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Sonic Forces/Mania - Issues in Marketing.


Ryannumber1gamer

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I said this in the Discord, and I still feel it holds true (more so for Mania than Forces, which I will touch upon afterwards)

For a product that SEGA 'proudly presents' said marketing for Mania hasn't been as strong for what I thought it'll be. Especially since among the older fans of the community see as their second coming of the series Mania's marketing strategy has been basically through a livestream here and there, assorted pieces of standalone news has it not? I feel SEGA should have taken a few notes from N.Sane Trilogy definitely in regards to Mania, instead of playing their trap nostalgia card yet again and coasting along through the months. 

As for Forces, this alleged four years in development and then the drought between its reveal that 25th Anniversary party (which let's face it, it was a technical marvel of audio messes) and then straight up nothing for months until March of this year? What is up with that? The way they handled Forces' marketing is farcry from Generations that it's laughable (yes I know the latter was during the 20th anniversary; I'm comparing the two due gameplay-wise and from what seen it's not too far off). It really doesn't seem like SEGA themselves have much confidence in pushing their product out to the masses, even on social media. Hell, SEGA's other non-Sonic offerings this year alone felt like they got more attention than their mascot's. 

Like Ryan said, they should have shown that Forces reveal trailer either at E3 last year and then followed up with possibly something extra at the party, or kept the reveal at the party but structured it better to not have it at the tailend of a 6 hour mess of a livestream...hell better yet shown Modern's segment at PS Experience last year and then around this time shown off Classic with more Modern peppered in along the way. 

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Ryan pretty much hit the nail on the head. I understand why they're showing little of Mania as possible because they want to surprise us when the game comes out and we've pretty much seen enough of the game to get a good idea of what it's going to be. And even tho they announced a delay they showed us Flying Battery Zone albeit not much but it was enough so soften the blow. Hell they promoted the collectors edition with a throwback to Sonic 2 and it was a hot seller on Amazon so they're fine. I just wished that they showed the entirety of Green Hill Zone act 2 instead of stopping at a specific place oh and that teaser posted at SXSW for an upcoming stage was lame. It's so pixelated and it's hard to make out anything. 

With Forces they did the one thing I hate about game announcements-showing a CGI trailer with no gameplay and were dead silent for 9 months. I still don't understand why they didn't show it at E3 it's not like this or Mania were gonna get buried under all the announcements if the trailer for Mania on Nintendo's channel is anything to go by. And as I've said multiple times the reason why I'm annoyed with this game is that Iizuka said that it's not a sequel but instead it's a completely new experience. Yet we have Classic Sonic returning with his gameplay similar to Generations, Green Hill Zone, the boost gameplay and the return of the wisp pretty much go against his statement. Hell news sites have gone on record saying that they saw the entirety of the first level I'm wondering why they've only showed the first 40 seconds to everybody else and it's been over a month. 

The worst part about all of this are the teases and all the clues. They're essentially beating around the bush saying "don't worry be patient you'll see more of the game soon". It just doesn't mean much especially considering the state of the franchise has been show us more give us a good idea of what the game is. For a game that's been in development for almost 4 years it doesn't feel like they're confident in their product it seems like there hiding something. It seems like everything is going to be riding on that 3rd gameplay style which I can understand them saving it for E3 but not Modern and Classic

But you know I would be ok if they had given us a trailer similar to Mania or better yet something like this 

This is how you give us a trailer shows me that they are confident in their game and we know what to expect. It's pretty much enough to give us until E3 which will be like 5 months since Odyssey's announcement. Maybe I'm being a bit too dramatic and expecting a bit too much from this series. IDK

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You know I defend Forces a lot but I will say exacatly what I though of the Classic Green Hill level when I saw it: It looks like shit. The theme is terrible (what the hell, the main theme is so cool and this is the Green Hill theme?) and the gameplay and graphics... no. Show us the damn Modern Gameplay SEGA, that's what got me excited. Show us a character conversation, a cutscene in game or a GGI one just show us SOMETHING. No one cares about this bad green hill level. Hell if you wanna showcase Classic, how about showing why Classic is in this game?

2 hours ago, Gabe said:

As for Mania, I personally am really not a fan of how its being handled right now in its PR. Everything since the reveal has been low-key reveals and drip-feed style information surrounded by long blackouts. It's quickly becoming close to a year since the game was revealed and we don't really know much about it outside of the demo playthroughs of acts they have shown (all five of them). Story? Game modes? Development cycle? All radio silence with some small table scraps. They say the game started development back in 2015, but with how much has been shown or talked about regarding the game, it feels like the game literally started shortly before the reveal. It's especially bad given how we already know a majority of the game is said to be returning zones, rather than being a completely-new game.

