(Thanks to Mauro Zangirolami for the tip & info, although his information is no longer welcome on the blog for future posts, after he attacked the site with unfounded accusations and a general showing that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about – 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.
T3.com Interview: CEO of Sega Amusements International Paul Williams
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?
I’d love to see a Crazy Taxi sequel. That game was very interesting and unique from other arcade drivers at the time. Just have a new version of that with HD graphics, a multiplayer mode, an easy mode (for the normal players who are new to Crazy Taxi),and a new version of All I Want (maybe SEGA can contact Crush40 to make a cover of that) and you’ll see a game that is great for new and old players.
IMO, I think the career games SEGA did in the 90’s (Brave Firefighters, Emergency Call Ambulance) can make an experience that can’t be replicated at home (if done right). I think it would be a good idea for SEGA to make new games like these.
It would be nice to see a House of the Dead 5, they shouldn’t try to make that game with the Transformers/Let’s Go Jungle style of gameplay, though. Light guns work best for HoTD. Zombies are a kind of light gun shooter that are popular, along with dinosaurs (as seen with Jurassic Park Arcade’s success in the market).
Also, for the ticket redemption side of things, I always thought a Sonic the Hedgehog card/coin pusher (with rings replacing coins) would work well considering how the industry craves card collect coin pushers now. That can attract players new (for how Sonic is a kinda big franchise in gaming, especially in the 90s) and old (the collectable cards can encourage people to play to collect cards common and rare, especially if they have multiple sets like Star Trek).
I always wondered if Sega Amusements were created as a result of Raw Thrills success in western markets. Same goes for Namco as well.
While I would to see Sega Japan’s output in this country, I understand that more money can be made by releasing “console to arcade”, “mobile to arcade”, remasters of existing arcade games and redemption. Like Mr Williams stated, you can release a graphically advanced title at 4k resolution with 120fps on a 100″ OLED screen but if it doesn’t bring the money in, it’s just throwing money down the drain!
Funny you mention that – at IAAPA, I heard more than once that they would love to do Daytona 3 in 4k at 60fps+ but the costs would be far too high to warrant the expense. I did float the idea that perhaps they could do that with a Special Attraction version though, since those tend to be over $100k anyways…
That’d be amusing, if OutRun 3 came out in 2019, when OutRun 2019 was set!