We are in a brand new decade and SEGA has had a huge turn around in the last five years since they announced their last big rebuild and bought Atlus. It seems that SEGA’s Road to 2020 was a success in a lot of aspects. But like every company, there are always weak points that haven’t quite been ironed out.
On this Round Table we will discuss how SEGA can improve in 2020, if you have any ways that you think SEGA can improve in this new year, let us know in the comments below.
Barry the Nomad says…
“Having just recently looked back on the decade with George in a SEGA News Bits video, I came to realize just how terrible the early 2010s were. When the best game of 2013 is a mobile remake of Sonic 2, you know something is seriously wrong at SEGA. Thankfully, the Road to 2020 was more than marketing fluff from SEGA of Japan as time and time again we’ve been checking off boxes from our wishlist of sequels, revivals and remasters.
So how can SEGA continue to improve? A common trend I have noticed is that SEGA will announce a project, discover a development issue, announce a delay and then deliver a superior product. SEGA needs to seriously rework their project kick-off process and either plan to tackle issues earlier or work a QA check into the process with the assumption that something serious might be caught to have the release date reflect this from the beginning. Just look at the SEGA Genesis Mini, nearly every recent Sonic game, the Sonic Movie and the Shenmue 1&2 remaster as examples of this ongoing problem. Fix this and I think it would make 2020 and beyond MUCH smoother.”
Flare Habanero says…
“The main flaw with SEGA at the moment is regarding to actual PR and advertisement. While the Sonic content with official social media accounts is rather good, I can’t say the same thing with the game releases. Like when Team Sonic Racing was announced, there was a dearth of information for a long time, and it quietly passed by with little fanfare. Similarly some of the accounts like the one for Puyo Puyo are dead right now.
This problem is going to be especially challenged when Project Sakura Wars is going to get released soon, since that is clearly being played up as SEGA’s “big game” of the year. If they continue to get cold feet with being reluctant to promote the game, it will hurt them in the long run. Especially since Sakura Wars is an inherently niche game, so being able to convince people as to why you should invest into it is key. Do something similar to the Yakuza account where they show off different scenes highlighting the game is probably the best course of action.
On a similar subject, while the stuff related to Sonic such as the shorts and the new Sonic comic series are nice, it would be smart to do similar collaborations for their other IPs. Like for example it would neat to see Yakuza adapted into comic form, or similarly have shorts for Puyo Puyo.
Another thing is to probably plan out their “licensing” situation better, since distributing different properties is causing some mixed results. While the efforts of Lizardcube and Dotemu for Wonder Boy in Monster World and the upcoming Streets of Rage 4 are highly appreciated, stuff like Shenmue III and Panzer Dragoon Remake have been more bumpy. Still, this licensing will be a key factor in strengthening the SEGA brand in the long run, so I think continuing to push for it is not a bad investment. Just make sure to pick the right people is all.”
“One of the few things I expect to see from SEGA in 2020 are surprising game announcements and big plans for the companies 60th anniversary. For the past two years, SEGA has kept their promise to give back to the fans the games and franchises that every enjoyed during SEGA’s console days with ports, remakes, and long awaited sequels.
I for one would love to see SEGA announce more games from the most requested game poll (fingers crossed for Virtua Fighter and Jet Set Radio fans on social media) and continue work with M2 to go even further in depth to deliver us more SEGA AGES ports of arcade titles from the MODEL 1, 2, and NAOMI era. I was totally impressed that they were able to port Virtua Racing which gave me hope for a proper arcade perfect port of Virtua Fighter.
As for the companies 60th anniversary, I think it would be cool to have an event in the US and UK dedicated to SEGA’s history similar to Sega of Japan’s SEGA Fes with a few guest appearances from the staff from SEGA of Japan and probably invite major gaming publishers and fansites/social media outlets (such as ourselves, SEGA-16, SEGA Driven, Sonic Stadium, and Sonic Retro) to witness some surprising announcements that would take us by the edge of our seats.”
“I consider myself up on what SEGA is doing. Even if I don’t post often, I’m always keeping up with the site, and what news is coming out of the woodwork, on top of Twitter posts that let me in on what’s going on occasionally. So when I say I feel like SEGA needs to communicate more, that should be a worry. Even I, a nerd who’s got friends and news sites keeping me up to date with the company, have trouble completely following along on everything they’re doing. Communication from SEGA is poor. If it’s not the game or product of the month, it may as well be radio silent.
SEGA’s method of announcing, discussing, and hyping up releases typically follows a formula. First, announce the game in a fairly lowkey fashion, maybe reveal some art for it, the title, a screenshot, or something that seems substantial but isn’t. Second, wait three weeks to two months before talking about the game again, usually something minor again. Third, wait until the month before the game comes out, then start talking about it in detail. That’s the SEGA cycle, if there’s ever been one. I suppose it has its benefits–only having room for one spotlight on a product at a time gives the illusion that you release a lot of big stuff in a year. Maybe that’s important as SEGA’s image still slowly recovers from the dark ages.
