After Sega’s blockbuster adaptation of its classic Sonic the Hedgehog gaming franchise on the big screen, the company suggested it wants to replicate that success with other hit video games in its arsenal.
Speaking with CNBC at the Web Summit tech conference in Libson, Portugal, Tuesday, Sega Chief Operating Officer Shuji Utsumi said that the company is thinking of bringing more of its lucrative intellectual property to other platforms, including movies and the gaming platform Roblox.
“Sonic is reviving,” Utsumi told CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal, alluding to the success of the Sonic the Hedgehog adaptations in the box office.
Sonic the Hedgehog grossed $306.8 million in the box office, becoming a blockbuster win for the franchise even after initial angry reaction from fans over a poor rendition of the iconic character the first time Sega revealed it to the world.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 did even better, banking $405.4 million at the box office.
Now, Sega is looking to translate that success into other game adaptations. That might not just mean movies, Utsumi cautioned, adding that the company is looking at other ways to bring its IP to more consumers.
That could include bringing a Sonic experience to the Roblox gaming platform, where millions of people gather to build games and connect with each other in massive online communities, as well as mobile, too.
The company recently closed its acquisition of Rovio, the maker of the Angry Birds mobile game, for 706 million euros ($767.9 million).
“We have other major IPs,” Utsumi said. “We are thinking of reviving other classical IPs too.”
Bringing Yakuza and Persona to more platforms
Utsumi highlighted the Yakuza beat ’em up game and Persona role-playing game franchise as examples that could be adapted.
It comes as Sega is set to launch a new Yakuza game, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, next year. The company is also launching two new Persona games in 2024, too.
“As I say, we are trying to be in a lot of different categories, different areas like Roblox, movies,” Utsumi said. “All these IPs can be somewhere else other than games soon.”
Sega recently launched the latest iteration of its Yakuza game. Collectively, the Yakuza game series has sold 21.1 million units since its debut in 2005, according to Sega. Persona 5, the latest game in the franchise, has also seen considerable success selling over 9 million copies worldwide.
Yakuza is currently only available on PlayStation, Xbox and PC. Platforms. Persona is currently only available on Xbox, PlayStation, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
Buying more studios
Sega is also on the hunt for more acquisitions as it seeks to expand its ownership of gaming studios, Utsumi said.
Utsumi suggested that the company would look to find more acquisition targets as opportunities in the market arise.
“As an entity of Sega Sammy, we are acquiring some of the companies. We just made an announcement [to buy Rovio]. We are still looking for opportunities for growth.”
Utsumi said that European gaming studios are “struggling” at the moment as they work to recover from the sales slump that followed the Covid-19 pandemic, as gamers emerged from lockdowns around the world and high inflation made people less willing to pay punchy prices for the latest titles.
“Japan studios are doing well. European studios are struggling,” Utsumi said. “I say all European developers are in a difficult time right now. Once, it was a kind of bubble. Now, it’s adjustment time.”
However, he struck an optimistic note for the future: “I think it’s going to be coming back. As long as you have solid development studios and also solid IPs.”
Sega isn’t the first company that’s looked to replicate the success of blockbuster entertainment franchises on other forms of media. Sony, Sega’s main Japanese gaming rival, made a big splash with its Spider-Man movie franchise, which the company adapted into several top video games.
No Microsoft deal on the cards
Utsumi also addressed rumors of Microsoft interest to buy the company.
The Redmond, Washington technology giant reportedly considered acquiring Sega as well as Bungie, the studio originally responsible for Halo, the Verge reported earlier this year, citing internal documents from a hearing in the Federal Trade Commission lawsuit seeking to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
Sega’s operations chief dismissed the suggestion that Sega, which is owned by Sega Sammy Corporation, the company formed from the merger of Sega and Sammy Corporation in 2004, had any intention of being sold to another party.
“Many companies are interested. We feel honored,” Utsumi told CNBC.
“We have attractive IPs and potentials. Companies owned by the owner. A strong owner. I don’t think that kind of transaction is going to happen.”