Industry Chatter: 06.02.2011

Sega yammers on about sales, Takahashi leaves Hudson and LucasArts comes clean in this week’s Industry Chatter.

By Andrew Hsieh. Posted 06/02/2011 18:00 1 Comment     ShareThis

People are not happy this week. Remember Sega? They’re that one company whose people designed such stalwart series as Sonic the Hedgehog and Phantasy Star? Yeah, they don’t seem to be doing so well. Relatively speaking, of course– according to Sega Sammy, the holding company formed in 2004 from video game company Sega and pachinko developer Sammy Corporation, Sega brought in ¥89.55 billion ($1.1 billion) over the last fiscal year, in a decrease of 26.5 percent from the previous year. This is a sharp contrast from 2010, where Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games brought in stellar sales; this year, Sonic Colors sold the most, with 2.18 million worldwide copies, with lesser properties Iron Man 2 and Vanquish following at 1.54 million and 830,000 units sold, respectively. Sega blames this decrease on an “adverse market condition” in North America and Europe– which, as JC Fletcher points out on Joystiq, is slightly silly when compared to the successes that Capcom has reported for the past fiscal year.

On a non-money-related note, Toshiyuki Takahashi has finally left Hudson Soft, made effective at the end of May. Known better outside of Japan as the man who inspired Master Higgins of Adventure Island fame, Takahashi Meijin (his lovingly appellated title in Japan) is also known for his ability to hit a button sixteen times a second– a skill that he brought to his little-known development of the Turbo Button, designed at first for his own usage (it must get tiring, being so fast), and later shipped out to the whole world. Nevertheless, Takahashi has finally left the building, ending a twenty-six-year-long career at Hudson– for reasons unknown, though they likely have something to do with Konami’s tendrils all over Takahashi’s former company.

At THQ, CEO Danny Bilson talks about the trials and tribulations of getting IP rights and whether or not that’s actually worth it. James Brightman at Industry Gamers notes that THQ “insists on owning all the IP it publishes”, and Bilson agrees– because according to him, “if we’re putting up tens of millions of dollars, we need to control the future of that.” Fair enough. Bilson does go on, though. “That said, we’re more than willing to do a partnership with the best creative minds in the industry and we’re getting more than our fair share of those and we’ll be talking more about that at E3.” Which is, really, what everybody else is waiting for, too.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Artwork
The Wii version of the first Star Wars: The Force Unleashed didn’t fare too well with the critics.

For the Most Honest Company of the Year award comes LucasArts, the company once known for such games as The Secret of Monkey Island and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, and more recently games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 and LEGO® Star Wars III: The Clone Wars. According to Paul Meegan, LucasArts president (also once Epic Games China CEO), LucasArts hasn’t been doing the greatest it possibly can. In fact, here’s the full quote from MCV:

LucasArts is a company with tremendous potential. I think people look at it and wonder why it hasn’t done better in recent years. Lucasfilm has some of the most beloved and powerful brands in entertainment, we have a loyal community of fans, and talented people in every discipline. We’re surrounded by staggeringly bright and creative people at the top of their games. In recent years, LucasArts hasn’t always done a good job of making games. We should be making games that define our medium, that are competitive with the best of our industry, but we’re not. That has to change. Our priority is to create authentic, immersive, high quality Star Wars games.

Of course, this is nice to hear, especially when juxtaposed with Sega’s remarks earlier, which seem positively spoiled-brat-esque in light of Meegan’s confessions. Yet when examining LucasArts’ offerings for the Wii and DS, which have been both sparse and weak recently (Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II at least got average reviews), Meegan’s ideas of “making games that define our medium” seem lofty at best. We’ll see if he really goes through with his words.

Interestingly enough, despite the fact that it’s definitely incoming, the show we’re all shivering in anticipation for (take a wild guess) isn’t garnering a whole lot of pre-show shenanigans– probably because companies like Sega and Hudson have more pressing worries. Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony, for their part, are staying mum on the topic. Looks like we’ll just have to settle from chatter from the rest of the crew until then, though plenty’s still happening in this calm before the con.

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