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Should SEGA take a break from making Sonic Games?


Rabbitearsblog
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Rabbitearsblog

Now, I'm not saying that SEGA should stop making Sonic games (NO WAY! I want them to keep making Sonic games for as long as they can)!  However, with the recent string of games they had over the years (Sonic Forces, Sonic Lost World, the Sonic Boom series) and with the controversy surrounding Sonic Colors Ultimate, do you think that SEGA needs to step back a bit from the Sonic series and start thinking about how they will approach this series in the near future or how they can improve this series?  It seems like every time SEGA releases a Sonic game, bad things happen and we just don't know what's exactly going on with SEGA and Sonic Team in regards to this series.

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Ming Ming Hatsune

They took a break for 4 years. Five years if you don't count the poor port released yesterday and a racing game developed by Sumo.

Are you saying they should have a longer break? What difference would that make? They need a better development and story team. That's all.

Sonic Rangers will tell us though if the break was worth it.

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Polkadi~☆

They've taken so many breaks over the 2010s, that the output of Sonic games is minimal compared to the 2000s.

It doesn't matter how long you spend away from the franchise, it's about what you do when you actually start work on it.

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I don't know really. As several are mentioning, development of these titles have significantly slowed down at Sonic team. I think the issues steming from titles made by them cannot just be blamed on a rushed production. 

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How long is this break supposed to last? 4 to 5 years? Cause that's been the gap inbetween the major Sonic games since 2013. 10 years? Will there be smaller Sonic related titles released inbetween or absolutely nothing? This won't help with anything. How will this help Sonic specifically? What are they going to use all that time for, going back to college to finally pass that physics class they failed again for what's possibly the 4th or 5th time by now so they can learn how a round object is supposed to roll down a slope? Or will they finally take that Marketing 101 course they keep getting told to take so they can figure out how to actually market their Sonic games to maximum benefit? Or will they sit back and think, why on earth is Sega good at making games for most of their IPs but have such a rough handling of their main one? How many more years do they need to do all this? Is it sheer unfortunate coincidence or something else?

I don't want Sega to take a break, they take plenty of breaks. I want them to fire or at least seriously educate whatever management is responsible for their horrible handling of these games. I don't know if that's Iizuka or someone else, but someone or a group of people is making dumbass decisions that make these games struggle to aim high. I suspect most of these decisions that are made at the cost of game quality save a few bucks in Sega's wallet without necessarily impacting their sales too bad, and Sega is good enough at math (except physics) to realize this so I doubt Sega will change. Sega needs a change in mindset, not game output. Mania is still a major outlier in Sega's past decade of quality that I'm still amazed ever happened. I'm also worried it won't happen again or at least won't happen with the same high quality.

Something I heard is that Sega and Sonic Team are just lazy when developing these games. I really doubt that. Just like many video game studio working in Japan, I'm sure they're exhausted and being overworked as terribly as is the unspoken national standard. They're not lazy, not by any means. It's also not necessarily that the team itself is incompetent, not likely. I think it's one or a few dipshits at the top making terrible decisions that are leading the devs in the wrong direction. 

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It's been almost 5 years, and there were 4 years between the second-to-last and last. Enough breaks. There's not going to be some magical point where they sit down and meditate for 10 years and come back with the perfect Sonic game, like some kind of anime time-skip. They don't need a "break" (I'm pretty sure they never really stop working anyway), they need to decide Sonic is worth having a higher standard of quality, or we'll never stop getting mediocre games.

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shdowhunt60

I was saying this last year, that I find it really fascinating that the Sonic fanbase seems to be in the mentality that SEGA is just pumping out Sonic games year after year when that hasn't been the case for the entirety of the decade. And then they throw out that Miyamoto quote like we aren't waiting 4 years between mainline Sonic games (I really hate that quote btw, people misuse it countless times).

