Would You Play Sonic the Hedgehog on Facebook?

segalogoIn keeping up with gaming juggernauts like Nintendo, Square Enix, Ubisoft and Electronic Arts, Sega is now looking to put together a social games team within their San Francisco office.  Will they be able to overcome the challenges necessary to put together a social games team, and if so, what kind of experience can we look forward to?  I analyze this below.

As reported by GamesIndustry, the company is looking to take on some of the overvalued heavyweights of the current industry by creating games from within Sega.   The companies feels that full control of the development and financials of the project will enable them to create a better experience at a lower cost.  There is certainly merit to the concept, because outsourcing social games, as many big companies are doing, relies on the developer to develop a solid framework that will last well into the future, and if they are not incentivized well to do so, they may make a game that can handle the first few weeks before falling apart. 

“I’m not saying that about social gaming, but the value of what is current – you could argue is actually too high,” said Sega West president Mike Hayes “If you look at a lot of famous companies, I won’t mention any names, but look at their balance books and they are not making any money.”

That said, the challenge of creating social games in house is that it’s actually not that easy.  The game mechanics for games that leverage the social graph are not the same as traditional games, and typically the hardware and software tools necessary are different.  For instance, a lot of games are now using services like Google App Engine or Amazon IO for scalable development and cloud computing, and this is a very new technology that your traditional console game developer may have no idea about.  We definitely experienced this years ago during my time with EA.

If they do get things going, I wonder what titles they’ll release?  I could see a sweet Sonic flash game with high scores and friending.  They could even include a whole Genesis arcade with a variety of titles from their old consoles.  I imagine, though, they’re going to try and get original and may or may not include Sega properties.  What do you think?