Editorial: Gaming sites who failed at reporting last Friday’s news.

Last Friday we learned the sad news that SEGA West was restructuring, downsizing and canceling certain games. I think we’ve all discussed the news enough, what I wanted to focus on in this editorial are the gaming sites who did an awful job of reporting the news. For whatever reason, unpaid fans who write for blogs do a better job reading press releases and reporting on them than big name sites like Kotaku. I also wanted to draw attention to a general gaming blog, toplessrobot.com, who did an equally awful job in reporting on the news.

The major problem both sites had was misreading SEGA’s press release. Let’s take a look at the original statement from SEGA:

Due to the challenging economic climate and significant changes within the interactive gaming industry, SEGA has made the decision to consolidate its publishing business in order to focus on developing digital content and driving its existing IP such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Total War, Football Manager and the Aliens franchise. This realignment of the business around existing and digital IP is a necessity to ensure that SEGA continues to invest and enhance its digital business offering, whilst reducing its reliance on traditional packaged goods. 

So SEGA will focus on digital content and strong existing IPs such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Total War, Football Manager and the Aliens franchise. The key word is “such as”. These IPs are given as EXAMPLES, but they are not the only four IPs that SEGA will continue to push in the future. While this may mean that we’ll see less new IPs like Anarchy Reigns, Rhythm Thief and Binary Domain, it does not mean that SEGA has killed off Phantasy Star, the Shining series, Super Monkey Ball and Yakuza. Unfortunatly, Kotaku glossed over “such as” and proclaimed the following in their headline:

Sega of America Walloped by Layoffs; Western Publishing Reduces Focus to Sonic and Three Others

The article continued with this line of thought by saying “Sega Sammy Holdings, the parent company based in Japan, released a statement yesterday to investors that identified a “reduction of number of titles,” that are targeted to the U.S. and Europe, listing four that seem to be protected. Work on anything else is likely terminated.”. Did SEGA directly state that any other IP being worked on outside those four are dead? Did SEGA state that Phantasy Star Online 2 is dead, or that Jet Set Radio’s rerelease is cancelled? No, they did not. But Kotaku assumed that anything else aside from the four IPs listed are likely terminated. To be fair, SEGA did state “we are cancelling the development of some game software titles”, but not once did SEGA proclaim a mass cancellation. I’m certain some unannounced titles were canned, and we’ll learn of them someday, and that a few announced titles might be published by another company. But Phantasy Star Online 2 is dead? I don’t think so.

Kotaku, as well as toplessrobot.com, also forgot that SEGA gave mention to developing digital content. Fellow SEGAbits writer Aki-At will gladly chat your ears off (type your eyes out?) about how digital releases yield more profit than physical releases, and I think it’s a given that rereleases like Jet Set Radio cost far less than a new game. So in light of this news, is SEGA canceling the rerelease of Dreamcast, Saturn and Genesis titles? Not likely. For one thing, these fall under the digital content that SEGA is so keen on maintaining. We may not see a Jet Set Radio 3 or Shenmue 3 any time soon, but rereleases of the original titles are almost certain. And who knows, if the rereleases get stellar sales it just might open doors for sequels. The recent leak of a potential Sonic Adventure 2 digital release only strengthens that idea that digital rereleases are not only safe, but are a part of SEGA’s revised direction.

I wanted to end with what gaming blog toplessrobot.com said. I’ll admit, I’ve never heard of them until now, and if their other content is as bad as their SEGA story, I wasn’t missing much. The article was titled “Sega Is (Mostly) Dead”. The writer kicked the article off my doing as Kotaku did and misread SEGA’s statement, thinking that the four IP mentioned are all we’ll ever see from SEGA in the future. The writer went on to say:

So no more Shenmues or Houses of the Dead. So long to Bayonetta, Phantasy Star, Golden Axe, and Jet Set Radio (which may no longer be coming to Xbox Live and PSN now). Goodbye to Panzer Dragoon, Virtua Fighter, Rez, Space Channel 5, and so much more.

