Interview with Nick Pili, PlaySEGA

By Erin Bell |

SEGA is best known for classic console games like Super Monkey Ball, Phantasy Star and Sonic the Hedgehog, but the company’s latest project has been online. Network Business Director Nick Pili spoke to Gamezebo about SEGA’s recently-launched web game and social networking portal, PlaySEGA, which is shaping up to be an online destination for a variety of free-to-play casual games as well as host to a healthy back catalogue of retro classics from SEGA’s video game vaults.

Why was SEGA inspired to create a web game portal and social network?

PlaySEGA was born out of the SEGA Network Group. We manage most things online for the company to include all of our great websites, online marketing assets, opt-in databases, email campaigns and recently help launched our new MMO Soccer Game – Football Manager Live, developed by the world famous Sports Interactive. We’ve always been huge fans of creating and seeding mini web games to help promote mainstream SEGA games and we thought it would be cool to create a portal to host all of these. (Some of the click-through rates that these mini web-games generate are phenomenal ).

From here we started to research many of the other great mini web portals that are out there to better understand this market place and to see how we could position ourselves a little differently.

One of the things we learnt very quickly was that many of the web games we had created as marketing tools to promote SEGA titles lacked the depth to be defined or enjoyed as a "true portal" mini web game. This then inspired us to create a series of phase 1 games that are currently live on PlaySEGA, complimented by the cool API we have created which calculates users highest scores, leaderboard ranks, PlaySEGA Ring Payouts (our site currency) and achievements attained.

Who is PlaySEGA’s target audience?

Any one who enjoys playing cool (Free to Play) – mini web games. Our medium term ambition is to create a balanced portfolio of mini web games to appeal to all. We are currently seeing that the games themselves are defining their own audiences for example our new Cooking Quiz game ‘The Quiz of Culinary Delights’ is skewed towards a female audience and games like Stuntmaster Motorcross towards males.

How many of the games on the site are developed by SEGA?

We have licensed a handful of "guest games" but the majority of these are SEGA developed.

Tell us about the My Escape section.

"Where do you want to escape to" is currently our favorite, (perhaps over used) phrase around our office. Our research concluded that many users like to participate in item collecting and customization of avatars and the PlaySEGA My Escape section was born.

Think of Escape areas as your user profile page – completely skinned up in the theme of your choice, which you can then decorate with personal luxury items such a TV’s, Arcade machines, furniture, even lava lamps and pumpkins that glow in the dark. There are literally hundreds of cool items to choose from. Escapes on offer include:

  • New York Penthouse Apt
  • Swiss Chalet
  • Wild West Ranch
  • Pirate Ship
  • Haunted House
  • Caribbean Villa
  • Winter Cabin
  • Plus many more…

Users are able to visit other user Escape Areas, see your profile, favorite games, achievements gained, leaderboard rankings and much more. Our Technology team is now focusing on implementing complimentary community and social network features including, chat, messaging and a buddies system.
What are PlaySEGA Rings, and how can they be earned and used on the site?

PlaySEGA Rings are the web site currency. Play More Games to win Rings – it’s as simple as that. Use your PlaySEGA Rings to purchase Escape Areas, Luxury items and Avatar features.

What additional features and privileges will come with the SEGA VIP membership, and how much will it cost?

PlaySEGA VIP will launch soon with literally dozens of games. These will be a balance of SEGA Retro and new game innovation. As well as these great quality games, membership will gain you access to VIP Only Escape Areas and VIP Only Luxury and Avatar items. We also have some other innovative goodies that will be announced soon that VIP members will have exclusive access to.

Final pricing hasn’t been defined but I would say a monthly subscription to VIP will be around the cost of large Cappuccino from a popular coffee franchise.

Aside from Sonic at the Olympic Games, I don’t see a lot of recognizable SEGA franchise characters like Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Monkey Ball, Puyo Pop and so on. What’s the plan here? Will we ever see Web versions of SEGA console classics on PlaySEGA?

Absolutely – Watch this space…!! 

What are some of the new games that are in development?

In addition to SEGA Classics, games in development include more Puzzle, Casino, Card, Arcade, Skill and Multiplayer games.

PlaySEGA also has section offering PC downloads. Any plans to develop in-house PC downloads at SEGA?

Not at this stage, but never say never. We certainly have some IP that could work well as Casual PC download, but this is not our core focus for the moment.

How does PlaySEGA stand out from the crowd among other web game portals and social networks?

Our aim is to continue to pursue a strategy of producing quality games, implementing community and social features as well as offering dozens of new Escapes and items for collection. We believe that this collective strategy will propel PlaySEGA to becoming one of the most popular mini web portals in the world.  And if the last few months site traffic is anything to go by we are well on our way…

Any last words for your fans?

Please keep sending us your new game suggestions. We do read each and every one. If you have yet to experience PlaySEGA, please check the site out at and start playing today.

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