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Happy Birthday Sega, But What Even Is "Fog Gaming"?

Illustration for article titled Happy Birthday Sega, But What Even Is Fog Gaming?

Sega’s rumored shake up of the game industry doesn’t sound as exciting as Famitsu’s Zenji Nishikawa may have made it sound, but then as I have said before he was probably talking in the context of Japan. While details on Sega’s new service are hazy, I have a few guesses as to where this is going.

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The Game Gear Micro is neat, but it’s certainly not the shakeup Nishikawa was talking about. I’m not all that interested in getting one, but for those who are, I am happy that Sega is doing this. I hope it’s a quality product.

The other thing that was mentioned was called “fog gaming”, not many details were given, but as they say, where there is smoke, there is Sega doing something strange that we don’t completely understand.

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As I had guessed, it’s not really anything for anyone outside of Japan to get excited about. It’s not the Dreamcast 2, Sega isn’t partnering with Microsoft and releasing a rebranded Xbox either.

Nightshift Nurse mentioned in the comments last time I posted on the matter that it probably had something to do with arcades, and it turns out this has been proven correct.

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The details are shady AF, but here is my theory:

Many people might be none the wiser, but Sega is a dominant force in the still very much alive and kicking arcade scene in Japan, and thus is the status quo. Sega doesn’t quite rule the arcade roost, but is happy to leave the console market to Sony and the handheld market to Nintendo. Acting as a third party, Sega with their rather meaty library of successful IP, and an extensive back catalogue of well-loved games, has found new life.

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In fact, the company is 60 years old on the 3rd of June, which was a couple of days ago. Happy birthday, Sega! If I live long enough, maybe I’ll see it’s centenary. I’d really like to see that.

Anyway, back to this fog gaming business.

The arcade scene in Japan has been steadily declining in recent years, and companies like Sega, Bandai Namco and others in that space are having to work together to keep it alive and exciting. I’m not sure of recent numbers, but it’s unsurprising that Sega with it’s large arcade footprint will need the market to change, or transform their business somehow to keep up with changing times. They’ve done it before, so I’m sure they will do it again, the company won’t necessarily remain profitable just because it’s had a few good years.

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So, here is my theory: Fog gaming is going to be a streaming service of sorts, and will capitalize on unused storage and computing power in the arcade networks, basically this will mean that the game you are trying to stream will be in the network cache somewhere at any given time allowing for much faster load times and reduced latency, provided there is a nearby arcade network. If you think of fog as a cloud on the ground, with the ground being Sega’s arcade infrastructure, then it makes sense.

Assuming my theory is correct, as I said before, this isn’t much for gamers outside of Japan to get excited about, but it is a cool idea and if it means Sega and all their great IP will be around for a bit longer, I’m all for it.

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What do you think fog gaming could be? Are you disappointed by the announcement? Did the Game Gear even have any good games? All these questions and more in the comments!

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