Plastic is used a great deal in the gaming industry, from consoles to the packaging of games, but Sega Europe will be cutting out a huge amount of plastic from its production line.
In a recent announcement from the Japanese gaming giant, all future physical releases in Europe will be packaged in completely recycled and recyclable packaging. Given the huge franchises under the Sega banner, potentially hundreds of tonnes of plastic production can be avoided thanks to Sega’s new policy.
However, just because Sega is becoming much more responsible with their practices, it doesn’t mean that other game companies will follow suit.
Sega Europe leaves plastic in the past
Officially commencing the more eco-friendly future of Sega Europe, the company announced that from the release of Total War: Rome II – Enemy at the Gates Edition onwards, all physical PC releases will be in fully recycled packaging.
Sega has been planning this move for a while now, with the ever-popular Football Manager franchise switching to fully recyclable packaging for this year’s edition under the publisher.
Digital purchases in gaming are on the rise, but there are enough physical purchases of Football Manager that changing to the new eco-friendly packaging is expected to save 20 tonnes of plastic in 2020 alone.
Football Manager 2020’s packaging is 100 per cent recyclable, being comprised of recycled fibre to make the reinforced cardboard case, new ink made from a vegetable and water base, and low-density polyethylene to provide the wrapping.
As reported by Ars Technica, while the new packaging does cost a bit more than plastic cases, costs are offset, in a way, by the reduced destruction costs for excess units – all of which will be recyclable now – and reduced shipping with the cases being smaller.
The game cases even include instructions on how you can properly recycle old video game discs by posting them to a specialised recycling facility.
Sega Europe leading the way: will anyone follow?
Sega Europe publishes PC games for many great developers, including Sports Interactive, Amplitude Studios, Two Point, Creative Assembly, and Relic. As such, they’ll be cutting out a lot of plastic production through the use of their new packaging.
The PC titles released from Sega America are digital-only anyway, but the console games released by Sega won’t feature the responsible packages. This is because the company must adhere to first-party guidelines, per GamesInudstry.biz.
PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo all dictate that their games must be uniform to their preset plastic casing. The three companies are, however, addressing the need to become more eco-friendly in their own ways.
Sony and Microsoft are part of the Playing for the Planet group, which is comprised of major game developers who have committed to new sustainability goals. Announcements from the major companies include the PlayStation 5’s more energy-efficient sleep mode and Microsoft’s aim to cut supply chain emissions by 30 per cent over the next ten years.
While Nintendo isn’t part of the initiative, it has shown intent to try and be more eco-friendly with the release of Labo. Nintendo often releases accessory-heavy games and devices, and not only does their own production line use a lot of plastic, but imitators then also use a lot of plastic to sell accessories at a reduced price. As Labo is primarily cardboard, far less plastic is being used to create the accessories, which is a big deal – just think about how many different controller handles and cases came out for the Nintendo Wii.
It’s evident that the theme of sustainability and the preservation of the world and its inhabitants has been rubbing off on game developers. As part of the mission of Playing for the Planet, Google Stadia said that it is researching ways in which developers can incorporate ‘green nudges’ into games, which could prove to be a very important step should the platform still be running once the research is completed.
There’s also been a rise in wildlife-based video games which could be as a direct result of the increased interest and attention on the state of the environment. There’s the simply superb Planet Zoo and Bee Simulator as well as the upcoming Away: The Survival Series and Beyond Blue – both of which have been inspired by nature documentary series.
More needs to be done by the industry to increase sustainability and reduce the use of plastic. The most obvious place to start is the game cases, with Sega Europe showing that the switch to recyclable packaging is not only possible but also viable. Casing designs and standards have historically been set at the start of a new generation of each console, so 2020 is the perfect time for PlayStation and Xbox to make the switch for good.