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Dreamcast Silver discs or the mystery of production

One of the least documented steps in the design of video games is the production, the manufacturing of them. The secret is well kept. The mystery remains. Who wouldn't want to see photos and videos of the assembly line?

On the Dreamcast, there are disks that are called "Silver". They have nothing to do with the prototypes. They are pre-production GD-Rom. One could compare them to samples. These discs have no label. The title of the game is often handwritten on them. According to rumors, Sega and third-party publishers were allowed 50 sample discs during the production of the games, in order to test the optimization of the game in real conditions. If they exceeded this quota, they had to pay an additional fee. These disks were eventually used as promotional versions before the game was released. This is still very vague, sources contradict each other.

We have never seen a Japanese GD-Rom Silver before. Did they have the same process at home? Was it perhaps the Sample?

A person working in the film industry, especially in the production of Master films on Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, and occasionally DVD, gives us a most interesting testimony:

"So I can say with 99% certainty that the white label disks (he must be talking about Silvers) are what we in the film industry call "checkdiscs". Once the data has been sent to the replicator (these days by downloading it, in the past usually on a DLT cartridge), it is glass mastered (production process) and the replicator will run a small amount of these discs for the client to approve."

photos of Yoann Sega

"In fact, these discs are the last chance to detect any problems with a title and the first chance to try to play it from a real ROM disc, before it is mass-produced and sent to stores. We sometimes send the test discs to journalists after we have used them for testing. They are often destroyed once manufacturing has begun."

In connection with the production, you will be able to browse my articles dedicated to SEGA's logistics, to SEGA France's after sales service and to the dreamcast prototype (development).

1 comment

1 Comment

Ben Wilkinson
Ben Wilkinson
Jul 03, 2023

I would like to refute the "destruction" claim. Sega of America kept a few reference copies of 3rd-party licensed games, as well as mostly-full spindles of 1st-party releases. These discs survived one SoA office move in 2008. The office has moved several times since then, so who knows if they still maintain a physical library of their published history. I'm familiar with a board game company that uses the same practice of a physical library at their office. Fanboys tried starting a conspiracy theory when seeing discs labelled "Shenmue 2" and "Shenmue 3". They had forgotten it's a 4-disc release. Sega of America blog "The Sega Game Archive":

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