At one point in time, Sega was the second most prominent gaming company in the world, competing head to head with Nintendo in the early 90’s with the Sega Genesis, and controlling a decent amount of the market share. Unfortunately, since the Genesis days, Sega went on a steep downward spiral, resulting in the early discontinuation of the Dreamcast console to focus entirely on game development.
Since bowing out of the console race, the quality of Sega games have sharply declined, particularly in regards to their flagship franchise, Sonic the Hedgehog. Whereas the Sega Genesis Sonic games are considered all-time classics and the early 3D Sonic games are also well-regarded, Sega has seemingly stopped trying in the last 10 years or so, with debacles such as the 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog nightmare of a game and the recent failure of Sonic Boom. For years, Sega fans have been complaining about the quality of the company’s titles, and now Sega themselves have admitted it: “[We’ve] partially betrayed fans.”
This statement came from Sega boss Haruki Satomi in an interview with popular Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu. Satomi went on to say that Sega has basically been surviving off their reputation since the 90’s. “Sega in the 1990’s was known for its brand, but after that, we’ve lost trust, and we were left with nothing but reputation. For this reason, we’d like to win back the customers’ trust, and become a brand once again.”
It’s refreshing to see a company acknowledge its own mistakes. The Sega of the 2000’s has been nothing like the innovative Sega of the 1990’s, a proud company that put out extremely high quality and memorable titles and provided genuine competition for Nintendo at the time. Nowadays Sega is mostly known for putting out very poorly made Sonic the Hedgehog games such as the recently released Sonic Boom.
It seems that even the most hardcore Sega fans have gotten tired of Sega pumping out one lazy Sonic game after another, because even with two different versions of Sonic Boom across both the 3DS and the Wii U, Sonic Boom still only sold 490,000 units. This is an absolute disaster, especially when one considers that the original Sonic the Hedgehog sold 15 million units at a time when the gaming industry was significantly smaller than it is today.
According to Satomi, Sega has been inspired to turn around their misfortunes and give fans what they want based on what they’ve seen from their subsidiary, Atlus. Sega purchased Atlus last year, and due to public disdain for Sega, many worried that Sega would stifle Atlus’s creativity or meddle with their core franchises. On the contrary, Sega has more or less let Atlus simply go about business as usual and continue cultivating their beloved franchises such as Persona, and please their fans worldwide.
Despite Satomi’s admittance of Sega’s poor performance for the last decade or so and his insistence that he will rebuild confidence in the Sega name, Sega has made some questionable decisions very recently as well. Not too long ago, they cut 300 jobs to focus on a digital and mobile future, which is in stark contrast to what the classic Sega fan would want, and furthermore, they opted to skip E3 2015 entirely.
Time will tell if Sega will live up to their promise of returning attention to the dedicated fans that have turned away in recent years, and start putting out high quality games like the ones that defined the company in the early 90’s.
Do you believe Sega will win back the trust of consumers? Sound off in the comments!