There was a time when Sega was relevant; you might recall its final glory days as a console manufacturer (Long Live the Dreamcast!). Since that time, however, Sega’s transformation to a third party publisher has been anything but smooth. Its once venerable Sonic series is now the punchline to many industry jokes, and exactly how many iterations of Virtua Tennis must be made before even we are sick and tired or Maria Sharapova?

This unpromising backdrop might explain why Sega chose to make and release a rather distasteful viral video. It depicts the kidnapping of a Sega developer. In refusing to concede a supposedly huge April announcement (yet another doubtful megaton), he is “tortured” by his captors. First, in the form of a leg waxing, followed by an ear clipping, and then to James Blunt’s overplayed “Beautiful”. During each sequence, you can hear the captive screaming in “pain”.

The eerie likeness to numerous terrorist videos is only the tip of what makes these videos off the mark. As an industry that continues to fight media/legislators who claim it actively exploits violence for profit, it’s hard to see how this kind of advertising doesn’t legitimize their positions.

 

With its relevancy in question, and its icon-status diminished, Sega is clearly after ‘shock’ value. And if its goal is to simply get written about, then I suppose this blog entry (which I presume will be read by its agency folk) — along with others that will probably come — achieves that goal. But how much value is there in creating conversation that, in my perspective, seems thus far resoundingly negative?

 

And how sad is it that Sega — a brand gamers once associated with greatness on even keel with Nintendo — must resort to this kind of advertising to even get written about?

 

There was a time, not too long ago, when Sega relied on the quality of its games to garner interest and hype over its announcements. Virtua Fighter 5 notwithstanding, most of its recent gen offerings have been either uninspired (Nightshade) or, in a word, terrible (Sonic Riders). One wishes Sega went back to what it once did very well: creative vision that encapsulated gamer minds and took us to worlds unseen (NiGhts, Panzer Dragoon Saga).

 

Whatever announcement this viral video is tied to, it shows an incredible level of desparation. And based on many user comments I’ve read, it also shows how out-of-touch Sega is with the rest of the industry and, unfortunately, the rest of the world.

 

Sega, take note: You can’t make yourself relevant by continuuing to plug poorly made games. Go back and give us the next JSRF — and let the gamers find their way back to you.

 

And please, go back to making “funny” videos. If you think this is funny, then you have an agency that apparently idolizes John Melendez.

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