This. This a whole lot. I wanna be as exited for Mania as much as everyone else but it really does have the same problem as Forces. We don't know anything. What about the story, what about the score. Are there any new zones? Any new game modes? What makes this better that the older classic titles? It's 2017 now and I at least expect it that if it's just a copilation of old zones but bigger and with better graphics then what's the point? Give me something new and exiting. 

You know what's funny is that there is rumors that Mania could actually have a story and animated 2D cutscenes because an artist posted a gif of an animation involving Sonic and one of the Boiled Heavies and then deleted it when it got too popular. And that's got people excited. So how about announcing that? That would be a pretty damn big creator of hype. But instead they're completely silent about everything. Come on.

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I agree with a lot of you about the marketing, though I have different opinions about certain things.

 

 

First, I liked the initial reveals of both Mania and Forces. The trailer for Mania was godlike, and the CGI teaser for Forces was good enough to hook people.

 

 

But it's apparent that pushing back the release dates have left little dents in the way they are promoting the games.

 

 

Saying that, I'm okay with how Mania is being handled right now cause I feel that's the "safest" game Sega has and it's more likely going to do good. I'm sure it's going to get a lot of marketing once they have the final release date.

 

 

Forces is the one that definitely needs a good marketing push though. I think this Green Hill reveal should've been done like how they did the Generations trailers. Now those were hype as hell!

 

 

I did a little quick test on how one would look like:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The little Green Hill full gameplay reveal should've come out till E3 and have it more polished. This way they could've saved themselves the trouble of having to remind people things were still in production/alpha till then.

 

 

Now I feel fans are getting more worried going into E3 than being excited.

 

 

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My impression of the marketing for both games is that they're trying to be secretive, revealing as little as possible.  I don't have any problem with that approach in theory - but in practice, it's true that what they do reveal and how has tended to be a bit questionable.

I think the initial reveal for both games was okay in theory; the streaming problems harmed them, but they didn't anticipate those issues and so in effect I think we should leave them out of the calculation.  They were announced to a theoretically captive audience of Sonic fans both in physical space and online; Mania was given an extremely accomplished trailer which set out well what the game was about and why we should be excited, while the farther-off Forces was merely given a teaser to point towards its main ideas, and specifically those ideas they thought would most appeal to Sonic fans in particular, which were a darker tone and the inclusion of Classic Sonic.  There's nothing really wrong with what they did there, though they might have wanted to be more explicit in advance about the prospect of game reveals (and to have made sure that the stream was going to work).

Since then, for both games, there has been something of a tendency to release new material out of the blue, and with no prior hype; this is what they did with Mirage Saloon Zone for Mania, and both sets of recent Green Hill footage for Forces.  Any one of these could have been turned into events, teased days in advance, but instead they just pop up without fanfare and are in danger of being missed by casual fans, flying under the radar.  Additionally, in both cases there's been an emphasis on showing direct gameplay rather than cutting things into trailers.  Again, I can appreciate that they're trying to sell us on the unfiltered gameplay with no chance we're being misled, but at the same time this means there's often a curious lack of hype and excitement to the way this material is being sold to us.  Is it really that interesting to just watch somebody else play a game?  That's exactly what happened with Mirage Saloon, where the reveal was through commentated playthroughs by YouTubers, and how they've handled keeping the other revealed zones in the public eye through Aaron Webber et al.'s streams.  One feels that Sega is trying to court the streaming audience, which is understandable, but they're not making things into a big enough event to catch the eye of fans or the gaming media.

Then there's the practice of showing new footage privately to game journalists, and then letting said journalists immediately relate this material to the fans second-hand.  Examples of this are the Forces Modern footage with side-scrolling platforming and Sonic's friends radioing in, and, even earlier, Mania's Green Hill Zone Act 2 and its boss, the latter of which is still being kept secret (even though they've permitted it to be described to us).  That seems odd.  I can see that there might be a case for this if the material was not yet in a state that was ready for public consumption, something which gaming journalists would understand better than the public, and I suspect that that's probably the case - but then why not hold back those journalistic impressions through embargo until the same material was ready for public release?  If they're not ready to show it, why are they ready for us to be told about it by a third party?  This also ties into the issue of their reveals often being very selective - through particular YouTubers, for instance, or at particular panels, or in a Nintendo Direct; these are the sorts of things where you'd expect the second-party tease to be complemented by a first-party blowout, but Sega took a fortnight to show Forces GHZ outside of the Nintendo Direct.

