(Thanks to Mauro Zangirolami for the tip & info – Mr. Paul Williams is the player at the front on GRID in the image)
A new interview with the CEO of Sega Amusements International (the ‘everything but Japan’ arcade division of the company; BTW, they recently revamped their website) has been posted to the gadget/tech news website T3.com. I have spoken to Mr. Paul Williams briefly before but this interview by Dr. Zangirolami really gets into the details of his history in amusement and the challenges of working in a global company with various divisions like Sega.
Now to break it down from my perspective 😉
The interview starts with providing us a good background on Mr. Williams and his time with Sega Amusements. With the second question, he offers up with nugget of information that those outside of the arcade industry often miss:
Yes SEGA can develop the most technically advanced game, but if it is not priced right for the operator to make a return on investment then it will fail. Our barometer is the cashbox.
Console gaming numbers are always focused on units shipped or sold; to a lesser degree user and critical reviews (the latter is given a lot of attention by developers in the hopes of driving those sales). As Mr. Williams points out, the “cashbox” is what matters at the end of the day in this business since a full cashbox for an operator means a happy operator and happy operators buy equipment that can show those full cashboxes. This does affect how the games are designed, which features are included in the hardware, etc.
The next tidbit I found interesting as well since fans often ask what level of involvement “AM2” or Sega Japan has in the Western Sega Arcade releases:
Sega Japan have delegated a certain level of authority to me as CEO which has allowed me to lead SAI without too much interference from HQ. Of course they are our superiors and we have to regularly report to them, but so far we have been performing well so there is little cause for them to be concerned. Having said that we are still very close to the R&D teams based in Japan and are in constant dialogue with them about designing games for the western market.
Part of that R&D closeness involves certain Sega Japan staff residing in the UK and working at SAI. We’ve mentioned before how “Oga-Shi” (who developed and produced games like Jambo Safari, Ocean Hunters, Gunblade NY, Transformers Human Alliance, etc) is one of those individuals.
Next up, a little inside perspective on the recent arcade market growth. We’ve seen this in reporting about many new arcades and FECs that have opened their doors. When you have companies like Dave & Busters, Round 1 USA and Main Event growing, that means they are buying games from arcade manufacturers:
The amusement market however is all about giving the player something that they cannot experience at home. We are in the entertainment business.
…at the moment we are seeing an unprecedented growth in Family Entertainment Centres, particularly in North America. Amusement manufacturers are declaring record breaking years for sales.
Mr. Williams on why we don’t see more core games from Sega Japan – it boils down to the online component and how big chunks of the American market have little to no interest in online games (this was a reason for the delays on Namco’s Maximum Tune 5 as well):
Sega Japan has invested huge amounts of money into its online All.Net system. It is the standard in Japan that most arcade operators use. This has been helped by the fact that SEGA has 300+ arcade centres of its own to kick start the investment and roll out. There are no big operators in the western market. Chuck E Cheese has 550 locations but due to the young demographics of their clientele they have no requirement for an online system. This lack of online infrastructure in the west means that some of Sega’s core games cannot be operated outside Japan at the moment
Then the bombshell that many Sega fans have been waiting for…any chance of an OutRun 3?
Outrun 3 is not on plan at the moment. It is something that is on our radar but I cannot discuss more than that.
What I interpret this to mean is that if something like Daytona 3 Championship USA does well, then that would open the door for a title like OutRun 3. Daytona 3 is still in development and is going to be the primary video amusement focus for the company right now. If they haven’t even started OutRun 3 yet then I would imagine it would be sometime after Daytona 3 hits the street or when it is close to finished (assuming that is the route that they want to go – plans change). Remember that arcade game development cycles tend to last around 18-24 months so in the scenario that OutRun 3 was started as soon as Daytona is out, you’re looking at approximately 2019 for a release. Keep up the patience…
Hit up the link above for the full thing. What do you think about Sega’s direction as of late? Are you hoping for more sequels/remakes to their classic IP or do you hope for something entirely different?