A quater of those titles have been IPs forgotten since the Dreamcast days, however rereleases of the original games have either already released (the excellent Space Channel 5 Part 2) or are rumored to come. House of the Dead Overkill just received an awesome HD port on the PS3 complete with new content, and the fourth title is set for a release this month. Golden Axe was never a strong modern IP, it’s a SEGA classic, but I and I’m sure many SEGA fans have never yearned for anything after 2008’s Beast Rider. Rez and Panzer Dragoon have received spiritual successors via Kinect’s Child of Eden and Crimson Dragon. Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is set for a digital release this year.

So it seems toplessrobot.com’s writer is one of those poser SEGA fans who never really paid attention to the company until some bad news pops up on their news feed, usually misreported by a major site like Kotaku which in turn leads to smaller sites spreading false info. When SEGA is on a roll? The general gaming public seems to ignore them and pick on the few negatives, like Sonic 4’s physics or Crazy Taxi’s lack of music. And when SEGA announces something like they did last Friday, gaming fans jump in with heaps of opinion, lots of half-truths and a good deal of false statements.

The lesson readers can take away from this editorial? Until you read the press release, don’t believe everything you read. Also, make sure to frequent trusted fan sites rather than sites that value hits over facts.


45 responses to “Editorial: Gaming sites who failed at reporting last Friday’s news.

  1. Richard says:

    to my eyes thats what the re releases are tended for , sega can release these classic titles that wont cost them much money and it also gives them a reason to support a sequel if demands are met if people buy them. sony fans , xbox fans and nintendo fans for the most never played jsr or shenmue so if the market is their im sure sega would not think twice bout bringing a sequel

  2. pso2love says:

    PSO2 is not going to be canceled. We would see another Yakuza riot if that happened. 😉

  3. Centrale says:

    Usually the author of that Kotaku blog entry, Owen Good, is the only reliable blogger they’ve got. But he dropped the ball with that article. He’s previously blogged that he has some anger management problems and has a hard time admitting when he’s wrong, so he won’t be retracting the statement any time soon. The worst of Kotaku’s bloggers is Luke Plunkett, though… he writes some sort of Sega-trolling article about once a week, and they consistently get among the most pageviews of his blog entries.

  4. stevetheman90 says:

    No Shenmoo three lol

  5. Randroid says:

    Great article!!

    Thank you.

    Perfectly sums up how I’ve felt all week. So many were just too quick to declare sega dead. Makes me regret being born in the west more and more each day.

    I will definitely follow the end advice. Fuck those sites.

  6. @ Tristan and TSSZ who decided to comment on this post via twitter rather than the comments section: What’s your deal, dude? An editorial that’s not even about you and you bring up something George did in the past that was labeled as “rumor”? Stay classy, TSSZ. I’m a different writer targeting a different site, and you gotta bring yourself and George into it? Talk about an attention whore.

  7. Brent says:

    Yes, but SEGA still did post a massive profit loss did they not? That’s probably why they all saw SEGA’s press release as bad news in general.

    I mean SEGA’s hardly on a roll when it’s set to post a massive loss of profits and has to cancel some games.

    Does anyone even know what SEGA’s market share is these days?

    25% of the global videogame industry like their original 2001 speech was during their re-structure? Ha FAT CHANCE!

    I bet SEGA don’t even have 5%.

    • crackdude says:

      So Sega’s decade old objectives are reason enough to rip them apart by misinterpreting their press releases and widespreading lies about upcoming games?

      These poor excuses for “journalists” would have made less fools of themselves if they had simply copypasted the press release.

    • Centrale says:

      I don’t have the market share percentage, but over the past several years Sega has consistently been a top-ten publisher. Frankly I wonder whether any company has a 25% market share; that seems like an awful lot considering there are over a hundred active publishers.

    • Aki-at says:

      Their position is in terms of third parties;

      6th in America
      6th in Japan
      Probably 6th – 8th in Europe.

    • IrishNinja says:

      If i recall the specifics, it was a $90 million loss, with 60 or so of that write-offs from canceled projects. not ideal, but not nearly the way some of these sites sold it, no doubt.

      and sega pushing digital isn’t a bad thing, either – PSO 2.0 is gonna be a F2P cash cow, and look at smaller publishers of niche stuff like Atlus, XSEED etc: they’re all slowly going this route. If this is the best way to still get a localized Yakuza 5, i’m down.

