Meet the Development Divisions

2nd Development Division


Senior Executive Manager Osamu Ohashi

Joined in 1993. Senior Executive Manager of the 2nd Development Division and Executive Studio Officer at SEGA.
Ohashi worked in game development as a game designer, director, and producer. He later served as the manager of Japan Asia Publishing before assuming his current role in 2020.

Supervising Manager Sachiko Kawamura

Joined in 1996. Artist and Vice Manager of 2nd Development Department #2 under the 2nd Development Division.
Kawamura joined SONICTEAM, Ltd. as an artist. After some time working as a graphic designer and art director, she took over as the producer of "Sonic Frontiers".

The 2nd Development Division's vision of following in the footsteps of Sonic

The "Sonic" series is immensely popular in America and other parts of the world. Sonic's popularity abroad far exceeds its popularity in Japan, as evidenced by the huge success of its last two films which have become monumental successes for SEGA.

The 2nd Development Division is responsible for the iconic "Sonic" series. They are also working on rebooting SEGA's other classic IPs in order to replicate the success of "Sonic". Today, we're here with Senior Executive Manager Osamu Ohashi and Art Manager Sachiko Kawamura to learn more about their vision and the joys of working in this division.

Leaving a foreign company to become the senior executive manager of the 2nd Development Division

Could you both please tell us about your careers?


In 1993, I joined SEGA straight out of university, and I was in charge of planning and directed games for about seven years. I then left my position at SEGA to work at the Japanese branch of Electronic Arts, an American-based company, where I immersed myself in all areas of the firm, from recruitment to game creation.

I worked there for about four years before the studio was liquidated. After that, I returned to SEGA and resumed working as a producer. My background had always been in development, but I suddenly found myself responsible for the Japan Asia Publishing Division. I've also been the manager of the 2nd Development Division for about three years now.


I joined SEGA in 1996 after graduation and was assigned to the department responsible for creating Sonic. As an artist, my main duties were to design and create game graphics. Eventually, I became the manager of the Art Section.

Afterwards, I became the art director, and I worked on "Sonic Frontiers" as a producer.

The next frontier for Sonic

What sets this division apart from the rest?


Our division is responsible for creating SEGA's most notable IP, Sonic. As one of the top game-IP-inspired films in the U.S. box office, Sonic has a considerably larger following overseas than in Japan.

Even though Sonic is an action game at its core, we can't keep players entertained by simply producing carbon-copy sequels. Our job is to venture into various game genres and open up new possibilities for Sonic. It's vital that we select a genre of game that complements the blue speedster. The same applies to our other IPs as well. What sets us apart is our capacity to explore different genres, including sports, action, simulation, and RPG.

Another one of our objectives involves our legendary IPs. We aim to bring back some fan favorites from the past. We're utilizing our knowledge and experience of turning Sonic into a worldwide sensation to create the next big thing.

Sonic already has quite a large fan base overseas. Going forward, will you be focusing your efforts in Japan or overseas?


Our main target is the overseas market. 95% of Sonic's sales are attributed to overseas. We're also making efforts to expand into regions, including Japan, where Sonic has not been as successful. Ensuring that we divide our attention equally to these regions and the overseas market is also one of our priorities.

Countries where Sonic has already garnered a dedicated fan base have their own image of Sonic. Countries where he's not as popular, on the other hand, haven't been as receptive to our strategies so far, so we have to take a different approach. To succeed in our ventures, we must innovate while also preserving the classic image of Sonic.

Is English proficiency required given your focus on the overseas market?


Not at all. Sonic's strategy and marketing teams are based in the Los Angeles area, but we've never had any issues communicating because an interpreter is always present.

The conversation might proceed more smoothly if you can speak English, but you should be able to do just fine without it.

What do you have planned for Sonic in the future?


To put it simply, we want Sonic to surpass Mario. Sonic was originally created to compete against Mario, but he has yet to beat him. It is precisely that we place Mario on such a high pedestal that we hope to surpass him.

We aim to develop a game that can emulate Mario's global success and one-up him at the box office. We would even love for Universal Studios Japan to dedicate an area to Sonic. As some of Sonic's biggest fans, it would be a dream come true.

Could you also tell us about your division's goals?


In addition to expanding the Sonic IP, our goal is to build a team capable of creating globally successful titles that can follow in Sonic's footsteps. We aim to use the expertise we've acquired through Sonic's global success to develop a replicable framework that can be applied to other characters and produce more internationally acclaimed hits.

