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View Full Version : Why did Saturn have copy protection but DC didn't?



Ozfer
01-08-2017, 03:23 AM
So the title explains it all. Hopefully, this is the right place to ask this but I couldn't think of a better place.

Since the Saturn came out before the Dreamcast, and the chances of people downloading whole 700MB cd images and burning them was a much smaller risk in 1995, why years later on the Dreamcast did Sega not include at least the same if not better copy protection. Seems like (other than the swap trick but the PS1 and PS2 even had that problem) the Saturns copy protection was pretty much bulletproof. Then later the Dreamcast downgraded to having mostly no piracy protection... it doesn't seem to make much sense considering people would not have much problem burning and downloading CD-r in the year 2000. Just Segas poor judgement?

Chibisteven
01-08-2017, 03:43 AM
The only short coming in the Dreamcast's copy protection was MilCD support, if it weren't for that it would of been a lot harder to do anything with piracy on the Dreamcast. Piracy is too much of a double edged sword on the Dreamcast giving the proprietary format and the size of some games. Some other vulnerable would've eventually been found.

Doesn't even matter? The Saturn wasn't popular enough to get it's ass cracked wide open through some kind of vulnerable. If somebody wants in bad enough they'll find a way in.

These systems are not bullet proof and quite far from it. Copy protection as age wears on becomes a hinderance to other things such as protecting your favorite game from physical and permanent damage. In fact it does little to stop piracy in the end as it becomes a game of cat and mouse.

Jeckidy
01-08-2017, 05:31 AM
Saturn games can be easily copied from the disc versus Dreamcast which has the slightly different GD-ROM format. I've never had problems copying my Saturn CDs to ISO or BIN/CUE. They're standard CDs for the most part. The only thing that keeps burned CDs from running without modification is the signature part of the disc that's printed in a factory setting and not on your standard CD-R. GD-ROMs require to be read from an actual Dreamcast and some other rare retail disc drive that supported them.

What pisses me off is why it has taken so damn long to get any decent Saturn emulation going. The fact that it has a complex architecture isn't enough. There are probably more good games for it than Dreamcast. I've had problems with SSF, but that's mainly because of outdated hardware (lack of pixel shader 3.0 support) and also a dual-core CPU (the programmer suggests quad-core). It's also only for Windows and the programmer told me via Twitter that he had no plans to port it to other operating systems. I don't have a Windows OS installed on my other computers (I use mainly Ubuntu on those). I have Windows Vista 32-bit on this desktop which is outdated and has the shortcomings I mentioned earlier. Mednafen is the only other option and it seems to be coming along nicely, but again I can't run it on my current OSes or older computers. It still has some compatibility issues, too.

Yabause has a nice GUI, but that's about it. Totally worthless. You'd probably get more out of GiriGiri *shudder*.

Speedy
01-08-2017, 12:38 PM
I think the Dreamcast was supposed to have copy protection but the MilCD support screwed that over.

Blades
01-08-2017, 01:10 PM
Unlike the Saturn, the DC also used proprietary media which they probably assumed would be enough.

Sik
01-08-2017, 02:17 PM
As mentioned, the problem wasn't GDs (which may have been dumpable by modifying a CD drive but were still literally impossible to duplicate without involving a factory), the problem was MilCD.

And for what's worth, MilCD did have copy protection... it's just that it was a pathetic one that didn't take very long to crack x_x; So the Dreamcast could be made to run CDs easily. Note that since CDs had lower capacity this meant games often had to be modified heavily to work (so you had to deal with lower texture resolution and such), so in theory one could have made a game unpirateable by simply making it unfeasible to reduce its disc usage.

Either way, late Japanese Dreamcasts removed MilCD support, chances are if the Dreamcast had lasted longer this change would have spread to all the regions.

Jeckidy
01-08-2017, 02:50 PM
Why is it that Dreamcast games generally fetch higher prices than Xbox or PSP games, despite all of them being easy to pirate? Is it really because of the fact that GD-ROMs are usually unaltered or the games considered more unique, or both? Thing is, neither of them have that many exclusives that haven't been ported to other consoles by now. I always blamed Xbox's lack of demand on the fact that the games were generic and often had PC counterparts that were superior. PSP games sometimes go for higher prices but not a lot. I'd say it was because the UMD format is such a joke. But I do like PSP's library.

Speedy
01-08-2017, 02:53 PM
Why is it that Dreamcast games generally fetch higher prices than Xbox or PSP games, despite all of them being easy to pirate? Is it really because of the fact that GD-ROMs are usually unaltered or the games considered more unique, or both?

I don't think easiness to pirate really factors into game prices at this point because collectors want the authentic game.

Tower of Power
01-08-2017, 06:38 PM
I remember reading at the time that the Dreamcast actually had excellent copy protection. Don't know if that's true, but the MIL-CD exploit let them completely sidestep that (of course, as others have mentioned, there are some costs to it).

