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CNBC interviews SEGA’s Haruki Satomi; talks about saving the company

Satomi discusses 'Sonic' and pachinko business

Recently, SEGA Sammy President, Haruki Satomi, sat down with Christine Tan of CNBC at the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) in Vancouver, Canada. Satomi discussed SEGA Sammy’s future as well as the progress they have made since the company’s merger back in 2004. They also talked about SEGA’s future in the mobile industry and dissatisfaction of loyal fans over the past couple of years.

Tan asked Satomi about the disappointment from the fans and how they attempted to resurrect the Sonic series. This culminated to the Sonic Boom franchise and as Satomi puts it:

… that several years ago when we launched a Sonic game, the reception was very bad, there was a site called Metacritic that aggregates the critics and scores games from 1-100, and at that time the Sonic game got 30 out of 100 so I felt like we…

Tan blatantly states they fans were not happy with the game and Satomi agreed. He says that it, “did not meet those expectations for the big fan base we have.” Which is true, since it’s become the worst selling Sonic title in the series. He then goes on to how SEGA has been focusing success of Sonic back in the ’90s and if it is possible for Sonic to make a comeback as well as if it’s possible to out match Mario.

One of the answers I gave was the latest two titles which we launched last year, Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces, especially Sonic Mania which got a 80s, 85ish Metacritic score and fans are excited about this game and people really love it… I think there is a possibility of beating Mario, but you know, Mario and Sonic used to be big rivals who competed against each other but now we have become friends.

They later talk about the the SEGA Sammy’s resort and pachinko business. Recently, they were involved in a project with a South Korea based group called Paradise Group Korea and how they opened a new casino resort from scratch called “Paradise City.”

As for the pachinko side of things, there is currently a bill that is waiting to be passed by Japan’s Diet about legalizing casino gambling. Satomi talks about the frustration that might ensue within the pachinko business and that Sammy might me jumping ship to open a new casino resort, if this bill does indeed get passed.

We have a business model and we’ve been preparing for it with a team but still the bill is not passed yet, and even if the bill is passed this year, the local government will decide opening the first around the end of 2019 or in early 2020.

Tan asks when is the earliest that they can have a casino resort built and Satomi responds by at least 2024 or 2025 (WOW, that’s still a ways to go).

At the end, we’ve learned that SEGA is trying to win back fans with the Sonic franchise as well as making do with their current IPs and trying to complying with older ones. We also learned that the Sammy Company is considering a transition from pachinko to casino gambling.

And in case you’re wondering:

One of my favorite is the Yakuza Series or the Valkyria Chronicle Series.

-Haruki Satomi

Diego Agado Jr.

Currently a student at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. Huge Sonic and SEGA fan. Location: Probably in bed.

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