Sega's Mike Hayes Pt.1

Interview: The Sega West boss on Madworld, Yakuza, Natal and much more besides...

Sega's Mike Hayes is perhaps the most powerful man in third-party publishing the world over.

Following a reshuffle of Sega's global structure last year, Hayes - former boss of Sega UK - now presides over the entire Western division of the firm, encompassing both Europe and North America.

Of course, there are still bigger publishers - but that's something Hayes is keen to remedy.

And, as the genial, straight-talking exec tells CVG in this first part of our Q&A, the key to this growth will be pleasing hardcore fans like never before...

How would you characterise Sega's line-up for 2010? What's different to preceding years?
The key development over the next 12 months for us will be to build on the success we've seen on Wii and DS, as you'd expect - but our main area of focus will be to increase the market share we have on 360 and PS3. That's absolutely our single-minded goal for this year.


Aliens vs Predator has thundered along in the right direction. The pre-orders were the highest we've ever had for a core Sega game. Bayonetta had excellent reviews and it's gone to plan. The great thing about Bayonetta is that it's a product that sells well in Japan as well as North America, as well as Europe. They're very rare.

Overall, Bayonetta's shipped well over a million units globally. Again, as a great core game, that gives us something to build upon. Going forward, if you look at our 360 and PS3 portfolio, we've announced Vanquish from Platinum Games - a third-person shooter. We're getting ready to grow our share of the PS3 and 360 market.

If you look at Sega in Europe, we're around the fifth or sixth biggest publisher - and a lot of that is driven by Football Manager, Total War and Mario & Sonic, Sonic and Sega IP like House Of The Dead. And we've had a lot of success with DS. But if you look at our market share on 360 and PS3, we're closer to No.8, and we need to bring that up.

Do you think Platinum Games' natural home is on PS3 and 360?
I think so. I guess there's a reference to MadWorld there. Critically it got a lot of acclaim, but commercially it wasn't the success we wanted it to be. Clearly that was a mismatch with the Wii audience - particularly in terms of the amount of cross-ownership between Wii and the other home platforms. If you're going to play a mature-rated game, you're going to get your 360, PC or PS3 out to do so. But you can't knock us for having a go.

We were brave in that area - but the reality is, Platinum Games is such a cutting-edge developer they need the PS3 or 360 to realise what they actually want to do. You saw that with Bayonetta - it was a very high-quality standard. Vanquish will push the envelope even further. Platinum are definitely more at home on those platforms. But we were thrilled when they tried to do a mature thing on Nintendo. House Of the Dead was seen as a more credible IP with the Nintendo audience - maybe even more fun.


We also have a very good next-gen team in Japan, with Yakuza and Nagoshi's team. He has huge success with Yakuza in Japan. The challenge for us is how to take that brand far more seriously [in the West]. That combined with our external relationships with the likes of Rebellion and Gearbox and our internal studios leaves me confident we can move up on PS3 and Xbox 360.

Yakuza's huge news on CVG. There's obviously a massive appetite for it out there...
For our fanbase - and it's really big in the United States in particular - we at Sega are disappointed that we didn't introduce Yakuza 3 earlier to market. That was probably an error on our part.

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