Big name developers from Sega’s heydays have quietly left the aging developer.
Simon Jeffery, Chief Executive Officer at Sega Of America, joined the Japanese publisher in 2003 after serving as President of LucasArts for a number of years.
As a relative newcomer to the company, Gamasutra recently asked him where many of the iconic developers who helped build the company were today. As it turns out, very few of Sega’s stars still work there.
“I think it is still important,” said Jeffery on the relevance of individual employees in Japan.
Sonic-creator Yuji Naka, the headliner for multiple other Sega classics like NiGHTS and Phantasy Star Online, formed an independent studio Prope in 2006 with investment from Sega.
Jeffery explained, “We’re still working with [Yuji] Naka. The Prope relationship exists. They’re building content. Nothing’s been released yet, but we still work with them….We want to work with big-name people. But part of that is not just because they’re a name. It’s because we know they’re going to build great games, and that’s the most important part.”
To fill the gap opened by the moving on of the old guard, Sega has signed publishing agreements with smaller third party studios, such as Platinum Games, the descendant of Capcom’s Clover Studios. Toshihiro Nagoshi, head of the Super Monkey Ball series, has increased in notoriety and influence as well.
Yu Suzuki, famous for the Virtua Fighter series and Sega’s most popular arcade cabinets and racign games, is no longer with the company and has not produced any notable new projects in five years.
“Last I heard, he was doing some online stuff in China,” noted Jeffery. “He’s kind of his own man right now. Every now and again, he’ll come up with an idea, and I don’t think anything has come out of that yet, but we’re still working with him.”
In a follow-up interview with Gamasutra, Jeffery clarified Suzuki’s position with Sega.
Jeffery stated, “I can safely say that Yu Suzuki is in fact still a Sega employee,” and he serves as “a Creative Officer of Sega Corp.”