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previously known as is a
video game development Video game development (or gamedev) is the software development, process of developing a video game. The effort is undertaken by a video game developer, developer, ranging from a single person to an international team dispersed across the globe. ...
team within the Japanese multinational video game developer
Sega is a Japanese multinational corporation, multinational video game and entertainment company headquartered in Shinagawa, Tokyo. Its international branches, Sega of America and Sega Europe, are headquartered in Irvine, California and London, r ...
. Yu Suzuki, who had previously developed arcade games for Sega including ''
Hang-On is an arcade racing game released by Sega is a Japanese multinational corporation, multinational video game and entertainment company headquartered in Shinagawa, Tokyo. Its international branches, Sega of America and Sega Europe, are ...
'' and '' Out Run'', was the first manager of the department. AM2's first game produced was 1992's ''
Virtua Racing ''Virtua Racing'', or ''V.R.'' for short, is a Formula One racing video game developed by Sega AM2 and released for arcade game, arcades in 1992. ''Virtua Racing'' was initially a proof-of-concept application for exercising a new 3D graphics pl ...
'', followed by the highly popular ''
Virtua Fighter is a series of fighting games created by Sega-AM2 and designer Yu Suzuki. The original ''Virtua Fighter (video game), Virtua Fighter'' was released in October 1993 and has received four main sequels and several spin-offs. The highly influential ...
'' and ''
Daytona USA is an Arcade video game, arcade racing video game developed by Sega AM2 in 1993 and released by Sega in 1994. Players race stock car racing, stock cars on one of three courses. The first game released on the Sega Model 2 three-dimensional arc ...
''. Through the remainder of the 1990s, they developed more arcade titles and focused on fighting and racing games. AM2 was placed under the management of CSK Research Institute in 2000, and a year later became SEGA-AM2 Co., Ltd. Their development of '' Shenmue'' was over budget and cost millions of dollars, and despite positive reviews and good sales was unable to become profitable. Suzuki was promoted and left AM2 in 2003; Hiroshi Kataoka became the head of AM2. A year later Sega was acquired by
Sammy Corporation is a Japanese developer and retailer of pachinko and pachislot machines, headquartered in Shinagawa, Tokyo. Its South Korean office, Sammy Amusement Service, is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. Sammy is a subsidiary of the entertainment cong ...
and AM2 was merged back into Sega. Since, the team has continued work on arcade games such as '' Border Break'' and the '' Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA'' series, as well as smartphone games in Japan. Several games produced by Sega AM2 have influenced and innovated the video game industry from a technical and developmental perspective.


History


Precursors to AM2: Yu Suzuki and Studio 128

Yu Suzuki joined
Sega is a Japanese multinational corporation, multinational video game and entertainment company headquartered in Shinagawa, Tokyo. Its international branches, Sega of America and Sega Europe, are headquartered in Irvine, California and London, r ...
in 1983 as a
programmer A computer programmer, sometimes referred to as a software developer, a software engineer, a programmer or a coder, is a person who creates computer software, computer programs — often for larger computer software. A programmer is someone ...
. At the time Suzuki joined Sega, there was only one development division at the company. In his first year, he created a 2D boxing game called ''
Champion Boxing is a 1984 boxing sports video game developed and published by Sega for the SG-1000,Champion Boxi ...
'' for Sega's first home game console, the
SG-1000 The is a home video game console manufactured by Sega. It was Sega's first entry into the home video game hardware business. Developed in response to a downturn in Arcade game, arcades starting in 1982, the SG-1000 was created on the advice of ...
. According to Suzuki, the executive staff at Sega found the game so impressive that they released it in arcades as-is by simply installing an SG-1000 into an arcade cabinet. He was promoted to project leader while still in his first year at the company. Suzuki's next project was the motorcycle racing game ''
Hang-On is an arcade racing game released by Sega is a Japanese multinational corporation, multinational video game and entertainment company headquartered in Shinagawa, Tokyo. Its international branches, Sega of America and Sega Europe, are ...
.'' To accomplish his desire to make a 3D game despite technological limitations at the time, he specified the design of Sega's new Super Scaler
arcade system board An arcade video game takes player input from its controls, processes it through electrical or computerized components, and displays output to an electronic monitor or similar display. Most arcade video games are coin-operated, housed in an arca ...
, which utilized
16-bit 16-bit microcomputers are microcomputers that use 16-bit microprocessors. A 16-bit register can store 216 different values. The range (computer programming), range of integer values that can be stored in 16 bits depends on the Integer (computer ...
graphics and sprite-scaling. ''Hang-On'' was very popular at launch and sold well for Sega. Suzuki's success followed with additional titles '' Space Harrier'', '' Out Run'', and '' Enduro Racer''. He and his team relocated to "Studio 128", a more private location where '' After Burner'' and '' Power Drift'' were developed. He also worked on development of '' G-LOC: Air Battle'' and the R360 arcade cabinet. Developer Toshihiro Nagoshi joined Sega in 1989 as a designer with Suzuki's team.