The drip-feed approach is rendered tedious by the fact that we have no idea when to expect new information - and for all we may criticise announcements of announcements, they do at least give us a sense that something is going o, rather than nothing - and by the fact that that new information is often effectively stealth-announced in some select corner of the Internet which not everyone is watching, or even effectively hidden.  I'm not asking for Sega to suddenly tell us everything; I think that games are too readily effectively spoiled by their own marketing these days and am happy for a bit of secrecy.  But I don't think they're handling their reveals very effectively at the moment, and are more or less just leaving them in the hands of third parties.

It will be interesting to look back from the game releases at the rest of the marketing campaign.  I'm sure I can't see them continuing in this vein, certainly not for Forces.

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For Mania, while the marketing isn't perfect, I do feel it has been handled decently with just one concern. The original trailer was great and so was the collectors edition of the game. The drip feed info might annoy the younger people who are used to having a lot of info being shown however for Mania it is perhaps better for it and prevents everything from being leaked out. Back in the original classic Sonic days, you had magazines giving you info a month at a time and there were no Youtube, Internet was at its infancy (lucky to get pictures) and no quick access to things. Some magazines had to have PR provided the stuff while others had equipment to take screenshots. The amount shown so far would have been enough for a magazine especially for a big game, some just had a paragraph and a picture or two with that's all you got until the game came out. You might have gotten lucky with a VHS tape showing some footage or even an advert. So Mania is getting classic style marketing, just with some extra livestreams. The only concerns were until the Flying Battery reveal and the delay that it was the same 3 zones (for a while it was just 3 acts and a part of another) so it was made that the game wasn't finished by a long shot, even a screenshot of a mysterious new/redone level or an earlier reveal of the Hard Boiled Heavies would have eased.

Same can't be said about Forces though. It has been marketed badly (apart from the instrumental theme that people like) and while drip fed info works into Mania's favour, it doesn't work for Forces where a fragile series needs reassurance. All we have are the CG cutscene, some Modern Sonic "gameplay" without any HUD and the Sandy Green Hill from Nintendo Direct that has just been made into another video. Apart from the latter, not enough to judge a game from and rumors of the game is enough to put people off the game because Sega hasn't reassured that it wouldn't like 06 (even though ironically before the game was released had decent marketing) or some other entries. Iizuka says one thing but what has been shown says another as in a mixed quality Generations 2. The fans are worried or uninterested because of the poor marketing that the game wouldn't be any good or even average. If the footage and the music isn't ready like with Sandy Green Hill, don't show it! Take Midnight Club on the PS2; the original footage was an Alpha build where it ran slow, ugly to look at even by the PS2 launch, no sound, not even a HUD was displayed (it wasn't done for artist license like Sonic Forces and a lot of box art "screenshots"). If someone watched that, it would have put people off pre-ordering or buying the game and this is from Rockstar, a company known to have great solid marketing. It took until the 2nd game before the series took off because they changed the marketing for the game. Some companies can get away of revealing little info because they have proved that people will buy it and like it but doing Red Dead Redemption 2 styled marketing doesn't work for Forces where Sonic Team is hit and miss. It is also worrying for a game that it suppose to be out in November shown so little, the same concern that I had with Mania until the delay.

Saying that it could still easily turn around, when Super Mario 3D World was first announced people were mostly meh towards the game until Nintendo changed the marketing slightly for the game as in a new video. People became hyped up more because the new video showed more than a 3D Land HD remake with cats, it had better graphics and new levels. There's E3 to turn it around but might not be enough for some.

I know Sega in general have poor marketing apart from their PC output where they do a good job with events and have some non-online advertising but this is Sega's mascot and its just needs to have more (well more than some social media account that actually has good marketing all things considering). Not a complete leakage to put off buying the game but just enough to make a full judgement whether to buy the game or not.

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Yeah, agreed with all the others.
Altough with Mania, I'm generally fine with how it's handled (ignoring the Stream quality), it's a straight forward concept I can immediatly grasp, so there isn't much else to be revealed other then the specific level themes. So I'm fine with the little bits of info. Altough I would agree a little story/ structure context would have gone a long way in quelling the nature of some complaints, if we had a quick snippet of cutscene providing a legit reason why Sonic's back on Green hill zone, there might have been more understanding and respect for the return of old levels. Quite a few of the haters seem to be concerned it's just a pile of unrelated nostalgia levels instead of a proper adventure, and some of those  worries could have been reduced relatively easy.
But then again, Mania's marketed toward the "Story has no place in Sonic games!" crowd, so I'm not surprised they keeping it far away from marketing.


