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Thursday, October 14, 1999 Published at 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK

Business: The Company File

Rush for the Dreamcast

This was the scene shortly after midnight in one London store

Computer games fans across the UK queued for hours into the night to snap up the latest toy wars weapon - Sega's Dreamcast console.

The BBC's Clarence Mitchell: "It is the most advanced games console on the market"
Buyers waited outside stores until doors opened at midnight specially for the launch.

The Dreamcast is the most advanced games console in the world and is the first to incorporate access to games on the Internet.

About 130 stores - including HMV, Tower Records, Virgin, Electronics Boutique and Game stocked the Dreamcast and sales were believed to have reached £9m in the first few minutes.

Sega's Mark Hatley: "Dreamcast will launch an internet revolution"
Among those publicising the event were former boxing rivals Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank, who took each other on in a virtual bout. This time it was Nigel Benn's turn for victory.

Sega already had 41,000 pre-paid orders worth £8.5m for the £199 Dreamcast system.

The manufacturer said the console would soon have online game access in the UK enabling users to compete against players across the world via the Internet.

[ image: Cash tills continued ringing through the night]
Cash tills continued ringing through the night
One of the first to buy a Dreamcast was Dave Giles, 39, from Eynsham, who queued at a central London store with his son Peter, 12, for four hours.

Mr Giles said: "He's been very good at school and we thought the best way to reward him would be to buy him the best computer we could get him."

The BBC's Mark Fisher reports: "It's all out warfare"
Sega hopes Dreamcast will secure a substantial share of the games market currently dominated by Sony and Nintendo.

The company believes the sophisticated graphics, speed and Internet capability will help it recover market share before Sony and Nintendo launch their new consoles.

Dreamcast has been a huge success in the United States, where 500,000 machines were sold in the first four weeks of its launch.

Betting on the Internet

But Sony, whose PlayStation is the market leader, is fighting back this Christmas with a £20m marketing campaign and the launch of eight new games.

PlayStation, which has 75% of the UK market, already offers more than 1,000 games for its customers.

Meanwhile, Nintendo is counting on the craze for Pokemon, the Japanese pocket monster characters, to see it through the Christmas selling season.

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