Takayuki Kawagoe

From Sega Retro

Kawagoe.jpg
Takayuki Kawagoe
Date of birth: 1963-06-20[1] (age 61)
Employment history:
Divisions:
Sega Enterprises (1998-03[3] – )
Divisions:
Role(s): Producer, Executive


Takayuki Kawagoe (川越 隆幸) joined the company in 1992 in marketing management. He oversaw Mega Drive releases imported from the US to Japan and strategized the software lineup for the 32X. For the Sega Saturn, he was responsible for various marketing campaigns, most notably the limited edition of Sakura Taisen. After leaving Sega in 1997, he quickly returned in 1998 and became Assistant President of Sega Software R&D Dept. 6 which became Smilebit in 2000. In 2003 he became fully fledged President of Smilebit[5].

With the integration back of Smilebit back into Sega in 2004, he became General Manager of Sega Japan's sport game output. In 2007, he became General Manager of the entire output on console and handheld. He held this position until 2012, where he retired and became President and Representative Director of Butterfly, Co. Ltd and Sammy Networks.

Career

Mega Drive era

Front cover of Dynamic Country Club, Mega-CD, JP

After working for the game store chain Meikyosa[2], Takayuki Kawagoe joined Sega in 1992 and was assigned to the Sega Planning Production Dept.[3][4], the department that worked with popular third-party developers such as Westone on Monster World IV and Treasure on Gunstar Heroes and McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure (which had the McDonalds license acquired by Sega of America)[3]. The first game he had direct involvement with was the Game Gear version of Puyo Puyo, followed up by the Mega-CD games Egawa Suguru no Super League CD, Dynamic Country Club, as well as the Master System game Power Strike II, another Compile franchise like Puyo Puyo[3].

9 months later, he was reassigned to the Strategy Planning office as a marketing strategist. With the success of the Genesis in the wake of Sonic the Hedgehog, he had the task of translating that success over to Japan, needing to think up unconventional ways of making Aladdin and Ecco the Dolphin, to name a few, profitable in the country, as well as expand Sega's quality assurance efforts, long before a dedicated test department existed at Sega[3].

32X era

Cover of The Ooze, Mega Drive, JP

In 1994, the HE Product Management Dept. was established, dividing the marketing teams in 3: one for "16 bit" games, one for handhelds, and one for the upcoming Saturn. Kawagoe's expertise called him to the 16 bit team, including the Mega Drive's add-on console 32X. As this console had suddenly come up on the request of Sega of America, only 10 months were allotted to creating a product lineup from scratch, resulting in various in-development Mega Drive games being converted into 32X projects, such as Cosmic Carnage, Chaotix and Tempo, an upgrade to previous Mega Drive hit in Virtua Racing Deluxe, and several arcade ports, such as After Burner Complete and Space Harrier. A port of Virtua Fighter was also worked on at the request of SOA. The very occasional "designed-for-32X" games ended up being few and far between, with Metal Head and Stellar Assault as notable examples according to Kawagoe[3].

Kawagoe was still in charge of Mega Drive games, however. Instead of looking at games made in Japan, his role was to frequently visit the United States and return with highly reviewed games developed in the USA, such as Comix Zone, which he took an interest in from the start, and Toejam & Earl, which impressed him with how well it turned out. Other games he took an interest in were World Baseball, which didn't see a release in Japan, and The Ooze, which his colleagues were opposed to release, so he had to push for its release, gaining total freedom over the game (but very little marketing budget)[3].

Saturn era

Front cover of Sakura Taisen, Dreamcast, JP (Limited Edition VMU Pack)

In early 1995, Takayuki Kawagoe was added to the Sega Saturn marketing team, with his first game being Riglordsaga. Early marketing campaigns he was involved with include the Summer RPG trilogy (Riglordsaga, Shining Wisdom and Magic Knight Rayearth, each released a month apart) and the Sega Saturn bundled with Virtua Fighter Remix, a humbling experience as, for the first time, he got to witness the hard work of the AM R&D departments[3].

The Saturn's commercial success hit its Japanese stride in late 1995, with first-party tiles Virtua Cop, Virtua Fighter 2 and Sega Rally Championship[3], and third-party tiles Godzilla Rettoushinkan and Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner[3]. They kept up momentum in 1996, with the very first J.League Pro Soccer Club o Tsukurou! and Shinseiki Evangelion (a game Kawagoe had snatched up the license for in the 16-bit era, expecting the show to be a hit even before it began airing)[3].

With all these successes, more and more titles were being piled into the Japanese Saturn release schedule. For example, the marketing strategy for Sakura Taisen didn't begin development until 3 months before release. Kawagoe made the sudden suggestion to do 100,000 limited edition copies for the game, and while he was slightly worried the game might flopped, it was a success. More than a year later, the idea was brought up to rerelease the game in the Satakore line, which led to an argument between Takayuki Kawagoe and Toshiro Kezuka[3].

