Complete Coverage: Dreamcast Debut at Hollywood Video

Complete Coverage: Dreamcast Debut at Hollywood Video

by July 16, 1999

Here’s one bad experience @ Hollywood Video from the Tech Pages:

The HV store near will be renting out the DC.
I stop in to sign up for HV card.

I talk to the two female clerks to see if they would start renting the DC tonight(14th).

The best info were the signs around the store talking about the DC arival 7-15-99.

These two clerks were lucky enough to know
that they were still breathing.

They were the only two employees working in the store.

You’re probably thinking, “This isn’t so bad!” Well, considering this has been in the making for some time, and knowing that it’s possible that there are clueless employees that are handling your DC rental, and more importantly, your money, it is somewhat of a big deal.

Here’s a downright horrific story from the Sega X MB:

You know when I first heard about the whole Sega-Hollywood Video thing I got excited because it really seemed like Sega was pulling things together nicely. Well, it’s the 15th and I’m here to say that things aren’t going off as planned. It’s now 4:51, at 6:00 I’ll be going back to my local Hollywood video for the 3rd time to see if the staff has gotten their **** together enough to let people rent a freakin’ system.
I was there at opening today and there were no systems ready to go yet. The fact i was even there looking for a system was surprising to the morning crew because they hadn’t heard much about the DC rental program other than it was starting late July. They called a manager who had them tell me to come back in 2 hours. Fine. To kill time I called around to a few other Hollywood Videos to see what was going on and was met with the same confused response. One place told me they wouldn’t be renting DC’s until month’s end, others said “try Monday”.
When I went back at noon the people I’d talked to were at lunch and the crew covering the lunch hour was just as confused- no manager in site. They called another manager who said “Come back in 2 hours”. Fine. 2 rolls around and I’m back, this time I meet up with several other folks (14 including myself) who’ve been told the same freakin’ thing and we start to compare stories. We get somebody’s attention and guess what they said? Mmhm. “Come back in 2 hours”
I was annoyed but some other folks were just downright pissed. I wasn’t there just yet.
Which brings us to 4. I show up and bump into 3 people now since the other ones just gave up. We’re about to head into the store when a 4th comes shooting out of the store to get us “They finally got it!!!” he says. Cool. I see about 12 copies of Sonic sitting on the shelf and let myself get excited- yeah I’ve played and finished the Japanese SA, but this the US version you know? We all line up with our copies and all hell breaks loose. It seems the staff isn’t sure how to take the deposit- instead of ringing up the $350 deposit and rental fee for the game and system separately they actually want to charge everybody $374 and some change. Which is total crap because even when you rent DVD players the deposit is just put on a charge slip and never actually put through unless things aren’t returned. This one guy pointed out that we’d all be chalking up some fat interest on the amount our charge cards until the credit went through. So the staff wouldn’t let anybody rent a system because they didn’t know how else to take the deposit outside of a $350 check (which they’d actually put THROUGH and just send us a refund later which is SUCH crap) or cash. Then they told us to come back in…… 2 hours because a manager would be in and that they would sort it out then. So we all left in a clump and 2 of the guys says that it wasn’t worth the hassle and headed off. Me and this other guy are still gonna try and go back to see what happens. But from what I’ve been able to piece together the Hollywood Videos in the Bay Area do NOT have their **** together and this is turning people off the whole rental thing. Hopefully this is just an isolated case of stupidity, but if it isn’t let’s compare stories and see how badly things are getting botched.

This one is downright atrocious:

I went to the local Hollywood Video earlier today to rent a Dreamcast, but to my surprise I couldn’t rent one because I hadn’t rented enough movies. The worker said I had to have rented ten movies before I was able to rent a Dreamcast. This is total bull, I have to leave a $350 deposit, and they still can’t trust that I won’t steal the thing. Total crap!

He goes on:

I’m not kidding, they said that I had to build up a good history with them first. I guess renting ten movies is good enough insurance that I won’t take the Dreamcast. They also make new members leave a ten dollar deposit to rent PSX and N64 games. Do other Hollywood Video stores do this? Oh well, I can wait another couple of months for my Dreamcast, heck, I’ve already waited over a year.

