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How much influence does Aaron Webber have over the franchise now?


PC the Hedgehog
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Sonic community manager Aaron Webber has been a long-standing presence in the Sonic community for many years now. Of course he's probably best-known for his wacky Sonic memes on social media that have constantly kept Sonic in the public eye in multiple fun ways. He's also been at the forefront of multiple Sonic events, helping make big announcements for the franchise alongside Sonic big-wigs like Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka.

The question is, how much influence does he have on the series nowadays? Obviously he's so immersed in the fandom that he knows our general feelings toward the games, gameplay, characters, and whatnot. He hangs out with Iizuka and other Sonic Team members during/before/after events, so surely he conveys the fandom's thoughts to them.

Sure, there are lots of cooks in the kitchen as far as making Sonic games goes, but do you think Aaron's presence may have a more significant effect on how Sonic Team designs their games/what they do with the franchise?

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None - Yet

But with him and Whitehead among others in the West it wouldn't be a surprise if he starts getting some power in due time. I doubt it's unheard of for PR to get other high ranking promotions in a company, especially if their work, and the quality of it, keeps surpassing those in the East.

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1 hour ago, Chris Knopps said:

None - Yet

But with him and Whitehead among others in the West it wouldn't be a surprise if he starts getting some power in due time. I doubt it's unheard of for PR to get other high ranking promotions in a company, especially if their work, and the quality of it, keeps surpassing those in the East.

Taxman is a contracted game developer who proved what he can do by remastering Sonic 1, 2, and CD. Aaron, at most, might be able to find new and interesting ways to help market the games better in the West, but I don't think that would really influence the choices Sonic Team makes when designing a game.

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None?

He has the power to influence how an audience sees the franchise, and even then he has sega folks of his ass because he might mess up. 

He isn't like combofiend for capcom where western capcom actually worked on SF to some degree, and they are the lead coordinators for marvel infinite. 

I think the most power he had was getting big in the lego sonic stuff

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I think Mania's success could influence how Sonic Team develops games going forward. 


Aside from that and passing fan feedback to Iizuka I can't think of much he could possibly do. This isn't to slight Aaron either. I just don't know what the job entails and how far it goes.

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22 minutes ago, Josh said:

I think Mania's success could influence how Sonic Team develops games going forward. 


Aside from that and passing fan feedback to Iizuka I can't think of much he could possibly do. This isn't to slight Aaron either. I just don't know what the job entails and how far it goes.

I don't think that's quite the right way to put it, considering by and large isn't it SEGA who tells them "Do it like this, do it that way, cater to this audience" and they have to basically operate by that demand/expectation from the company?

I mean, I get Iizuka is the head honcho of Sonic Team, but doesn't he still make titles based on what SEGA expects him to? Granted he/they can SUGGEST games but they don't really get to decide what they can do/make by and large, if SEGA says no they have to sit back down I would think.

(Otherwise given Iizuka's past I'd think we actually WOULD have gotten SA3 and Shadow 2 by this point if he didn't have to do what SEGA says)

Titles like Lost World seem like the entire opposite of his taste for the franchise, and who knows, maybe that's why it sucked...

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I think the message of this topic may be getting misinterpreted.

I know Aaron doesn't have any "direct" power. What I'm referring to is his ability to relay the fans' thoughts to Iizuka and crew. The ultimate question is, does Sonic Team actually listen to the feedback he passes along from the fanbase, which could affect both future Sonic games and possibly the franchise as a whole?

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9 minutes ago, Conquering Storm's Servant said:

Very little actual sway beyond reporting to the folks in charge what goes on through his interactions with the community.

Community management isn't exactly a powerful position to have.

The sad thing is I, personally, think Sonic would be dead now without Aaron, so the fact it seems to include such little power is pretty sad when you think of just how much a company owes a person in particular.

...Is it wrong/bad of me to think Aaron means more to the company and does more for it than Mr. Iizuka...?

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20 minutes ago, PC the Hedgehog said:

I think the message of this topic may be getting misinterpreted.

I know Aaron doesn't have any "direct" power. What I'm referring to is his ability to relay the fans' thoughts to Iizuka and crew. The ultimate question is, does Sonic Team actually listen to the feedback he passes along from the fanbase, which could affect both future Sonic games and possibly the franchise as a whole?

I think they do.  A lot of people have pointed to just about every one of the last decade's games as examples of Sonic Team's reaction or overreaction to prevailing criticism of the time, and I think Aaron as a community manager who's fairly in-touch with both the mainstream and the core fandom might be able to deliver those messages with a certain measure of balance or nuance.  What I'm suggesting here is that what he's relaying to Sonic Team is not something superficial like "people love memes," but rather something more like "people want it to be fun to talk about Sonic again," or "there's more enthusiasm for Classic-style games than Classic Sonic in Modern Sonic games," with a certain measure of backing evidence and detail.

