ByMarlon McDonald, writer at
Umm... are you going to drink that Skooma?
Marlon McDonald

Before Sega became the software giant we know them as today, the Japanese company had a very fruitful history at the top of the industry. You'd have to travel far to find someone that hadn't heard the name Sega, Sonic the Hedgehog or Alex Kidd.

But in the late 90s, after the Saturn faltered and the Dreamcast nearly pushed the company into ruin, Sega were staring downward into a pit of obscurity that was rapidly approaching.

That was until Sega and CSK Holding's chairman Isao Okawa rode in and saved the day.

The Okawa Effect

Okawa, Nakayama & Yamashima of Bandai circa 1997
Okawa, Nakayama & Yamashima of Bandai circa 1997

Even though it was said that ex-Sega of Japan president Hayao Nakayama "would have rather cut off his right arm than develop anything on Nintendo hardware," let alone for other rival machines, the Dreamcast's failure damaged the company so much, the entire enterprise nearly went under.

In 2000, Okawa-san was the chairman of CSK Holdings, the Japanese company that held the most shares in Sega come the late 90s. After Sega's financial difficulties, Okawa removed the then SoJ president Shoichiro Irimajiri from his seat and took power.

Shoichiro Irimajiri
Shoichiro Irimajiri

From there people were worried that Okawa-san would simply cut his losses and kill Sega dead, but he did quite the opposite. Over the course of his tenure, Okawa-san would go on to inject the company with over $500 million of his own money to pay off all debts accrued by the company.

Later after a strenuous battle with cancer, Okawa-san went above the call of duty and gifted all of his personal shares in Sega and CSK back to Sega themselves. A move which made the company's transition into the software giants they are today that much easier.

Shortly after his immense act, Okawa-san passed away in 2001 at the age of 74.

The Legend of Sega

Though it is a real shame Sega no longer competes in the console market, the corporation has managed to collate one of the most exciting catalogs in games. Titles that span from that damn nostalgia generating blue hedgehog, to Total War, to Valkyria Chronicles, to Yakuza and of course (the king of all games) Football Manager.

Just remember next time you see the white and blue caps of SEGA pop up on your screen, who managed to keep those famous letters there.

What's your favorite Sega game?

(Source: Eurogamer, Reddit, Corbis Images)


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