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Sega open to developing more niche MMOs

Tracey John

With the success of Football Manager Live in the U.K., Sega is open to the possibility of making other niche MMOs in the future.

During a Sega event in New York City last week, I spoke with Sega West president Mike Hayes about the MMO market. He said that the company's subscription-based sports MMO is doing well, and he discussed upcoming plans for the game.

"Football Manager Live was a very U.K.-specific launch, and our next task is localization to take it to other territories," he said. "So whether that be France, Korea, Brazil or wherever there's a good football fanbase. It's certainly a project we're quite pleased with in terms of the progress we've made. As for future projects... we're looking at things."

But if you're a soccer fan in the U.S., don't hold your breath if you're waiting for Football Manager Live to come Stateside.

"We're always up to the challenge against football," Hayes said. "It's not as widely accepted here as it is in Europe, so I don't know how that's going to pan out for North America, specifically. But players in North America can still join Football Manager Live, and they'll get a good experience."

I asked if Sega was thinking about crafting that kind of sports management MMO for other U.S. sports in particular. However, the problem with American sports, of course, is licensing.

"The thing about games from [Football Manager Live developer] Sports Interactive is that they're unbelievably detailed," Hayes said. "We have someone who tells you the average temperatures in stadiums in the middle of Brazil that I've never heard of. It's that accurate, and being able to get that licensed data for North American sports is a lot harder, unfortunately. We happen to think we'd do a very good [American sports game], but those are the limitations we've got."

While licensing is a roadblock for any American sports-based games, Hayes thought that, even in the face of World of Warcraft, Sega would be open to other types of MMOs. Though the executive maintained that there are no major announcements coming soon, the company is "always looking" at possible niche titles.

"I don't think it's binary; I don't think it's either huge or nothing," he said of the MMO market and competing with WoW. "Football Manager Live is moving towards being a very successful MMO, but certainly not on the level of numbers a WoW is going to have. But we can still make it very successful and profitable. Phantasy Star Universe is very successful without having the big numbers. It had a good loyal fanbase, and it was profitable."

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