Casino games have come a long way since the 1980s – especially since the introduction of the internet, which completely revolutionized the industry. Their rise mirrors the history of the SEGA itself in a roundabout way. They’re a company that’s been involved in bets and wagers since their inception. Forget Sonic; before the hedgehog, before Total War and before Football Manager, came one of the company’s first real hits: Pachinko, the start of a long and star-studded history in the gambling industry.
Beginnings with Digital Pachinko
Pachinko is and was a simple game – pull the trigger,launch the bead and aim for the jackpot. It’s a simplified bagatelle, and these days it brings in millions a month across Japan and the rest of East Asia. Like much of the casino genre, be it green felted cards tables, roulette or something more, pachinko also happens to do remarkably well in a digital iteration of its form.
Way back when, before SEGA was the gaming giant it is today, they produced one of the first virtual pachinko machines, simply titled ‘Pachinko’ and released on their SG-1000 console in 1983. It was, unsurprisingly given the popularity of the original game, a hit with the masses.
The Next Portable Step
SEGA’s involvement with digital casino industry wouldn’t end there, however. They released numerous casino collections for console release over the decades, including SEGA Casino for the Nintendo DS in 2005. This hallmark of portable gaming made poker practice accessible to everyone, everywhere, kept right in their pocket. When smartphones hit it big a little while later, SEGA would take advantage of that market, too, with various branded apps available for download revolving around the use of real-world currency.
It was around this point that online gambling was beginning to see not only growth, but major diversification. Players could use their hard-earned cash to player Texas Hold ‘Em, sure, but they could also buy credit for online battling on casino platforms like Duelz, winning against others in a show of skill. SEGA was apparently intrigued by the market. They took the opportunity to invest and in 2010, began working with iGaming developer Playtech to create games based on Sega IPs, both original and classic to the genre, and launched SEGA Casino proper into the market.
A Shot Too Soon
Unfortunately for the publisher it didn’t take long for things to fall through. Six months after release SEGA’s play for a slice of the online gambling pie was forced to shutter completely. Their foray into real money rather than virtual had been a failure, despite many past examples of their expert handling of the genre. Why? It’s hard to tell.
Perhaps it was simply a shot too soon, for as large as the casino gaming industry was then, it’s twice as large now just eight years later, with much more room for error and much more opportunity for success.SEGA continues to work with bets and wagers. SEGA continues to profit from them! But only time will tell if they’ll make the leap to their own name branded casino again any time soon.