Establishment of AM2 and years as a department

Some time after the release of ''Power Drift'', Sega began to separate the amusement division into the Amusement Machine Research and Development teams, or AM teams. Suzuki was made general manager of Research and Development No. 2, or Sega AM2. According to Suzuki, Sega employed approximately 600 people in research and development, and that AM2 began as a group of around 100 people. He has also stated the reason for this separation was the advent of advanced computer graphics technology. Around the time of AM2's formation, Suzuki's team moved back into the main office, then to an annex a short walk from the office. Even so, Suzuki worked with a desire of secrecy, so much so that Sega president
Hayao Nakayama is a Japanese businessman and was the former President and CEO of Sega, Sega Enterprises, Ltd from 1983 to 1999. Early life and career Nakayama was born into a family of doctors, and was expected to pursue medicine as a career. However, Nakaya ...
was denied entry on one occasion. The first project developed by AM2 was ''
Virtua Racing ''Virtua Racing'', or ''V.R.'' for short, is a Formula One racing video game developed by Sega AM2 and released for arcade game, arcades in 1992. ''Virtua Racing'' was initially a proof-of-concept application for exercising a new 3D graphics pl ...
''. While development began with 10 people on ''Virtua Racing'', it finished with 25 workers on the project for a year, and the Model 1
arcade system board An arcade video game takes player input from its controls, processes it through electrical or computerized components, and displays output to an electronic monitor or similar display. Most arcade video games are coin-operated, housed in an arca ...
on which it runs took approximately three years. AM2 also ported the game for the
Sega Genesis The Sega Genesis, known as the outside North America, is a 16-bit Fourth generation of video game consoles, fourth generation home video game console developed and sold by Sega. It was Sega's third console and the successor to the Master Syst ...
. ''Next Generation'' stated that AM2 "single-handedly chang dthe perception of polygons in a gaming environment" with ''Virtua Racing''. After the release of ''Virtua Racing'', AM2 split into two teams; one began work on ''
Virtua Fighter is a series of fighting games created by Sega-AM2 and designer Yu Suzuki. The original ''Virtua Fighter (video game), Virtua Fighter'' was released in October 1993 and has received four main sequels and several spin-offs. The highly influential ...
'', while another started on ''
Daytona USA is an Arcade video game, arcade racing video game developed by Sega AM2 in 1993 and released by Sega in 1994. Players race stock car racing, stock cars on one of three courses. The first game released on the Sega Model 2 three-dimensional arc ...
''. According to Suzuki, he wanted to develop a game with multiple joint movements, such as a
soccer Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played between two teams of 11 Football player, players who primarily use their feet to propel the Ball (association football), ball around a rectangular field ca ...
or rugby game. Finding that the Model 1 was not powerful enough to handle this many motions, Suzuki resorted to a game with only two moving characters at a time. With the massive success of ''Street Fighter II'' in the industry at the time, he made the decision to make a 3D fighting game to compete. In developing the game, Suzuki identified the need for the game to be realistic, yet fun to play. ''Virtua Fighter'' became a huge success in Japan, and its
Sega Saturn The is a home video game console developed by Sega and released on November 22, 1994, in Japan, May 11, 1995, in North America, and July 8, 1995, in Europe. Part of the fifth generation of video game consoles, it was the successor to the succ ...
port sold at a nearly one-to-one ratio with the console itself. For ''Daytona USA'', Nagoshi was director and chief designer, while Suzuki served as producer. The concept for the game was suggested by Tom Petit, head of Sega Enterprises USA, as a way to debut Sega's new Model 2 arcade system board. Sega mandated that ''Daytona USA'' had to be better than ''Ridge Racer'', a game made by
Namco was a Japanese multinational corporation, multinational video game and entertainment company, headquartered in Ōta, Tokyo. It held several international branches, including Namco America in Santa Clara, California, Namco Europe in London, Na ...
. To accurately depict Daytona International Speedway, the developers used
satellite imagery Satellite images (also Earth observation imagery, spaceborne photography, or simply satellite photo) are images of Earth collected by imaging satellites operated by governments and businesses around the world. Satellite imaging companies sell ima ...
and sent staff to photograph the track; Nagoshi walked a full lap to get a feel for the banking in the corners. ''Daytona USA'' was released in Japan in August 1993, and worldwide in March 1994. AM2 ported the game to Saturn in April 1995. The Saturn port was a launch title in the West. ''Daytona USA'' was highly popular in arcades, and the twin cabinet was one of three 1995 recipients of the American Amusement Machine Association's Diamond Awards, which are based strictly on sales achievements. In a 2002 report, Sega reported it to be one of the most successful arcade games of all time. Over the course of the remainder of the 1990s, Suzuki's primary concern in arcades were the ''Virtua Fighter'' series and working as a producer for other titles. Subsequently, AM2 released '' Virtua Cop'' and '' Virtua Fighter 2'' for the Model 2. Produced in twelve months, ''Virtua Fighter 2'' was an even greater success in Japan than its predecessor. In a 1996 interview, Suzuki stated in an interview his philosophy to be not an imitator, but a pioneer in the arcade industry. He also described the palm tree logo of AM2 as representing reliance and peace of mind. Further titles developed in the end of 1990s included '' Virtua Cop 2'', '' Fighting Vipers'', ''Daytona USA 2: Battle on the Edge'', and '' SpikeOut''. ''Daytona USA 2'' and ''SpikeOut'' made use of the Model 3 system board.