Ozfer
01-08-2017, 11:33 PM
What the heck is a GD-rom even? It seems like it's a jerry riggd cd-rom made to hold 1GB instead of 700MB.... since the dremcast laser was based on a CD laser, and the GD-rom burner seems to be heavily based on cd. Is there even much difference? Even the first section of the GD-rom is in normal cd format.

Guntz
01-08-2017, 11:51 PM
GD-ROM is a proprietary Sega-developed optical disc format. Most people think Sega created it because DVD was too expensive to license. Although GD-ROM is derived from CD and contains a small section of CD data, it's not really the same thing.

In theory, GD-ROM was nearly impossible to pirate, because the discs were proprietary and Sega did not sell GD-R discs. The problem is Sega completely overlooked the CD compatibility of the Dreamcast system, leaving an easy exploit for pirates to find.

stu
01-09-2017, 12:48 AM
GD-ROM is a proprietary Sega-developed optical disc format. Most people think Sega created it because DVD was too expensive to license. Although GD-ROM is derived from CD and contains a small section of CD data, it's not really the same thing.

In theory, GD-ROM was nearly impossible to pirate, because the discs were proprietary and Sega did not sell GD-R discs. The problem is Sega completely overlooked the CD compatibility of the Dreamcast system, leaving an easy exploit for pirates to find.


GD-ROM was developed by Yamaha, not Sega. The main difference between GD-Roms and regular CD is that the pits on the disc are more densely packed on a GD-ROM vs a regular CD, other than that they use the same basic technology. The discs feature 3 separate regions, an audio CD area which normally feature an audio track with a warning that the disc should not be played on a normal CD Player as it potentially could damage it. The second area of the disc is a data track, readable on PCs. The 3rd track is the high density area which is normally 112 mins long or 1.2GBs in size.

http://www.cdmediaworld.com/hardware/cdrom/cd_gd-rom.shtml

tomaitheous
01-09-2017, 02:27 AM
What the heck is a GD-rom even? It seems like it's a jerry riggd cd-rom made to hold 1GB instead of 700MB.... since the dremcast laser was based on a CD laser, and the GD-rom burner seems to be heavily based on cd. Is there even much difference? Even the first section of the GD-rom is in normal cd format.

Your lack of knowledge on all these matters is concerning.

Sik
01-09-2017, 06:44 AM
But isn't that why this thread exists in the first place? =P

What the heck is a GD-rom even? It seems like it's a jerry riggd cd-rom made to hold 1GB instead of 700MB.... since the dremcast laser was based on a CD laser, and the GD-rom burner seems to be heavily based on cd. Is there even much difference? Even the first section of the GD-rom is in normal cd format.
Note that a GD has the tracks much closer than a CD, so you can't simply modify a CD burner to do the job, you need matching discs to go along with it. Also I think the format of the GD track is different from the format of the CD track, so there's that to account for too.

In hindsight now kind of surprised they didn't exploit the fact a GD contains a CD track (i.e. keep the audio tracks in the CD portion, the interactive part in the GD portion), would have made the need for MilCD pointless as long as the Dreamcast could cope with GDs that have different sizes for the CD portion.

Blades
01-09-2017, 04:19 PM
What the heck is a GD-rom even? It seems like it's a jerry riggd cd-rom made to hold 1GB instead of 700MB.... since the dremcast laser was based on a CD laser, and the GD-rom burner seems to be heavily based on cd. Is there even much difference? Even the first section of the GD-rom is in normal cd format.

Shame this man!

Iron Lizard
01-09-2017, 06:53 PM
Most people I knew in 1999 were still using dial up, not that it would stop people, then CR-Rs were also brand new, plus you sorta had to be in the know about such things. Most people learned of Napster for example by word of mouth. Plus the techie types I knew pirating games were doing so long after the Dc's demise.

axel
01-09-2017, 08:46 PM
Most people I knew in 1999 were still using dial up, not that it would stop people, then CR-Rs were also brand new, plus you sorta had to be in the know about such things. Most people learned of Napster for example by word of mouth. Plus the techie types I knew pirating games were doing so long after the Dc's demise.

I remember seeing pirated DC games in 2000-2001.
Even if 99% of people were still on dial-up all you needed was that one guy who had a broadband connection, after that everyone else could share CD-Rs among each other.

Sik
01-09-2017, 08:56 PM
Game magazines kept talking about it too. So yeah it was widely known how to do it. Just find a friend who knows where to get a copy and you were set.

GriskaGyoran
01-10-2017, 01:00 PM
Question is how did they get the GDs read and dumped. Was it by using the serial port and a "coders cable"? Because you couldn't stick it in a CD drive and have it work. Hell I don't even think a DVD drive will recognize it.

NeoVamp
01-10-2017, 02:41 PM
I think they used the broadband modem somehow, its been a while.

