Last week it was reported that Sega would be downsizing their workforce and shifting their focus towards PC and mobile development. North American jobs were particularly hit hard with the closing of Sega’s San Francisco office and at least 120 employees targeted for early retirement.
What this means is the long run is left to be seen, but the signs pointed to Sega shifting away from their history of console game development and possibly doing away with their in-office localizations. Their localizations in recent years have been notably sub-par, with games like Yakuza running out of funding to make odd design choices when entries have been brought over to the states.
What I forgot when I was writing the original story was that Sega had acquired Atlus in late 2013 as part of their purchase of the Index Corporation. Atlus has largely been left to their own devices, doing their own Atlus thing by designing Shin Megami Tensei games and releasing their niche localized titles worldwide. It is a formula that made Atlus the sole desirable arm when its previous parent company, Index, went under. They didn’t mess around, stuck to their guns and gave their already niche titles the proper attention they needed for western audiences.
Sega’s move to decrease their localization costs by reducing their direct workforce actually makes sense then if they decide to give Atlus more control over their console game development. Sega even went as far as to give Atlus control over their back catalogue and said the company had the ability to dip into their dormant IPs. Franchises that include Jet Set Radio, Shenmue, Skies of Arcadia and more.
If my inclining is correct, there is no reason that Sega needed to burden themselves further with the development and localization of console titles, especially when they have an in house subsidiary that has proven to be better at it in recent memory. Whether or not they transfer Sonic Team over to Atlus remains to be seen, but with the freedom Atlus already has, I expect them to begin exploring properties outside of SMT and the niche JRPGs they already make.
As always, I end speculatory Sega articles with an obligatory Shenmue question. Maybe Atlus will bring Yu Suzuki out of hiding and allow him to finish Shenmue III. But even that might be out of their reach.