16 minutes ago, Razule said:

It's been almost 5 years, and there were 4 years between the second-to-last and last. Enough breaks. There's not going to be some magical point where they sit down and meditate for 10 years and come back with the perfect Sonic game, like some kind of anime time-skip. They don't need a "break" (I'm pretty sure they never really stop working anyway), they need to decide Sonic is worth having a higher standard of quality, or we'll never stop getting mediocre games.

I mean this is the crux of the issue at the end of the day. The issue isn't whether or not its a time investment, because Lost World and Forces have some of the longest development cycles of any Sonic game. The issue is that SEGA doesn't seem to want to invest in the actual quality of the game, and that's why we are where we are now.

We were legit better off when this franchise was pumping out Sonic games nonstop in the 2000's, because at least every once in awhile we got a decent or pretty good game out of it. And now that no longer is the case.

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Rabbitearsblog
1 hour ago, NoKaine said:

"SEGA" doesn't make the Sonic games, they only publish and manage them.

And they already took a break. It's been four years since the last Sonic platformer and three years since the last Sonic game in general. They made Colors Ultimate precisely to have something for release.

Taking a break is not a solution, unfortunately.

Yeah, which makes me question about why they were willing to rush out Sonic Colors Ultimate when the game was clearly not ready for release yet?  This is unfortunately becoming a trend with SEGA that needs to stop.

1 hour ago, Ming Ming Hatsune said:

They took a break for 4 years. Five years if you don't count the poor port released yesterday and a racing game developed by Sumo.

Are you saying they should have a longer break? What difference would that make? They need a better development and story team. That's all.

Sonic Rangers will tell us though if the break was worth it.

I do wonder if they will ever get a better development and story team.  If they had better developments and writers, then the series wouldn't be where it is now.

1 hour ago, Polkadi~☆ said:

They've taken so many breaks over the 2010s, that the output of Sonic games is minimal compared to the 2000s.

It doesn't matter how long you spend away from the franchise, it's about what you do when you actually start work on it.

That is true.  I do wonder if they are actually thinking of how to develop the games and the writing first before they start on the projects.

1 hour ago, Zoomzeta said:

I don't know really. As several are mentioning, development of these titles have significantly slowed down at Sonic team. I think the issues steming from titles made by them cannot just be blamed on a rushed production. 

Yeah, I'm starting to think that poor management over at Sonic Team is the true culprit here, which I'm surprised they haven't fixed that yet.

48 minutes ago, Razule said:

It's been almost 5 years, and there were 4 years between the second-to-last and last. Enough breaks. There's not going to be some magical point where they sit down and meditate for 10 years and come back with the perfect Sonic game, like some kind of anime time-skip. They don't need a "break" (I'm pretty sure they never really stop working anyway), they need to decide Sonic is worth having a higher standard of quality, or we'll never stop getting mediocre games.

I agree that SEGA really needs to figure out where Sonic falls into their priorities.  Sure, SEGA is pumping out other games like the Yakuza series and if something happened to Sonic, then they could always use their other IPs to take over.  However, their other IPs like the Yakuza series or Monkey Ball are not as recognizable or famous as Sonic is, so they will need to decide if they still want to make Sonic their main attraction or keep him to the sides.

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So a bit out of subject, but it seems some of the bugs and glitches coming from the Switch version of the game MAY have been fake, as there are indications that the epilepsy inducing ones may have been the result of software tampering through the use of an emulator. 

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Rabbitearsblog
1 hour ago, Zoomzeta said:

So a bit out of subject, but it seems some of the bugs and glitches coming from the Switch version of the game MAY have been fake, as there are indications that the epilepsy inducing ones may have been the result of software tampering through the use of an emulator. 

So, was somebody sabotaging the software?

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6 hours ago, Rabbitearsblog said:

So, was somebody sabotaging the software?

I cannot say with much certainty yet. 

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The glitch aren't all related to emulation, they can be reproduced on real hardware for a lot of them. Some of them, I can understand why they escaped playtesting, the test might haven't been enough specific.

