SEGA Sees Appetite for Japanese IP in the West and Vice Versa

Jul 29, 2018
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Speaking with GamesIndustry, SEGA Europe's Executive Vice President John Clark talked about the growing appreciation for Japanese IPs in the Western market and on Steam in particular.

From my experience of Japan as a market, what we see is something that to us is very traditional publishing and development: Single player, story-led, sequel, sequel, sequel. And it's something that works in Japan. What's happening here is that the Yakuza franchise is being brought to the West and it's not being changed for the Western market, in terms of the gameplay.

We're not turning every Yakuza title into an open-world Yakuza game. That's not what's happening. We're representing the Japanese IP, the Japanese road map, the Japanese content to the relevant audience within the West. And whether there's a need to change that or not, I don't know. But it seems to be successful and it seems to be working.

We've seen the growth of Japanese IP on Steam on PC; that never existed before. And it surfaces across other formats as well because gaming is now a social entity. You have your friends lists and you see what your friends are playing and it encourages you to dive back in to the games you maybe missed before or games you stopped playing. So we've seen that network effect of games being played on different formats now driving overall awareness.

SEGA is also betting on the reverse to be true, however. The Chinese PC market is growing a lot and SEGA intends to attract a larger audience with Total War: Three Kingdoms, the strategy game due next year and set during China's Three Kingdoms period.

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If you look at premium downloads via Steam, I would say 18 months ago China would have been a top 30 region for us. Today, it's a top 5 region. The growth from Steam has happened in the last five months, and it's been significant. It's been incredibly impressive.

Simply put, we've noticed the scale of interest back towards us change. It was always there. 'Hey Sega, you've got some great franchises, let's take them to China' was a conversation that was always happening. But when we announced Total War: Three Kingdoms, that was a step change in terms of the resonance we were having with any Chinese partners. It lends itself really well. We can learn a lot. That is certainly a key title for us in China.

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