Sik
01-10-2017, 03:04 PM
Yeah there are several methods. Another one involved taking a stock CD drive and modifying its firmware so it would read GD instead (a GD drive has the same hardware as a CD drive but needs to manipulate the motor in a different way to read the tracks, as well as being accurate enough at it). I think there are only two or three CD drive models out there that got modified this way though? (since custom firmware needs to be specific to the drive, not to mention that the drive must let you replace it in the first place)

xelement5x
01-10-2017, 05:07 PM
Original dumps were done with the CD drive firmware hacks and what I would assume was a bit of inside access from some dev house. The BBA exploit was discovered later but still used for some dumps.

Oh, and even if you made the game too large to fit on a single disc then it was possible to split them into multiple boot sets sometimes. The easiest way to gain additional space without messing with textures though was to shrink/rencode the cutscene movies on discs to get them down in size.

I used to do a bit of couriering back in the day since I was one of the few people in my area with broadband since about 97 or so if I'm remembering right. I had a friend who also made a mint burning CDRs for people (games, CDs, whatever) back in the day, it was a hell of a time.

Toasty Costanza
01-14-2017, 01:59 PM
On the boarder of picking up a dreamcast. All I want to know is is it possible to download a rom, burn it to a cd-r, then disk swap it. Have every other Sega console (Minus the pico who cares about that!?!?) and there is definitely some games id love to play on the DC. Already beat adventure 1 and 2 on NGC and im not willing to put more money in another consoles library. ALSO HAVE NO INTEREST IN MOD CHIPS

Sik
01-14-2017, 02:02 PM
All I want to know is is it possible to download a rom, burn it to a cd-r, then disk swap it.
The whole point of the MilCD exploit is that it's taken as a legit disc as-is. No need to swap or anything. Just be careful about the quality of the disc because if it's some weak crap then there's a chance for the drive to not recognize it.

Toasty Costanza
01-14-2017, 02:53 PM
To what ive gathered if I find a pre november 2000 DC all I would have to do is get a rom and burn it to a CD-R. I also heard that doing so It will slowly kill the DC as games where never meant to go through the MilCD. I also heard some games wont work right via MilCD

Sik
01-14-2017, 06:08 PM
I also heard that doing so It will slowly kill the DC as games where never meant to go through the MilCD.
That's the part about the disc quality. The crappier the disc is, the more power the laser needs (and the faster it wears out).

Gogogadget
01-14-2017, 06:54 PM
Have every other Sega console (Minus the pico who cares about that!?!?)

Damn, you're definitely missing out.

Toasty Costanza
01-14-2017, 11:31 PM
reconsidered, the dreamcast to me is 5 games. Sonic adventure 1 and 2. Beat both of them on the gamecube (These are the only gamecube games I own) seemen (dont have a mic and there like 40 dollars) and shenmu 1 and 2 (the second game is in Japanese!). So thats an L and im gonna pass.

My other option was an 8 track player or get my laserdisc player repaired (IF ANYONE KNOWS ANYBODY WHO COULD GIVE ADVICE PLEASE SEND THEM TO ME) But I've decided that I REALLY need to invest in the video cables I use in my setup. I recently threw my 27 inch crt out the window and got another TWICE AS HEAVY. Its flat, has giant speakers, and not only does it have comp and s-video like the last tv it has COMPONENT. Seeing that getting component for all my consoles would cost me AN ARM AND A LEG and also the fact COMPOSITE SUCKS I came up with a plan and Im upgrading most my consoles to high quality s-video cables. (Who knew the SNES nativly output S-video?!?!)

SO ILL SAY THIS ON SEGA-16, THE DREAM CAST HAD NO GOOD CONSOLE ONLY GAMES! PROVE ME WRONG

EclecticGroove
01-14-2017, 11:49 PM
That's a pretty bold statement... I mean it HAD plenty of good exlusive games while it was alive. But you are coming at the console fresh after it's been dead for well over a decade.

So many of those awesome games were ported to other consoles in an attempt for them to live on, and many have since been re-released for markets that are very receptive to older games.

Lots of the best you have played on other systems, but they are only on those other systems because the DC died before it truly ran its course. But they were done first on Sega's console.

If you feel no need to play them as they were originally envisioned and created... that is your prerogative, but it doesn't mean that the DC had nothing to offer.

