SEGA Discusses Streaming Services, Retro Re-Releases & ‘Phantasy Star Online 2’

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Gamesindustry.biz sat down with three influential SEGA figureheads at E3, those being SEGA Europe’s COO and president Gary Dale, VP of marketing Anna Downing and executive vice president of publishing John Clark. Among the topics discussed include their company’s stances on retro content, streaming services and whether Europe can expect Phantasy Star Online 2.

Google’s Stadia service will launch in November. It’s is still an unproven endeavor, however, with several publishers sitting by and waiting to see how the digital, internet-based platform performs. One of its launch window titles will be SEGA’s Football Manager, an entry into the on-demand streaming world the company is interested in.

“The thought of people on low-end laptops being able to play games like Football Manager and Total War is something we really embrace and support, so we’re really interested to see how all the players push forward with significant streaming announcements and services,” Clark explains. “I think bandwidth is a very important thing, just to see how the services function. So we’ll look at Google Stadia’s rollout with a lot of interest to see how that maps out. And for the future, we’re all interested to see how economies of streaming are going to work, the business models, etc.”

Continuing, Clark adds how SEGA has a history supporting digital distribution methods, naming Gaikai, OnLive and PlayStation Now. Dale then chimed in, discussing how digital distribution is an area SEGA has ample room to grow in. “They’re trying to find new users and give them access to games in a way that hasn’t been done before,” Dale said of companies such as Google. “So obviously, working with those partners gives us potential access to broader audiences, so there’s growth there.” Dale names Asia and China as territories that are emerging markets, and adds how they’re “constantly looking to find ways to broaden the appeal of [their] existing franchises, whether that’s Total War, Football Manager, or Company of Heroes.” Notably, Total War: Three Kingdoms had a stronger performance in China due to its setting, but it was developed to appeal to the series’ global audience.

Phantasy Star Online 2
Phantasy Star Online 2 was a pleasant surprise at Microsoft’s E3 conference, but it’s unannounced for Europe. (SEGA)

However, not every game has the luxury of an international release. SEGA is partnering with Microsoft on the Western release of the Xbox One’s Phantasy Star Online 2, but it is not currently scheduled to release in European countries. “Unfortunately, at this moment in time, we’re not in a position where we can announce any dates in regard to a European release,” Downing says. “But we continue to talk to our fans and we encourage them to stay tuned and as soon as we have news to share, we will do so.”

Other enterprises SEGA is working on include Searchlight, “its internal team established to pursue new opportunities, from console games suitable for porting to PC to acquisition targets.” Clark affirms that they’re currently “very focused” on providing content for its Western audiences. With regards to its impressive backlog of 16-bit classics, SEGA is also releasing its own miniature SEGA Genesis replica, complete with 42 games built into it. It’s the latest in many attempts to capitalize on SEGA’s history, and the company has no intention of ceasing its legacy re-releases.

“When do you ever stop reaching the audience? There’s always an audience there on one format or another,” Clark says. “We’ve got great content and we’re never going to saturate the audience for all of that retro content, so I think we’re going to continue to bring it out as broad and wide as possible.”

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