AM2 of CRI and SEGA-AM2 Co., Ltd.

In April 2000, CSK Research Institute (CRI) took management over AM2. CRI was a subsidiary of CSK Corporation, which was Sega's parent company at the time, and had previously published '' Aero Dancing''. The new division became known as "AM2 of CRI", and Suzuki remained in charge. Also in 2000, Sega restructured its arcade and console development teams into nine semi-autonomous studios headed by the company's top designers. Sega's design houses were encouraged to experiment and benefited from a relatively lax approval process. During the development of '' Shenmue'', Nagoshi requested and was granted his own studio, leaving AM2. AM2 developed what Sega hoped would be the
Dreamcast The is a home video game console A home video game console is a video game console that is designed to be connected to a display device, such as a television, and an external power source as to play video games. Home consoles are general ...
's
killer app In marketing terminology, a killer application (commonly shortened to killer app) is any computer program or software that is so necessary or desirable that it proves the core value of some larger technology, such as computer hardware, a video game ...
in ''Shenmue'', a "revenge epic in the tradition of Chinese cinema." The
action-adventure game The action-adventure genre is a video game hybrid genre that combines core elements from both the action game and adventure game genres. Typically, pure adventure games have situational problems for the player to solve to complete a story ...
involved the quest of protagonist Ryo Hazuki to avenge his father's murder, but its main selling point was its rendition of the Japanese city of
Yokosuka is a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledg ...
, which included a level of detail considered unprecedented for a video game. Incorporating a simulated day/night cycle with variable weather,
non-player character A non-player character (NPC), or non-playable character, is any Character (arts), character in a game that is not controlled by a Player (game), player. The term originated in traditional tabletop role-playing games where it applies to character ...
s with regular schedules, and the ability to pick up and examine detailed objects (also introducing the Quick-time event in its modern form), ''Shenmue'' went over budget and was rumored to have cost Sega over $50 million. Originally planned as the first installment in an 11-part saga, ''Shenmue'' was eventually downsized to a trilogy—and only one sequel was ever released. According to Sega of America president Peter Moore, ''Shenmue'' sold "extremely well", but the game had no chance of making a profit due to the Dreamcast's limited installed base. The high amount ''Shenmue'' went over budget was also a factor in the game's lack of profitability. Its sequel, '' Shenmue II'', "was completed for a much more reasonable sum".In addition to the mixed reception for ''Shenmue'', IGN's Travis Fahs stated that "the reamcastera wasn't as kind to M2as earlier years"—citing (among others) '' F355 Challenge'' as an "acclaimed" arcade game that "didn't do much at home", and Genki's port of '' Virtua Fighter 3'' as inferior to the arcade version, "which was already a couple years old and never as popular as its predecessors." The ''
Virtua Fighter is a series of fighting games created by Sega-AM2 and designer Yu Suzuki. The original ''Virtua Fighter (video game), Virtua Fighter'' was released in October 1993 and has received four main sequels and several spin-offs. The highly influential ...
'' series would experience a "tremendous comeback" with the universally acclaimed '' Virtua Fighter 4''—which saw a console release exclusively on
PlayStation 2 The PlayStation 2 (PS2) is a home video game console developed and marketed by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was first released in Japan on 4 March 2000, in North America on 26 October 2000, in Europe on 24 November 2000, and in Australia on 3 ...
. In Japanese arcades, ''Virtua Fighter 4'' proved to be highly influential with its VF.NET system, paving the way for arcade games with network features. The quest mode of '' Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution'' on PlayStation 2, used AI mined from players in Japan playing through VF.NET. In 2001, AM2 of CRI was renamed to SEGA-AM2 Co., Ltd. After serving as a producer on '' Virtua Cop 3'' and '' OutRun 2'', Suzuki left AM2 on October 1, 2003, in order to start a new studio with Sega, called Digitalrex. He was promoted to non-executive board director. Hiroshi Kataoka was placed in charge of AM2. Kataoka, who had led research and development at AM2 for a year, had worked on numerous projects for Sega and Yu Suzuki's division as old as ''Space Harrier'' to '' Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution''. Makoto Osaki became AM2's head of development, reporting to Kataoka. At the same time as the changes, a number of Sega's studios were merged. However, AM2 did not merge with any other studio.