While Kawagoe is not confirmed to have been involved with the series, he has discussed the Saturn's Sega Ages in a career retrospective in Sega Consumer History. Suffering burnout from the many titles he had marketed, Kawagoe briefly retired from Sega in 1997, but despite wanting a smaller workload, was still called into various overnight meetings regarding the marketing campaign for the Sega Dreamcast[3].

Dreamcast era/early Smilebit

Front cover of Jet Set Radio, Dreamcast, JP

Takayuki Kawagoe rejoined Sega in March 1998, now as a video game producer, producing games like the Let's Make Soccer/Saka Tsuku and Let's Make Soccer/Saka Tsuku franchises, and Jet Set Radio, which he had been interested in early on, but struggled to get executive approval, and as a result was unable to release the game before the launch of the Sony PlayStation 2 as hoped, dashing his hopes of a marketing strategy declaring games like JSR were only possible on Dreamcast[3]. His development department, Sega Software R&D Dept. 6, became a subsidiary company named Smilebit days after JSR first released, and Kawagoe became assistant president and chief producer, responsible for "sowing the seeds" of all of the company's games[2].

While Kawagoe may not have been in a marketing department anymore, his interest in marketing was still present, as he oversaw the creation of commercials for games like Saka Tsuku 2002: J.League Pro Soccer Club o Tsukurou![6] and working on cross-promotions between Smilebit and the J.League[7].

Presidencies

Takayuki Kawagoe and other heads of Sega's R&D departments in 2005.

In 2003, Takayuki Kawagoe became fully fledged President of Smilebit once the previous president Shun Arai was transferred to Sega Creative Center[5]. Other results from this corporate shakeup were that Smilebit would be focused exclusively on developing sports games, including the previous Let's Make Soccer/Saka Tsuku and Let's Make Soccer/Saka Tsuku franchises, and the Virtua Striker franchise inherited from Amusement Vision. With the integration back of Smilebit back into Sega in 2004, Kawagoe became General Manager of Sports Design R&D Dept..

In 2007, he became General Manager of the entire output on console and handheld, stationed at the Domestic CS Division[8]. He held this position until 2012, where he retired and became President and Representative Director of Butterfly, Co. Ltd and Sammy Networks. For the latter, Kawagoe continued his involved with Let's Make/Tsukurou games, such as Pro Wrestler o Tsukurou![9]

Production history

Games

Music

Magazine articles

Main article: Takayuki Kawagoe/Magazine articles.

Interviews

Some or all of the following content should be mirrored on Sega Retro (or Retro CDN).

Photographs

Main article: Photos of Takayuki Kawagoe

References

  1. http://sega.jp/studio/sb.html (Wayback Machine: 2004-04-14 17:07)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Dreamcast Magazine, "2000-35 (2000-11-03)" (JP; 2000-10-20), page 93
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 Sega Consumer History, Enterbrain
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 https://sega.jp/fb/segavoice/040722/01.html (Wayback Machine: 2021-12-01 18:43)
  5. 5.0 5.1 https://dengekionline.com/data/news/2003/10/2/4de4797b84de660ec1f84f185bf76b5d.html (Wayback Machine: 2023-11-22 22:17)
  6. http://game.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/20011213/sega.htm (Wayback Machine: 2013-06-29 21:21)
  7. http://game.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/20020308/sma.htm (Wayback Machine: 2013-06-29 00:00)
  8. http://www.4gamer.net/games/088/G008850/20090414046/ (Wayback Machine: 2009-04-17 04:41)
  9. http://app.famitsu.com/20141129_465023 (Wayback Machine: 2014-12-04 07:08)
  10. File:Riglordsaga Saturn credits.pdf
  11. File:Clockworkknight2 Saturn JP SSEnding.pdf
  12. File:Shining Wisdom Saturn JP credits.pdf
  13. File:Nomo Hideo World Series Baseball Saturn credits.pdf
  14. File:Dragon Force JP Saturn credits.pdf
  15. File:Victory Goal '96 Saturn credits.pdf
  16. File:NiGHTS into Dreams Saturn credits.pdf
  17. File:Sakura Taisen Saturn credits.pdf
  18. File:Riglordsaga 2 Saturn credits.pdf
  19. File:Airs Adventure Saturn credits.pdf
  20. File:Shining the Holy Ark Saturn JP credits.pdf
  21. File:Greatest Nine GBA credits.pdf
  22. File:ThunderForceVI_PS2_JP_SSCredits.pdf
  23. File:StHAOST CD JP Booklet.pdf
  24. File:PSOOriginalSoundtrack CD JP Manual.pdf, page 10