Gogogadget
01-15-2017, 08:15 AM
We could prove you wrong, but then we could continue to not care either.

tomaitheous
01-15-2017, 10:03 AM
SO ILL SAY THIS ON SEGA-16, THE DREAM CAST HAD NO GOOD CONSOLE ONLY GAMES! PROVE ME WRONG

The Dreamcast had a console??? Oh.. you mean the VMU. The VMU was no good? :p

Blades
01-21-2017, 11:42 AM
wtf

kool kitty89
02-04-2018, 09:58 PM
To what ive gathered if I find a pre november 2000 DC all I would have to do is get a rom and burn it to a CD-R. I also heard that doing so It will slowly kill the DC as games where never meant to go through the MilCD. I also heard some games wont work right via MilCD

That's the part about the disc quality. The crappier the disc is, the more power the laser needs (and the faster it wears out).
This is partially true, but the bigger issue is that the hacked-up DC games made to fit on CD-ROM omitted much of the redundant data allowing smooth (and fast) continuous reads from disc, thus greatly increasing the number of seeks and thus drive wear. (you could have some of the same issues on commercial PS2 games using CD-ROM to keep costs down while staying on one disc, though it's usually worse on DC as pretty much all games were designed to use GD-ROM capacity and thus really had to be hacked down to work)

That said, the piracy issue wasn't a real, practical issue for devs/publishers or Sega at the time, but more a psychological one. As usual, psychology is more important to economics than reality or practical issues, and with Sega's PR and market confidence already on shaky terms, they could ill afford yet another hit to things. (piracy was vastly more common on the Playstation by that time, and a more real problem ... though still not enough to seriously hurt real-world profits so long as the market itself decided to ignore it: perception is the big killer to piracy, not actual lost sales: piracy and sale on a commercial scale or bootleg arcade systems on such a scale are another matter, though)

Plus, internet speeds were far too slow for serious downloads+burning at the time to be the main threat: disc swap-meets (in the same form that floppy disk and tapes had previously taken place: and same for VHS swap meets ... especially popular in the import market: main source of anime imports in the 80s and early 90s, actually) were more realistic but also not commercial threats (dedicated hobbyists/geeks doing it). It was commercial bootleggers of small to large scale (from CD-R burners to unlicensed pressed discs in China) that would've been the only significant economic threat and even that never materialized. (it was the simple threat of it that did the damage)

Besides, it was MUCH easier to pirate PC games back then, yet it was one of the dominant gaming platforms of the time. (with enough hard drive space and virtual CD programs, you didn't even need a CD-R burner, just make a disc image and share the original copy around: albeit a fair number of home users and schools would use a single copy on multiple in-house machines ... also technically abusing the license, but a bit different than just sharing it around a bunch of households: the latter being pretty much like oldschool tape software swapmeets: especially common in the UK in the golden age of home computer gaming, especially in the days of economic depression of the early/mid 1980s in lower class households)

Besides, publishers could have also started organizing games in such a way to use so much non-redundant data that CD-ROMs simply couldn't be reasonably hacked down to fit it all. (at the expense of longer load times and more drive wear ... but potentially more content) You'd need more extensive hacks that included halts and disk-swap requests or some such, if possible at all. You could probably still cut out entire cutscenes, but truncated game content on pirate copies would be a lot more incentive to buy the real deal. (and much better for PR damage control) Not as much incentive a shareware/demos vs full games, but still significant. (especially if you put game-integral info in cutscenes)


On a side-note, I stumbled on some PC DVD-ROM drive prices from 1998 that were in the $99 range at consumer levels (not bulk pricing) and that be a complete DVD+CD-ROM unit with IDE interface ... considerably more than a bare drive in bulk would've cost Sega, so some old discussions regarding 'DVD being too expensive and GD-ROM being a good investment' don't hold up too well, especially if you consider omitting the Modem out of the box (ie make it an accessory ... and later an ethernet adapter if the system lasted long enough). They could NOT have afforded to include a DVD-Video license (Microsoft couldn't either: passed that cost on to their DVD player remote bundle) as Sony had a major stake in the DVD license format and put major premiums on that end of things, plus would especially not want other game consoles infringing on their monopoly.

Hypothetically, Sega could have released a non-DVD-video compliant proprietary home movie format ... maybe one also a bit easier to software-decode on PCs (like reducing the max bitrate modes and such things that made PCI video cards potentially choke: like ATi's Rage Pro that could do interframe decoding but only supported it via beta drivers on the PCI models) in order to make it more likely to get some market acceptance, maybe something closer to SVCD or CVD or some such, but using DVD-ROM. (or hell, even a high bitrate MPEG-1 format might have been appealing, even with the 240/288p restriction) Or ... potentially an MPEG4/H.263 stuff, maybe delving into Xvid territory (though a 1998/99 era Sega format would predate Xvid significantly and be on the edge of MPEG-4's initial release) but would certainly be an interesting departure from the DVD-Video standard. (I'm not sure if the Dreamcast was suitable for decoding such or not, but the SH4's vector coprocessor is pretty potent ... competitive with 3DNow! and SSE units on CPUs clocked substantially higher).

