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Sega NFTs, metaverse, P2E and blockchain: Complete guide
Sonic’s creator has a big decade ahead with its SuperGame project, but how much of it will rely on blockchain and Sega NFTs?
Traditional gamers take note: NFTs will affect major consoles and video game franchises in the future. The question is, how will your favorite developer or publisher participate?
In a series of articles that examine where each AAA game developer, publisher and console manufacturer stands on NFTs and blockchain technology, I’m going to answer these questions and more. This article focuses on Sega, one of gaming’s great creators who not only gave us Sonic the Hedgehog but also consoles like the Master System, Mega Drive and Dreamcast.
Where does Sega stand on NFTs and blockchain technology? Read on to find out. And make sure you also read our Electronic Arts NFTs, Nintendo NFT, Ubisoft NFT and Microsoft NFT guides.
What role does Sega play in gaming?
The name Sega doesn’t hold as much weight as it used to in the gaming world, but the Japanese developer remains a powerful force. As the home of Sonic the Hedgehog, Bayonetta, Alex Kidd, Shinobi, Golden Axe, Yakuza, Crazy Taxi, Virtua Fighter, Super Monkey Ball and many other iconic franchises, Sega will always hold a place in our hearts.
Sega is also one of the few companies in gaming that has manufactured consoles. Over the course of 20 years, it has released five major consoles: SG-1000, Master System, Mega Drive, Saturn and Dreamcast. It also has many other notable devices, including the Game Gear — and not to mention being a star of the arcades.
After some lean years, Sega has made something of a comeback in recent times. This is largely thanks to the success of the Sonic the Hedgehog films, the Yakuza series and collaborations like Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games. It’s been enough for Sega to pledge almost $700 million to future endeavors, including a SuperGame metaverse initiative.
Sega’s position on NFTs has been a roller-coaster ride to say the least. Back in April 2021, Sega announced it was exploring the use of NFTs and P2E game mechanics in upcoming releases. The company at the time directly stated Sega would “start selling NFT digital contents that utilize blockchain technology.”
Back then, it was an announcement that gained little attention from traditional gamers. NFTs weren’t yet on their radar.
Around the same time, Sega revealed plans to leverage fan nostalgia with its NFTs. Sega announced a partnership with doublejump.tokyo to release NFTs based on their old assets, such as game art and music.
Initially, the target was to have these available by Q3 2021. As of June 2022, these have yet to see the light of day.
As the popularity of NFTs grew through 2021, Sega continued to show its support. On 11 November 2021, Sega CEO Haruki Satomi said in a Q2 results briefing: “We are considering mergers and acquisitions and investments in new areas such as NFTs.” He even indicated the company would spend hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five years to achieve these goals.
Sega backflips — or does it?
But in December 2021, gamers were becoming more vocal about their dislike for NFTs. Most notably around the Ubisoft Quartz launch. As such, in a briefing to company managers, Satomi became cagier.
“In terms of NFT, we would like to try out various experiments and we have already started many different studies and considerations, but nothing is decided at this point regarding P2E. There have been many announcements about this already, but there are users who show negative reactions. We need to carefully assess many things such as how we can mitigate the negative elements, how much we can introduce within Japanese regulation and what will be accepted by users. But if it’s perceived as simple money-making, I would like to make a decision not to proceed.”
In January 2022, a management meeting featuring CEO Haruki Satomi, CFO Koichi Fukazawa and COO Yukio Sugino continued to distance the company.
“We need to carefully examine several things, such as how we can lessen the negative elements, how much we can bring [NFTs] under Japanese regulation, and what will be accepted and what will not by users. Then, if this challenges our purpose of ‘Continuously Creating, Forever Captivating,’ we will investigate it further.”
“Investigate it further” is a long way from a hard no. It’s not even a soft no.
And sure enough, in that same month, the developer went ahead and trademarked two logos: Sega NFT and Sega NFT Classics Collection. Many journalists speculated the latter would go as far as to create a retro games marketplace where fans could own, lend and sell classic Sega games between themselves.
Partnership with doublejump.tokyo
More likely, these trademarks relate to the aforementioned partnership with doublejump.tokyo. I suspect the NFTs under these labels will take the form of what we’ve seen from Konami and Atari. These veteran studios have been minting legacy assets as NFTs and selling them to collectors to raise funds for future game development.
The head of business development at doublejump.tokyo, Tomi Brooks, weighed in on the topic in March 2022:
“For gamers, there’s a split. Some think NFTs are great and understand the technology and want ownership of virtual items they put their time into.
The other side is saying this is not good for the environment. But maybe they don’t understand there are different types of technologies.”
Sega SuperGame metaverse
A more direct link between NFTs and future Sega titles emerged in the form of the SuperGame project. Its announcement signaled the developer’s intent to come to market with a series of AAA blockbuster games from beloved franchises like Sonic, Crazy Taxi and Jet Set Radio.
During the initial reveal, Sega’s phrasing was suggestive but vague. Executive VP Shuji Utsumi revealed that the SuperGame series will reach “beyond the traditional framework of games.” Elsewhere signaling this was a reference to leveraging Web3, which notably leans on blockchain technology.
In April 2022, Sega was more direct about preparing fans for a future involving NFTs. Commenting on the excitement generated by Sega’s bold SuperGame concept, producer Masayoshi Kikuchi said:
“Gaming has a history of expansion through the connection of various cultures and technologies. It’s a natural extension for the future of gaming that it will expand to involve new areas such as cloud gaming and NFTs. We’re also developing SuperGame from the perspective of how far different games can be connected to each other.”
That last line is the most overt reference yet to a Sega multiverse, one that incorporates multiple IPs. Potentially in a form similar to what we’ve seen from Enjin and MetaKey, both of which see interoperability as being like Nintendo’s amiibo. As in, the presence of an NFT unlocks something in a game, rather than appearing in the game as is.
Further evidence that a Sega metaverse is the endgame can be found in the partnership between the SuperGame project and Microsoft’s Azure platform. A platform that includes the Azure Confidential Ledger blockchain.
Other crypto games and NFT projects
Future of Sega NFTs, Sega metaverse and blockchain
Sega’s interest in blockchain technology is clear to see. However, using blockchain technology as part of a game’s development doesn’t necessarily indicate NFTs. And the constant mixed messaging, especially through the start of 2022, suggests Sega is still trying to work out how it can make the most of this emerging technology without letting down decades of fan trust.
I suspect this could mean that NFT collections of Sega assets could launch as completely separate, nongameplay initiatives. And that its upcoming AAA titles will exist in the SuperGame metaverse without an NFT or crypto ecosystem. At least in the short term.
To be continued…
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