Back in 1995, a handful of gaming giants united to create the global trade show E3.
At the heart of its creation was Sega, which had run a number of events in the years prior.
So it was very much the end of an era when Sega announced it wouldn’t have its own booth at E3 this year.
“You go to E3 to show products,” explains Sega Europe’s SVP of commercial publishing. John Clark.
“Some people have been saying: ‘it’s a shame that Sega isn’t showing anything at E3, but I went to the stand last year and there was nothing to look at’.
“We don’t have a huge array of games coming out that are relevant to E3 this year. We have made the brave decision, and certain press may pick up on that. We’re focusing on our content roadmap, and it’s strong going forward. It’s just not aligned to E3 this year.”
E3 has been heavily linked to the console world. Sega’s heritage is in consoles, of course, but in recent years this has switched to PC, with the likes of Total War, Alien, Company and Heroes and Football Manager. The latter of which is approaching 10m sales on PC.
“We have always viewed PC as a core part of our business,” Clark says. “For us, the PC market is about franchise, and franchise development. So to have four really strong PC IP is incredible. We have enjoyed working hard with the studios to benefit from the growth of Steam, as well as the growing number of consumers who are buying PCs.
“The market has grown, but it’s not a market we can lay figures on. If you had to look across the share of a multi-format game, like Alien Isolation, you’d be really surprised with the size of the PC contribution. In the same breath we can talk about PC with PS4 and Xbox One.”
Of course, PC is a heavily digital market. But unlike other PC specialists, Sega still values physical retail.
“Our role within the games ecosystem is making sure consumers can access content wherever they want to, however they want to,” Clark insists. “Physical retail plays an important role in that.
“Retail has made a point of saying that physical PC is still relevant, and retail is still relevant in the PC market. As long as retail is supporting PC, we’ll be supporting retail.
“There are certainly unique selling points to the High Street channel that you don’t get online. This includes the ability for people to pay with cash, earn loyalty points, and trade-in games. These are unique points that only the High Street can offer. So it’s important we keep talking to and working with retail.”
"New IP is a challenge for everyone.
People are playing games for longer,
so it’s harder to get attention."
John Clark, Sega
Sega is rightly proud of the strong sales in its Alien, Total War and Football Manager franchises. But what about some new concepts?
“New IP has been a challenge for everybody for the last ten years,” Clark explains. “The success that people have had is from franchises that have been built up over time that require a lot of investment. And Sega is no different.
“We’ll dip our toe in the water and look at new IP, like [Game Freak’s upcoming title] Tembo The Badass Elephant. But we are looking to broaden our offering as well, whether that’s through Sega creating its own idea, or looking at what projects are being created externally with other studios. We are actively looking at new studios and projects. If the opportunity is there we’ll certainly support it.”
He continues: “Launching new IP is hard. Consumers are buying games and spending more time with them, so it’s difficult to break in with a new IP. It’s been a long time since it’s been easy to launch a new game. People aren’t buying two new titles and moving on, they’re buying a game and playing it for a year, playing multiplayer, and purchasing extra content.
“The length of the gameplay has been extended. There isn’t the same scale of purchase opportunities that there were five years ago.”