But Forces, man... It's like they simultaneously have too much confidence and no confidence at all. Too much confidence as how the snippets of info seem to be designed in a way that, for a more stable, respected and concise game series like Zelda, would have gotten Fans hyped and spending hours having fun debates about what's going on. But with Sonic's monstrous mess of a reputation, it's only creating paranoia and frustration.
And too little confidence in how the snippets of info are just casually thrown around at random. It's really weird.

I can only assume there wasn't Meant to be ANY Sonic Forces reveals until E3 comes with a proper trailer, and all the weird stuff we gotten so far is only to reassure Sonic fans that something's coming besides Mania. Sometimes I wonder that, if Sonic Mania wouldn't have existed, Sega would have shown off Forces as early as they did. In fact, I've seen many people bring up that thought.
Now it seems like a kneejerk reaction to avoid fans from being bitter about Mania being the only upcoming Sonic game, and is now stumbling about with half-finished promotional material that wasn't meant to exist yet.


Also, to some extend, I wonder how much Sonic Boom Rise of Lyric is responsible for the awkward promotion we had.
That game caused up a lot of unwanted trouble with it's early gameplay footage and the whole "it's only Alpha footage" circus that came out of that.
I can understand they want to avoid that.....

 

...

...
And then we get an entirely new "it's only alpha footage!" storm yet again thanks to Not!-Is So!- Nuh Uh!- Is so!- Nuh uh! Green Hill zone's reveal. Oops.

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6 hours ago, FFWF said:

but they didn't anticipate those issues and so in effect I think we should leave them out of the calculation. 

It doesn't matter whether they anticipated it or not, it leaves impressions and has an effect regarding the marketing process. It was the event hyped up to be the big reveal of the future of sonic. And it was a cringey mess, that left an impression on not just fans, but any outside audiences watching. You can't cherry pick shst will and won't have effects in people's perception, especially when this didn't just happen once, but twice with the next big info drop stream.

6 hours ago, El Driver said:

First, I liked the initial reveals of both Mania and Forces. The trailer for Mania was godlike, and the CGI teaser for Forces was good enough to hook people.

Nobody is slagging the trailers themselves for the most part. It's just the anticlimactic build up to them people had a problem either mostly.

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I still think it's all because of budget. The money just isn't there in the grand scheme to go advert crazy on the games.

Isn't it how it works? A game is given one big budget for development that covers creation, marketing, and such all in one mass lump of dough?

If they spend a fortune on the marketing of the game, that'd be less for developing the title itself.

At least... That's what I assume. Even if they "proudly" present the games, they have to do them on a modest salary.

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5 hours ago, King Koopone said:

The drip feed info might annoy the younger people who are used to having a lot of info being shown however for Mania it is perhaps better for it and prevents everything from being leaked out. Back in the original classic Sonic days, you had magazines giving you info a month at a time and there were no Youtube, Internet was at its infancy (lucky to get pictures) and no quick access to things.

Times change, and with that, the world of commercialism, marketing, etc. it may be something back in the old day people could stand, but it's less and less being a profitable method company's wanna do with their hyped up titles. You can't ignore the leaps in advancement and new methods of advertising and marketing. And in this age especially, where tons of things are fighting for our attention and money

7 minutes ago, Chris Knopps said:

I still think it's all because of budget. The money just isn't there in the grand scheme to go advert crazy on the games.

Isn't it how it works? A game is given one big budget for development that covers creation, marketing, and such all in one mass lump of dough?

If they spend a fortune on the marketing of the game, that'd be less for developing the title itself.

At least... That's what I assume. Even if they "proudly" present the games, they have to do them on a modest salary.

Marketing makes up a hefty amount in a games budget usually. Not having decent advertising can lead to it releasing with low sales. Though you don't even have to spend to get the word out ina decent fashion, but for AAA companies, they usually spend some decent amount on more to market their product. And it certainly in Sega's case is problematic if they can't even afford a decent marketing campaign 

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5 minutes ago, Chris Knopps said:

I still think it's all because of budget. The money just isn't there in the grand scheme to go advert crazy on the games.

