Simon Jeffery, president of Sega of America, is trying to make a splash in an underserved and rarely-discussed market segment: The hardcore Wii gamer.
Speaking to VentureBeat, Jeffery said Sega was “very happy” with its relationship with Nintendo and the fact that Sega has demonstrated it can be successful on the Wii platform, adding that the company is doing very well overall even though it’s not at the top of the publishing heap. “We’re very profitable and doing what we want to do without being forced to fight with Bobby Kotick of Activision Blizzard all the time,” he said. “What Bobby is doing is extraordinary in overtaking EA. And staying so profitable. EA has the size and magnitude, but their profits are gone. They have big overhead too. Activision Blizzard is raining money now.”
Interestingly, despite the legacy of the Nintendo-versus-Sega console wars of years gone by, Jeffery sees future expansion on the Nintendo platform as key to Sega’s continued success, particularly with mature, hardcore games, an area that has thus far gone largely neglected. “The Wii is a very cost effective platform to experiment with,” he said. “There is a lot of crap coming out for the Wii in general. But if it’s not a good game, it doesn’t sell. That flood of crap will die down as publishers become more coherent.”
“The Wii is a great opportunity for hitting hardcore gamers,” he continued. “No one is doing that. With MadWorld from Platinum Games, we are trying to show that millions of Wii gamers want to move on to mature games. They don’t have to have an Xbox 360 to do that.”
Asked about constant assertions that the Wii is simply a passing fad, Jeffery said such beliefs had been “very much disproven,” adding, “People do play with the Wii like crazy for awhile. It gathers cobwebs. Then they bring it out again. But kids are such a big part of the gaming community now and they’re demanding Wiis from their parents. Those kids will shape the future of gaming and they’re not a fad. Microsoft and Sony have to think about how to make their experiences more gaming in that way.”
While MadWorld, a Wii-exclusive title set for release in early 2009, may give Nintendo more credibility with the hardcore crowd, it has also inevitably drawn criticism of the sort usually reserved for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The Daily Mail described it as “the most violent videogame ever” and claimed parents were horrified by its pending release, while the director of Mediawatch-uk called for the game to be banned and said it would “spoil the family fun image of the Wii.”