The Case For And Against Microsoft Buying SEGA For Xbox

Despite its recent massive purchase of Bethesda, Microsoft has made it clear they are not done buying game studios. Microsoft has the budget to keep adding to its roster indefinitely, and now that’s led to speculation about where they might be headed next.

The common thought is that Microsoft wants to expand Xbox’s reach internationally, and a new acquisition could end up being a storied Japanese games company. There are a few candidates brought up, Capcom, Konami, but one more than others, SEGA.

SEGA has been a rather fascinating company in the video game space for the last few decades. It was, of course, a major player in the console space across many generations before it exited hardware and became a publisher and IP holder only.

I am not going to get into the conspiracy theories that are “hints” about a potential acquisition:

(Though that Sonic-colored Xbox controller does look pretty sweet).

But rather I wanted to talk about why this move would or wouldn’t make sense for Microsoft with the current state of the company, the Xbox brand and its recent purchases.

On first glance, it’s not exactly clear just how much Microsoft would glean from picking up SEGA. There was a rumor a while ago that Microsoft was going to partner with SEGA to “brand” the Xbox Series X for Japan in some way, possibly renaming it, but as we get closer to launch and with pre-orders live already, that does not seem to be happening. I also don’t know to what extent the Japanese market would be “fooled” by such a rebranding (SEGA Genesis X!).

As for SEGA’s IPs, they’re scattered in pretty random directions these days. They still own their most iconic hero, Sonic, but good Sonic games are few and far between now and the character is not exactly the video game icon he once was (though he’s becoming a burgeoning movie star, against all odds). SEGA has other offerings like Streets of Rage and Football Manager and Shenmue, but I wouldn’t put those anywhere near the scale of what we’re seeing from Bethesda.

However, go a bit deeper and we start getting into some more major hitters. The Yakuza franchise would be a pretty solid feather in Microsoft’s cap, as that series remains popular and with additional funding, could continue to blossom.

But I think one really key pickup from this would potentially be the Persona series. Persona is made by Atlus, but these days, many may not realize that Atlus is a subsidiary of SEGA. And with a deal like this, you would assume Atlus would be part of it, and the Persona series would come with it, potentially becoming an Xbox Series X/Game Pass/xCloud exclusive. That…would be significant, considering how fantastic that series has been as of late. Persona 5 Royal is literally the highest reviewed game of the entire year, beating out The Last of Us Part 2, Half-Life: Alyx and Animal Crossing. That is the kind of thing that Microsoft would love to have in its arsenal going forward.

I think overall Capcom would bring more iconic IPs to the table, if Microsoft is shopping in Japan: Street Fighter, Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, Monster Hunter, Mega Man, Dragon’s Dogma and many, many more, but it would also probably be more expensive too. SEGA might be a good middleground as a hugely iconic name, one of the most known in the industry, plus a few very solid franchises and a crown jewel like Persona. This is more important than whether or not Microsoft can sell Sonic skinned SEGA Series Xs in Japan.

I agree that Microsoft’s next purchase may indeed be Japanese, but we’ll see what company catches their eye, whether it’s SEGA or someone else.

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