Founded on June 3, 1960, Sega is one of the most enduring video games companies in the industry. A veteran that marked generations and generations of players, Sega went through so many ups-and-downs that, in several instances, the world thought the company was going to disappear. It celebrated its 60 years of existence in 2021 and, boy oh boy, did Sega see numerous changes not only in its structure but also in its policies and views. Even its name did not escape all those transformations, as you will see. It might not be the powerhouse it used to be back in the days, but Sega succeeded in keeping its name on the scene positively by diversifying its activities and investing in/buying talented entities such as Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio or Atlus.
The Japanese multinational video game and entertainment company was founded by two American businessmen: Martin Bromley and Richard Stewart. It all started in Honolulu (Hawaii, USA) in 1940 when Bromley and Stewart decided to create their own coin-operated entertainment company, Standard Games. Their focus was on American military bases that were in dire need of amusement during World War II. The company was even renamed Service Games to translate better where their interest lay. But when the government banned all slot machines in 1952, Bromley and Stewart decided to turn towards Japan to continue their lucrative business.
That is how Service Games of Japan was born and how Bromley & cie established themselves in the country of the rising sun, selling slot machines to American bases on the territory. It quickly grew and soon, Service Games of Japan was also doing business in South Korea, the Philippines, and South Vietnam. It is also around that period, 1954, that the name Sega was used for the first time on one of their slot machines: yes, Sega as we know it is simply the abbreviation of Service Games. However, the company was forced to close in May 1960 due to the investigations of the American government on criminal practices in businesses. That did not deter Bromley who, a month later, established two new companies that purchased all of Service Games of Japan’s assets: Nihon Kikai Seizou and Nihon Goraku Bussan. Both later merged under Nihon Goraku Bussan’s name. In 1965, Goraku Bussan merged with Rosen Enterprises to focus on coin-operated amusement machines rather than just slot machines (namely: jukeboxes, gun games, and pinball games). It is with that merging that the company officially adopted the name Sega.
Since they were using second-hand material that needed a lot of maintenance, Sega ended up producing its own spare parts. This is also how and why they decided to deal in their own hardware by creating and producing their own arcade games. Those were sent all over the world and were a major success. In the early 1980s, the arcade business took a turn downhill and Sega decided to move into the home consumer market in Japan. After releasing their first computer, they decided to follow Nintendo by creating their first games-only console for the living room in 1983. Hence, started the most famous console war (and the origin story of all of them, really): Sega versus Nintendo. Several consoles were developed, but at the end of it all, Nintendo won. That does not mean that Sega did not do well. All the opposite. Sega created a legacy through different accomplishments: with their consoles and games, by re-energizing the arcade games business, giving a more mature and edgy identity to video games, or even creating the now widely used ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board).
Unfortunately, with the inception of new companies (and a slew of bad decisions), Sega could not keep up on the hardware front and decided that it should focus on games and entertainment. Throughout the years, the company has been bought and sold numerous times, changing its name and focus in the process. In 2003, it merged with Sammy, the pachinko and pachislot manufacturer, therefore becoming Sega Sammy. The company is now divided into four different divisions: video games, arcade games, pachinko/pachislot, and game centers/theme parks. The brand has also had international branches since the 80s (Sega Europe and Sega of America). The Sega Interactive Co., Ltd division was in charge of the development/manufacturing/sales of the amusement machine business until 2020 when it was absorbed into Sega Games, which was in charge of video games. That division was then renamed Sega after the merger. Sega is a subsidiary of Sega Group Corporation, which is, in turn, part of Sega Sammy Holdings. To that, you can add their other divisions (namely, other studios acquired) and their other subsidiaries, such as Atlus, TMS Entertainment, or Two Point Studios.
We’ll clarify how well the company is doing with these Sega statistics and facts. Moreover, if you want a more detailed look at the video games industry statistics then click on the link and learn more!
Sega company key stats
With 60 years of history under its belt, it could be very difficult and extremely confusing to go through numbers and whatnot. Here, we will try to give you an overview of what the company has been throughout all those decades. And it is bound to be a roller-coaster, as Sega is well known for its dry periods and those ten years when the company was functioning at a loss prior to merging with Sammy and making better decisions in general.
