Sega will announce this week that it will rebate buyers of its new Dreamcast console $150, a dollar more than the cost of the system itself, if users will sign up for 18 months of SegaNet Internet service at $21.95 a month. SegaNet will provide online gaming and, with a free keyboard, Web services. Sega hopes to expand on the success of its September 1999 Dreamcast debut when the company sold $97 million of product in 24 hours, while living down the disastrous Saturn console.
With about 15 percent of the market, the game company is betting that its dialup SegaNet will deliver what gamers need to go online. While other game companies are waiting for more widespread broadband, Sega believes that its system is of sufficient quality to build a base of customers that will not switch to Sony or Microsoft when everybody is delivering high-speed Web gaming. Sega says that its system works because the game is on the console and only control information is sent over their Web, A company spokesman says, “The console is rock solid at 60 frames a second running at 28.8.”