For more SA:LE Viewpoints, go to the SA Section. And that’s about it for now. But I’ll be back Monday with more news, and more fallout as we experience the start of the DC Rentals!

MORNING COVERAGE: First, let’s start off with the actual premiere, what happened, and what Stolar said:

Hollywood Video’s publicity machine scored an assist for Sega’s Dreamcast by hyping up the Dreamcast early-rental promotion. Out here in LA the event was announced over the radio airwaves of KROQ, the top alternative station in the area; the KROQ plug drew hundreds of folks to Wilshire Blvd for the chance to be the first to rent Dreamcast.

Truthfully, the main draw for the common Joe were the stars in attendance and the promise of free stuff. Jenny McCarthy was to attend, but failed to show – in her place stood in Downtown Julie Brown, Paula Trickey from Pacific Blue, and Natalie Raitano from VIP. Also on show were Travis Knight (LA Lakers) and Verne Troyer (Mini-Me from Austin Powers); Verne brought along some of his friends, of which included the popular small-person actor Danny Woodburn (Mickey) from Seinfield.

Outside the Hollywood Video store stood a good 300 people in line to get in on the action. KROQ furnished tunes for people in line while Hollywood Video gave out free drinks, popcorn, and pizza. The main events consisted of a random drawing to win a Dreamcast as well as a Sonic Adventure timed ring collect tournament (with multiple prizes).

On-hand to watch over the festivities were Bernie Stolar (SoA COO/CEO), Peter Moore (Head of Marketing), and Kazuka-san from Sega of Japan. Reached for comment, an excited Stolar replied, “We decided to do something like this a long, long time ago, so it’s been a long time getting here. We believe we want to do things outside of the box, in a way it’s never been done before…so this is the start of that, this is the first time a system’s been launched in the rental environment prior to a launch, and so for us we believe we’re doing the things we said we would do, which is different, unusual, smart, and a little bit more edgy, and I believe that’s what we’ve accomplished today.”

Peter Moore was equally pumped up about the event, “It’s great. I mean, there isn’t a better place than Hollywood Video to do this type of thing. They’re aggressive with their video game marketing and this says it all, Sega Dreamcast, when you look around you, and we’re delighted.”

I for one would have to concur with Peter’s and Bernie’s assessment of the event, the vibe was hot and positive, the stars seem to genuinely enjoy themselves and the gamers had a ball with the Sonic Adventure kiosks. It’s events such as this one that are going to take the Dreamcast to the top of consumers’ minds and hopefully to a competitive position in the video game marketplace.

Next, the moment you’ve been waiting for: Sonic Adventure Limited Edition. Get two viewpoints at the Sonic Adventure page.

Up now, we have some sad news if you’re into multiplayer games:

At last night’s Hollywood Video bash in LA, Bernie Stolar hinted that there might be some serious difficulties with the American Dreamcast network. As far as I can tell, the major problem is figuring out how to setup things for the various games to run over a network instead of direct line to line dial-up play.

Bernie Stolar questioned the winner of the Dreamcast drawing regarding Sega Rally 2’s online capabilities, asking whether he would prefer Rally 2 with or without the network support. This type of question at a point just six weeks from launch draws worries – how could Sega not decide what to do with Rally 2’s network features, the game has been out in Japan since this past winter! Pure speculation here, but methinks that for Rally 2 to hit the states this year it would have to be without the network features.

The only other definitive word about network games from Mr. Stolar was also bad news – Turbine’s massive multiplayer science fiction online RPG has been pushed back to sometime in 2000. If these developments hold up (and they more than likely will), Sega will have not a single multiplayer online game out in the market this year. It’s a sad state of affairs, especially after such a big push was made to make sure that the US console had a 56K modem.

Now, unfortunately, there is no Hollywood Video near me. However, if you have been to a Hollywood Video and saw the DC, rented the DC with SA, or was at one of the premiere parties, drop me a line with your viewpoint.