1. Sega’s market value has been estimated at around $3.6 billion market cap.
(Source: Den of Geek)
From 1993 to 1997, Sega’s net sales revenue was between ¥333,323 million to ¥359,930 million. That includes consumer products, amusement centers, amusement machines, and royalties on game software.
It then experienced a severe plunge in 1998 by reaching ¥271,475 million (or $2,055,072) in net sales revenue.
The year 2000 yielded better results by increasing the net sales revenue up to ¥339,055 million, before losing its steam -again- in 2001 by generating ¥242,913 million (or $1,960,557).
2002 did not fare better with a total of ¥206,334 (or $1,548473)in net sales revenue. The total for royalties on game software was not included in the reports during those three years.
From 2010 to 2012, the net sales revenue for Sega Sammy was oscillating between ¥384.68 billion and ¥396.73 billion. 2013 suffered a decrease with ¥321.41 billion, but from 2014 to 2020, the company performed well with numbers between ¥323.6 billion to ¥378.01 billion.
In 2017, Sega earned ¥366.9 billion ($3.23 billion) in sales. The Entertainment division (video games) represented a good chunk of that revenue with ¥205.7 billion ($1.81 billion) in sales or 56% of the total revenue in sales.
In 2019, Sega Sammy raked in $1.153 billion in gaming revenue alone. Physical sales were up a whopping 43%, digital sales up 15% and the company’s video games sector rose by 50.9%. The net sales for that year reached ¥366.6 billion (or $3.42 billion).
In 2020, the group sold 46% more games (41.7 million copies) but lost 24% of its revenue due to COVID’s impact on resorts, game centers, and pachinko businesses. It still managed to make ¥366.5 billion in net sales revenue.
Sega Sammy is optimistic about the fiscal year 2021 as the company reported that as of December 2021, overall sales are around ¥236.8 billion ($2 billion). Q3 2021 brought home $404 million alone. For the first nine months of FY2021, the Entertainment division (video games) generated ¥177.9 billion ($1.5 billion).
In terms of profit since 2010, the best year has been 2011 with a profit of ¥41.51 billion, while the worst has been 2015 with a loss of ¥11.38 billion.
First, do not forget that currencies had a different value back in the 90s and at the beginning of the 2000s. Doing so will help you to better understand those numbers. As shown here, Sega Sammy went through difficult times, even when it was showing consistency. The company has lost quite a lot of money in ventures that were not met with success, but also because of some decisions that were too dated and not adapted to the modern industry. Merging with Sammy was a big opportunity as, at the time, Sega was already operating at a loss. Plus, both were dealing in entertainment, which was allowing Sega to stay in its field of predilection.
Since 2010 and through several changes, the group has been faring pretty well, thanks not only to their diverse businesses in toys, pachinko, arcade centers, or even resorts, but also thanks to their video games catalog that has been doing pretty well these last few years. Of course, the company has been cruelly impacted by COVID-19 forcing them to keep some of their establishments closed, but with the government easing the restrictions, it got slowly better throughout 2010. However, a new page is about to be turned as Sega Sammy sold its last arcade centers and decided to leave this venture behind after several decades. The legendary red and white buildings will be missed.
2. The highest selling console from Sega is the Sega Genesis with 29.54 million units sold worldwide.
It sold 16.98 units in North America, 8.39 million in Europe, 3.58 in Japan and 0.59 million in the rest of the world.
The GameGear (1990) sold a total of 10.62 million units with 5.40 million in North America, 3.23 million in Europe, 1.78 million in Japan and 0.21 million in the rest of the world.
8.82 million units of the Sega Saturn (1994) were sold worldwide: 1.83 million in North America, 1.12 million in Europe, 5.80 million in Japan and 0.07 million in the rest of the world.
Sega’s last and ultimate console, the Dreamcast (1998) sold a total of 8.20 million units globally. 3.90 million in North America, 1.91 million in Europe, 2.25 million in Japan and 0.14 million in the rest of the world.
The SG-1000 (1983), Sega’s first video game console, sold around 2 million units.
