SEGA and Microsoft have always had a pretty good partnership, ever since Peter Moore left for Microsoft circa 2003 and even before. In recent years this partnership has only intensified, with many SEGA titles such as the Yakuza series making their way onto Xbox Game Pass, which has, in turn, has helped afford Microsoft a stronger position in the Japanese market than it had ever experienced prior.
While rumors have persisted that Microsoft might be looking to purchase Sega, it appears that for now, both companies will be entering into an alliance based on the use of Microsoft’s cloud gaming. In an official statement from SEGA they state:
SEGA Corporation (hereinafter referred to as “SEGA”) and Microsoft Corporation (hereinafter referred to as “Microsoft”) have agreed in principal, a strategic alliance that explores ways for SEGA to produce large-scale, global games in a next-generation development environment built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. The alliance would form a key part of SEGA’s mid to long-term strategy, allowing the business to move forward with “Super Game”, a new initiative for developing new and innovative titles where the key focuses are “Global”, “Online”, “Community” and “IP utilization”.
SEGA stated that with 5G becoming more readily available streaming has become a bigger part of the industry as a whole and this partnership seems to be a strong push into solidifying their ability to deliver quality streaming in the future. Sega then went on to say:
This proposed alliance represents SEGA looking ahead, and by working with Microsoft to anticipate such trends as they accelerate further in future, the goal is to optimize development processes and continue to bring high-quality experiences to players using Azure cloud technologies.
Since both companies have shared a long history of working together this partnership makes total sense, even if this is not the acquisition that everybody may have been clamoring for. With SEGA a large and pretty successful studio in recent years, this deal allows them to maintain full autonomy while still fostering their relationship further with Microsoft.
Microsoft’s Sarah Bonds stated on this alliance:
We look forward to working together as they explore new ways to create unique gaming experiences for the future using Microsoft cloud technologies. Together we will reimagine how games get built, hosted, and operated, with a goal of adding more value to players and SEGA alike.
Reportedly, when the Dreamcast first began to show signs of financial trouble, Sega Chairman Isao Okawa approached Bill Gates in hopes of getting Microsoft to add the ability to play Dreamcast games on the Original Xbox. Since the Xbox did borrow a few elements from the Dreamcast, it would have been a pretty cool merger if it went through. We will always have Shenmue II though.