SEGA plans to focus on its best and brightest, with a long-term initiative to invest in fewer games that gamers all know and love while distancing itself from venturing into new titles. The news comes after the revelation that FY2018 earnings were well below expectations, but a plan is in place for the coming years.
SEGA's hope for the future now lies in the past with its previous franchises. No official list has been released by the company regarding which IPs will make the cut, so here are six outstanding franchises that could would excel with some hard work and proper development.
The first entry in the series debuted in 1996 with Revelations: Persona and has since seen five additional games to the main series along with a number of spin-offs. The most recent release has been Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth for the Nintendo 3DS, though North America is still awaiting its release in June. The series has had ups and downs, like most game series often do, but Persona has staying power and the potential to help SEGA out of its slump, so long as its treated well.
Persona is a curious case in itself, as it is technically a spin-off from the complex story of Shin Megami Tensei series seen on the NES in 1987 through the game Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei. The game itself is largely built on a mix of psychology and dungeon crawling, whereby the player seeks out Personas to collect, which is a manifestation of another individual's willpower and subconscious personality. From there, the player decides how to craft, level up, and use them to advance in battle by providing set abilities and stats. Each Persona is modeled with a significant influence of demonic, divine, or spiritual quality. With a die-hard fan base and bright future ahead, Persona would be a solid bet for SEGA to invest in the long term.
From its initial release in 2005, the Yakuza series has been a successful both in terms of commercial sales and critical reception. Since then we have received eight games in the original series, eight spin-offs, three re-releases and remakes, and a broad range of books, films, radio drama, and web TV adaptations.
Fans of the series have already been given a taste of what lies ahead, and the news is fantastic - Yakuza Kiwami 2, Yakuza Online, and Hokuto Ga Gotuku are currently in development. Although Yakuza 6 has yet to be formally announced, there is no reason to suspect that it will not follow suit, especially after SEGA announced this long-term recusing on its more successful IPs.
The nostalgia is strong with this one. Phantasy Star debuted as the first in the series for the Master System in 1987. The earliest generations of the game are wildly considered to be among the best classic RPGs of all time, with spin-offs mainly, but not always, also being favorably received among fans. The most recent release in was Idola Phantasy Star Saga in 2018 for mobile devices to mark the 30th anniversary of the franchise.
It has been a few years now since the series has seen a proper release of a new chapter in the story, although Phantasy Star Online 2 remains strong, it is considered to be more within the realm of action-oriented MMORPG than a classic RPG. If SEGA is looking for a strong IP with a dedicated fan base, the Phantasy Star series is primed for a new release, perhaps now into a more classic RPG setting.
The Virtua Fighter series holds a special place in the hearts of older gamers. The game is considered to be one of the first and most influential 3D fighting games in 1993, long before the first releases of Tekken and Dead or Alive. Eventually the series was eclipsed by the swarm of other fighting games that have become so well known today. It has now been thirteen years since the release of the most recent addition, Virtua Fighter 5, in 2006.
Now, it is true that we have a considerable amount of great fighting games to play already, with the most popular competitive eSports scenes being dominated by Tekken 7, Super Smash Bros., Mortal Kombat, BlazBlue, Street Fighter V, and others. However, 2018 brought us a prime example of what happens when a game is developed without innovating and bringing something new to the table. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite was released to generally unfavourable reviews and has not been as successful on the eSports venue as expected, meanwhile the unexpected success of Dragon Ball FighterZ took everyone by surprise. The point is that SEGA is sitting on a fighting IP that has name recognition and a high-nostalgia factor, and if done developed properly could re-enter the gaming scene as a relevant contender in the future.
Here again is another series that began as an RPG in 1991 and has since expanded towards games that are either Dungeon crawlers, Strategy, and Actions RPGs. Fans of the series will know that while each game can have subtle connections between it and its predecessors, they are overall built to be standalone in terms of story. This is relevant because despite this lack of connection, the series has overall been consistently well received by critics and fans.
This allows for SEGA to have a strong jumping point regarding how to proceed in the future. The series is a long-known IP with dedicated fans, and so focusing on the long-term development of Shining as a series may be the best move. Nothing is officially in the works right now, but this possible tease may soon yield a formal announcement of the next chapter in the series.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic, our iconic, unforgettable friend, has been through a considerable amount since the debut of the series in 1991. For a time after its release, it seemed as though the Sonic games would forever be nothing less than perfect additions to the SEGA universe. Those were days of innocence and hope, before it all came crashing down.
While it is true that many games within the series have been, shall we say, less than favorably received by fans and critics, there too have been some gems along the way. Most important perhaps has been the recent release of Sonic Mania, which has proven that going back to the roots that made the game so fantastic in the beginning, when done properly, is a recipe for success.
SEGA has its work cut out for it in the coming years, but perhaps this new strategy of focusing on its best IPs is exactly what it needs. Hopefully it will result in new releases of games in series that are all primed to do well, if the development is done properly.