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Is Sega planning a return to the console market?

Don Reisinger thinks the company is planning to get back into hardware, and he couldn't be happier about it.

If you've read the Digital Home for the past two years, you probably know that I hold a special place in my heart for Sega. I was always a heavy Genesis user and subsequent to that, I owned every console Sega released. That's precisely why a report from Siliconera has me excited.

According to the publication, Sega has trademarked two names, "Ringwide" and "Ringedge," as well as a logo containing rings. The trademark clearly says that the names will be used for "arcade game boards...stand alone video game machines, [or] arcade game machines with built-in screens."

Sega's new console logo? Sega

So what can this mean? Obviously it's too early to tell, but some are saying that it could be Sega's return to the arcade business. I'm sure they would get excited about that, but the arcade business is a shadow of its former self. Since console gaming became a mainstay, it has lost much of its importance. I just don't see Sega investing in the arcade business.

But what if this filing is for a top-secret console the company is developing to compete with the next-generation of hardware? Will Ringwide or Ringedge take on the Wii 2, PlayStation 4, and Xbox 720?

I certainly hope so.

I not only think Sega can make a triumphant return to the console business, I think it could be one of the best moves the company could make.

As a software developer, Sega has lost much of its appeal. Sonic games aren't nearly as fun as they once were on the Genesis or Dreamcast and major Sega franchises like Shenmue have been all but forgotten by the company.

But if it developed a console to compete with Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, I think Sega could turn things around. Granted, its executives have said on numerous occasions that they are happy developing games, but the company still enjoys an almost mystical reputation in the market and its following is still loyal.

For those of us who grew up in the days of Genesis-SNES wars, the very thought of a new Sega console gets us excited. If Sega announced its intention to get back into the console market at this year's E3, I'd fully expect fanboys from Japan to Europe to North America to stand in unison and cheer wildly after hearing the news. It would be a monumental announcement that would put Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo on notice: Sega is back.

I'm fully aware that getting into the console market now is dangerous. Nintendo is enjoying incredible success and the once-dominant PlayStation is trying desperately to keep up with competitors. Some might think that there isn't any room in the market for another player. I disagree.

Sega has a loyal following that has been asking for a new console from the company ever since the Dreamcast was discontinued. Sega also understands how to be successful in the hardware business and has the first-party properties in place to be a major competitor to Nintendo's lineup on launch day.

Sega also has learned from its past mistakes. It now knows not to release a console the same day it's announced to a select group of retailers and it now knows to start playing nice with developers. It now knows that to be successful, it doesn't need to be the first console out of the gate, but it certainly needs to provide the most innovative and fun gameplay.

But time is running out. Sega may be loved by millions across the globe who still hold their Genesis and Dreamcast in high regard, but our memories fade and we move on to new things. If Sega waits too long to release a console or doesn't release a device at all, an entirely new generation of gamers will mature in an age where they will never know Sega as anything but a software developer. Once that happens, the importance (and appeal) of a new Sega console would be lost on them.

That's why Sega needs to act now. It needs to announce Ringwide or Ringedge at E3 this year and finally stake its claim to the hardware business.

Bring on the Ringwide, Sega. We've been waiting long enough.

Check out Don's Digital Home podcast, Twitter feed, and FriendFeed.