RUMOR: At E3, Sega will announce it is getting back into the console business.
Source: An e-mail blast inviting press to Sega's "mystery event" at E3.
The official story: "SEGA cannot comment on rumors relating to its exclusive press event on day one of E3. SEGA remains excited about its powerful lineup of yet-to-be announced titles."--Sega spokesman.
What we heard: Ever since Dreamcast production ceased in 2001, the console's diehard fans have held out hope that it would rise from the ashes. This week, hope came in the form of a one-paragraph press invitation to Sega's E3 presentation. "Learn about SEGA's 2004 line-up and hear BIG news you'd NEVER guess," read the invite, which promised "explosive news--something even YOU won't be able to guess!" (Emphasis in the original). Within minutes, Sega loyalists were churning out messianic predictions of a new and improved Dreamcast. "Financially revitalized, finally debt-free, Sega now firmly believes it has what it takes to rule the roost," read one. But before you break out the straightjackets, consider this: Amusement-machine giant Sammy is Sega's majority stockholder, and its president Hajime Satomi is Sega's chairman. This year, Sammy's new Atomiswave arcade platform will replace the veteran NeoGeo format. The NeoGeo also came in a home console version which had a customer base fanatical enough to shell out hundreds of dollars per game--in other words, a proven (if small) market. The Atomiswave's hardware is even more compact than the NeoGeo's. Sammy has announced Sega will focus on developing games for the Atomiswave. Could Sega's big announcement be a new, Sega-branded home console based on the Atomiswave? Or is all this much ado about nothing?
Bogus or not bogus?: Although it's an intriguing theory, it's probably bogus. Note to Sega: kudos for making one publicity e-mail go a long way.