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Was Sonic at any point the most popular video game franchise in the world?


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I know that even during the height of Sonic's popularity there were individual games in other series that sold even better than the best selling Sonic games. But I strongly suspect that when taking the entire franchise into consideration, in other words merchandise, comics ect, Sonic was most likely the biggest video game based franchise during the early 90's. I can't imagine what other franchise it could possibly have been. I mean yeah, Mario was obviously going as strong as ever at the time but I remember Sonic way overtaking Mario's popularity during approximately the 1992-1994 period. This is anecdotal of course, but I can say with confidence that Sonic was the big video game obession among us kids at the time, kinda like Pokémon was the major worldwide obession among kids during the late 90's/early 00's. I recall seeing Sonic merch everywhere, with Mario probably coming in second, and I honestly don't think any other game series was ever close to those two during that time. Street Fighter was of course huge and so was Doom and Mortal Kombat, but they never approached being merchandizing empires in comparasion to Sonic or Mario. 

What do you think? Can we Sonic fans take pride in our favorite series at one point being literally the most popular series in it's entire mediuim or not? Does anyone have any numbers or something of the sort?

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I think that's a hard question to pin down, if only because Sonic's overall popularity and appeal skews rather hard from region to region.

 

While Sonic is a character with full on global appeal (that has been proven as recently as the movie), its no secret that the western hemisphere loves him a little bit more. Sonic is a stronger brand in our territories so its hard to get a global scale of how the brand is doing, when it looks so strong in your own backyard. Looking back, Sonic was a big reason why the Genesis was able to knock off the NES stateside, but we didn't see that happen in other parts of the world.

What Sonic does have going for him is content saturation. Sonic was a mainstay in the comic and TV space. He is everywhere you look during his peak popularity pushes. Its hard to argue that Sonic wasn't the big fish in the videogame industry at somepoint, knowing that the franchise spurred so much additional content. How many videogame franchises can flaunt bankrolling two different cartoons at the same time? that's crazy.

 

I think if you ignore something like tetris.... yeah Sonic was probably up there for some period of time.

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4 hours ago, espio said:

it seems like sonic kinda started falling off in popularity as early as sonic adventure , he didn’t become irrelevant obviously but less popular than he was in his 2D era

It was before that because Sega couldn't make a proper follow-up to Sonic 3.

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During 1991-1994 arguably yes. But that's because there were only 2 consoles that mattered, Sonic was mascot of one, newer and more exiting. Not helped by the fact that Mario 4 came out in 1990 and Yoshi Island in 1995. And Pokemon wouldn't exist for a while.

Obviously there were other good games during that period, like Street Fighter 2, Link to the Past or Doom.
Heck, year 1994 had Super Metroid, Donkey Kong Country and Final Fantasy 6

But if (arguably) Sonic loses in quality, he beats those games in quantity. Main games, spin-offs, comic, cartoons. I'm fairly sure no franchise could compete with that.

Later years Sonic had just too much competition. Even if Sonic Adventure 1 was best Sonic game ever, it would always be overshadowed by Final Fantasy 7 and such.

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Im not gonna say the most popular for a couple reasons

1.Freaking Mario

2.Sega Console Downfall

3.Playstations Domination

However Sonic still has a pretty solid reputation

Selling over 15 Million Copies of the Original game and still going today(on mobile)

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 won video game of the year (1992).

Sonic was The first video game character to have his own Balloon in the Macys day Parade

Sonic was added to World Video Game Hall Of Fame

Sonic the Hedgehog | World Video Game Hall of Fame

The Guardian Says:

Quote

Games accepted into the hall of fame are considered to “have enjoyed popularity over a sustained period and have exerted influence on the video game industry or on popular culture and society in general,” according to the museum.

The Movie Was Nominated For The Oscars

I could go on and on about how much success this Franchise has had but i wont if you want a whole list click the link below

List of awards given to the Sonic the Hedgehog series | Sonic ...

 
Was he the most famous in the world i dont know?
 
but what i do know is that he made a difference on the video game community!
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It's really hard to say since it really depends on who you are asking.   As stated, Sonic the Hedgehog is more popular in the Western countries than in Japan or other countries and in those other countries, there might be other video game properties that were more popular than Sonic.  However, Sonic is one of the longest running video game franchises, alongside Mario and the Final Fantasy series, so that's quite an accomplishment in of itself.

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36 minutes ago, Rogue said:

I don't think that Sonic was ever more popular than Mario.

 

 

Sonic was based off Mickey Body but Felix the Cats head and guess what Felix the Cat was back in the day a hit

So i dont nessarcilly agree with your thinking

Also if we are talking about World Wide dont you think something that says

38 minutes ago, Rogue said:

 Mario was more recognizable to American children than Mickey Mouse

Is a little one track minded.

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20 hours ago, espio said:

possibly around the sonic 1-sonic 3 era 

it seems like sonic kinda started falling off in popularity as early as sonic adventure , he didn’t become irrelevant obviously but less popular than he was in his 2D era

Adventure seems to have been preceded by a bunch of cluttered games that cheapened hype and distracted fans’ interest in the franchise.

 

Adventure was released to a bunch of people who were ready to torpedo the next 3D Sonic game after Sonic 3D Blast. 

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20 hours ago, Rogue said:

I don't think that Sonic was ever more popular than Mario.

 

 

Yes, that was a 1990 survey. In a 1992 survey however, specifically a so called Q score survey conducted in the United States by the company Marketing Evaluations Inc, Sonic was more recognizable among kids than both Mickey Mouse and Mario.

