Keith Stuart’s written a great article over on Eurogamer, recalling the time that he was blacklisted by Sega despite being the Editor-in-Chief of DC-UK, a magazine devoted entirely to the Sega Dreamcast.
He chats about how exciting it was to be in charge of a magazine devoted entirely to Sega (note: it wasn’t an official licensed magazine), how important the time period was to the company and how games magazine publishers were living through a time of what would prove to be—given their sharp decline once gaming websites took off—comedic excess.
But the interesting stuff comes from a pair of decisions that upset the Japanese platform holder so much that the magazine was cut off from official communication. The first was to run a feature on how to import Japanese games into the UK:
So one month I ran a feature on how to run imported Japanese Dreamcast games by disc-swapping to bypass the region lock-out. I felt like we were serving a hardcore minority of Dreamcast users by getting them into proper Cave, Treasure, SNK and Arc System Works titles. I’d been over to Japan and trawled Akihabara, spending hundreds on weird games we’d never get in the UK - train sims, dating games, visual novels, I wanted to celebrate that stuff.
But Sega Europe was pissed off. They hated that feature - they wanted magazines to support local releases, they saw the import scene as a threat.
The second, and more calamitous, was to ship a version of Datel’s Action Replay cheat disc on their front cover. Unbeknownst to Stuart and his team at the time, in addition to allowing cheats the disc also let users circumvent the Dreamcast’s copy protection. Whoops.
“I’d have Sega on the phone explaining why it was so awful”, he writes, “while at the same time I was emailing circulation asking if they could print more copies. But very quickly it became clear that Sega was pulling support from my magazine. No more early game code, no more news. The dreaded blacklist.”
They were able to pull some amazing strings to get around it, like working directly with Japanese games mag Famitsu to share assets and tagging along with the official American Dreamcast magazine so they could get into Sega HQ in Japan—as a blacklisted outlet—and interview the Phantasy Star Online development team.
If you’re at all interested in reading up on this weird and wonderful time in games media and publishing, definitely catch the whole thing on Eurogamer.