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SEGA appeal to casuals and newcomers and ignore long-time fans way too much


Johnster4
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Johnster4

One of the biggest gripes that I have with the Sonic series is that SEGA and Sonic Team never stop appealing to Casuals, new fans, and fans of other game series and barley release games that actually appeals to long-time Sonic fans of the series. My biggest reasons as to why I believe this is they strip any challenge or difficulty away from the games and become too easy so only the lowest common denominator of gamers will enjoy them, and the quality of the writing and storytelling has been subpar, (I only hope that they get Iann Flynn to do the script for the 2022 project), it has gotten to the point where this is a regular occurrence.

Here are some quotes from interviews from each game that illustrate my points:

Sonic Colours

https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2010-10-11-sonic-redesigned-to-appeal-to-mario-fans

Quote

"From a general game design perspective, in recent years we've been able to introduce Sonic to new fans - a lot of the Nintendo/Mario fans - and because of that, we've made changes to the design.

"We've designed things in Sonic Colours that we think will really appeal to people who are unfamiliar with the Sonic brand and the Sonic gameplay. So from that perspective we hope that fans of Mario will really be able to enjoy playing as Sonic in Sonic Colours."

Sonic Lost World

http://nintendoeverything.com/sega-wants-to-win-back-the-platform-fans-with-sonic-lost-world/

Quote

“Sonic started out as a platform title but, as we got to the more recent ones, it changed to be a more speed-based game. Recent fans will be familiar with that speed-based gaming, but with Lost World, we wanted to win back the platform fans. We don’t just want old Sonic fans to come back, though: we want Mario players and other platform gamers to enjoy the new game, too.”

Sonic Boom

Quote

Who is the audience for this game, and how does that affect the direction you take it?

BR: Kids 6-11 and shared local play experiences with friends or families. We set out to make Boom simply fun by finding the right balance of accessibility for new fans, yet have enough challenge, depth and player expression for established fans or more seasoned gamers. Boom's gameplay encourages working together to defeat enemies.

Note: I wouldn’t have a problem with this since this is to be a spin off and in this context it make sense to appeal to a new audience, but given how appealing to non-fans continued in mainline games I can’t ignore it.

Sonic Forces

 

Team Sonic Racing

https://www.4gamer.net/games/421/G042175/20190415016/

Quote

4Gamer:
 Thank you for your time today.
 "Team Sonic Racing" will be released as the latest work in the series. Please tell us how this work was planned as a racing game.

Takashi Iizuka:
 Just when this project started development, Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces were in in the middle of development, and we wanted to make something different from action games, a Sonic game for more casual gamers.

Note: this is an attempt to clean it up a direct translation from google translate

Sonic Colours Ultimate

https://tailschannel.com/sonic-the-hedgehog/30th/iizuka-hoshino-insight-colours-ultimate-interview/

Quote

Famitsu: It seems the best for beginners.

Iizuka: Going even further, since it’s an action platforming game, if you fail to jump, you could fall in a bottomless pit and commit an error, but we have added the function of “Tails Save” to help the player. As indicated by the name, if the player falls in a bottomless pit, Tails will appear and save them. We’ve added functions like these to make beginners feel more included, and that they can enjoy an action game without getting frustrated.

Note: It's pretty astonishing how they made a game that originally made to be easy even more dumbed down and I'm willing to bet this will be forced onto players who have experience with colours with no way to turn the assist mode off.

I couldn’t find any interviews for Generations, but given the context of Generations and Mania those games do actually appeal to long-time fans.

So far the Casuals have the following:

  • Colours
  • Lost World
  • Boom
  • Forces
  • Team Sonic Racing
  • Mobile Games (this should honestly be a given since Mobile game in general appeal to casuals anyway)
  • Colours Ultimate

If Colours was the only game that appealed to casuals and the rest of the games were aimed towards older fans like myself this wouldn’t be an issue, but the problem is that there's a huge imbalance between New and old fans, appealing to people who are new to the series with every single game release since Colours while older fans, like myself, keep getting slapped in the face most of the time when they want a game that appeals to them.

And going by same interview by Famitsu translated by Tails Channel, it's looking like nothing's going to change:

Quote

Famitsu: Lastly, what can we expect for the 30th Anniversary?