On 9/5/2021 at 4:54 AM, Rabbitearsblog said:

Yeah, which makes me question about why they were willing to rush out Sonic Colors Ultimate when the game was clearly not ready for release yet?  This is unfortunately becoming a trend with SEGA that needs to stop.

They can be a lot of reason :

- Money issues (delaying the software cost a lot of money, and IIRC they already delayed it, if the date of "December 2020" was the original projected date). I think that it's what affect every "rush" of a Sonic game.

- They needed it before the end of 2021, and thought that the patches would be enough.

- Maybe not all bugs where seen in playtesting. IDK if playtesting have been done by Blind Squirrel or SEGA.

 

TBH, "SEGA" can't really be taken out of the equation of Sonic. It's their biggest brand, so they'll continue overseeing it. IMO, I think that a Sonic Colors remaster should have been done by a part of SEGA CS2 and would have been better as a "Hedgehog Engine 2 port", but they might not have people for that, so an external studio did that.

I would say that the issue of SCU are kinda different from recent Sonic game, as the recent game are underwhelming (especially Forces) and have not enough polished gameplay, but aren't buggy mess as SCU.

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Cosmos Rogue

The lesson Sega learned from Sonic 2006 isn't that they need to take better care of their flagship IP, but that their flagship IP can sell nearly a million copies even when released in an objectively broken state. The same thing was true about other lousy mid-2000s titles such as Riders and Secret Rings, which did well enough financially to earn sequels. Sega knows that quality control simply isn't needed to assure strong sales for Sonic games. The typically poor quality of Sonic games is a business decision on Sega's part, a corner they are willing to cut to save a buck on development costs.

(Admittedly, Sonic Team's output has risen to a level that could safely be called "professionally competent" since 2006, but Rise of Lyric should warn us not to trust that Sega will ever hold them to even that much.)

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Rabbitearsblog
1 hour ago, Cosmos Rogue said:

The lesson Sega learned from Sonic 2006 isn't that they need to take better care of their flagship IP, but that their flagship IP can sell nearly a million copies even when released in an objectively broken state. The same thing was true about other lousy mid-2000s titles such as Riders and Secret Rings, which did well enough financially to earn sequels. Sega knows that quality control simply isn't needed to assure strong sales for Sonic games. The typically poor quality of Sonic games is a business decision on Sega's part, a corner they are willing to cut to save a buck on development costs.

(Admittedly, Sonic Team's output has risen to a level that could safely be called "professionally competent" since 2006, but Rise of Lyric should warn us not to trust that Sega will ever hold them to even that much.)

That's a pretty dangerous mentality that SEGA has about the Sonic brand.  It could blow up in their faces one day.  But unfortunately, this is true of the franchise.  Because Sonic is a big name in the video game industry, despite the numerous flops he had over the years, people will still buy his games because he's Sonic the Hedgehog.  The only way that SEGA will actually start taking better care of the franchise is if the Sonic games flop so terribly, they will have to listen to good fan feedback to get the franchise back on track again.

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On 9/5/2021 at 1:39 AM, Rabbitearsblog said:

do you think that SEGA needs to step back a bit from the Sonic series and start thinking about how they will approach this series in the near future or how they can improve this series?

This is kind of a vague thing to suggest SEGA should do.  They do this at the start of every single project, and do so for as long as they think it takes to make a decision on what to do with said project.

It's very easy to say they should "step back" but what does that actually entail, y'know?  I wouldn't mind if they could be given a chance to work on a passion project as a break from Sonic to sort of refresh themselves, but it seems to be such a revolving door of staff there anyway that I don't really think that'll solve anything.  And besides that, when given the opportunity to do this in the past, the games haven't really been that much different in quality from Sonic's own anyhow.

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I recall bringing this same question up a couple of years ago, although at the time I did; it was more in reaction to the current strategy of "budget Sonic games with invisible advertising," in the wake of TSR's initial performance on the sales charts. The other difference I'd say is that it sounds like people are approaching this question only with respect to the mainline titles in regards to "taking breaks"; I was thinking more about just bringing any and all new Sonic titles to a screeching halt for some time.

