Back in April of this year, Sega announced their plan to cut down their company staff to focus only on four major franchises and digital releases. The reason for this restructuring appears to be due to flagging sales and profits. Since then, we’ve seen four Vintage collections on Xbox Live Arcade and announcements of upcoming re-releases of classic Sega titles such as Jet Set Radio, Sonic Adventure 2 and Nights into Dreams. We’ve also seen the delay of bigger titles such as Aliens Colonial Marines and Anarchy Reigns to next year.
As a (former) Sega fanatic, I have mixed opinions to this approach. On one end, this is a necessary approach for the company to stay afloat amid their recent economic misfortunes. On the other end, this is unfortunate since we aren’t getting great new titles from Sega. On one hand, Sega wasn’t developing great original titles anyways but on the other hand, Sega can’t even publish titles they aren’t even developing like the aforementioned Aliens Colonial Marines and Anarchy Reigns in time. Still, I’m finally getting my HD port of Nights into Dreams that I’ve wanted for so long.
From what we’ve seen recently, there is a definite positive to all this. By focusing on fewer titles, releases like the Sega Vintage Collections of the Streets of Rage, Monster World and Golden Axe titles are of high quality. Extras are abound and all of the different filters and options, not to mention the accurate ports of the old games, make these the definitive versions of these titles. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II was an exceptional Sonic game that is the best release for the blue hedgehog in years. Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown is a great fighting game and despite its ridiculous DLC and lack of a single player story mode, was one of the best fighters this year.
There may be fewer titles but they are all good to great titles. However, by focusing on the past, Sega runs the risk of becoming a retro publisher. Don’t get me wrong. I’d love a re-release of the Panzer Dragoon titles but I want to see new games from Sega developers. Not just new iterations in the Total War franchise, brand new IPs and new ideas. At this point, Sega should consider purchasing Platinum Games, seeing how they create great titles like Bayonetta and Vanquish. Again, Sega is struggling financially so they can only do so much.
I suppose all we can do is buy all the re-releases and support the few retail releases that are coming and hope that’ll be enough money for Sega to start creating new titles. Not too long ago, Sega was releasing less than stellar titles but their output recently has improved, even when their profits didn’t. We still have titles to look forward to next year like Phantasy Star Online 2 and Rome Total War II, but here’s to seeing more than iterations and releases on Sega’s docket, whether as publisher or developer.