It was followed by the Mark III (in 1985) or Master System in North America). It was rather unsuccessful there with between 1.5 million-2 million units sold. However, it was the complete opposite in Europe (6.25 million units) and Brazil (8 million).
Even if Sega never fully successfully dethroned Nintendo, it still was quite the rival. The public could even see Sega’s will to do better than Nintendo in the design of their hardware: the dark range of products from Sega contrasting heavily with Nintendo’s white/light gray consoles. It was also illustrated by the ads and the types of games Sega was going for: a bit more mature, edgy, cooler with a tone clearly targeting teenagers and young adults. Even Sonic, the official mascot created in 1991, was made to look and act in a “rad way” compared to the jumpy and chubby plumber in red.
Unfortunately, it was really difficult to beat Nintendo because of several reasons: they had a fantastic marketing that was targeting the whole family; their catalog of games was huge due to the fact that they were working with third-party developers (something Sega was hesitant to do since some of them were their rivals in the arcade business); and they actively prohibited developers to release their games on platforms other than their own. It was a disadvantage, sure, but that also allowed Sega to show what they were made of by developing their own IP (intellectual properties) and being met with success for most of them. But with the advent of new companies (specifically Sony), Sega was obliterated. The Dreamcast just could not hold a candle to the Playstation 2. However, if it was a harsh and shaky battle on the hardware front, when it came to arcade games, Sega has always been at the top. The brand opened many indoor theme parks in Japan and North America featuring numerous arcade games of all sorts. Heck, they even invented the still famous purikura (in association with Atlus).
Sega video games stats
Of course, we also know Sega for their video games. And how could we not? Even if you are not much of a gamer, it is near impossible to not know their hyperactive hedgehog of a mascot: Sonic. But Sega gave us several other franchises to enjoy and that are still considered as classics and iconic games. Some had the opportunity to receive a remake/remaster, and it was a fantastic -and well executed- idea, as they were all received warmly. Let’s take a quick look at Sega’s most famous titles. Acquired IP titles will be included.
4. Sonic the Hedgehog is the biggest franchise owned by Sega with 1.38 billion game sales, digital and physical.
In 2020, Sega reported that the franchise was at 200 million copies sold/downloaded.
The original game was released in June 1991, but by December 1991, already 1 million copies had been sold in the United States alone. And by the end of the year, this number turned into 2 million copies sold worldwide. On Sega Genesis alone, it sold a total of 15 million copies.
Sonic 2, released on the Genesis too, sold 6 million copies in total.
Sonic Boom, released in 2014, is the worst selling game in the franchise with only 490,000 copies sold worldwide and terrible reviews to boot.
In general, after Sonic 3 (1994), games tended to sell between less than 1 million to 1 million copies. Around 2 million, if they were lucky. Sonic Generations corrected the trajectory in 2011 with 3.871 million copies sold… before resuming with mediocre results the following year with Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II and its 0.41 million copies.
Sonic Mania (2017) was released to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the blue speed-devil and sold over 1 million copies worldwide in less than a year. It was the first Sonic game to receive raving reviews in fifteen years!
During Q1 2021, Sega reported a total of 800,000 copies of Sonic-related games sold: it included Sonic Mania, Sonic & Mario at the Tokyo Olympics, Team Sonic Racing, and Sonic Forces.
To much of the fans’ sadness, it seems like Sega was never able to keep Sonic’s reputation intact like Nintendo did (and continues to do) so well with Mario. The games just kept getting clunkier, uglier for some, nonsensical and all in all completely lost that particular flavour that seduced all the players. Is it because Sega tried to switch gears by exploring new genres? No. After all, from Super Mario RPG to Mario Racing, Mario did the same and has always been successful. It can only mean that while trying to experiment, Sonic Team just cannot get it right. Has not been for ages now. And like many fans and critics said: how hard could it be to keep Sonic fast in an environment exploiting its strengths? Because a lot of those games featured a slow Sonic with horrible physics and poor controls, going through maps with limitless loading screens, carrying swords, and running around stale landscapes and Venice-wannabe cities full of people looking like Paul from next door.
