Sega is a brand that means so much to many long-time video game fans. Whether you fell in love with the Sega Genesis, or with the groundbreaking Dreamcast like myself. Sega has an incredible history going from one of the biggest game console manufacturers of the 90s to changing course and becoming a 3rd party games publisher. With a variety of beloved IPs published by Sega such as Persona, Shenmue, Sonic, as well as the Yakuza and Judgement series. While Sega has diminished slightly since its console manufacturing days, it is clear the publisher wants to grow its audience. Part of this attempt to grow includes a new partnership with Microsoft focusing on Azure Cloud Servers.
The History of Xbox and Sega
For many years, fans have been clamoring for Microsoft to acquire Sega. The two companies have shared an incredible history together that traces back all the way to the original Xbox. Which benefitted from many fantastic Dreamcast ports due to Sega’s transition from a console manufacturer to a 3rd party publisher. Without this original teamwork between Sega and Xbox games like Jet Set Radio Future, Outrun 2, or Panzer Dragoon Orta may not have been part of Xbox’s history.
There is something incredibly nostalgic as a fan with Sega partnering with Microsoft just a few weeks shy of Xbox’s 20th anniversary. While many may be clamoring for an acquisition, I think it’s important to remember that acquisitions are not always the best answer to every problem. These two companies are both looking to expand their market share. This partnership is about two companies using each other’s unique talents in order to expand.
Sega Is Focusing On Growth
The past decade has been challenging for Sega. It has been full of missed opportunities, as well as games that simply didn’t resonate with their audience. That has changed over the past few years. Largely thanks to the success of the Persona franchise. In addition to the release of new and remastered titles in the Yakuza franchise.
Currently, these two franchises have never been bigger. And clearly, Sega clearly understands this. With a handful of Persona titles reportedly in the works. In addition to the next Yakuza game rumored to be shown soon. The future is undoubtedly bright for these IPs. But Sega wants to continue to grow more diverse streams of revenue through their games.
They don’t want to have to rely solely on a handful of IP to be their means for success. While some Western publishers like Activision have put all their worth in one IP with Call of Duty. Sega is trying to avoid that, by trying to stay ahead of the innovation curve. This was stated clearly by Sega’s CEO Yukio Sugino.
“By considering a strategic partnership with Microsoft, we seek to further advance our game development so that our titles can be enjoyed by fans all over the world; in this regard, we aim to build an alliance that utilizes both SEGA’s powerful game development capabilities and Microsoft’s cutting-edge technology and development environment.”
Sega has historically always tried to innovate with their creations. This was apparent with the Sega Dreamcast. A console that was ahead of its time for several years. This includes keyboard integration in games like The Typing Of The Dead. Further, it even had web browsing available on the console. While many people may have called these gimmicks at the time, but Sega was looking to the future.
With the possibility of offloading CPU-intensive processes into the cloud and being able to make more complicated worlds and AI. This is where the cloud gaming partnership comes into play. We have already heard many rumors of various studios showing interest in integrating cloud computing into their games. Most notably with Hideo Kojima. He is reportedly interested in building a game with cloud technology integration from the ground up. Right now, this appears to be the next focus by developers to push next-generation gaming forward. This is a field that Microsoft is very dominant in with their Azure Cloud technology.
Building For The Future
Many have jumped quickly to conclusions about what this partnership means and how it will affect Xbox. This partnership is about building for the future of Sega via Microsoft cloud technology. Not about buying exclusivity or making new IPs in partnership with Microsoft in the way people think. Could Xbox be able to wiggle a foot in the door and make sure some of Sega’s biggest IP launch on Xbox as well as come to Game Pass? This is absolutely a possibility as Sega and Microsoft continue to explore this partnership. As it sits right now, this partnership is purely based on Microsoft’s Azure technology. But depending on how this partnership plays out, more opportunities could open up for both companies.
It is clear that Sega has found value in the Xbox ecosystem, as all of the Yakuza games have made their way to Xbox for the first time over the past few years. Not only did Yakuza finally come to Xbox, but it also launched day and date in Xbox Game Pass. This alongside Yakuza: Like A Dragon being an incredible part of the Xbox Series launch lineup. This isn’t the only point of a partnership between Xbox and Sega, as Age of Empires IV was handled in partnership with Relic Entertainment. For those unfamiliar with Relic Entertainment, they are owned and operated by Sega Europe after being sold by the defunct THQ during its bankruptcy auction back in early 2013. Relic has undoubtedly been a huge asset in the successful return of Age of Empires, after years of the franchise being dormant.
The seeds of a fruitful relationship are growing between Sega and Microsoft but these types of partnerships take time to grow. While I think it’s safe to put the idea of Xbox acquiring Sega on the shelf for now. Could this Azure-focused partnership lead to something in the future? Almost certainly. However, as it stands right now don’t magically expect too much change in the immediate future. But a lesson that the industry has taught us endlessly these past few years, and that never say never.
What do you think of this partnership? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to check back for the latest gaming news and information.