The pandemic proved a boon for the video game industry, sparking a frenzy of investment to keep up with demand. But this gold rush met its reckoning when normality returned in 2023, a banner year for quality games but a bleak one for overseas developers hit by mass layoffs as studios downsized or closed, something that continues into 2024.

Home to world-leading gaming companies, Japan has been a bright spot among the turmoil, not only avoiding widespread job cuts but hiring new graduates as usual. An example can be found in the capital of Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido. Here, Sega has opened Sapporo Studio, its first domestic development base outside Tokyo. Established in December 2021 in the middle of the pandemic-fuelled gaming craze, the young studio is remarkable for growing amid a recent slump in the industry.

“The gaming market continues to expand on a global scale, driven in part by recent digital transformation,” explains Takaya Segawa, the studio’s president and Sega’s senior executive officer. “We decided to set up a new base in order to secure a stable development structure.”