Then again, I don't think the PowerVR chipset supported MPEG motion compensation (interframe) decoding acceleration like the competing Rage 128 and S3's Savage series did (I'm not sure if Nvidia's stuff did and 3DFX's did not) so Sega might have gravitated more towards one of those two had they seriously cared about fairly high bitrate MPEG-2 (or possibly 4) decoding. (given the falling out with Nvidia after the NV-2 cancellation, and the relatively budget-oriented or competitive pricing trends for ATi and S3 at the time, they'd have made reasonable sense as well ... S3 moreso given they were struggling, though the poor yields of the first-gen Savage 3D might have been a problem: then again, PowerVR's chip demands from Sega caused a delay in the release of their PC video cards anyway, so it might not have been so different: note the Rage 128 and Savage series were both much better suited to simple DirectX ports or OpenGL ports rather than PowerVR-optimized tile-based rendering and both supported 32-bit color, with the Savage3D being little faster in 16-bit mode and not super-fast all-around, but quite fast at the low 640x480 resolutions the DC would've been using and a good all-around choice: plus S3's texture compression was nice and the S3 MeTAL API had some nice features: plus the Unreal Engine was ported to that ... so could have seen a really nice DC version of Unreal without going for 3DFX and Glide, plus a much earlier release of UT)

Oh, and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-density_compact_disc drives might be able to be hacked to read GD-ROM, but it's kind of doubtful. (they'd have a better chance than anything else out there ... but still, had it not been for the hack to the DC's network interface and leaked firmware, it would've been really difficult to rip and decrypt the data ... GD-ROM is the sort of proprietary format that Nintendo would've killed for on the N64 in leu of the N64DD ... though they did quite well with DVD-ROM + proprietary encryption for the Game Cube and managed to fool a lot of hackers regarding the true format being used for a while ... including weird rumors about data being read in a different order or direction on the discs or such)

And yes, DD-CD was slightly higher capacity than GD-ROM, but Sony owned the license to that format, so it obviously was unappealing for others. (an obvious low-cost choice for the PS2, though had they not gone the DVD route, or a low-cost competitor to DVD and successor to VCD, but given Sony had such a stake in DVD itself, it made little sense to bother with it) GD-ROM OTOH might have made some sense to popularize as an alternate video format too, and license out ... except that would've been asking for easier piracy, especially given China would've been a major potential buyer. (with SVCD and CVD being developed and such)


Oh and, of course, had Sega used DVD there'd have still been a strong demand to support cheaper CD-ROM releases as well (like early PS2 games) and you'd get a mish-mash of potentially 'easily pirated' games and bad PR ... but also a push for publishers to just switch to DVD. On the other, other hand, Sega could have used DVD-drives with GD-ROM support for a mix of lower cost pressed discs and optional use of DVD-ROM and closed the security loop by blocking booting of software from standard CD-ROM entirely (just support redbook format audio CDs). Booting from CD was mostly a development tool feature left over as an oversight, but one more loophole to close. (albeit, had they INTENDED for CD-ROM based software to be released, they'd have enabled security checks for such discs, something they'd failed to bother with on the DC as it was assumed ripping GD-ROMs would be impossible, at least within the system's lifespan ... so formally supporting CD-ROM might have actually reduced this problem, especially on the perceived 'easy CD-R piracy' PR angle)

Team Andromeda
02-11-2018, 06:32 AM
On a side-note, I stumbled on some PC DVD-ROM drive prices from 1998 that were in the $99 range at consumer levels (not bulk pricing) and that be a complete DVD+CD-ROM unit with IDE interface ... considerably more than a bare drive in bulk would've cost Sega, so some old discussions regarding 'DVD being too expensive and GD-ROM being a good investment' don't hold up too well, especially if you consider omitting the Modem out of the box (ie make it an accessory ... and later an ethernet adapter if the system lasted long enough). They could NOT have afforded to include a DVD-Video license (Microsoft couldn't either: passed that cost on to their DVD player remote bundle) as Sony had a major stake in the DVD license format and put major premiums on that end of things, plus would especially not want other game consoles infringing on their monopoly.


Where? DVD drives in 1998 cost a small fortune. so I think you are wrong on that score and SEGA publicly said that the cost of the DVD was the main factor.

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7063/26587824664_9c64878d75_o.jpg

Blades
02-11-2018, 10:18 AM
DVD drives were indeed very expensive in 1998. Another factor was paying Sony for the licensing fees.

kool kitty89
02-12-2018, 02:24 AM
https://www.anandtech.com/show/248/4
February 10, 1999


The North Bridge also allows for an integrated hardware DVD decoder, a feature that not only eliminates the need for an external PCI DVD decoder (therefore occupying one of the limited PCI slots on a low-cost/low-expansion MVP4 board) but it also brings high quality and high performance DVD playback into the hands of the masses. A quick search with most on-line vendors will reveal that a generic IDE DVD drive will set you back no more than $100 for a decent drive, often times dipping down into the $70 level, which definitely helps push the growing DVD standard into the hands of more users, in more homes at a more affordable price.

Flipping through that whole article again, I don't see a price breakdown for the test rig they actually used (unlike most modern articles of this sort).

