Fans mourn Sega’s exit from console video game market

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Fans mourn Sega’s exit from console video game market

Post by Sour Puss on Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:51 pm


Sega Sammy Holdings, the parent company that now controls one-time video gaming pioneer Sega, is looking to seriously overhaul its structure and business operations. Statements from the conglomerate have stressed that this is an ongoing process, but one of the first steps seems to be Sega ditching the console video game business to focus on what it considers the areas of biggest growth, mobile and online PC games.

It’s a bittersweet day for the Sega faithful who over the last two decades watched the company’s fortunes take a downturn along with the arcade game market. Perhaps Sega’s new focus will finally help it rebound to the heights of its glory days. For the time being, though, Internet commenters have taken to their keyboards to voice their sorrow over how much they’ll miss its wares (both hard and soft), and also to ponder the hidden nonsensicalness of its new name, Sega Games.

While it was Nintendo that revived video gaming after the industry crash in the early 1980s, Sega has its own lengthy list of contributions to electronic entertainment. In contrast to the way Nintendo almost entirely exited the arcade business after the early success of its Famicom/NES home console, Sega stayed in the game and released some of the most instantly fun to play coin-operated hits of the 1980s and early ‘90s, including the visually impressive “Out Run,” visceral “Golden Axe,” revolutionary “Virtua Fighter,” and ridiculously ambitious 360-degree revolving “R-360” arcade cabinet.

On the home console front, Sega released its 8-bit Master System two years after the Famicom. But while it boasted more powerful hardware than Nintendo’s system, Nintendo’s golden era of in-house development, plus its extremely restrictive exclusive licensing contracts, meant that where software was concerned Sega was basically taking on the whole market by itself. So even while the Famicom was still going strong, Sega dropped its Mega Drive/Genesis into stores.

This started a pattern where Sega would be the big dog, in terms of hardware specs, for a year or so at the start of each new generation of video games. Then, as its rivals’ last-generation systems sputtered out, their successors would appear on the market, surpassing Sega’s in performance and putting the pressure on the company to develop yet another, newer, shinier piece of hardware. Eventually, this game of leapfrog broke Sega, and after its Dreamcast system was discontinued in 2001, Sega decided it was done making consoles and became a publisher for Sony, Microsoft, and even Nintendo’s platforms instead.

Sega’s sporadic bouts at the top, though, have won it an astounding level of loyalty from fans, even though it’s been years since the company has had an unqualified commercial and critical success. With Sega packing its bags and getting ready to vacate the console arena, Japanese Internet commenters have been sounding off about the company’s new direction and its continued status as part of pachinko machine manufacturer Sammy.

“The Sega of today is Sega in name only.”
“The Sega we knew and loved is finished.”
“I hope they can get back the confidence they had when they were making a killing in the arcades.”
“Who says Sega is down for the count? Not me. I’m hoping for a comeback.”
“I really want them to make their own console again.”
“I think their greatest masterpiece was ‘Fantasy Zone.’”

But one Sega loyalist didn’t have anything to say about the company’s hardware or software. Instead, he’s got a bone to pick with whoever came up with its new official name, Sega Games.

“So it’s come to this, even though it used to have totally badass name Sega Enterprises?”

We’re not sure we’d classify the word “enterprises” as badass (maybe it sounds cooler to Japanese ears when it’s pronounced as entaapuraizesu). We can agree that calling the company Sega Games is a little bit silly, though. Why? Because Sega is a compressed mashup of the words “service” and “games.” As such, the change to Sega Games essentially means the company is now “Service Games Games.”

It also makes it incredibly similar to the 2001 release Segaga, in which the player runs a hardware/software company and meets Sega characters in a game so self-referential it was like a fever-dream-powered death throe for the Dreamcast during its final year of life.

While Sega Games Games is exactly the sort of oddball naming convention we could see Sega shouting at the end its mid-‘90s TV commercials, the redundancy can be seen by grumpier gamers as adding insult to injury as it slinks away from consoles. But hey, with all the tragedies you can find in the story of Sega, maybe a little comedy to lighten the mood isn’t such a bad thing?
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