Sega sells its arcade business due to the COVID-19 pandemic

New reports claim that the company has sold off an 85.1 percent stake in its Japanese arcade business. That still leaves Sega with a small 15 percent chunk of the business, but that’s hardly enough to control its operations. No, from here on out, Sega has essentially washed its hands of its arcades, which might disappoint some of its Japan-based fans.

Saga still expected to record “extraordinary losses” as part of the transfer. While there had been some recovery after the initial blow from the pandemic, the situation was still uncertain enough to prompt the selloff.

The arcades won’t vanish. Sega told Famitsu in an interview that customers can still visit, and that it would still develop arcade games. Genda said it aimed to expand the amusement facility business, although it appears Sega’s plans to turn arcades into “fog gaming” data centers didn’t pan out.

It’s still the end of an era, though. Sega’s arcades are iconic parts of the Japanese landscape, to the point where they appear prominently in games like Persona 5. Sega had already closed its legendary Akihabara Building 2 arcade in August, and it won’t be surprising if there’s more consolidation. Unfortunately, the gaming pioneer might not have much choice. Arcades by their definition involve many people touching the same controls and frequently getting close to each other — none of that will be safe until the pandemic is over.

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