the Ringedge arcade board. "I think it's because SEGA hasn't put out a console in so long," he said when I asked where people had gotten the idea of a "Dreamcast 2".
"We chose the Ring name, because people would immediately know who licensed and manufactured it by hearing that word."
It's unlikely that Sega will ever re-enter the hardware business, but if they do, I'm excited to see what the Facebook Trending Topic looks like. Sega has yet to respond to a request for comment on all this.