Iizuka: Looking back on the previous 30 years, I believe it has been a period in which have allowed people to meet Sonic through lots of different ways, from pixel art to 3D CG, the coexistence of Modern and Classic Sonic, the return of pixel art and other distinct genres into these action games. For the 10th and 20th anniversaries, we celebrated for the fans of the series, but for the 30th anniversary, I’d like to do something that would create and bring the biggest possible number of fans

 

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Diogenes

Just about every developer wants to target a wide audience and draw in new fans, that's how they make money. The problem with recent games isn't that they aren't hard enough but that they're shallow and poorly designed; easy and welcoming games aren't inherently less fun. And poor writing isn't somehow more appealing to casual fans so those two points have nothing to do with each other. This feels like a lot of worrying over something that isn't actually a problem.

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PublicEnemy1

As much as I hate to admit it, kids and casual gamers make money. It makes sense from a business standpoint to appeal to them the most, and that goes for any media property with a userbase of primarily children.

Now, that doesn't mean there shouldn't ever be something that appeals to longtime fans, but given that SEGA is a company that seems to hate a lot of its past, I don't expect things to be any different for them.

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Jack-al

They need to appeal to more audiences to have more sales, right? The more vast the audience is, the bigger the profit.

Sonic is thought for kids, but I really don't think SEGA wants to ignore their longtime fans, it's just offensive to say when they listen even too much.

Of course they need to appeal to everyone, including kids who watched the movie, it's only logical, it just makes sense. A movie skin is the least they can do, or the best thing, because I would not want the entire franchise shaped after the movies even if new folks would like it, I understand.

However I don't understand the logic of making games too easy, Sonic Colors was already really easy so the Tails save feature should be quite pointless, but that's not the issue, they can be easy but there should be a challenge at least in order to 100% the games. Like Mario games work.

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BadBehavior

If this series is for kids then explain Mania, a game that only the classic boomers are meant to fully appreciate.

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Wraith
4 minutes ago, BadBehavior said:

If this series is for kids then explain Mania, a game that only the classic boomers are meant to fully appreciate.

kids also like sonic mania. 

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BadBehavior
1 minute ago, Wraith said:

kids also like sonic mania. 

Kids also like Sonic 06, but I dont see Elise or Mephiles coming back for blatant nostalgia pandering.

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VisionaryofSUPER
Just now, BadBehavior said:

Kids also like Sonic 06, but I dont see Elise or Mephiles coming back for blatant nostalgia pandering.

To be fair. Mephiles has had fairly recent cameos in mobile games, and has been deemed eligible for fan service merchandise. And he was pretty close to coming back in Forces.

That's more than Black Doom ever got.

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Wraith
6 minutes ago, BadBehavior said:

Kids also like Sonic 06, but I dont see Elise or Mephiles coming back for blatant nostalgia pandering.

Mephilies isn't as popular as green hill zone for a lot of really obvious reasons

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Sega DogTagz

At the end of the day, High Quality games appeal to kids and adults, so if I could just get me some of that everything would just be peachy.

 

Including an assist feature in a game I've already mastered isn't going to kill me. But if they dumb down the quality and effort they put into each game as a result of targeting a younger audience; that's where I would take offense.

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Ricochet
1 hour ago, Johnster4 said:

One of the biggest gripes that I have with the Sonic series is that SEGA and Sonic Team never stop appealing to Casuals, new fans, and fans of other game series and barley release games that actually appeals to long-time Sonic fans of the series. My biggest reasons as to why I believe this is they strip any challenge or difficulty away from the games and become too easy so only the lowest common denominator of gamers will enjoy them, and the quality of the writing and storytelling has been subpar, (I only hope that they get Iann Flynn to do the script for the 2022 project), it has gotten to the point where this is a regular occurrence.

Funny of you to say this.  Why do you think Sonic Team decided to add heavier plot, cutscenes and voice acting in SA? To appeal a wider audience of course!.

What's the writing's benchmark among Sonic games anyways?. It's always been cheesy, inconsistent plot and dialogue exchanges that are all over the place since the first SA. The latter titles's writing are just uninspired compared to Adventures era. 

They always trying to broaden their market with his flagship mascot. Often with misleading results. But that's another history.

Also, Ian's work is bland as hell. I really don't expect anything from him making any notable difference given the chance of working on a sonic game's script.

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Zoomzeta

SEGA appeals to many people, and how they approach a game or genre is more dependent on what type of audience they wish to cater to.

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Johnster4
1 hour ago, Wraith said:

The only reason I'm really concerned about this beyond my own tastes is because I don't feel like their target audience will take to games that are even easier to complete. Games like Minecraft and Fortnite have depth and nuance. Mario toned down the difficulty, but they've been adding more agency and content in return. Making simple, short games like Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations even easier to complete doesn't feel very competitive to me. If I bought a game and was done in a few hours at that age I was usually pretty let down, and I bet that's exacerbated nowadays with how many huge games you can play, some of them being free.