Or maybe it’s time that we get some actual communication from SEGA about their games coming out. Instead of twiddling our thumbs until release, imagine actually having a campaign to promote their products. A great example of this has been a game I just talked about in our Favorite SEGA Games of 2019 Round Table, Space Channel 5 VR. I actually made a mistake I didn’t realize until the article went live: I had thought the first gameplay we got was at the end of last year in a Japanese virtual YouTuber livestream. That was incorrect, we’d had gameplay of the exact same section in full resolution for months at that point, in English no less. Just never knew because SEGA had been extremely quiet about the game the entire year. On top of that, there’s a huge chunk of the community that either doesn’t know the game exists, or if they do, they don’t know it’s not a remake.
Space Channel 5 was really the game that alerted me to SEGA’s communication and marketing practices, and just how frustrating they are. For 2020, I want to see SEGA deliver better, more consistent communication on the games they’re working on, and not hide everything to the month leading up to launch. If I had to pick any example to follow in lieu of the current standard, then I’d suggest following what Forever Entertainment has been doing with the Panzer Dragoon Remake; feedback, communication, and showing bits and snippets over time instead of loading it all up.
While this article is to give our opinions on how SEGA can improve, I will like to say that the team SEGA have put together since the 2015 restructure over in America has been a big improvement. I won’t be singling people out that worked at SEGA before this, because everyone I had interactions with were and are still huge SEGA fans that tired their best to sell the products but were handicapped via management. Before 2015 it really did feel like the higher ups in SEGA of America didn’t believe in their Japanese IPs which made games like Valkyria Chronicles and Yakuza series fly under the radar. I love the direction SEGA is going with bringing niche games over from Japan and giving them the respect they deserve.
But it isn’t that easy. I think one of the biggest ‘branches’ of SEGA that is still a huge mystery is the Sonic the Hedgehog brand. Quiet frankly the Sonic the Hedgehog brand is in a weird ‘mixed’ category. The good has been mentioned on here before, their social media team have put together some great content to promote classic Sonic and Sonic Mania. If you talk to a lot of Sonic fans, they will say Sonic Mania is a huge win for the franchise. But the issue here isn’t the developers behind Sonic Mania or the social team; but the other, larger, and higher funded games like Team Sonic Racing and Sonic Forces. I think my biggest issue is the lack of support from SEGA when it comes to these games. When other companies such as Ubisoft release a game that is subpar, they go in and support the franchise with free updates to fix these mistakes and salvage their IP’s reputation. SEGA on the other hand releases Sonic games that aren’t complete or need polish but never make a commitment to salvage them with free updates. This is really bad for the brand. Especially considering that Nintendo has been at least supporting major titles with free fixes and content for at least a year, even though their games are highly rated (and quite frankly have a lot more content day one: see Sonic Forces vs Mario Odyssey). I think if SEGA really wanted to repair the image of the Modern Sonic brand they’d delay them and give them some support after their initial release.
While I love the idea of SEGA re-releasing games from the past, it seems that the company is dead focused on the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive era. I know it makes sense on paper since its the easiest to emulate and was SEGA’s most popular console of all time. But we literally have had so many ‘re-releases’ of SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive games under different labels, being done by different departments of SEGA that I wish they would just streamline it. We got the plug-in-play SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive Mini, SEGA AGES on Nintendo Switch, SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive Classics, and even SEGA Forever on mobile. While SEGA Forever has ‘other platforms’, its mostly SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive games that are being released. Do I hate it? No, just wish that SEGA had a more focused and streamlined ‘labeling’. I love SEGA AGES and would love to see SEGA focus on that line in the future, re-think the cost of games ($8 for a Genesis title might be too steep for non-hardcore fans), expand it to other consoles, and introduce more SEGA games not on a 16-bit machine (Model 1, Model 2, Model 3, SEGA Saturn, and SEGA Dreamcast).
I also hope that SEGA creates teams within the company to bring back IPs and has working relationships to continue publishing games that should have always stayed under the SEGA banner. For example, while I appreciate Nintendo funding and publishing Bayonetta 2, that game should have always been a SEGA game on all consoles and PC. While some of these deals have worked out great for SEGA, for example Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Curse and the same publisher/developer is tackling Streets of Rage 4; while it makes sense to outsource a niche franchise like Wonder Boy, does it make sense for Streets of Rage? Can’t SEGA work with indie developers like DotEmu is doing and publish the game? Now we have SEGA continuing this with Panzer Dragoon and The House of the Dead remakes being outsourced, but like over a decade ago SEGA actually made quite a few bucks by teaming up with House of the Dead: Overkill and just stopped. Don’t even get me started with SEGA letting Microsoft handle the release of Phantasy Star Online 2 after we all waited since 2012 for them to re-announced it. Should have been announced in 2015 when SEGA was ‘changing’ for fans. I’m sure other fans will add more games that escape my mind (or I’m actively trying to forget).
Treat SEGA-AM2 with some respect. Its pretty infatuating seeing them work on arcade games based on mobile games like Soul Reverse Zero and Fate/Grand Order Arcade or just outsourced IPs like Hatsune Miku or Kancollle Arcade. SEGA-AM2 used to be a top tier arcade developer that never transitioned fully into consoles. I think its time to give them a second change, maybe SEGA can start by localizing the free-to-play Border Break PS4 game in the West and give it proper support.