The Reported Jet Set Radio Reboot Sounds Like a Nightmare

The game is apparently going to be part of Sega's new "Super Game" initiative.

As a person who dumped a silly amount of hours into Jet Set Radio Future on the original Xbox, the prospect of a series reboot is pretty exciting to me…but the context in which it’s reportedly happening is giving me pause.

Bloomberg reports that Sega is looking to reboot Jet Set Radio and Crazy Taxi “in search of global hits like Epic Games Inc.’s Fortnite.” That’s a loaded sentence, considering what anything would need to hit the heights of Fortnite’s cultural cache, along with what it would take for two well-loved but hardly heavy-hitting series to reach that nebulous description. These reboots would be reportedly part of Sega’s “Super Game” initiative it announced last year, which are games the company wants to develop with the intention of ongoing growth. To the point where it wants games under the Super Game label to bring in 100 billion yen (just under $800 million USD) on their own. Which I’m still having trouble envisioning for either Jet Set Radio or Crazy Taxi. At least, in the forms they would be recognizable to fans of the long-dormant franchises.

There’s a lot to unpack here. A few things to keep in mind is that any Jet Set Radio reboot that is expected to bring in that kind of money will no doubt be riddled with monetary schemes to reach that level of profit. This could be in the form of microtransactions, but it could also be the place where Sega starts putting NFTs in its games to try and facilitate those numbers. But even then, unless some NFT apologist is willing to pay literal millions for an exclusive graffiti tag or some such bullshit, I still have a hard time seeing a Jet Set Radio bringing in that kind of cash.

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While we still don’t know exactly what form it will take, Sega going back to dormant series such as Jet Set Radio and Crazy Taxi as something that could rake in millions feels like it’s going back to properties it’s less invested in and doesn’t care if they receive backlash for skeevy monetary schemes. By centering brands like this, the Super Game initiative sounds like a hit-and-run business model that allows for a lot of profit upfront, but fewer long-term ramifications for the company’s big franchises. Imagine a Sonic the Hedgehog (the games might not be great most of the time, but the series is still well-regarded by a lot of people) or Yakuza game being released under this umbrella and damaging a brand that has goodwill around it. It would be a real blow to Sega’s money machines. And if Jet Set Radio comes back into the public eye as something made strictly to drive microtransactions and other monetary schemes as Super Games appear to be, this is a worst-case scenario for a return to Jet Set Radio. I guess we’ll have Bomb Rush Cyberfunk.