Merge into Sega and years since

During mid-2004,
Sammy Corporation is a Japanese developer and retailer of pachinko and pachislot machines, headquartered in Shinagawa, Tokyo. Its South Korean office, Sammy Amusement Service, is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. Sammy is a subsidiary of the entertainment cong ...
bought a controlling share in Sega and created the new company
Sega Sammy Holdings (also known as the Sega Sammy Group and generally Sega Sammy, stylized as SᴇɢᴀSammy) is a Japanese holding company formed from the Mergers and acquisitions, merger of Sega and Sammy Corporation in 2004. Both companies are involved in the a ...
, an entertainment conglomerate. Since then, Sega and Sammy became subsidiaries of the aforementioned holding company, with both companies operating independently, while the executive departments merged. Prior to the acquisition by Sammy, Sega began the process of re-integrating its subsidiaries into the main company, which was completed by October 2004. Sega would also restructure the development studios again, consolidating the divisions further into the Global Entertainment, Amusement Software, and New Entertainment R&D divisions. AM2 continued to develop games after the merger. '' Virtua Fighter 5'' was released in 2007. An upgrade, ''Virtua Fighter 5 R'', was released the following year. The last release of the ''Virtua Fighter'' franchise was the console port of ''Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown'', the final iteration of the game. ''Ghost Squad'', in the style of ''Virtua Cop'', received an arcade and a Wii release in 2008. AM2 has developed games for the '' Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA'' series, as well as a number of free-to-play smartphone games in Japan, such as ''Soul Reverse Zero''. Some titles have been developed for consoles as well, such as ''Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Mega 39’s'' for
Nintendo Switch The is a hybrid video game console developed by Nintendo and released worldwide in most regions on March 3, 2017. The console itself is a Tablet computer#Gaming tablet, tablet that can either be docking station, docked for use as a home video ...
. AM2 became involved with the ''Hatsune Miku'' license with items for ''Virtua Fighter 5 R'' and the racing game ''R-Tuned: Ultimate Street Racing''. When the PSP game ''Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA'' was in development, it was decided that AM2 would develop an arcade version as well as develop the
holographic Holography is a technique that enables a wavefront to be recorded and later re-constructed. Holography is best known as a method of generating real three-dimensional images, but it also has a wide range of other Holography#Applications, applic ...
imagery for ''Hatsune Miku''s'' live concerts. The visuals for these projects were based on the ''Virtua Fighter 5 engine''. Makoto Osaki called this period the most stressful for him since ''Shenmue''. A major success for AM2 has been the '' Border Break'' franchise. The arcade release in 2009 was continuously updated, with releases ''Border Break Union'' in 2012, ''Border Break Scramble'' in 2015, and ''Border Break X'' in 2017—with a
PlayStation 4 The PlayStation 4 (PS4) is a home video game console developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Announced as the successor to the PlayStation 3 in February 2013, it was launched on November 15, 2013, in North America, November 29, 2013 in E ...
version released in 2018. In 2019, ''Border Break'' celebrated its 10th Anniversary. Other titles from AM2 to get long-term support in arcades are '' Quest of D,'' '' Sega Network Taisen Mahjong MJ,'' ''and Shining Force Cross.'' The latest effort, ''Soul Reverse,'' was born out of the desire to create a fantasy version of ''Border Break.'' It lasted a year, launching in 2018 with its network features shutting down in 2019. Hiroshi Kataoka likened the basic enjoyability of these network-based arcade games to those of an MMO, but collectible cards and a community differentiated these from the usually solitary MMO experience on PC. According to Sega Amusement International CEO Paul Williams, these type of core games are only possible in Japan due to Sega owning their own chains and being able to kickstart an online infrastructure. Currently successful running arcade games are ''KanColle Arcade'', ''Fate/Grand Order Arcade'' as well as an updated version of ''Virtua Fighter 5'', ''Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown'', co-developed with
Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio is a video game developer housed within the Japanese video game company Sega as part of its division. It is known for developing the games in the ''Yakuza (franchise), Yakuza'' series, which the studio is named after, since ''Yakuza 5''. The st ...
.