  8. Emmett The Crab says:

    Games coming out soon will prove how stupid these people are.

  9. Jayel Romeu says:

    Yesterday I connected to XBL to play some games and when meeting a couple of friends in a party, one of them told me: Have you read about SEGA? It seems to be going out of bussiness… I had to retell him the truth of the news piece and correct him all along. To him it had sounded like Dreamcast all over again, sad.

    • Len says:

      To be honest, SEGA probably will go out of business eventually, they ended their hardware division, now it seems that even their software division is starting to suffer as well a decade after being software only, how low can SEGA possibly sink yet? Administration.

  10. Harry says:

    After entrenching myself in well researched game theorist journals for my dissertation I find visiting sites like kotaku particularly annoying. there sensationalism is akin to fox news, they take the utmost glee in bad news. I get the feeling they would love to report ‘SEGA is dead’. This site is fantastic I wish all games related news site were as passionate yet as rational as segabits.com

    • Len says:

      True, I remember back with the Dreamcast, there was this feeling that I got from some people who just wanted the worst for SEGA, I don’t know why, even to this day I still wonder about it, the only thing I could come up with is that maybe these people were those who got burned by buying a 32X or MegaCD or Saturn and felt they were ripped off, and ever since, they’ve had a bit of hate for SEGA, but also just too ignorant to see how great SEGA really is.

  11. segaismysavior says:

    The misinterpreting has been pissing me off too, but it sucks that SEGA’s statement was vague enough to warrant people flipping out and expecting the worse.

    I don’t want to live in a world without “Jet Grinding Radios” and “Shemoo.” If they really were only focusing on those 4 mentioned franchises, then I would find myself without the ability to purchase SEGA products.

  12. Brent says:

    Okay, how is it not bad when Sega posted a loss and claimed they would limit their unique titles?
    That obviously means they can’t be doing that good either, maybe not as bad, but either way this is still bad news, because Sega wont be as creative as they should be.

    If Sega didn’t post losses and announce they will cancel all non-franchise games, then this article would be 100% correct, it is to a degree, last Friday’s announcement was blown out of proportion, it wasn’t as bad as it sounded, but it is still not that great either as it was a loss, Sega is doing worse than better..

    • George says:

      I see what you are saying. I agree but then again SEGA consumer division has never made profit. This has been a LOOOONG time coming. SEGA-Sammy need to sit down and actually release games that have good enough marketing per title.

      Example: Binary Domain seemed to many fans to be let out to die.

      I think its not all like that though, I think they handled Dead Souls just fine. Some website ads, plenty of content to go around the webs. Thats aimed at Japanese people, same audience as Atlus. They did a sufficient job on that.

      SEGA re-thinking their big franchise is nothing new. Sonic has always had marketing money compared to new IPs.

    • Radrappy says:

      But could you see binary domain succeeding even with more marketing dollars behind it? I feel like it was destined for failure either way. It was neither here nor there in terms of aesthetics and gameplay and the final game still sends mixed messages about what it wants to be. It is the age of mega million dollar franchises at this point. And as good as BD did turn out, it doesn’t have the makings of a classic, or a big seller for that fact.

    • Pao says:

      I agree with Radrappy.

      Good marketing would have helped, but I don’t think it would have propelled the game to Top 5 spots in sales-charts. The game gives off bland and uninteresting first impressions for people who see it (Even though the game itself is anything but that).

    • Leo says:

      Well, that’s just the thing, SEGA can’t exactly afford to market it’s games, can they?
      I mean if they could they would wouldn’t they?
      What is there market share? What is their financial health in general?

      Do you even know?

    • Radrappy says:

      no you’re totally right, they definitely cant afford to market their games extravagantly. Which is why the game needs to potentially stand on its own and not require a giant push to even get people to remember its name or what it looks like. BD wasn’t exactly memorable looking to begin with.

    • Aki-at says:

      I actually could see Binary Domain being a much bigger success with marketing dollars behind it. The problem is it was sent out to die, I mean do people know it has multiple endings? over 10 bosses? 40 different enemy types? The problem was SEGA America kept focusing on certain segments in the game leaving an extremely dull look. In particular, the parts focusing on the lower city, not once did we see the upper city which makes up a great deal of the game with the exception of the train station.

