Sega is beginning a restructuring campaign that will reduce their workforce and move their focus away from console game development. According to internal documents issued by Sega’s parent company, Sega Sammy Holdings Inc., about 300 employees will be asked to accept early retirement packages as the company downsizes operations to focus on digital games and amusement games. Sega of America is a major target for loss of jobs citing the plan to close the San Francisco office and relocating remaining staff to their Los Angeles office. An estimated 120 jobs are expected to be lost in North America alone.
The refocusing of Sega should come as no surprise as they have not generated a blockbuster console exclusive title in some time. Alien: Isolation did fairly well for Sega, selling over one million copies, but there is no reason they can’t focus on developing their larger games with digital distribution in mind. With the dry well of localized content from Japan and the poor performance and reception of North American developed titles like the awful Sonic Boom, Sega really has no library of which to develop from.
The internal note focuses on digital game development, including PC and mobile games, as a major area of growth for the company. This has largely been achieved by Sega’s strong performance in both the PC game space as well as their aggressive development of mobile games. With the combined strategy of developing free-to-play mobile games and creating mobile focused franchise off-shoots, Sega has found a little silver lining after years of struggling to make ends meet in the console space.
While I hope their continued development of titles in the PC space means that console ports will continue to be a thing, I feel that Alien: Isolation may be the outlier. Console game sales have been poor in Japan, they barely have the capital to localize their titles (as evidenced by their continued hesitance to bring over Phantasty Star Online 2) and they can’t catch a break with their major franchise stalwart, Sonic.
There’s only so much money pachinko machines can make for Sega and restructuring makes the most sense, though it probably means we have to hope Sony bails them out again for a localization on Yakuza Zero. While the restructuring is a sad moment for the company that once exchanged blows with Nintendo and Sony, the voluntary retirement packages are a classy move.