The gaming world woke up to some bad news this morning as struggling game maker Sega announced they were laying off over 300 employees from their publishing division. The cutback is part of a restructuring that will see Sega abandon console gaming and try to make a go of it in the slightly more forgiving world of PC and mobile games. For those of us who grew up clutching the controller of a Genesis, Saturn, or Dreamcast, it’s hard to imagine a world without Sega. Still, it’s too early to abandon hope. We live in an age of unexpected and unlikely new media partnerships and games occupy an ever expanding part of the new media world. Here are five companies that could save Sega:
Disney – The House of Mouse is already on a mission to own every part of your childhood and Sega would make an excellent jewel in the Disney crown. Over the last few years they’ve scooped up tons of iconic properties including Marvel Comics, The Muppets, and Star Wars among many others, and their track record for revitalizing them all is impressive. Though they’ve had some luck recently with the Disney Infinity, gaming still isn’t the company strongest division. Sega could be just the shot in the arm Disney Interactive needs. Lest we forget, Disney also owns Maker Studios, a leading YouTube MCN whose stable of gamers would probably love a crack at Sega’s many iconic games.
YouTube – YouTube is a huge part of the modern gaming industry. YouTube creators played a significant role in turning Minecraft from a one-man indie game operation into a $2.5 billion gaming property. Even Nintendo, which has historically been aggressively anti-YouTube, extended an olive branch to creators this week with its affiliate program. That offer has been loudly criticized by some of YouTube’s biggest gaming personalities. What better way for Sega to stick it to their old rival than to ink a big splashy deal with YouTube to give creators unlimited rights to monetize their content. In one fell swoop Sega could steal Nintendo’s spotlight, embrace the YouTube community, and bask in enough free publicity to revive their console division. All that and we’d get tons of amazing Let’s Plays.
Amazon – A YouTube deal would be great for exposure but the video giant isn’t about to shell out the cash to buy Sega outright. For that you’d need an ambitious, forward thinking, and totally loaded company like Amazon. The e-commerce giant has its hands in everything these days from television and movies to live streaming. Why not just snap up Sega for what we assume would be a song, and start producing original games alongside its promising slate of original movies and television? For all its problems, Sega still has an iconic roster of characters and game properties that could shine if Amazon threw a spotlight on them using, for instance, its massive stable of Twitch streamers.
Nintendo – There was a time when Nintendo and Sega were two sides of the same coin, the dueling forces that dominated the gaming world. Everyone had to choose a side; either you’re a Sonic or a Mario, a Genesis or a SNES, a Dreamcast or an N64. Since then both companies have struggled, but between the two it’s clear that Nintendo is the winner. Sales of their latest console the WiiU have slowed compared to competitors like PlayStation and Xbox, but they’re still going strong. The two companies have a similar culture and a shared history; they even collaborated recently, bringing Sega’s flagship characters like Sonic the Hedgehog to the latest edition of Nintendo’s popular melee game Super Smashbros. Isn’t it time these two crazy kids worked out their differences and just got together in a romantic acquisition merger?
Notch –Markus “Notch” Persson became a billionaire by selling his indie game juggernaut Mojang to Microsoft. He said he wanted to get out of the corporate gaming rat race, but how long is the mind who made Minecraft going to be happy sitting idle snatching mansions away from Beyoncé? Pretty soon he’ll be looking for a new challenge to crack and I can’t think of a better one than Sega. Persson has the cash and clout to score a controlling share of the company and he might be one of the only people on the planet with a brain innovative enough to revive it. Plus there’s just something poetic about the ultimate indie game auteur rescuing one of corporate gaming’s most iconic names.