The Game Making Process

Venturing into New Territory with
Web3 and the Metaverse


President and COO, Representative Director Shuji Utsumi

Worked in various parts of the entertainment industry and joined SEGA SAMMY Holdings in 2019.
Has held his current position since April 2021

Investment Management Department, Manager Etsuko Horie

Joined in 2015. Initially responsible for strategic investments related to mobile games, and currently serves in the CVC Department of SEGA SAMMY Holdings and Tech Development Department of SEGA's Business Development Division.
Conducts investment activities based on SEGA's business strategy.

Marketing Department, Vice Manager Daichi Mukai

Joined in 2018. Former product manager for smartphone and console games. Established a community-oriented team specialized in robust video content creation, by producing/managing content on YouTube and TikTok as well as collaborating with influencers.
Currently, works on new marketing fields beyond video content.

Including the "Sonic" series and the "Like a Dragon" series, SEGA has created countless titles that aren't just widely-beloved in Japan, but around the world. Their work doesn't just stop at games; they have a wide breadth of work across parts of the entertainment industry, and have created many products that are generational icons.

This company has recently been focusing its efforts on new fields: Metaverse and Web3. With their IPs (Intellectual Properties), assembly of technical skills, and knowledge related to games, SEGA aims to make moving experiences that have never been made before and is launching a new, fully-fledged business project.

Accelerating SEGA's globalization by leveraging past leadership experiences in the Japanese gaming industry

First, could you please tell us about your background, Mr. Utsumi?


I started my career at SONY. At the time I joined, SONY was trying to transform itself from an electronics business into a general entertainment company, and I was assigned to a management position in the entertainment division. Back then, the PlayStation was being launched. I contributed to the planning of its release, and once it took off, I left SONY to join SEGA of America.

In the US, I was there to witness the business's acquisitions, and after returning to Japan, I was involved with the Dreamcast project. After that, I joined Disney Interactive and launched the popular title "KINGDOM HEARTS". In order for the many Disney characters to appear in the game, I landed multiple licensing contracts. Domestically, I was also in charge of the collaboration with Hikaru Utada as well as various campaigns.

My next step was starting my own company. After ten years of managing it, I sold it off to another company. My following stints were as the CEO of Warner Music and the CEO of Cybird, before I returned to SEGA SAMMY.

At first, I was in charge of the Investment Management department, but after a year, I was transferred to the SEGA Corporation. Now, as the individual responsible for our consumer business (mobile, PC, console), I am committed to the globalization of our business.

When it comes to Web3 and Metaverse, how does SEGA stack up against the world's famous companies?

What compelled SEGA to make a foray into the realm of Metaverse and Web3?


Right now, Web3 and the Metaverse have seized the public's attention. Both Web3 and the Metaverse are changing the ecosystem, as Web3 is a natural evolution of the Web itself and the Metaverse is changing the way content is made. I feel that it is only natural that SEGA should respond to these changes.

SEGA has cultivated a treasure trove of development skills in both programming and graphics, community-building skills, and above all, many world-class IPs. We'd like to make use of all of these assets, so that we can challenge ourselves in uncharted territory and establish a new market at a global level.

I'm sure that this will be a big undertaking as a company, but what kind of projects are in progress?


We are trying to make use of open innovation. To that end, we are investing into some start-up companies in the field of Web3 and the Metaverse. Through these start-ups, we are building up a reservoir of technical knowledge. Day by day, we are conducting research to see what we can create and what kind of businesses we can establish by unifying Web3 with SEGA's resources.

SEGA has now flagged the creation of a "Super Game" as one of its key strategies. Our Super Game will transcend the framework of any other game that's been made so far. It aims to be both a work of media and a game, and it will allow users to experience a variety of entertainment like no other in an interactive virtual space. To make this a reality, integrating Web3 and the Metaverse will be integral.

"Super Games" Interview

We are a general entertainment company, so creating and supplying content is a given. However, we'll face new challenges that test our wide expertise as we implement events in the virtual world, handle music, and provide various virtual avatars. We may potentially offer business solutions to Metaverse companies. We are trying to move our business forward, as we anticipate various situations.

