Sega’s Top 10 Biggest Business Mistakes
Sega has been as big of a part of my childhood as Nintendo was. However, this wasn’t by choice, since I was the Nintendo fan in my household, and the Sega player was my older brother. To best describe my experience, I’ll put it into a metaphorical scenario: picture a typical GameFAQs or GameTrailers forum poster who constantly boasts about how great their console is while eating, living, and sleeping under the same roof for over a decade, and that’s what I grew up with.
So, that may be a bit of an exaggeration; it wasn’t that bad, but there were regular conflicts over whose system was better, which one had better games, and bunch of other pointless arguments I’m sure you’ve read/heard/been involved in before.
So, you may now be asking yourself, “Why this particular topic, and why focus on Sega?” It’s because of today’s current economic crisis. People are losing jobs, including yours truly, and many longtime companies within the game industry are fading away. I wanted to examine some of the business mistakes made by these large corporations, and I figured Sega would be a good starting point since they are a big highlight from my past. My other reason for choosing Sega is because they are getting a lot of attention lately, with the releases of “House of the Dead: Overkill,“ “Empire: Total War,” and “MadWorld.”
#10 – Treatment of Franchises
There is no doubt that Sega has a very long history of unique characters and themes. “Alex Kidd,” Sega’s former platformer mascot, made you fight to the death with your enemies by playing Rock, Paper, Scissors. “After Burner” turned you into an ace F-14 pilot without the questionable undertones of Top Gun. For the Dreamcast, there was the oddly addictive “Seaman,” the short-lived rhythm based “Space Channel 5,” and the cel-shaded anti-authority “Jet Grind Radio.” All classics in their own right, but then there’s the king of Sega’s franchises, Sonic.
Sega’s mistake here is how they’ve treated these franchises. Although not necessarily as strong as Nintendo’s cast, Sega still has a place amongst the older (and still biggest) market share of the game industry. However, with the constant release of mediocre games based on these franchises (recent examples include “Sonic Unleashed” and “Golden Axe Beast Rider”) it really does make one question Sega’s judgment. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with changing the direction of a franchise (see “Resident Evil”), going in the complete opposite direction tends to alienate the already existing, and most likely dedicated audience. Taking “Golden Axe,” a well known co-operative arcade beat em’ up, and turning it into some plot-heavy single player game, is a good (or bad, depending on how you look at it) example of this. Another standout example from Sega is changing a platformer franchise known for its obstacles, neat theme, and speedy blue rodent, and adding in a werewolf “plot” or giving it a sword.
But despite the past few years of missteps, gamers still respect Sega. There is still a huge, although disturbing, fan base of hedgehog lovers, so much so that Archie Comics is still publishing their “Sonic” series, oh, and there’s this kid too. So while there are definitely ways to improve on how Sega treats its mascots, it’s not the worst thing Sega has done.