Saving Sega From Disaster

It’s not a secret that Sega is struggling. They aren’t quite at the THQ-level yet but it’s coming. Within the last couple of months we’ve heard of Sega’s lay offs, game cancellations, and troubled financial reports. The once giant gaming company who gave Nintendo a run for their money is beginning to crumble. Not for lacking of trying, though. The company has restructured and is focusing on big titles and nothing else. Is that true, though? Let’s take a look at their currently in-development games.

  • London 2012 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC)
  • Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz (PlayStation Vita)
  • Jet Set Radio (Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, Microsoft Windows)
  • Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit (PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, PC)
  • Anarchy Reigns (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
  • Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, PlayStation Vita, PC)
  • Yakuza 5 (PlayStation 3)
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 (PC, PlayStation Vita, iOS, Android)
  • Aliens: Colonial Marines (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, PC)
  • The Cave (PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, PC)

That list comes from Wikipedia, for those keeping track. Let’s examine this list real quick. How many games up there do you see selling well? In my opinion, I see 3 real winners, a couple of so-so sellers, and the rest is going to be bargain bin dust collectors during the holidays. Aliens, Phantasy Star Online, and Jet Set Radio are going to be the biggest helpers for Sega. Anarchy Reigns has a chance at a great first couple of weeks but I can’t see it blowing anyone’s mind at the cash register.

This is where Sega’s problem is. They spend so much money on high profile licenses and they don’t come through. Jet Set Radio will probably sell the best and it has the cult following and nostalgia to thank for that. What a minute… That’s it! I know how to save Sega.

Think back to the Sega Genesis and remember some of the classic games we used to play. Golden Axe, Comix Zone, Shining Force, Phantasy Star, Sonic, and Streets of Rage are all titles that come to mind. Now fast forward to 2008 and 2010. Both those years saw Capcom release Mega Man 9 and 10, two retro styled 8-bit sequels that sold extremely well.

What does that have to do with anything? Nostalgia pays. Gamers these days love to complain about what’s out there now. Nothing is ever good enough for them. It’s true. Hell, I admit I’ve felt and said the same thing before. Games are just as amazing as they were back then. Awesome releases pushing the boundaries of the system they are on come out all the time now. Yet gamers still want some more. Or is it less? You put some controllers in hands and have people play Sonic and the Secret Rings and then have Sonic the Hedgehog 2 playing on another set of TV’s in the next room. What are people going to do? They’re going to get up and move into the other room.

I could go on with example of Sega games now and then but the point is that Sega has a chance to capture the nostalgic audience and run wild with it. The Genesis wasn’t the only Sega console with good games. The Dreamcast collection on Xbox Live is a big example of that. Jet Set Radio coming out for the XBLA and PSN is another. Sega has a chance here to become the kings of classic gaming. Capitalize on gamers wishing for a return to classic gameplay and just give it to them.

People have been clamoring for a classic, true classic, Sonic game for a long time. Sonic Generations gave us an updated classic Sonic. Sonic 4 just doesn’t have the soul of the Genesis titles nor its gameplay. So what do you do to save Sonic and your company? Look at Mega Man 9 and 10. Look at how people flocked towards those games. They weren’t just boring remakes or ports. They were new adventures in an old school shell and it just worked. Everything clicked in those games. It wasn’t about the graphics or innovative gameplay. It was a new story in an old way and it made people feel like kids again.

What Sega needs to do is become the king of old school. Get some licenses and do it Genesis/Sega CD/Dreamcast-style.

Imagine Comix Zone 2, Phantasy Star V, Golden Axe 5, Sonic 5, Boogerman 3, and Vectorman 3 all wrapped up in a glorious, retro shell and served on every device under the sun – home consoles, tablets, phones, computers, and even the browser at Sega’s Throwback Arcade (I’d like to coin that, by the way). Sega could keep getting more and more series under their belts for retro-styled remakes, sequels, and reboots. Even games that weren’t on Sega consoles could come over and has something retro done to them to increase popularity and feed on the nostalgia in the air.

Companies and studios will try and do the same thing but Sega can try and throw what’s left of its weight around to get some huge titles added to their throwback collection. The best part about this strategy? These types of games don’t cost much to do. Cutting down on development costs and having more and more teams flood the market with retro-styled versions of their favorite old school series and new series would keep jobs where they are at and increase released titles with better expectations.

Mass Effect Retro, Call of Duty Retro, Street Fighter Retro, the list goes on. This wouldn’t be the first time Sega has done this, either. Remember that Dark Void “demake”? Same idea but as a company-wide initiative.

Sega needs to do something and fast. The ship won’t stop sinking because you cancelled some games and laid people off. That is only a temporary fix. It’s time for a re-imagining for Sega.