Sega reportedly asked Bill Gates to let Dreamcast games be playable on the Xbox


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A couple of days ago, redditor richm2088 posted an interesting piece in the r/gaming subreddit. It claims that Sega tried to keep the Dreamcast’s legacy alive by turning to Microsoft's then CEO Bill Gates for help.

The story goes that Isao Okawa, the former chairman of Sega, contacted Gates on several occasions once he knew the Dreamcast's days were numbered. He asked the Microsoft boss about the possibility of allowing the upcoming Xbox to play Dreamcast games online.

The Dreamcast offered online support for certain titles through Sega’s short-lived SegaNet service, which in October 2000 had 1.55 million Dreamcast consoles registered online. Some of the most popular online games for the console included Phantasy Star Online and Quake III: Arena.

Despite sounding like a good idea that might have given Microsoft an advantage as it entered the console market for the first time, Gates didn’t go for it and rejected all of Okawa’s pleas. The first Xbox was released on November 15, 2001, and sold over 24 million units. One of its rivals at the time, the PlayStation 2, sold over 155 million, making it the best-selling console ever.

To stop the company going bankrupt following the announcement that the Dreamcast was being nixed, Okawa not only wrote off the debt Sega owed him but also gave Sega Corporation $695 million worth of his stock. After Sega discontinued the Dreamcast on March 31, 2001—the same month Okawa passed away—the company became a third-party game publisher.

Sega, Microsoft, and Gates haven’t commented on the story, so we don’t know for certain how close we came to an Xbox that played some Dreamcast games.

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Posts: 1,306   +2,231
What an incredible offer, why was the answer no? That's crazy. Sega's best games playable online, plus Microsoft owned titles. It would have made a HUGE difference to the Xbox early on.

I did find it interesting that a few Sega titles crept onto Xbox early. Sega GT 2002 and Jet Set Radio future were two released only a few months after the machine. I wondered if there was some sort of deal involved for those.

I still have my Dreamcast, it was a revolutionary console, miles ahead of it's time. Especially when it came to online gaming. PS2 was much worse at that and it was out much later.

J spot

Posts: 236   +158
The hardware was completely different, and not even a full generation apart. I don't think it's a matter of snapping your fingers and boom, the XBox has the ability to play Dreamcast games, for those calling Bill Gates stupid. The XBox was a very powerful console, if I'm not mistaken cost more to build than what it was selling for, but it wasn't powerful enough to emulate the Dreamcast. What about the GD Rom? Would it cost extra to support it? Just doesn't seem practical.

They did have a strong partnership with Sega, even the button's colors and letters for both systems were the same. Well, similar coloring, but on different buttons. Two VMU slots. Here's an original XBox controller design from 1999 It even has a VMU.

Another interesting note is that Sega hardware was based on their arcade hardware, for example the Dreamcast was based on NAIOMI. And their next arcade hardware was based on XBOX hardware.


Posts: 4,321   +4,575
Saying "no" only put one more nail in Sega's coffin.

Microsoft is doing just fine and as long as it maintains its stranglehold on PC gaming, it will be just fine.

Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,779   +2,792
What an incredible offer, why was the answer no? That's crazy.
That's because Bill has always been such a poor visionary. Everything he predicted went the other way around. He is also the record holder to accumulate so much wealth for a person with zero foresight.
Yeah, he was... except didn’t his company foresee the OS business and make a killing from MS-DOS, Windows, etc..?
And didn’t he pour a bunch of money into Apple to keep it afloat?
XBOX was in its infancy at the time, and MS was going to be fighting an uphill battle to break into the console market - why would they attempt to keep Sega alive?

The article is a bit “clickbaity” as well... makes it seem like the Xbox would have had the ability to play Dreamcast disks... playing a few select online games is NOT the same thing...