      Sure it might not have been a massive title like Gears but it would probably have done a lot better if SEGA decided to support the title a bit more than they did. But considering they did everything wrong with the title to even the slightly important to not so much boxart, I think it’s fair to say SEGA massively harmed the chance of a new global franchise for themselves.

    • Radrappy says:

      they could havelisted bullet points of all those features during commercials and it still wouldn’t have made a difference. First impression really is everything when it comes to marketing for games and BD looked like a dud plain and simple. Im not even talking about how sega portrayed it. Im talking about screen shots and playlists. It was lukewarm from the beginning. In a costs versus benefits situation, it actually doesn’t make sense to have even made the game.

    • Radrappy says:

      sorry, I meant playtests. Y’know, hands on impressions.

    • Aki-at says:

      Just so I know, you have played and completed the game right Radrappy? I do not want to accidently spoil something if you ever feel the urge to play the game is all. Because the boss fights are probably the best I have played in a third person shooter this generation (And scale and scope range a lot)

      The first impression was terrible and that is what did a massive amount of damage on the title, it was not until the second trailer that got people excited about the game. But I think the screenshots issue is a big one, 90% of the screenshots SEGA West has released for the title has been for the same 45 minute segment, it really does give off a bad idea of what the game in general looks like.

      As for impressions, outside of IGN, I noticed almost universal enjoyment for the game, from “This seems like a fun Gears clone” to “This is one addictive third person shooter!” and at Eurogamer it certainly carried a bit of buzz about it.

    • Radrappy says:

      really? I seem to recall the hands on impressions were a resounding “meh.” the highest compliments being “solid” and “satisfactory.” I agree that they probably picked the wrong segment to highlight with screen shots but it wouldn’t have changed the terrible character designs/models or the feeling of a japanese dev desperate to reach western audiences. And for the record, I played the demo and enjoyed it. But honestly it just made me want to play Vanquish.

    • Aki-at says:

      If you look back at the impressions coming out of the time, outside of IGN, Binary Domain was getting quite a bit of positive buzz from the people who played it.

      I thought the character models were fantastic, what did you see wrong with them? As for the character designs, I really did not see much wrong with them considering they were based on their voice actors with the mo-cap. Cain, Kurosawa, Rachel etc, I really did not see anything wrong with that.

    • Aki-at says:

      It has no after-effects on SEGA Japan as far as I am aware. Japanese consumer segment and arcade segment remain unaffected.

      As for SEGA not being creative anymore, I am sure they will be, just perhaps not so much on console with big budget game. Though I would have expect as much, when you are pumping in $30 million in a game, you will not be able to take risks forever.

    • Leo says:

      Okay so what is SEGA’s global and territorial market share of the Video game business in general then?
      One of SEGA’s best revenue streams are from it’s Arcade division, which has been in decline for years – even in Japan, they are practically dead in the West, speaking of which, does SEGA still produce it’s own Arcade console hardware? Last time I heard, their last one was the RingEdge and RingWide Arcade consoles.

    • samsonite says:

      As much as I regret saying this, but the news of SEGA’s losses was a pretty big landmark day for SEGA fans. Mainly because it could mark the moment SEGA are no longer financially able to fund the odd new, original ip like we have seen them do in this generation, ie Bayonetta, Binary Domain thats what I took from the news. I hope its not true as it basically means that the last traces of the SEGA we support has been brought to end.

    • Centrale says:

      If this was the first time you ever heard of Sega posting losses, you haven’t been paying attention. They’d posted losses for years before turning things around in the last couple of years. In fact, this is one of the few times they’ve posted a loss recently. And they did say that they expected to be up overall for the entire fiscal year.

      There’s just a bunch of concern trolls bloviating.

  13. samsonite says:

    The state of the gaming press has come to a point where they are not able to diligently present news. The rise of large game game blogs like kotaku are all in pursuit of advertizing revenue through page views, so they are constantly looking for any story 24hrs a day… This leads to a diminished quality of content where most stories aren’t even verified properly to see if news stories are accurate before they post them. It makes me sick because they are most often first to report stories and thus have influence on how stories get reported by the wider mass-media.

