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Sega boss acknowledges 'betrayed trust,' pledges better console games (Correction)

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Sega's CEO is promising a renewed focus on console gaming quality, with an announcement coming at Tokyo Game Show, following a series of misfires and retreats that have alienated many gamers, particularly in the West.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misattributed the comments made in the interview. They came from Haruki Satomi, the CEO of Sega Games.

Speaking to Famitsu (translation via Siliconera), Haruki Satomi acknowledged a broken trust with Sega's longtime fans, who were deeply disappointed by last fall's disastrous Sonic Boom, and have taken January's closure of Sega's San Francisco office, and no booth at E3 2015, as further bad news for its commitment to consoles.

"We did our best to build a relationship of mutual trust with older fans of Sega," Satomi said, "but looking back, there've been some titles that have partially betrayed that [trust] in the past 10 years."

Atlus, acquired by Sega in 2013, has helped the publisher's console footing somewhat. "As far as the Western market goes, we learned a lot from Atlus," Satomi said. "If we can make a title with proper quality, I believe there's a good chance for it to do well even in the West for players that like to play Japanese games."

But console titles most closely identified with Sega have been disappointments, particularly last year's Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric on Wii U, the biggest critical failure in the 24-year Sonic the Hedgehog series. "Sega in the 1990s was known for its brand, but after that, we've lost trust, and we were left with nothing but reputation," Satomi said. "For this reason, we'd like to win back the customers' trust, and become a brand once again."

In January, Sega announced it was closing its longtime San Francisco office, laying off about 300 employees and focusing more on its smartphone and PC lines of games (Total War, Company of Heroes and Football Manager among the latter.)

Update: Satomi extended his remarks in this comment given after the Famitsu interview:

"Seeing our fans across the world respond to our recent interview with Famitsu, lets us know we've made the right first step in acknowledging who we are and where we want to be. Sega is dedicated to bringing you quality gaming experiences and becoming a brand you love and trust again."

Sega isn't the first Japanese publisher to offer a mea culpa to fans suspicious that it's bailing on the console market. In May, Konami, whose publishing has seen even steeper decline, sought to reassure fans that it remained committed to console and PC gaming following a major structural reorganization and a shift to mobile gaming. Previously, the publisher had canceled the forthcoming Silent Hills, and signs point strongly to a split with Hideo Kojima, the longtime Konami veteran and creator of the Metal Gear Solid series.

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