Highly Conventional: How SEGA Uses Comic-Con and More to Reach Out to Fans

If you love SEGA – and, chances are, if you’re on this website, you probably do – there will be one date in your diary which has been written down in red and underlined a few times just for good measure. Being held at the Bellesalle Akihabara in Tokyo later this month, SEGA Fes 2018 is promising to be a celebration of the iconic gaming brand unlike any other.

A follow-up to the 2016 event, all eyes are definitely now firmly on the festival after eagle-eyed fans spotted the suggestion that a very special announcement is set to be made. While some commentators have urged caution regarding the news, it certainly does whet the appetite for what the convention could have in store. We know that news on Shining is expected but, hopefully, this top-secret reveal will be something completely different – and a huge surprise at that.

Reaching out to fans

On a side note, however, it is interesting to highlight the upcoming event as a notable example of SEGA’s fairly strong track record when it comes to involvement in events. In addition to the likes of SEGA Fes and its association with fan-run events like the ever-popular Summer of Sonic held annually in London, the company has never been shy when it comes to the issue of having a presence at major conventions and festivals held across the globe.

Whether they are focused on technology, comics or general geekery, such events have experienced huge growth in the past couple of decades with hundreds of thousands of people now attending the biggest conventions. Many film studios and other major players have recognized this and often now save some of their most significant teases, announcements and previews for such events, whether it is news of the latest Marvel Studios blockbuster or the launch of a brand new console.

Big announcements

The name SEGA still means a huge amount to the people who attend these events and this has not been lost on those in charge at the company, who have clearly made significant efforts to have a presence at such conventions and have embraced them as a core part of their public relations.

An example of this could be the decision to use a panel at the hugely popular SXSW event in Austin, Texas this year to not only announce Sonic Mania Plus but also the Sonic Mania Adventures animated shorts – the first episode of which recently went live. Another would be how visitors to Dubai’s first GeekFest in the Times Square Center last month were able to play SEGA classics like Virtua Striker as part of the free event.

In addition, CES 2018 was the first place where gaming fans could see the fruits of SEGA’s collaboration with Retro-Bit to create new upgraded accessories for its consoles featuring USB and Bluetooth compatibility. Finally, any mention of conventions is simply not complete without a reference to cosplay, with many of SEGA’s most iconic characters continuing to be a huge inspiration to that scene.

An enduring relationship

However, there is probably a strong argument that SEGA’s most enduring relationship with a convention is with the San Diego Comic-Con International – or SDCC. Originally founded in 1970 and now arguably the biggest event of its kind held on the planet, it has been the scene of many of SEGA’s biggest announcements in recent years. For example, it was the place where it was first confirmed back in 2016 that Sonic Mania was heading to major consoles. To say the news brought the house down would be a massive understatement.

In addition, it was also the location where it was revealed last year that IDW Publishing was taking over the comic book license for Sonic, a major deal which saw the company’s 24-year relationship with Archie Comics come to an end.

However, there is more to the company’s presence at SDCC than just announcements, with last year’s event including the very special Sounds of Sonic live concert. Featuring a band which included performers Shota Nakama and Jun Senoue, the event allowed fans the chance to hear a range of their favorite music from Sonic’s adventures down the years played live. There was also the small matter of the ‘Ring Jump’ contest which challenged attendees to get on a trampoline and see if they had what it takes to emulate their favorite blue hedgehog and reach the Gold Ring.

Connecting with fans

All of this shows how SEGA, like a huge number of other major gaming and entertainment companies, is very well aware of the need to not only get involved in organizing its own events but also embrace many of the others held across the globe.

SEGA Fes is no doubt going to be huge and anticipation has been built further by news of the announcement that everyone is talking about. However, considering the brand’s links to other events and SDCC in particular, it would not be hugely surprisingly if other major announcements have been kept aside for future conventions too.

What is perhaps most pleasing thing of all though is that it is clear, despite the company’s many ups and downs, that SEGA remains committed to reaching out to fans and connecting with them in a number of ways. Whether it is at SEGA Fes, SDCC or other events, long may it continue.

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