At the moment, various companies, including the Big Five, are now preparing to enter the Metaverse/Web3 market, but what are SEGA's strengths in comparison?


I believe that we have strong connections to worldwide famous companies in the IT industry, including the Big Five. Our partners hold respect for the SEGA brand and its IPs, and have built good relationships with us. In that regard, our rich IPs and technical capabilities are our forte.

Besides our partnerships with large businesses, the network of businesses that we've grown through our investments also holds the potential to become a great strength.

On the other hand, what does SEGA still need to improve on?


Our team's skills and ideas tend to stem from our current concept of gaming. Going forward, I want to encourage more creativity in our team. This project demands a kind of sensibility distinct from game development, in order to create new captivating experiences and deliver them worldwide.

Reaching out to people worldwide

You mentioned that your global IPs are a strength, but concretely speaking, what kind of strength will they be?


People in Japan might not realize how much renown SEGA's IPs and products have overseas. This may be a little-known fact in Japan, but in the past, products like the Mega Drive (which was sold in North America as the "Genesis") were greater sales successes overseas than they were in Japan.

In recent years, we have adopted a mixed media approach to Sonic, which has made a huge comeback. The directors and producers attached to our partner companies' works truly hold a certain fondness for SEGA's IPs and products, as they're from the generation that grew up with SEGA. This respect actually elevates the quality of each work.

Japanese IPs will definitely become more accepted globally in the future. The films adapted from our gaming IPs that have become global blockbusters are proof of this. SEGA has increased in the ratio of its overseas sales in its consumer business over the past few years, and as globalization accelerates, we'll experience a strong tailwind thanks to this trend.

What is your vision for the next few years?


In the game industry, there are cases where a single game can radically alter the landscape of the market. For example, the world-famous game company, Epic, has transformed into the world's leading game company, due to the success of its smash-hit "Fortnite". A game has a tremendous amount of potential, and if it becomes a success, it can eclipse the size of any game out there. When it comes to digital content, I believe that a transition to the Metaverse and Web3 is inevitable, and we'll need to adapt to these fields to bring new captivating experiences to audiences on a global stage.

I believe our unique brand identity is what distinguishes us from other entertainment services, and is what will be the catalyst to create a booming sensation. Not many Japanese companies have a positive brand image, let alone induce nostalgia, in the eyes of audiences overseas. However, SEGA is one of few. Our company name is widely recognized, and we possess IPs that people from all over the world are familiar with, such as "Sonic". Our goal going forward is to grow our IPs into global brands, while respecting SEGA's culture and brand image.

The joy of taking on challenges in new territory

Based on what we've said so far, what kind of people are you hiring for?


To bring about innovation, a combination of different cultural backgrounds and knowledge is important. Having knowledge of games is not necessarily important. Instead, I value ambition and the curiosity to try something new within the digital world.

Additionally, people who can think independently and observe the outside world are the kind of people who will help us achieve the development of Super Games and our business foray into Metaverse and Web3.

I would gladly work with someone who has the spirit to take on the challenge of using SEGA's IPs in new business ventures and has an interest in taking on new challenges at a well-established company like SEGA.

Finally, what will be the appeal of working in the gaming industry in the future?


I previously never thought that games would become the huge cultural phenomenon they are now. However, games now occupy a significant spot in the entertainment landscape, both culturally and as media.

Just as we've seen personalities like YouTubers emerge from livestreaming games, the ecosystem surrounding video games will continuously evolve. For everyone challenging themselves in the current state of the gaming industry, their work will definitely become a valuable career experience.

The other appeal is the global scale. While Japan's GDP is expected to face troubled times, the gaming industry is one of the few areas where Japan stands out as a world leader.

Within Japan's gaming industry, SEGA has thoroughly established technology, networks, and content. For those who want to work for a company endowed with such resources and want to venture into new businesses, SEGA will be a very appealing option.

* This article contains content from an interview conducted in February 2023.