Sega offers help for Dreamcast game problems

Trying to head off any uproar over defective Dreamcast games, Sega of America has started spreading the word that anyone who has trouble with CDs can return them for a refund or replacement and also get replacement Web browser CDs.

Trying to head off any uproar over defective Dreamcast games, Sega of America has started spreading the word that anyone who has trouble with CDs can return them to the store where purchased for a refund or replacement. Sega also set up a toll-free phone number customers can call for replacement Web browser CDs.

One of five facilities that manufacture game CDs for Sega had trouble with one pressing during a couple of hours of production and some of those defective products made it into retail outlets, said Heather Hawkins, manager of gaming public relations for Sega in San Francisco. Two of 19 Dreamcast games were affected -- Sonic Adventure and Blue Stinger, as was the browser disk. The defect keeps the games and browser from loading properly.

"It was .9 percent of all software that was shipped out," Hawkins said.

While she isn't sure exactly how many actual CDs that amounted to, Hawkins said that relatively few discs are faulty and those that are will be replaced. "Obviously we want those people (who bought defective discs) to be happy," she said.

Customers may call +1-877-383-3291 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern time to receive a new Web browser disk. Sega will begin mailing those out on Monday, Hawkins said. New disks also may be obtained by sending e-mail to support@sega.com with "Web browser replacement" in the subject line. Customers should provide in the text of the e-mail their name, mailing address, e-mail address and telephone number.

The customers likely to be having trouble are those who showed up for the Midnight Madness debut of Dreamcast and its games, which went on sale at that hour yesterday in the eastern U.S. The hot Dreamcast game console also serves as an Internet terminal, capable of sending e-mails, chat functions, Web surfing and downloading.

Dreamcast uses a 56K-bits-per-second (bps) modem to connect the console to the Sega Dreamcast Network online gaming portal.

Sega has anticipated that the release of the long-awaited Dreamcast will make entertainment history by surpassing the $US28 million sales record set by the latest Star Wars movie, "Episode One: The Phantom Menace," when it was released.

Besides the disc problems that have been reported for the two games and browser CD, Hawkins said that "ordinary" production defects also have surfaced. Common problems like bubbles in polymer used to make CDs always pop up, but retailers are well aware that such things occur and so customers shouldn't have any problems getting refunds or replacements.

Such problems are so commonly known about and anticipated with CDs that "they are a non-issue in the music industry," she added.

Sega of America Inc., in San Francisco, can be reached at +1-415-701-6000 or at http://www.sega.com.

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