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9 minutes ago, FFWF said:

I think they do.  A lot of people have pointed to just about every one of the last decade's games as examples of Sonic Team's reaction or overreaction to prevailing criticism of the time, and I think Aaron as a community manager who's fairly in-touch with both the mainstream and the core fandom might be able to deliver those messages with a certain measure of balance or nuance.  What I'm suggesting here is that what he's relaying to Sonic Team is not something superficial like "people love memes," but rather something more like "people want it to be fun to talk about Sonic again," or "there's more enthusiasm for Classic-style games than Classic Sonic in Modern Sonic games," with a certain measure of backing evidence and detail.

"Listen guys, people want to play as Classic Sonic in his OWN games, they don't want Classic Sonic in Modern Sonic games, it's too much."

"Listen guys, people want Sonic to be funny and quirky, but they don't want the whole plot based on jokes, they still want to take it seriously."

"Listen guys, people want Eggman to be an actual threat, making him too big of a joke is detrimental to the franchise."

I'd think anyone with a position at SEGA should get common sense things like this, if they can't grasp that much they shouldn't be employed there...

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  • 2 weeks later...

What is up with all this Webber bootlicking? All he does is make memes all day and beg for E-Celebs to notice him. I get it PR is important but damn does he seem desperate for some e-fame sometimes. I don't hate the guy but keep in mind that he also really doesn't care that much to tell Sonic Team what the fans want. He doesn't even have any problem with the current writing in the games. 

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19 minutes ago, RictalRose0 said:

All he does is make memes all day and beg for E-Celebs to notice him.

You don't have any idea what kind of work he does do you?

Quote

I don't hate the guy but keep in mind that he also really doesn't care that much to tell Sonic Team what the fans want. 

1: How the fuck do you know that?

2: You do realise he's working in the same building, as Iizuka and Hoshino and they regularly come into contact with one another? 

3: Can you even quantify what fans want?

4: Are you even sure... that's his job? 

I'll let you pick one of those to reply to, assuming this wasn't just an opportunistic drive by.

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He's the PR guy, he handles the social networks accounts, community management and stuff like that. Which I often see as "the meme guy" like the Dennis twitter and stuff like that. But jesus don't get pissed at me just because I don't like Webber that much. I don't have to bend over backwards and love the guy just because a staff member tells me i'm a jerk for not appreciating him. Listen, Webber isn't even that bad, looking back at it I was exaggerating. But still, I just don't like self-referential humor and memes that much, but I understand why he does them, they do work. But when people say "The Sonic Twitter is great because it knows how much Sonic sucks and the fans suck" that's a problem. I wish Webber would actually work to make Sonic have a more positive image, instead of just enabling people that think we're all a joke.

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2 minutes ago, RictalRose0 said:

But when people say "The Sonic Twitter is great because it knows how much Sonic sucks and the fans suck" that's a problem. I wish Webber would actually work to make Sonic have a more positive image, instead of just enabling people that think we're all a joke.

When has anybody ever said ever? 

If anything, it shows a sign of strength that the officials are aware of AND embrace their mistakes and moving forward to a brighter future or something like that. I'd say Aaron has already a lot of things to make a more positive image.

- A 24 hour charity stream that was very successful btw

- Get talented fan artists to work with the official Sonic artists and commission their work in some of the tweets (Rafa Knight is an example of this)

- The fact Aaron gave the clear for Big's Big Fishing Adventure 3 to be an actual game (He's not working on it, as some would believe)

It was never Aaron's intention to mock anyone, pretty sure he has said this a lot of times. His focus was to interact and entertain the fans, always has, always will.

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It's what I hear on 4chan and 8ch all the time. Listen, i'm just gonna say, I didn't like Webber at first, in like 2014 and 2015 BUT I think he's been improving as a community manager okay. I get that the guy can't be looking up all the time to see if he hurt someone's feelings, I don't blame him for that. Sometimes you get too caught up in a joke and you insult them without even realizing. I think that after Project 2017 gets released and we have a good and completed Sonic game again maybe we can actually start having the Sonic PR media share more positive stuff about the games instead of joking so much about it. 

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Of course, Aaron is going to focus on the games when it nears its release. I mean, he has done a good amount of promotion for Mania as is, at this point if people are not convinced by the game, they never will. 

And even then, there was good amount of promotion when Aaron took charge. A decent amount of Boom promotion when that became a big focus (nowadays, it's a mere afterthought which is sad for me :(), some promotion for Runners, Dash 2 and the Lost World Steam port. And also when Fire & Ice was relevant and neared its release they did some fun stuff to promote that game as well. 

Aaron has mentioned why some times why there's not much news and all he does is jokes, if he's not allowed to announce anything by his higher-ups, he can't so instead he finds ways to entertain and interact with people. And he does that with memes and the biweekly livestreams. 

also 4chan, really lmao

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4 hours ago, Soni said:

When has anybody ever said ever? 

If anything, it shows a sign of strength that the officials are aware of AND embrace their mistakes and moving forward to a brighter future or something like that. I'd say Aaron has already a lot of things to make a more positive image.