Games

AM2 has several arcade and video game series they develop, including ''Daytona USA'', ''Virtua Fighter'', ''OutRun'', ''Virtua Cop'', ''Virtua Striker'', ''Fighting Vipers'', and '' Shenmue''. Other titles developed by the studio include '' Scud Race'', '' Sonic the Fighters'', '' 18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker'', '' F355 Challenge,'' '' Outtrigger'', and ''Soul Reverse''. AM2 has also developed smartphone games in Japan. Of AM2's games, the ''Virtua Fighter'' series is "the highest grossing game in Japan arcades." The ''Hatsune Miku: Project Diva'' series has sold over 6 million units as of 2018. As of March 2012, the game ''Border Break'' has grossed JP¥8.1 billion from arcade machine sales, equivalent to more than US$100 million.Fiscal year ended March 31, 2010: ¥3.3 billion () Fiscal year ended March 31, 2011: ¥2.5 billion () Six months ended March 31, 2012: ¥2.3 billion () ¥3.3 billion = $40.7317 million ¥2.5 billion = $30.8542 million ¥2.3 billion = $28.6371 million Journalists have praised AM2 as having a "legendary" status in game development, in particular under Yu Suzuki. According to Aaron Souppouris of ''
Engadget ''Engadget'' ( ) is a multilingual technology blog network with daily coverage of gadgets and consumer electronics. ''Engadget'' manages ten blogs four of which are written in English and six have international versions with independent edit ...
'', AM2 in the past developed games that defined their genres, and called the department Sega's "most-storied division". While lamenting the changes in development focus in recent years, Souppouris called the ''Hatsune Miku'' series "admittedly excellent". In 1995, ''Edge'' called Suzuki "the legendary head of AM2, Sega's core coin-op operation". Also in 1995, ''Next Generation'' stated that AM2's unusual repeated success came from its ability to release high-quality games on a regular basis.
IGN ''IGN'' (formerly ''Imagine Games Network'') is an American video game Video games, also known as computer games, are electronic games that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controll ...
's Travis Fahs stated that " r as long as SEGA has had internal studios, AM2 has been the favorite son of the arcade division... Without AM2, SEGA would not have been able to dominate the arcades the way that they did." Video game journalist Ken Horowitz has stated that AM2 became the most well-known of Sega's in-house development teams and that the studio produced "ground-breaking classics".


Notes


See also

*
Sega development studios This is a list of development studios owned by Sega, a Japanese video game developer and publisher based in Tokyo, Japan. Accompanied with the list is their history of game development. Also included are the companies that Sega has acquired over ...
* Sega AM1 *
Sega AM3 , known as from 2000 to 2004, is a defunct division of Sega, a Japanese video game company. Established by 1993, AM3 was managed by Hisao Oguchi and developed a number of arcade games for Sega. Series introduced by AM3 include ''Virtual On'', ' ...
* Amusement Vision * Smilebit *
Sonic Team is a video game developer owned by the Japanese video game company Sega as part of its Sega CS Research and Development No. 2 division. Sonic Team is best known for the long-running ''Sonic the Hedgehog'' series and games such as ''Nights into ...
* United Game Artists


Notes


References


External links


Official website (archive)
{{Authority control AM2 Video game development companies Video game companies of Japan Video game companies established in 1985 Japanese companies established in 1985