Sega West announced today that president Mike Hayes will be departing from the company this summer.
Hayes, who has worked at Sega West for eight years, presided over significant growth in the company and helped facilitate the company’s transformation into a multiplatform developer and publisher after Sega decided to leave the console development market. His most notable contributions to Sega include the acquisitions of The Creative Assembly (Total War series) and Sports Interactive (Football Manager series), as well as stressing the need for the company to focus on digital business through virtual consoles.
Once he leaves Sega, Hayes intends to pursue advisory roles both inside and outside the gaming industry.
Sega president Naoya Tsurumi said the following about Hayes’s departure.
Mike has achieved a huge amount during his time at SEGA and we thank him for the amazing things he has accomplished. Mike is a great character and very passionate about the industry, he helped steer the extraordinary growth of SEGA and has built an exceptional team of professionals that will stand us in good stead for the future.
Analysis: In order to understand what Hayes’s departure means for the company, it’s important to realize just what decisions Hayes was responsible for.
First, he was helpful in completing Sega’s transition from a console developer into a multiplatform publisher. After the Dreamcast was discontinued in 2001, Sega was in a state of crisis: They had just suffered their fifth consectuive year of financial loss, including record-breaking net losses. The president of Sega at the time, Isao Okawa, was throwing $695.7 million dollars in a private donation to the company in order to keep it afloat, and Microsoft and Sega were entering talks about a merger that ultimately failed (this was back when Microsoft was still planning its entrance into the gaming market). Clearly, the console-maker Sega was failing, and it needed to reinvent itself.
Although Hayes was not the primary machine in the reinvention of Sega, he was still a very important part of giving the company its new identity, and it was this new identity that helped the faltering company regain its footing.
Furthermore, Hayes was very central to Sega’s acquisitions of two of its most important franchises: the Total War series and the Football Manager series. These franchises are huge moneymakers, and although it’s always hard to track the actual sales counts of digital games, a 2011 estimate by industry analyst group FADE estimated that Shogun 2: Total War sold roughly 326,000 units, which is equatible to $15.1 million USD in revenue. That’s big money for Sega.
Ultimately, the loss of Hayes is a big blow to Sega. Without the man who directed the company as it started to restructure itself after the fall of the Dreamcast and who led Sega to purchase huge studios like The Creative Assembly and Sports Interactive, I think Sega will have to really step up its game in order to remain competitive in the future.