Five Star Games becoming new Sega distributor in Australia “made sense”: former Sega MD

Distributor made up former staff of recently shuttered Sega Australia to pick up local distribution of vendor's titles

At the end of June, video game publisher and distributor, Sega, closed several of its local offices worldwide, including its Australian operation.

The move was designed to reduced costs in an environment that the company saw as becoming increasingly download focused and moving away from boxed products.

Following the announcement of the closure of the Australian office, Sydney-based Five Star Games has been appointed as distributor of Sega games in Australia.

Founded by Darren Macbeth, the former managing director at Sega Australia and prior to that Ubisoft Australia, Five Star Games has already built up a portfolio of games to sell, market and distribute in the Australian market before the Sega deal came about.

Macbeth, now the managing director of Five Star Games, was responsible for setting up a direct model for Sega Australia in 2007 when he was at the company.

“When Sega decided to close the distribution offices in a number of countries including Australia, I approached Sega about setting up my own company and handling their distribution,” he said.

As for what it was about Five Star Games that enabled it to get selected by Sega over other distributors, Macbeth says it came down to the distributor’s roots to Sega.

“All the people at Five Star Games are ex-employees of Sega Australia, and Sega was not unhappy with the people that were in the offices; it was just a change of strategy,” he said.

“So the chance for Sega to keep continuity with the dealing with the same people who had been involved with the company and the local market for the last five years made sense.”

According to Macbeth, whether Five Star Games could do anything better or different than Sega Australia did not enter the equation, as the new distributor is essentially “the same people.”

“We just want to provide the best service for Sega and the end consumer, like we were doing when we all worked for Sega Australia,” he said.

Sega’s distribution in Australia has switched hands over the years, starting with local start-up Ozisoft in 1987.

The success of Sega’s software and then hardware products in Australia meant that the Japanese vendor would gain a controlling share in the distributor to create Sega Ozisoft in 1992.

While Macbeth is aware of Sega Ozisoft in its various iterations, he admits to not being intimately familiar with their distribution run in Australia.

“I have been in the industry for close to 20 years and they were the number one player in the market place when I started,” he said.

However, the reversal of Sega’s fortunes in the '90s meant that Sega would relinquish its controlling share in 1998 and the distributor would revert to the Ozisoft name before it would launch Sega’s last console, the Dreamcast, in Australia.

That same year, French game publisher, Infogrames, acquired a majority share in Ozisoft and renamed it Infogrames Australia before acquiring full ownership of the distributor in 2002.

After relying on outside distributors in Australia for many years, Sega finally established its own Australian presence in 2007, though by then the games market was already starting to experience a shift to digital distribution with the launch of the online enabled Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 consoles.

Despite the shake-up created in the wake of the dissolution of Sega Australia, Macbeth remains upbeat about the prospects of Sega's upcoming games.

“Sega has a focused line-up moving forward and we are looking forward to working with all the titles and brands,” he said.

“In particular Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed for Christmas, Aliens: Colonial Marines for February and then the massive PC blockbuster Total War: Rome II in 2013.”

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Patrick Budmar
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