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Easily. It's hard to quantify 25 years later (especially when the final sales numbers of that console generation are so misleading); but Nintendo went from overwhelming market dominance the likes of which Sony wishes they could ever accomplish, from being synonymous with the word "videogame" for half a decade, to probably not even being first place in their home country (though the Super Famicom's early struggles weren't because of Sega). The entire market shifted to try and copy what Sega had done through their advertising and their games lineup, and Nintendo didn't start wresting control back away from Sega until Sega themselves started deliberately throwing it away at the end of 1994 (at which point it was too late for the both of them in the long run).

 

 

 

 

Sonic was at the very forefront of that, the face of the company that had basically taken the videogame market away from Nintendo in the west and began the shift of the market away from Japan entirely; and there's no doubt in my mind that Sonic was the videogame property in the industry (that at the time was admittedly much smaller than it is today but nevertheless still extremely popular). It certainly was not Mario again until maybe SM64 came out; but even then I have my doubts in spite of how influential that game was due to how irrelevant the N64 was compared to the PSX.

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5 hours ago, Rogue said:

Also Nintendo won the 16 bit war so I think it's safe to say that Sonic never surpassed Mario in terms of popularly.

6 hours ago, Tornado said:

(especially when the final sales numbers of that console generation are so misleading)

6 hours ago, Tornado said:

and Nintendo didn't start wresting control back away from Sega until Sega themselves started deliberately throwing it away at the end of 1994

In the US, Sega sold the farm on the 32X in the second half of 1994 and directed a lot of their advertising and development money towards that when it was dead by January 1995, at the expense of the base Genesis and the still selling Sega CD and even the Game Gear. They completely abandoned everything but the Saturn in the summer of 1995 when there was still a solid year and a half of life left in the console generation (moreso in Europe, where Nintendo never had the market dominance to begin with). Nintendo having a couple of years of mop-up duty made them win out in the end, but does not reflect the reality of the market as it was from 1991-1994 and especially 1992-1993; where Sega went from having maybe 5% of the market to being the market leader entirely at Nintendo's expense and entirely to Nintendo's surprise.

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2 hours ago, Rogue said:

Also Nintendo won the 16 bit war

Well yeah, the SNES did outsell the Mega Drive in terms of all time global sells. However that mostly boiled down to one fact; the Mega Drive never caught on in Japan. In many other parts of the world however the Mega Drive sold either just as well or even better than the SNES.

At the very least, I'd say Sonic was bigger than Mario at least here in the west.

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24 minutes ago, KnuxDLX said:

I’d say you’re trolling.

Even if you don't agree with it, there is enough evidence on the table to at least make that argument. Its far from trolling.

If OP were to limit this discussion on western stomping grounds, I would 100% agree that Sonic took the crown and ran with it for two or three years. Platformers were the biggest market in videogames prior to the rise of FPS's so it only makes sense that the biggest name in that marketspace would rule the roost. In early to mid 90's that was Sonic without a doubt.

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43 minutes ago, KnuxDLX said:

I’d say you’re trolling.

Staggering rebuttal. I can't see how anyone can hope to compete with that argument. Quick question though, sportsfan:

 

 

Since this is a Sonic message board, who is he trolling?

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One other thing that I feel really hurt Sonic's popularity as a franchise is the fact that Sega didn't put a real Sonic game out on the Saturn.

I really want to know what Sega was fucking thinking.

Also slightly off topic but Sonic R was terrible. It only has 5 courses conpaired to Mario Kart 64's 16. What a ripoff.

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On 12/17/2020 at 11:22 PM, Rogue said:

One other thing that I feel really hurt Sonic's popularity as a franchise is the fact that Sega didn't put a real Sonic game out on the Saturn.

I really want to know what Sega was fucking thinking.

Also slightly off topic but Sonic R was terrible. It only has 5 courses conpaired to Mario Kart 64's 16. What a ripoff.

This i do agree with but lets put you in the shoes of a Sega Ceo.

Lets say you get warning from nearly everyone that you need something that will wow people.

What did Sega do they brought us the Saturn along with a parade ballon.

It failed and Playstation moved them out the way.

To me the Saturn in general was pretty trash and i feel if they kept going with the Dreamcast but made improvements over time we would still be big time poppin.

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The other way to look at it is influence, whatever is popular spawns imitators like everyone right now wanting a slice of the battle royale genre and the MMO was the thing to be doing a while back.

Sonic was a we need our own mascot/platformer that did so well there is a noticable change in what came next with a shift from human characters to more animal characters after.

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Sonic was the biggest IP from 91-94, and remained one of the biggest all the way up until 2006, even after the hiatus (hell you could argue the resurgence in 2002/03 was a second golden age for getting people into it). There’s a reason people still whine about Sonic 06 15 years later, because everyone still had stakes in the series on that level when it bombed, even if some would argue its relevance was fading by then.

If Sonic wasn't such a runaway success, Sony wouldn’t have been encouraged to try to get a leg into the industry on their own like Sega did, which in turn neither would’ve Microsoft. Over half of the platforming franchises besides Mario owe their existence to Sonic setting trends, and I don’t just mean Spyro, Crash, Sparkster etc, but like Ratchet, Sly and Jak taking on platformers with bigger stories, genre roulette and adventure game elements like the SA games inspired. Hell, if Sonic didn’t come in, Nintendo probably wouldn’t have been pressed to make so many standard setting titles during the late SNES and N64 era to get peoples attention staying on them.

Sonic was a big deal. Still kinda is, considering iirc he’s still one of the top 25* most successful game franchises of all time. Honestly weird that any of this has to be said at this point, but I guess that’s what dead air does.

Spoiler

* - corrected from earlier where I said top 10. Still pretty high up there, and easily top 10 as far as recognizable game mascots go, or even higher, considering the other games around it are titles like League or other things that don't really sell themselves off of specific characters.

 

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