Why do you think so many people have stuck by Sega for so long? Why were people attracted to Sega in the first place?
There’s only one Sega.
Would Capcom put out Jet Set Radio? Would Namco release Crazy Taxi? Panzer Dragoon doesn’t really seem to be Konami’s style.
Nobody else would’ve done House of the Dead. Or Shenmue. And they practically pioneered 3D polygonal fighting games with Virtua Fighter. And then, what about Virtua-On? Again, nobody but Sega.
Sega has a distinct style. One that could never hide that they were a Japanese company. From blown-out, poorly acted, poorly translated voice acting, to the silly insanity of a game like Illbleed.
The problem: every single game I just mentioned came out before the Dreamcast died.
When you’re pushing your own hardware, you have to be bold. You have to be creative. You are responsible for selling the platform.
Without a platform to sell, Sega became directionless. When all you have to worry about is how much software you can sell, you can let yourself be a lot lazier. The difference in style and tone between a game like Phantasy Star Online and Phantasy Star Universe is obvious; and Sonic Team spent the better part of the PS2/PSP generation trying to roll things back and recapture what people loved about the former.
Sega stopped trying. They lost their will. Yu Suzuki helped define that company, and he did basically nothing for Sega after Shenmue! I know Shenmue was a financial failure and all, but he could have bounced back! Others have! He didn’t. And why would he? He wasn’t responsible for selling a platform anymore.
And as Sega lost their way, the market also started moving away from “Japanese”-style games. Japan was no longer the center of the videogame universe. You had Guitar Freaks? Try Guitar Hero. Devil May Cry, meet God of War. Mario, say hello to Jak, Daxter, Ratchet, Clank, and Sly Cooper.
Sega now had financial incentive to move away from what defined them. And things got worse, and worse, and worse.
Here’s the original line work for the Mega Man #52 variant cover I did. I got a little overzealous drawing all the video game characters, and in the end had to remove Gore Magala, because he’d be almost completely covered up by the logo. Sorry buddy, maybe you’ll make the cut next time!