I wish I could say I stumbled on the receipts for the DVD-ROM drive we bought back in '98 or '99, but no such luck there. (and I haven't dug up any archived price lists on drives either)

Still, anandtech is a perfectly reputable source, and was back then. Plus, these are consumer price points we're talking about, and PC IDE drives. Bare DVD-ROM drive mechanisms + chipsets at the bulk industry level should have been less.

Of course, this is all without any sort of DVD-Video license ... and (legal) DVD video playback suites were quite expensive at the time ... though you could cobble together your own from beta drivers and such like we did around that time. And DVD /players/ ... not drives, were VERY expensive at the time. (closer to the price of an entire budget-build PC from the same period ... though probably less than a legitimate gaming+home theater capable system: no hacks or workarounds or use of unsupported beta drivers) Our own home theater system was not technically supposed to be able to play DVD movies, but it did. (K6-2/300 in a VIA MVP-3 based motherboard with a PCI Rage Pro and DVD-ROM drive, Win98, later 98SE, and ran fine for common DVD bitrates and only choked on unusual high bitrate stuff) I remember the huge PITA it was when we eventually adopted normal, licensed DVD video software given it freaked out at us using the TV-out ... an anti-priacy feature. (didn't want you using composite/s-video out lest you were bootlegging it to VHS/SVHS)

Though, again, Sega ... and any Non-Sony games company would've been stupid to support DVD Video as it would've been insanely expensive to license.

Team Andromeda
02-12-2018, 08:17 AM
That article is wrong on 2 counts . 1) In 1998 DVD drives were hardly 'generic' on the PC back then and 2) there cost far more than $100 in 1998. I remember when Hardwar was making the headlines for being one of the very 1st PC DVD games and most people saying the market was too small and still far too expensive and that was reflected in how many PC games still came on CD-Rom way past 1999.
Also, a little bit more research would show even anandtech own DVD reviews shows prices of DVD drives even in 2003 costing $230 and thats in 2003 for a rather basic 4X DVD drive. SO lets not kid ourselves that we had DVD drives in 98 for less than $70.


SEGA were already set to lose money on every DC sold, putting a DVD drive in the system back in 1998 would have meant SEGA being bankrupt before the year was out.

Tripredacus
02-12-2018, 02:48 PM
It may be correct, we can never go back and do that search. But that is talking about PC DVD-ROM drives (supposedly) and that is not what the kind of drives that were inside the game consoles. The "generic" term used is reflective of no-name OEM drives, such as drives that have no branding, manufactured by Matsushita or other companies. And these prices are likely bulk prices not retail. No one was buying DVD drives for their PC in 1998 for $100.

I recall the PS2 in 2001, being something north of $200, was still cheaper than the cheapest DVD player beind sold at the time. The same happened with the PS2, at $380 it was cheaper than any stand-alone BD players when I bought it. Interesting how that turned out.

goldenband
02-12-2018, 05:35 PM
FWIW DVD-ROM drives became standard on G4 Mac desktops in 1999; they were available as an upgrade option for beige G3s in 1998, though I don't remember how much the upgrade cost.

(I bought a machine -- my first real computer of my own, basically speaking -- at the start of 1999, so this issue was on my radar.)

Tripredacus
02-13-2018, 01:30 PM
FWIW DVD-ROM drives became standard on G4 Mac desktops in 1999

There was another problem with PowerMac G4 is that their price put them out of reach for many people.

G4 PCI MSRP was $1600 and came with a CD-ROM. DVD (or Zip) only available as BTO (Build-to-Order)
http://apple-history.com/g4pci

G4 AGP came with the DVD drive (I can't determine is it is DVD-ROM or DVD-RAM) but cost $2500-3500!

Consider that PCs of the time were sitting at $1000 or less, yes with lower specs. That cost is a big deal, I had only seen them in colleges, same with the G3. When I worked for various companies during that time, very few people had a G4, for Apple products it was typical for people to have a G3 or iMac.

But for this discussion, using Apple for an example of something being available is not good, because we know that cost is likely the main reason why DVD drives were not in the Dreamcast.

goldenband
02-13-2018, 08:22 PM
I'm not really citing the Apple thing as an example of anything but the bare facts -- that DVD-ROM became standard on the newest line of Apple desktops at such-and-such a date, after having been an upgrade option for a year or two.

I knew that, by mentioning it, someone would insist on pointing out that Apple is a pricy brand. :) I think we all know that, and I don't mean to hold them up as an example of common practice, though it's also true that where I went to school, most people had Macs of one sort or another.

(Not me -- only in 1998 did I finally borrow an old Quadra for one semester before giving it back later that year, and only thanks to a stroke of good luck did I have a chunk of change with which to buy the refurbished beige G3 that became my main machine from 1999-2005. It only had a CD-ROM drive, BTW.)

