Sega's "Super Game" gets ready for something huge

Sega and Microsoft kicked off November by making a big announcement, revealing that they are considering entering a "strategic alliance." While the details of this partnership are somewhat vague at this early stage, it seems like it could have significant implications for this new generation of consoles. Sega also uses the words "Super Game" at one point in this announcement, so you know that whatever the two companies are plotting, at least they consider it to be big.

Azure at the center of proposed Microsoft-Sega partnership

In the announcement of this potential partnership, published today to Sega's corporate website, Sega says that it will enable the company to explore ways it can "produce large-scale, global games in a next-generation development environment built on Microsoft's Azure cloud platform." While a lot of that statement is vague, the key there is the Azure name drop. Whatever Sega winds up making, it will use Microsoft's popular cloud computing service.

Sega says that this partnership will be important to its "mid to long-term strategy" involving a new project called "Super Game." Lacking any other details about Super Game, Sega says that it will focus on four key concepts: "Global, Online, Community, and IP utilization." We should also point out that this partnership isn't technically official yet, as the two companies say they have "agreed in principal" and are "considering" such an alliance.

The rest of the announcement is rather vague PR speak, but it's worth noting that Sega does call out 5G and cloud computing specifically later on in the press release. That, in turn, suggests that Sega envisions "Super Game" as one that can be played on various platforms, likely thanks to Azure. At first blush, it almost seems like Sega is describing an MMO or a live service title with a focus on community and cloud-based gameplay.

Live service or something different?

If Sega were to make a live service title that taps Azure so it can be played on phones, consoles, PCs, or any device with an internet connection, it wouldn't be a shocking revelation. Live service games are very popular with major publishers these days, as successful ones keep players playing and keep players spending money.

That is assuming, of course, that the live service game in question actually becomes popular. Games like Apex Legends and Destiny 2 seem to rake in cash year-over-year, while the future of live service games that fail to attract a consistent audience – Marvel's Avengers or BioWare's Anthem come to mind – is constantly in question.

This isn't the first time Sega has mentioned "Super Game," either. During a financial presentation earlier this year, Sega told investors that Super Game is a long play, anticipating that it would launch within the next five years. While we didn't learn much else at the time, Sega did confirm that it would introduce a new IP, so if you read the words "IP utilization" earlier in the article and immediately assumed that Super Game would be a Sega mash-up that included many of its existing characters, you may not want to get your hopes up on that front.

Sega's statements during that financial presentation in May tell us that regardless of what Super Game is, we probably aren't going to find out more about it for some time to come. If Sega's goal is to launch this title in the next five years, we could still be very far out from a full reveal. Indeed, Sega's own admission is that this partnership with Microsoft "represents Sega looking ahead," so it's safe to assume that we'll be well into the new console generation by the time Super Game is on shelves.

What I think is coming

Obviously, with so few concrete details about Super Game, it's hard to say what it is with any kind of confidence. However, I think it's probably fair to expect that Super Game will wind up being a live service title that emphasizes always-online gameplay, long-term player engagement, and monetization through microtransactions and in-game purchases.

That seems like the most logical choice simply because live service games are the current hot thing with developers large enough to build them and publishers large enough to fund them. Live service games have stepped into the space MMOs used to occupy, giving players reasons to return to the game often through frequent content updates while providing developers and publishers with consistent income.

While that consistent income may have been monthly subscriptions during the height of the MMO craze, these days they're more often in-game purchases like skins and other cosmetic items or battle passes – reward tracks that are purchased upfront and then progressed by playing the game. Those battle passes give players reason to keep playing and induce the fear of missing out when they put the game down for a significant period of time, which is partly why live service games are controversial with some gamers.

Of course, there's always the potential for Sega to turn Super Game into something vastly different and maybe even novel, but we'll have to wait until we have more details about the project before we make that call one way or another.