  14. -nSega54- says:

    “Well, that’s just the thing, SEGA can’t exactly afford to market it’s games, can they?”

    They have to. If they can’t afford to market their games (and they can, Japan gets plenty of Sega commercials) then they must budget themselves so that they can afford to market their games. In today’s economic situation and an increasingly crowded marketplace, ESPECIALLY for the TPS genre, marketing is crucial for new IP to get off the ground.

    People do not buy games on sight, or very rarely do they buy games just on sight. With games costing $60, people will not buy them unless they are truly eager to play them. Marketing games is persuading people to buy your game; if you don’t bother trying to persuade people to buy your game, who will?

    Remember Gears of War? In an industry post-Halo, one whose pendulum was moving FAR in the direction of FPS games, this 3rd person shooter came out, a brand new IP on a system with at the time an incredibly small userbase, and due to an incredible marketing campaign, it found a huge audience and spawned a console-defining series.

    I’m not saying Binary Domain could have been the next Gears of War, but it certainly could have been a hit, if people knew it existed.

  15. Jayel Romeu says:

    I think you are giving BD too much credit for this. In any case BD can be seen as the straw that broke the camel’s back, but not the sole responsible of SEGA’s recent demise. The first thing that SEGA US and EU should do is trim the fat, there are too many contradictory voices and reports at SEGA (Yes Dreamcast Games… No Dreamcast Games… Yes Saturn Games… No Saturn Games… Yes Dreamcast Games AGAIN!…). Let’s just make a decision and bet on it. Keep on rolling with it, gather a new fabase and be loyal to your own marketing and release line, instead of fighting for the crumbs of what used to be your following, jumping for some retro hype here, some Sonic love there… Just be REAL again! (Just my two cents)

  16. Leo says:

    Okay so what is SEGA’s global and territorial market share of the Video game business in general then?
    One of SEGA’s best revenue streams are from it’s Arcade division, which has been in decline for years – even in Japan, they are practically dead in the West, speaking of which, does SEGA still produce it’s own Arcade console hardware? Last time I heard, their last one was the RingEdge and RingWide Arcade consoles.

  17. Dave says:

    The thing I don’t understand about SEGA’s business practices is why they seem so unwilling to let other publishers handle their games in the West. If they think their PSP games like Shining Blade and Valkyria Chronicles 3 are too much of a financial risk, why not let another publisher take the risk? SEGA would make some money in licensing fees and fans would be happy that their favorite SEGA franchises are localized… I am by no means an expert on the industry but it really seems like they have nothing to gain by refusing to sell a third party the rights to publish theses games.

    • Centrale says:

      Yeah, but really you’re just speculating that they won’t allow it. It’s equally possible that no other publishers want to pick those titles up, or that they can’t come to a licensing agreement that would satisfy both parties.

    • Dave says:

      Supposedly Monkeypaw / Gajinworks asked SEGA about localizing VC3 and SEGA turned them down. Sure it’s entirely possible that there were some games no publisher was willing to take a risk on but there are some games that seemed to have a lot of fan support and yet still no localization.

    • SEGA’s Sakura Wars: So Long My Love was given a fantastic release in America by NIS. I really wish we got more releases like that. It had BOTH JP and English audio, a poster, a mini art book, a deluxe manual and a cool box to hold it all.

      Imagine if other JP-only SEGA titles got similar niche treatment.

  18. Pengo says:

    Does SEGA still produce it’s own Arcade consoles? Or do they still think the RingEdge and RingWide are powerful enough?

  19. SkyBlue says:

    I think their Arcade efforts are being transferred to their Digital efforts now, since some games can replicate that feel of an arcade game (of course, you cannot do this for games like After Burner and Hang On, which had special configs to give you that experience), and I think they can benefit from it if they execute this well enough.

    I mean SEGA have a lot of games that haven’t been localised or got the recognition it deserves, so why not release some of those on PSN/XBLA such as Panzer Dragoon, GunValkyrie and possibly Border Break in the west? Surely that would be much better to gain a profit without much risk.

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