What I wish I knew is what the upgrade price was, because that would be revealing of underlying commodity pricing (but only up to a point, since Apple marks everything up).

kool kitty89
02-15-2018, 11:27 PM
It may be correct, we can never go back and do that search. But that is talking about PC DVD-ROM drives (supposedly) and that is not what the kind of drives that were inside the game consoles. The "generic" term used is reflective of no-name OEM drives, such as drives that have no branding, manufactured by Matsushita or other companies. And these prices are likely bulk prices not retail. No one was buying DVD drives for their PC in 1998 for $100.

I recall the PS2 in 2001, being something north of $200, was still cheaper than the cheapest DVD player beind sold at the time. The same happened with the PS2, at $380 it was cheaper than any stand-alone BD players when I bought it. Interesting how that turned out.
The folks over at the Vogons forums would probably have more insight there on the PC end and digging up archived price lists and such. (a quick search a while back found plenty on prices of complete systems, but not so much on components ... a wayback archive search on Fry's website might show useful info, at least on front-page sale items, but I'm not digging through that right now) In any case, I would hardly say 'never' to definitively answering such questions.

And again, the price of DVD players was far higher than PC IDE DVD drives (let alone bare bulk DVD drive components) and the PS2 was undoubtedly the cheapest consumer-ready DVD video player around in 2000/2001. (homebrew multimedia systems done on the cheap wouldn't be directly competing with those, plus they'd only be cheaper as upgrades to existing systems ... ie a new motherboard+CPU+video card combo at most: side-note, but a neat thing about the VIA MVP-3 chipset was support for old EDO DRAM and one of the most popular motherboards using it sported EDO SIMM sockets, so you could recycle your old RAM for the initial build and could also run the RAM at 66 MHz while the main bus still ran at 100 MHz: for I/O and board-level cache ... really nice features along with AMD's K6-2/300 in '98 and '99)

Most PC users getting DVD-ROM drives were doing it for software use and any plans for DVD-video playback were secondary or future considerations. The more expensive drives would've been DVD-R capable ones appearing and extremely appealing for backup purposes, but that wasn't viable for most consumers for a few years yet and CD-R drives were still premium items as well. (a CD-R drive without DVD support would probably cost a good deal more than a DVD-ROM drive)

The same issue cropped up for BD-ROM drives vs Blu Ray video players in the 2005-2010 period ... by 2008/2009 you could get a BD-ROM R/W capable drive for $70, but a home theater blu ray player was still going to be well over double that price. (I'm not sure exactly when BD-ROM drives dropped below $100 or reader vs writers ... though few people would've wanted one without at least DVD-R capability)
Granted, the appeal of Blu Ray or BD-ROM was far more limited than DVD for either the video format or for data use. They were neat for doing backups for a little while, but spare HDDs became more appealing quickly (faster and cheaper) while BD-ROM based software distribution really didn't materialize. (also probably one of the reasons digital distribution took off as rapidly as it did and why the Xbox 360 lasted so long on DVD+downloads alone ... the lack of massive BD-ROM sized games didn't demand such an upgrade and you failed to see games being released on 3 or more DVDs as you had with CD-ROM in the previous generation with multi-CD releases alongside single-DVD releases) You finally see massive games common now, but those all rely on fast internet connections or painfully long multi-day download times. (a 20-50 GB game over a 5 Mbit DSL connection is pretty painful ... let alone in a shared household)


Though to play devil's advocate on my own point, the quote was from February 1999, not 1998, and Sega had to have been planning around Japanese market prices and making predictions on how prices would trend, and it's very possible DVD drive prices were more than double that just a year before, if not more than that. The counter-argument there is that Sega released the Dreamcast slightly too early anyway, especially given the Saturn's greater success in Japan, and taking a more nuanced approach with the late-gen Saturn (in ALL markets) and releasing the DC slightly later would've been smarter.

Well, that and it made no sense to slash apart bot the Saturn AND Sega PC R&D and infrastructure during the Bernie Stolar era SoA and if they wanted to go full-on damage control and conservative mode, they could've played down the Saturn's problems and quietly shifted it to life-support while refocusing on PC publishing in the US and Europe. Case in point would be Sonic Xtreem given the PC version was basically ready for market (and would've been ready much sooner had they gone PC-first earlier in development when the Saturn Team(s) were screwing up so much) and gradually back-ported things to the Saturn if/when it made sense.