Thankfully, Sonic Mania kind of restored faith in Sega when they showed that they could still do pure, unadulterated Sonic. The movie was also pretty good and has surely pushed a new generation of kids towards the blue hedgehog. A second film will be released this year and the third one has already been greenlit. Add to that a new series produced in collaboration with Paramount Pictures and, if done right, you might finally see Sonic and his pals climbing up that mountain of mediocrity. Plus, the next Sonic game, Sonic Frontiers already shows a lot of promises in its approach to an open world. Hopefully, it will do well too and that will stop people from saying that all that is left to Sonic and his friends is to beg Nintendo for scraps (namely: the Olympics games and the fact that they generally sell around 10 million units).
5. As of 2021, Puyo Puyo has now sold a total of 35 million copies since 1991.
The tile-matching game was at 32 million units in 2020 and was met with success by selling 3 million more in a year or so.
The Yakuza franchise has now sold over 17 million copies since 2005. In the last six months of 2021, it sold approximately 1.8 million copies. The release of Yakuza: Like a Dragon pushed its lifetime numbers up to 14 million in 2020.
In 2020, Persona reached 13.1 million in lifetime sales, meaning that 2.9 million copies of the franchise were sold. In 2021, the lifetime sales now amount to 15 million, with 700,000 copies sold throughout the last six months of 2021.
Still from Atlus, the Shin Megami Tensei series recorded 17.4 million lifetime sales in 2020. It slightly increased in 2021 when reaching 17.7 million.
In 2021, the Total War saga (2000) passed the 37 million copies sold milestone and 1 million games were sold throughout the last 6 months of 2021. The last release in February 2022, Total War: Warhammer III, received fantastic reviews all across the board.
As of November 2021, Phantasy Star Online 2 and 2 Genesis now have approximately 9 million users. Virtua Fighters (1993) has finally reached 18 million lifetime sales since its arcade-only days.
Featured are Sega’s biggest IPs, but the company has way more treasures one should pay attention to. The Sakura Wars saga made a comeback in 2019, which increased its lifetime numbers to 5.7 million copies. You might think that it is not much, but remember that only two episodes made it to the West, out of 6 games. Sakura Wars is considered to be a staple in the JRPG industry. We could also talk about Super Monkey Ball and its 20 or so games that are still well-received until today; the Sega feat Hatsune Miku rhythm games that sold 11.5 million units and are still a phenomenon in the international otaku community and Japan since 2009; or Space Channel 5 that started with meek sales and become a classic, not only visually but also via its concepts. There was also a time when Sega was the one in charge of the basketball games NBA 2K. Sega’s catalog is indeed pretty appealing, with a lot of iconic titles and trendsetters during their time. The company announced that they were thinking about releasing remakes/remasters of their best pieces, and we simply cannot wait. They have already proved that they know how to do them: if you have not tried the remastered Yakuza series, now is the time.
To sum up
Sega Sammy is not the powerhouse it used to be, when solely looking at the company through a financial lens. However, it maintained its title as a legend, a company that gave birth to timeless titles and innovations. The brand has endured through all its hardships (and there were quite a lot of those) and is still up and running today. The most unnerving aspect of that stale state the company was in was the way Sonic was treated. Obviously, it was not intended; but the results were still the same: most Sonic games were atrocious. The public had to wait fifteen years before being able to enjoy these again. And it better stay that way!
A lot of Sega’s creative issues had to do with a lot of their most talented creators leaving the company to go establish their own studio or to use their knowledge in something actually working. The last one to leave in 2021 was Toshihiro Nogashi, the mind behind Yakuza and a Sega veteran of 30 years. That does not spell disaster, though: these last few years, Sega has been going through a healing phase, with their profits and revenues staying consistent and video games carrying the torch during those trying times. They even got through 2020 and 2021, the biggest COVID years, mostly unscathed.
“Mostly”, as the company lost a lot of money because of the restrictions imposed by the government. Their arcade centers, resorts and pachinko/pachislot businesses had to close for a while and then reopen in a climate that was forcing them to restrict the number of people. The result is that Sega Sammy will now disappear from the arcade landscape. Arcade rimed with Sega and the changes will be huge and will be felt, even visually (the red and white Sega Clubs and their tall buildings will disappear). Thankfully, it will still be possible to play arcade games and crane games thanks to the Yakuza games featuring several Sega clubs.
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