 

It literally costs them nothing to spread info on their already popular social sites and let the fans spread the word on their own. It's not like we're asking for them to tell us everything or even a trailer. Just some more info. Maybe an interview, or some artwork/concept art? We have so little of both Forces and Mania...

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5 minutes ago, KHCast said:

Times change, and with that, the world of commercialism, marketing, etc. it may be something back in the old day people could stand, but it's less and less being a profitable method company's wanna do with their hyped up titles. You can't ignore the leaps in advancement and new methods of advertising and marketing. And in this age especially, where tons of things are fighting for our attention and money

Marketing makes up a hefty amount in a games budget usually. Not having decent advertising can lead to it releasing with low sales. And it certainly in Sega's case is problematic if they can't even afford a decent marketing campaign 

That's what I think. They're trickling out marketing on a budget and they're going to invest the majority of it into E3, though whether or not that's the best course...

I don't know...

Maybe if they have an area like Breath of the Wild had...?

"Come walk through the tattered remains of Sonic's world"

Or something.

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Honestly, unless Sega had a notable presence this year, like up on one of the stages during one of the conferences, or have a lengthy appearance in Nintendos direct/treehouse, I'm not sure what they plan to do to make this all worth the wait for something big to get excited about. Post a blog? Release a trailer on their channel? I mean sure that will be cool and all, but not sure how that'll reach audiences outside core fans 

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1 minute ago, KHCast said:

Honestly, unless Sega had a notable presence this year, like up on one of the stages during one of the conferences, or have a lengthy appearance in Nintendos direct/treehouse, I'm not sure what they plan to do to make this all worth the wait for something big to get excited about. Post a blog? Release a trailer on their channel? I mean sure that will be cool and all, but not sure how that'll reach audiences outside core fans 

I dunno... I think their core audience are the folks they need to focus on most and get solid footing with first.

If you have a core in shambles it's difficult to expect outside sources to feel any different when the very foundation the franchise stands on is tattered at best.

It's kind of like inviting folks to gather on a bridge that's barely standing as is.

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Yes they need to focus on the core fans first. Which is a bit tricky since everyone is so divided and they already alliniated some parts of the fanbase seeing as how this is pretty much like Generations 2 so far. And only Sonic is playable. The trick up their sleeve must be the third gameplay style, and hopefully, an actual story with the cast actually appearing and being useful and not just cheerleaders. That's the only way for SEGA to repair the damage in the core fanbase. But they're putting too much hope in this 3rd Gameplay style to be honest. They even made it the tagline and the main theme of the game. It better be good.

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1 minute ago, KHCast said:

You can still reach core fans while marketing to the wider audience so they also are aware of the product

True, very true...

I still think the concept I mentioned about a big display at E3 is pretty solid. Make the booth display a ruined city with both versions of Sonic struggling against one of the giant Death Egg robots, kind of like how they had Link facing a Guardian in the BotW display.

Do something epic that appeals to the core and is irresistibly eye catching to outsiders.

"D@mn, look at this world, pretty epic"

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As for Mania... That's releasing in the summer right? We're almost at the end of Spring. It's about time we start getting some more stuff about it. I'm no game markeeter but if you only really start revealing info and dropping trailers about the game one month before it's release, well, that's kinda bad. I at least hope we get more stuff of it on May/June, if they're aiming for a July release.

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1 minute ago, RictalRose0 said:

As for Mania... That's releasing in the summer right? We're almost at the end of Spring. It's about time we start getting some more stuff about it. I'm no game markeeter but if you only really start revealing info and dropping trailers about the game one month before it's release, well, that's kinda bad. I at least hope we get more stuff of it on May/June, if they're aiming for a July release.

Isn't the buzz among the bees saying the game isn't coming out until September?

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While I agree with everyone I'm honestly wondering why only now everyone agrees that their marketing is shit. I've been saying this since last year:

On 17/06/2016 at 4:54 PM, pppp said:

It just makes no sense to me to wait that long. Wouldn't it be a more logical decision to reveal it at E3 where everyone's eyes are turned to right now? No better way than that to make the masses interested. A reveal at the party will only make us hardcore fans hyped, unless of course will only be released in over a year and will be at the next E3. That doesn't detract from the fact that a reveal at E3 would cause a bigger ruckus.

SEGA is amazing, this company does EVERYTHING the exact opposite way other companies do things.

I'm sorry, but this really confuses me cause its so illogical.

SEGA has been doing this to us since 2015, I'm honestly baffled why I was the only one complaining back then.

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