Now that I think about that's a good point that even games that appeal to kids have more depth than Sonic games.

1 hour ago, Diogenes said:

The problem with recent games isn't that they aren't hard enough but that they're shallow and poorly designed; easy and welcoming games aren't inherently less fun.

I think that Sonic Team create games with shallow content that strips away agency and depth of content because that's how they actually believe that's how you make a game that appeals to casuals.

1 hour ago, PublicEnemy1 said:

As much as I hate to admit it, kids and casual gamers make money. It makes sense from a business standpoint to appeal to them the most

 

1 hour ago, Jack-al said:

They need to appeal to more audiences to have more sales, right? The more vast the audience is, the bigger the profit

Yes but this always happens at the cost of long-time fans

I'll give 2 examples of other game series that I love that has led to alienation of those who have been with the game series that have tried to appeal to people outside of their own fanbase:

Halo did this since 343 took over they decided to make Halo 4 appeal to Call of duty fans with adding sprint, loadouts and killstreaks, there's even an interview where they hired people who hate halo,

https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/191234/making_halo_4_a_story_about_.php?print=1

Quote

"We had people who we hired who hated Halo because of 'X,'" says Frank O'Connor. "But what that really meant was, 'I feel like this game could be awesome because of 'Y input' that I'm going to bring into it. I want to prove it, and I'm passionate about proving it.' So we ended up with a bunch of people who were genuinely passionate about the product. That is a huge advantage, and that helped in hiring and forming our team."

After the first 2 weeks of launch the player population tanked, Halo has never been good under 343 ever since.

Second example is with Destiny 2 and how Bungie tried to "broaden the appeal of that game" by restricting your loadout, going from 6v6 to 4v4 in PVP, barley had any endgame content at launch, striping away RPG elements. What was outcome? Playbase tanked after the 1st expansion releases 3  months after launch, late not going to lie, Destiny 2 year 1 was a depressing time to be a destiny fan, however It did make a recovery with the Forsaken expansion when they appealed to hardcore fans again by going back to 6v6 and they are adding more RPG elements into the game.

29 minutes ago, Ricochet said:

Ian's work is bland as hell. I really don't expect anything from him making any notable difference given the chance of working on a sonic game's script.

If it turns out that Ian's writing has issues if he's given reigns to write the next Sonic game, I'll admit it might not be a specific writer's writing style that's the problem.

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VisionaryofSUPER

I always saw the ranking system as well as collectible hunting as fine enough incentives for more difficult design because they rely on more out of the way techniques in the hands of players. I find SA2 to be a pretty easy game to just complete, barring a few levels, but going out of the way for the extra missions shows the level of depth in design that a casual would never approach.

This became a bit of a problem to me when we got to games like Generations and Colors when these optional objectives became trivial barring a few instances. There's a balance to be had between nail-biting difficulty and sneeze-and-you-win design.

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Azure Blue Tori
1 hour ago, Sega DogTagz said:

At the end of the day, High Quality games appeal to kids and adults, so if I could just get me some of that everything would just be peachy.

 

Including an assist feature in a game I've already mastered isn't going to kill me. But if they dumb down the quality and effort they put into each game as a result of targeting a younger audience; that's where I would take offense.

Honestly, I don't understand why players are so opposed to assist features. Level skips have been a thing since Chip's Challenge, and I've always felt that they were a good way to make games less frustrating while still maintaining the challenge for those who don't want to use such things or want to go back to those levels eventually.

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VisionaryofSUPER

I've never had problems with optional assists either. I prefer assists over radically trivializing level design to cater to everyone. As long as there is some acknowledgement of the player going cold without the assists, I think it's fine to have them. Yeah it's bragging rights, but that's what 100% ultimately is and has been, just bragging rights. The simple act of completing the game shouldn't be something gated off to less skilled players or young children.

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Whether you like it or not, casuals are what bring in the most money, so it makes sense to appeal to them to maximize profits. The problem isn't that they're appealing to casuals, it's that the games aren't really that depthful. You can appeal to casuals while still offering some level of depth. 

Sega just suck at it like usual .

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Zaysho
4 hours ago, Wraith said:

It's easy to thoughtlessly shoehorn in elements from other games that just dilute the appeal of yours, and Sonic Team never really found their rhythm here wrt how to approach it. There seems to be a sentiment internally that Sonic games could sell better than they have been, but they don't know how to pull it off.

