There is a question that many of us keep asking: why the hell SEGA stopped releasing Initial D Arcade Stage games in Western countries after the fourth installment in 2007? And who is to blame for that? Patrick Michael, head of R&D department at SEGA Amusements Europe, says it’s us. We, Western players, are the only ones to blame.
But why is that? Patrick Michael, in an interview with Eurogamer, explains Initial D Arcade Stage EU and US releases as a failed attempts to bring a Japanese-style game to a very Western audience. He pointed out that in Japanese game centers there are tons of titles alien and most likely impenetrable to Western players, making translation for local audiences improbable or even impossible, with little to none appeal at all.
He said that’s a problem that Sega Amusements has faced in recent history:
“A lot of titles have been tried. Games like Initial D, which is a fantastic driving game but it’s a one-on-one race where you’re either in first place or last place. In Japan it’s very popular, but in Europe no-one wants to be in last place, really – you want a much more open road, more AI cars and more of a feeling of achievement. You’re seeing, certainly for us, games becoming much more casual in the western market, whereas in Japan they’re perhaps becoming more core.”
Sega Amusements’ goal was to work with local developers to create games with a more local appeal, and so, instead of the niche Japanese-style driving Initial D, it worked on SEGA Rally 3 and, more recently, on the arcade port of Codemaster’s GRID.
So basically it’s our fault. Because arcades in Europe and US are more and more rare to find, and the arcade-goers are becoming a bunch of casual gamers, that don’t like to lose. And on a game like IDAS you’re going to lose quite often until you get skilled enough to become competitive.
We can’t deny that this is truly the recent trend, and under some aspects Michael’s thoughts make sense, but we are here, writing about this and being witnesses of a community of core player that isn’t lost forever, but alive and fervent, forced to stay underground.
We’re not writing this begging SEGA Amusements to publish any Initial D game in the near future, that’s not gonna happen anyway, but just to say: hey, we’re still here, and we want to race!