GLENDALE, CA -- Sega Entertainment USA Inc. said on March 29 that it will close seven of its 15 Gameworks locations. Venues that will shut their doors are in Minneapolis, Long Beach, CA, Columbus, OH, Detroit, Indianapolis, Miami and Tampa, FL.
Sega chief executive Corey Haynes called the move a "tough financial decision" forced by the difficult economy. Sega officials added that the move was part of a "restructuring" strategy intended to improve profits.
Gameworks launched with great fanfare in 1997 as a partnership between Sega, Universal Studios and DreamWorks. Each Gameworks facility typically cost $10 million or more and plans initially called for up to 150 locations. But after initial results proved disappointing, the scope of the operation was severely curtailed, and Sega's two partner firms eventually sold their interest to Sega.
Gameworks experienced some improvement in performance about a decade ago, when a makeover put more emphasis on the chain's food and drink offerings and less on exotic, unproven game concepts.
At its height, the chain operated about 18 venues in the U.S., as well as three overseas locations in Guam, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Collectively, the 18 U.S. locations attracted more than 15 million guests annually, Sega reported several years ago.