Monday, August 11, 2008

Examining Sega - another viewpoint

Recently at Gamasutra, an interview with Simon Jeffrey was posted. Noting various topics on how the company has changed throughout the years, what's been let go, and how they want to evolve. SEGA's main obstacle is keeping things together, when the Dreamcast was having a fallout over the defense from Sony's PS2; it came to a point Sega could not make it anymore. Fast forward to this year, and the interview, it opens up a window of what they've accomplished, and failed.

- Arcades
SEGA's marketing with the arcades then & now has significantly changed. Along with the market, its become a more expensive listing on how to keep up with consumers. Just few days ago, there was a report of a major loss in playtime with certain titles that received more usage. In the past, they had a nice hold on the market being a publisher, and various titles. But as recent gaming production costs (+ cabinet prices) increase, its getting tougher to stay strong within the arcade business.

- Consoles
When Sega went 3rd party after the Dreamcast's stance faded away, it changed many consumers outlook towards gaming. Since then, some of their titles have varied to positive, and negative reviews. Mostly on the negative level, due to limits, budget, and obstacles with sales. In the past, their titles were pretty clever, creative, colorful and imaginative. Perhaps this is a "fallout" generation, along with Sega; on a rollercoaster to test its limits.

- Sonic
Blue hedgehog, shoes, speed, rings.. and fun gameplay. What happened? "Blast processing" "Sega does what Nintendon't". Many remember the early days, the teasing, and the advertising to test a competitors patience. Which is why Sonic easily resembled Sega's 90's "attitude", since then the mascot has gone down a slope a lot like the user base in gaming.

Sonic the Hedgehog -
The first forerunner in bringing a speedy character, never before seen in videogames.

Sonic the Hedgehog 06 -
Sega's 21 card play, but it didn't quite make the mark they wanted. Publicisized as a title that would revolutionize the series, and give it a fresh start. But upon its release it received heavy criticism for being a complete "hit & miss".

Shenmue -
A first for creating a real-time world that flows with its characters. From Ryo's search for his father's murderer, to putting pieces of his father's heritage together, and future.

Shenmue II -
Taking place a short while after the first entry, Ryo's journey to find more answers continues. Although it tried to push the in-game engine, and take players further. It felt as if it tried to push too hard, repeating itself and making it a trudge instead of an experience many enjoyed with the first game.

Jet Set Radio & Future -
Setting the city ablaze in colors, take part on a mission to spread the word of life in the city. Definitely a pivotal moment for music & graffiti lovers abound. And the music & art design were unforgettable, even though who didn't play the game just knew who the characters were. Both JSR & Future are insane experiences that couldn't have been made by anyone else.

Shifting from Japanese - to Worldwide ideas -
Sega's goal is to reach a bigger audience, and they have over the years. Countless titles sold out huge numbers, or changed everyone's look at game design.
Here are some key examples:
1) Sonic - Never before seen speed in videogames
2) Mortal Kombat's "bloodbath", when Nintendo bowed out to censors, Sega wanted to give its audience the title it was meant to be.
3) Condemend - Takign the step with a new project, and delivering a new type of fear & suspense. Something Eno & his team WARP did years ago, re-envisioned for a new generation.
4) Sonic Unleashed & Chronicles
One is headed by worldwide teams, and the second title is being lead by BioWare (known for its production and creative directing).
5) And much more surprises to come

Sega evolution? We will have to wait and see.

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