Sega Europe’s senior VP of commercial publishing talks console ports.
In recent years, alongside big strategy games, such as Total War: Warhammer and Company of Heroes 2, Sega has brought some of its more eclectic console classics to PC, like Bayonetta, Val k yr ia Chronicles, and Vanquish. Sega’s got much more to come, though. Sega Europe’s John Clark explains the process behind porting these games, and I press him on what else we can expect to see on PC in future.
What motivates your choice of which old console games to bring to PC? If I asked you to write me a list of the ten games you want Sega to bring out on PC, it probably isn’t any different from the list [we have]. What motivates that [is] that people just have an affinity with [our] games, and there’s no surprise in the games that would be on that list.
We recently launched Bayonetta and Vanquish, and prior to that we launched Valkyria Chronicles. Further back, we launched Typing of the Dead— and all of these games that are either delivering the experiences that the community wants, or they’re enabling us to understand how the community plays those games, and how the community interacts. I think when we launched Bayonetta, straight away on Steam I saw somebody say, ‘We want to see these games on Steam now! Sega, we want to see you working on these!’ And we’re looking at that and we say, ‘Yeah, we know! We know!’—and we want to work on them as well, and we haven’t finished. We just haven’t finished with Vanquish and Bayonetta, we’re still there—we are actively working on other games as we speak. We’re not ready to tell you what they are, but there will be news coming out in the next few months.
What are the challenges of porting a game to PC? Vanquish never ran at 60 frames per second, for example—what’s the process behind that? First, [depending on how old the game is], what’s the archiving of the source code like? Does the engine and the way that the game was built enable us to elegantly port it onto PC? As you say, they weren’t built for variable framerates or 60 frames per second, so we worked with PlatinumGames on that. But we also bring in our own expertize from some studios that we work within the UK, and some talent that we know understands how we want to align PC games to the audience.
So there’s the technical aspect, there’s the source code, the status of the source code. There is everything from licensing and past agreements, but it could be anything from music or what items are in the game. Are we drinking a particular type of beverage, are we eating a particular type of food, or driving a particular car? That’s all relevant through a lot of Sega games, and we do need to check all of those, and it does have an influence on what is the next one on the list that we can get to.
Are there any projects where it’s just too tangled up licensing-wise or logistically to do? Is that just a challenge you face with some of the older games? Absolutely. And [it’s] a challenge that we accept and we dive into and, for us, it’s [about] figuring out a way through it, and we’ve got a really progressive attitude in that we want to see certain games come to market. We are committed to get those games to market that fall into that exact category that you’ve just said.
One thing that you haven’t done yet is bring any Atlus games to PC—I was wondering whether that is something we could possibly look at in the future? The great thing about being involved with Atlus—and you see it through Sega America and Atlus—they’re bringing out Persona 5, which is an Atlus title, but they’re bringing out new editions of the Yakuza titles, and so it just makes sense that we all talk together about extending all of those, incredible IP, across to Steam and recognize the fact that the PC audience adds to those community and consumer experiences. It doesn’t detract from it, and it isn’t anything that they need to be concerned about, so those conversations definitely happen.
We see our role as educating our business about PC and Steam, as well as driving our business forward in retail and on console as well, and we’re all aware of the opportunities that are across all platforms for the IP.
Everyone has that wish list of games they want to see on PC. You seem to be really conscious of that. Yeah, if you send that list to us and I’ll tell you which ones we can tick, which ones are on our list, which ones are possibilities, which ones are not possibilities, which ones we’ve talked about, which ones we’re talking about, which ones we’re working on—they’ll be on that list.
Yakuza, is that a possibility on PC? It’s on that list. It’s something that we’re talking about. We can see that Yakuza is out on console, and it would just be incredible to bring that to the PC audience.
I guess, along the same lines— Persona? Of course, of course—I keep staying ahead of you, I’m trying to guess what you’re going to say next.
Sorry, I know you can’t confirm any of this. No, absolutely. But we don’t feel that anything is off the table in terms of these conversations. The fact that, as an organization, we’re having these [conversations], they’re healthy conversations, they’re constructive, we recognize the value of the community, we recognize the value of the IP. The IP has got continued life to grow bigger, and, yeah, we’re having those conversations.