Work schedules that allow creators to flourish

Tell me about the atmosphere of the 2nd Development Division.


The general atmosphere of our team is friendly and wholesome. That may be because we design our games specifically for families in mind.

Our staff have a strong connection with our games, which is why they set such high standards for themselves.

What are some of your core values as a manager?


I'm mindful of creating an environment that promotes game development while also allowing each employee to make the most of their abilities. As someone who began their career in development, I've never felt like I was ever on the all-star team. If anything, we had to push ourselves harder because so many of our talented members were always snatched away by other teams.

I remember wishing for a better work environment to make more exciting games, and now I'm in a position where I can make that happen. Creating an environment where our creators can work comfortably and feel at ease is a big priority to me. To me, there's no "I" in "team". I believe that bolstering our performance as a unit will be our key to producing new hit titles every year.

That's why I think that every good team originates from a good work environment.

Could you elaborate more on how you make things more comfortable?


Yes, I believe the most important thing is ensuring an accurate and feasible timeline. When I used to work in game development, I was often hit with ridiculous deadlines. I would work myself to death trying to turn everything in on time, and sometimes that would mean dropping the quality. Even then, I would miss some deadlines here and there.

Having experienced the pressure of such work conditions myself, I do my best to ensure that my employees don't have to endure the same. While I understand that more time doesn't necessarily guarantee a better game, I still try to establish a reasonable schedule for my team members.

I always remind everyone to report to me right away if an issue occurs so I can address it immediately. Good news can always wait. If we can catch the problem at its inception, we can minimize the damage.


It takes courage to report a problem, but Ohashi has done an incredible job of creating an environment where we can easily voice our concerns.

During the hiring process, what kind of people do you look for?


We look for someone who can express their ideas and opinions. We recognize that our method of doing things may not always be the best. That's why we appreciate it when employees who have joined us from other companies aren't afraid to share their ideas for improvements.

We look for people who are committed to not only improving the way we make games but are also willing to offer suggestions on improving the development environment as well as the company's policies.

Is it easy for mid-career hires to speak their mind?


Yes, we're very open-minded and don't pay much attention to tenure here. There are many mid-career employees who have demonstrated exceptional performance and have gone on to become managers. I, too, became manager after briefly leaving the company.

In fact, I was able to identify areas that could be improved based on my own experience working elsewhere. It's exciting to see what new ideas others might bring to the table. We're always optimistic about finding new ways to improve our organization.

Could you tell us of a time you incorporated a team member's proposal?


Yes, we're actually in the middle of developing our own game engine, and we're currently rebuilding the software for it based on a suggestion from one of our members. We're constantly listening to input from our newer members as we try to build our ideal engine.

There aren't many companies that would develop a game engine on their own, but I think it's what makes SEGA such a fun and exciting company.

What qualities do you look for in a new team member, Mr. Ohashi?


I look for someone who can embrace change and adapt quickly. We can't necessarily rely on our own judgment all the time when trying to design a globally acclaimed hit. To create a game that resonates with a wide range of cultures, we first need to have a deeper understanding of our audience.

While it's important to hold true to your own philosophies when designing a game, so is the ability to welcome and integrate other philosophies. I understand people will have things they're unwilling to compromise on, so I try to look for someone who can stay true to themselves while also being flexible to change.

Are there any notable differences between creating a successful game in Japan compared to creating one overseas?


I think the core components that make a game captivating remain the same at the end of the day. However, the way that a game is received will vary from country to country.

For example, there was a time when something considered cute in Japan would be seen as childish in other parts of the world. Nowadays, there's a better understanding across the globe about what we consider "kawaii," but it still serves as a reminder that we may not perceive things the same way.

At the same time, what other parts of the world consider cute may find a completely different reaction in Japan. It would be great if we could incorporate these different nuances into our game creation process.

Finally, could you say a few words to those who might be interested in joining this division?


In this day and age, it has become the norm for games to compete globally. Titles that have never competed in the global market must now follow in Sonic's footsteps and go head-to-head on the global stage.

If you're up for the challenge, we'd love to have you.


If you are interested in creating exciting games, please come and speak to us. New technologies emerge every day, but ultimately, they are just tools to assist us in the game creation process. Those who can hone in on what makes a game fun, without being swayed by technology, will enjoy the game creation process here at SEGA.

We're living in an era in which gamers are increasing around the world. If coming up with new ways to provide entertainment to a worldwide audience sounds like you, we urge you to join us.

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