Honestly, that approach also probably would've helped with the DC hardware decisions, focusing more on ease of cross PC-DC development. (SoA/STI teams might have pushed for the 3DFX solution, or might have pushed more to get another party involved, possibly looking from more of a DirectX or OpenGL standard PoV while obviously avoiding Nvidia ... or looking at the practical issue of choosing a big, stable manufacturer able to output sufficient volumes at a competitive price: ATi was hard to beat for that at the time where PowerVR or S3 would've been greater risks at the time: and as it turned out, both had trouble getting good yields with their chips in 1998)

The expense of translating and porting niche Japanese games to a niche console was unappealing, but translating them for the PC market would've made far more sense, while doubling as ready-made translation for the small but still extant Saturn Market in North America and UK/Europe. (plus, RPGs, adventure games, strategy games and such were already PC staples and while JRPGs weren't the standard fare, they were still significant in that market ... plus Square+Sony were pushing their games on PC) Just ditch Nvidia support and go for software rendering and DirectX compliant stuff. (SoA's releases for PC already tended to have DirectX support ... I want to say a few even had special ATI RAGE compliant versions, but might be remembering wrong: BUG! ran well on our Rage Pro at the time in any case, though that might've been the only 3D Sega PC game we got back then, most others were Genesis ports like Garfield and the S&K collections, plus Sonic CD) They really should've ported a lot of the 32x games to PC as well, especially in compilation form it would've been neat.

Hell, given SoA was skeptical of staying in the console market at all, hedging their bets by having a solid presence in the Wintel marketplace would be pretty significant. Best case, you've got a solid cross-platform market to work with on your console and PC side, worst case you end up dropping consoles entirely and grow out to 3rd party publishing from the PC side of things. (going PC was probably a far smarter idea than going vaguely 2nd Party on the Xbox in 2001 ... though they hedged their bets with GameCube support early as well, which wasn't a bad idea) Also, it seems like the Dreamcast attracted tons of folks from the PC-gaming mindset anyway, and got some PC gamers into console gaming for the only time. (maybe it's personal anecdotes, but lots of PC-centric games from that time tend to mention the Dreamcast as stand-out appealing when other consoles had little interest to them)


Oh, and PC CD-ROM games back then basically had no copy protection anyway, or if they did it was mostly due to co-release on floppy disk with code or quiz type DRM. (by the late 90s you could generally make a CD-ROM image on your hard drive and mount that rather than needing a physical disc inserted, though CD-changers were a popular alternative for a time due to the limited HDD space: I think we switched over to mostly using virtual CDs around 2001; virtual CD programs cost a bit too, but were really useful ... eventually freeware/open source stuff appeared as well, and is what dominates the field these days) Mounting virtual CDs in DOS games was an interesting ordeal, though, and was again years later with DOSBOX.


Also, the Apple comparison is interesting, but not very useful on component pricing. Apple's not well-known for being a budget-consumer oriented company and more comprable to mid-range pre-built PCs of the period if anything. ($1000-1600 wasn't far off from the cheapest DVD-capable pre-builds I browsed over on one Google Books search result on old price lists ... again not useful for the individual component prices, though)

Pre-built machines would easily cost more than double what a shrewdly assembled home-built (or local shop-built) machine would go for, let alone a homebrew or shop-assisted upgrade of an existing system. (case, PSU, hard drive, monitor, OS, etc all add up to a substantial savings ... if you already had a Soundblaster-16 compatible, you'd be fine sticking with that too in the late 90s: everything still had ISA slots back then and onboard audio was neither universal nor trouble free)



Though in any case, DVD-ROM support was hardly the make or break issue on the Dreamcast. (though I maintain omitting the Modem pack-in as a cost-saving measure would've been wise regardless of drive choice ... it's something most users didn't care about and/or couldn't use anyway or couldn't use at a speed that made it worthwhile, but would've been a nice gimmick to profit from in peripheral sales)


Edit:
this article might also be somewhat useful for comparison, though still not good for off-the-shelf component prices:
https://www.questia.com/magazine/1G1-59283492/looking-back-cd-dvd-rom-in-1999

The preview also stops short of quoting DVD drive prices, though it does list cost of upgrade installation of CD-RW drives, interestingly enough.

Oh and here's a couple of Google Books magazine archives:

https://books.google.com/books?id=1wEAAAAAMBAJ&pg=PT29&lpg=PT29&dq=PC+DVD+drive+1999+price+list&source=bl&ots=cNR9WJbJl9&sig=8xTHWkoQkNfu5Cgg5lQeiThqkSU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjYmqiuwKnZAhUIwWMKHWS0B3wQ6AEIfzAH#v=on epage&q&f=false

https://books.google.com/books?id=XrdgwdYfGrUC&pg=PA177&lpg=PA177&dq=PC+DVD+drive+1999+price+list&source=bl&ots=PWTaPpTuXL&sig=oO9hN99IyXS3Nb6Anb9xAPdx8l8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjYmqiuwKnZAhUIwWMKHWS0B3wQ6AEIgQEwCA#v= onepage&q&f=false

System prices, not component prices, though. (again, old Fry's or CompUSA archived pages would be more useful) Those magazine pages are basically what popped up a while back when I poked at the subject.


Hmm, there's a gap in the wayback archive's Fry's pages between 1997 and 2000 ... https://web.archive.org/web/20000815090901/http://www.frys.com:80/ kinda funny to see Fry's with their own ISP back then, though. (and whatever webcralwer archivist using it)