Which Game Company Released a Game Parodying Their Eventual Demise?
Not many game companies can lay claim to having a game in their stable that mimics actually working for the game company, let alone a game that foreshadows their own demise. Not many game companies that is, outside of game publisher and console maker Sega.
In 2001, Sega released a game called Segagaga for the Sega Dreamcast. The game, a Japan-only release, was an RPG focused entirely on a dystopian future where, ironically, Sega was the least popular game company. Set in 2025 and the home town of the Sega corporation, the storyline depicts Sega with only 3 percent of the market share for console games.
Sega, the fictional in-game Sega that is, starts a project called Project Segagaga to help Sega fight the evil DOGMA (a company modeled closely on real-world Sega’s primary competitor, Sony). Project Segagaga enlists the help of two teenagers, Tarō Sega and Yayoi Haneda, to help save the company. What ensues is a sort of bizarre kaleidoscope of tedious labor scenes recreating working at Sega, psychedelic scenes that take players inside games themselves, and inside jokes only Japanese gamers would even pick up on.
As if the game itself wasn’t bizarre enough, the development and marketing of the game is equally strange. Developed by Tez Okano, the pitch for the game was initially perceived as a joke by upper management at Sega. He pitched the game again and was given a very tentative green light and a small budget. Okano went on to continue developing the game in secret, for fear that somebody, presumably, would take a moment to focus unwanted scrutinization on a game structured around a dystopian future where Sega was a bit player in the game market.
The game was released in 2001 with no fanfare. Okano took it upon himself to market the game, armed with a budget of only $200. He spent over half the budget on a wrestling mask to hide his identity and set up signing events to promote the game to die-hard Sega fans. His grass roots push to get the game recognized succeeded and Sega eventually sunk some money into marketing it and releasing it to a wider audience.
A limited release of the game even included a shirt with a Segagaga logo on it that players could wear while playing, pin badges (with Game Gear, Dreamcast, Sega Saturn, Sega Mark III, Mega Drive, and SGGG logos on them), and a Segagaga organizer. Sadly, this all predated the movie Inception by almost a decade, so there were no Segaception jokes to be had.
Image courtesy of Sega.