- A 24 hour charity stream that was very successful btw

- Get talented fan artists to work with the official Sonic artists and commission their work in some of the tweets (Rafa Knight is an example of this)

- The fact Aaron gave the clear for Big's Big Fishing Adventure 3 to be an actual game (He's not working on it, as some would believe)

It was never Aaron's intention to mock anyone, pretty sure he has said this a lot of times. His focus was to interact and entertain the fans, always has, always will.

So like I agree with what you are saying here. It was never his intent to mock anyone. I don't think he's funny all the time... or often for that matter. But I don't think the guy is mean spirited. However unfortunately the twitter account has taken a life of its own in some regards, there are actually a number of people who think like the guy you responded to. Because they think the twitter is more than that a twitter, even before this...unfortunate age of twitter, people believed for whatever reasons that twitter was held in higher regard than maybe it should be. Some people view it as a mouth piece of the company in many ways it very much is, others view it as a gateway to someone who works at the company. That's true too. The issue is is when people think its more than the PR manager, and what the PR manager is allowed to do. 

Sonic's.... reputation has caused this twitter to take on entirely other importance that it doesn't have and shouldn't have. A sort of representation of what the sonic brand is thinking at any moment, instead of goof gafs and general japery. These people I find divided into two sections a group of people who kind of don't like sonic or maybe did at some point, and people who really like sonic. The former, consisting of people who over analyze every joke the twitter makes as to suggest that the twitter is confirming their bias that sonic is say a " joke". To use an example, if twitter were to make a joke about shadow the hedgehog, they would then use that to justify it as to thinking the sonic brand at its core no longer cares about shadow and thinks he's a joke, rather than it being... you know... just a joke. On the flip side, on that same joke the other end the people who really like sonic construe it as them making the brand into a joke instead of being proud of what is. 

Both of these sides particularly the latter are pointing at the wrong thing, when the party to blame is sega. If sega made good sonic  games more frequently, you wouldn't have to get self conscious every time a sonic joke comes up, because you could be like " what about this" and shut people up. WIth that confidence you could hypothetical take that joke as what it was meant to be... a joke. I would argue that you shouldn't like a brand determine your confidence in a subject in most cases, but i'm not going to live your life you. On the flipside, if sega starting using more elements more frequently along with making good games the guy who has created a whole narrative about how sega must hate shadow now, will realize his theories have no bases in reality. 

The twitter, while not that funny, is still a twitter its an advertising piece in the new age to communicate the information. And to communicate with sega, or particularly "sonic team" issue is outside of very specific occasions that you can't directly communicate with sonic team. So you have a group of people labeling sega ( and in many ways rightfully so ) out of their minds and out of touch and that's why all these bad sega games with bad characters exist. And on the flipside you have a group of people saying ( and in many ways rightfully so ) they feel shunted by the brand, the brand direction in combination with the sega presidents statements does not fill them with hope and they feel like their are being used for money, more so than usual, and being made fun off. And they are both pointing their fingers at the twitter, when its just a twitter run a buy a guy who wants to make sonic memes. But you can't get in contract with Sonic team, so blame the twitter. 

And one last thing. Sega has less much much much worse things continue exist that have done horrible things to the brand, and its characters( somethings wildly inappropriate for the age rage of the brand and turning one character in to a horrible monster) . There are two arcs in the comic that If I were in charge when those things got published, I would have fired whoever is in charge of okaying those things, I would have gotten rid of Archie and found another publisher.  So out of all the things the sega sonic brand let ride that were... actually horrible. A couple bad jokes on twitter don't really seem like much

 

So I think Arron is fine. 

Unless big fishing adventure is really bad, and the jokes aren't " laugh at yourself" and more " look at the looser who like this ", I doubt that would happen. But comedy is a rather fine line, and if it does happen then, well we will get to that bridge when we cross it. 

As of currently however its two groups taking twitter, at least this twitter a bit too seriously. 

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I agree with that. That's a very thoughful and well worded argument. It's true, really the big blame falls on Sega and how careless they are with the Sonic brand. Both Sega of America and of Japan. SoA let DiC and Archie trample all over their intelectual properly, they did not have a single care what happened. And later on went and created Sonic Boom in such a sloppy manner. They just took some other game and slapped Sonic on it and hoped that would be enough to create a new lineup of Sonic products for a new generation. If they wanted Sonic Boom to succed then they should have actually tried to develop the game instead of letting some third party amateur developer make it and then pretend like that's good enough to support a new franchise. 

And Sega of Japan, they should have spended more time developing their games before shipping them out, they should have done more efforts to reach out to their audience and play test their games to see what audiences responded well to. And they should have worried more about what Sega of America did with sonic on the international level, instead of just staying on their own little world. As for the present, they really should reconsider that Ken Pontac and Warren Graff are not who the series needs right now. I get that the reception 06 and Unleashed got scared them into thinking they should play it safe and tone down their stories, but while Colors and Generations were praised for their gameplay, no one gave them positives for their plot and dialogue. They should notice already, that people don't mind if the story is slighty complicated, they just want a good game, but a memorable story makes it all the more enjoyable. 

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