I admit this is getting off topic but it makes me think of the rumors about the next game seeming like Breath of the Wild. An excellent game, yes, and one I really enjoyed, but the idea on the face of it being grabbed for a new Sonic game is just so weird. It could be cool but why that game? Especially when--in the same year no less--a Mario game was released that is almost the perfect template for 3D Sonic that even my sister who never played Sonic past the Genesis picked up on this. I sometimes wonder if Sega is more focused on chasing trends rather than honing in on what makes Sonic as a brand actually appealing.

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17 minutes ago, Zaysho said:

I admit this is getting off topic but it makes me think of the rumors about the next game seeming like Breath of the Wild. An excellent game, yes, and one I really enjoyed, but the idea on the face of it being grabbed for a new Sonic game is just so weird. It could be cool but why that game? Especially when--in the same year no less--a Mario game was released that is almost the perfect template for 3D Sonic that even my sister who never played Sonic past the Genesis picked up on this. I sometimes wonder if Sega is more focused on chasing trends rather than honing in on what makes Sonic as a brand actually appealing.

To be honest, if you look at series history...they've kind of always been doing that huh. Sonic Adventure and Adventure 2 came out during the intial 3D craze and most developers were throwing alternate styles and the like at the player in hopes of covering every niche, Shadow was an attempt at capturing the American FPS crowd, etc etc. 

They've never really took the time to focus on what makes a Sonic game appealing versus just answering whatever is the most vocal opinion or most popular trend at the time 

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I think it's fully possible to make a game that appeals to casual players and offers a sense of mastery for those who want to fully invest in the game. We talk about a "skill floor" and "skill ceiling" for a reason. The problem is that Sonic games tend to veer towards either one extreme or the other. Lost World is a funny example of a "casual" game, because I feel like that game tried harder to blend the two worlds than the games before it. The devs made clear that the spindash was included for players who had mastered the levels and felt confident blasting through them. I guess the issue is that Lost World's design is so aggressively platforming focused that you might not realize that you can speed through a lot of it with the spindash without a bit of trial and error.

Sonic is an arcade game at heart, and most games in the series still stick relatively close to that with elements like scoring and the ranking system. I don't mind the games getting easier to pick up and play as long as the replayability and sense of accomplishment are still there; I just don't think Sonic Team have found a perfect balance yet.

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Ricochet
7 hours ago, Johnster4 said:

If it turns out that Ian's writing has issues if he's given reigns to write the next Sonic game, I'll admit it might not be a specific writer's writing style that's the problem.

So far last games storytelling exposure boils down into cutscenes after clearing a zone, with some scripted events in-between while you're dashing across stages. Naturally this is the way Sonic Team would keep doing it because most platformer franchises made by AAA devs follow the same trend: plot points linearly distributed across the game, unlocked as you progress, but with little care whether is compatible of gameplay's context, like if you were watching a T.V show in paralel of the actual game. 

That's why even If I liked Ian or any other writer script, I believe is going to be held back by the narrative direction on these kind of games.  

 

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Zoomzeta
16 minutes ago, Ricochet said:

So far last games storytelling exposure boils down into cutscenes after clearing a zone, with some scripted events in-between while you're dashing across stages. Naturally this is the way Sonic Team would keep doing it because most platformer franchises made by AAA devs follow the same trend: plot points linearly distributed across the game, unlocked as you progress, but with little care whether is compatible of gameplay's context, like if you were watching a T.V show in paralel of the actual game. 

That's why even If I liked Ian or any other writer script, I believe is going to be held back by the narrative direction on these kind of games.  

 

Don't you mean technical hurdles?

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Meta77
9 hours ago, BadBehavior said:

Kids also like Sonic 06, but I dont see Elise or Mephiles coming back for blatant nostalgia pandering.

Actually mephiles was in something else after 06. I forget what but it was a surprise. oh yea i think wasnt he one of the characters rumored to be getting a plushies in a sega catalog?

 

But on the point of kids. Sonic sells to kids, i mean colors in a recent article was written up basically saying as much, its simple and easy and the story super simple for children. It be nice to see sonic more "mature" but also what many kids see today in media is not the same as kids in the 90s. in the 90s we had a LOT more EXTREEEEEEEEEEEEEEME action cartoons, and violence you could not always get away with today though some good shows put some in them which I can appreciate.

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Ricochet
55 minutes ago, Zoomzeta said:

Don't you mean technical hurdles?

No. They don't seem to be resorting on those trends due to facing technical hurdles in the implementation of another approach.

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