Besides the main disagreement being that they've already cut down on releases/spent more production time on the main games as it stands (the common consensus so far in the thread); the other rebuttal to this approach was that as Sega's most prolific IP, they can't afford to take Sonic out of the market and lose the remaining clout it still has with audiences.

It's a funny thing though in that while both arguments don't agree with shelving the series; a lot of folks (myself included) are in agreement that the current "budget" strategy needs to go though. The quality of the games needs to improve, the people responsible for making the games needs to change, and/or Sega needs to start investing more resources into Sonic games again rather than less, among other things. But then it becomes a question if Sega's actually going to bother to commit to any of those major changes, which takes us right back to square one.

Personally speaking, Colors Ultimate strikes me as Sega's big reaffirmation towards the current strategy in place; and I expect that to continue with 2022/Rangers.

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Rabbitearsblog
6 hours ago, Milo said:

It's a funny thing though in that while both arguments don't agree with shelving the series; a lot of folks (myself included) are in agreement that the current "budget" strategy needs to go though. The quality of the games needs to improve, the people responsible for making the games needs to change, and/or Sega needs to start investing more resources into Sonic games again rather than less, among other things. But then it becomes a question if Sega's actually going to bother to commit to any of those major changes, which takes us right back to square one.

I honestly don't understand why SEGA is not putting more money into their biggest IP character.  They would be making more money if they actually put out more quality Sonic games instead of constantly rushing these games out.  It seems like SEGA's biggest problems with the series is that they are not focusing on providing good gameplay and good stories and it seems like they are making things worse with the franchise each year instead of making them better.

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I think that SEGA is comfortable in the 1 million sales budget title, so as long as things keep going that way, reception doesn't matter much to them.

They've been taking some hits on the PR sides, they backpedaled on the Sonic Forces Super Sonic mtx back then, which was obviously a bad PR move and a very predatory way of monetizing the game, but they're kinda doing the same with the Planet Wisp OST in Colours Ultimate, and don't let me started on the Early Access stuff or how they're monetizing Banana Mania.

If people keep buying these mediocre products, things aren't going to change.

But at the same time if people don't buy Sonic games, these are the possible outcomes:

  • The franchise goes dormant for a few years, more than the 4-5 years we're used to now, maybe 10 years or more, kind of a Crash/Spyro situation, and then the comeback game will either revive it or kill it definitely;
  • The franchise gets shelved as their main IP and mascotte in favour of something else, either Yakuza or idk.

The thing about the first time Sonic recovered from a bad blow is that Sonic 06 still sold a lot of copies. The sales have been steadily going down since then and settled at around the 1m and a half (not even always, some games sell less than that in their first year, which is when the sales matter most).

Even very good games like Mania don't seem to be able to break that ceiling, so it really makes no sense for SEGA (from a purely business perspective) to put more money into Sonic, if that money, historically, has never been warranted.

Doesn't matter the quality of the product, if it doesn't sell, then it doesn't sell.

To put these numbers in perspective, the series from Nintendo that are considered "niche" have historically sold more than double the amount Sonic games usually sell nowadays.

Metroid usually breaks the 3 million copies sold, and Pikmin usually sells around that amount too, so there's that.

So, rounding up everything I said, I think that taking a break for a decade or so would be a bit of a gamble, and if things don't turn out exactly how they're supposed to, it may kill the series for good.

If Banana Blitz HD hadn't performed as well as it has, then it would've probably been the end of SMB.

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"No Sonic game" and "Sonic Game I don't care about" are kinda interchangable to me so I don't really...care if they go on hiatus? Sometimes a break can do you some good. Look at where the Metroid franchise was 6 years ago compared to now.

No financially viable gaming IP ever really "dies"...They go under for a bit and then the publisher digs them out again on a rainy day. Crash was gone. Then he was back. Now he's gone again. He'll be back again. Same would be true of Sonic short of some extraordinary circumstance.

A break might do nothing for the IP...but it might also be enough time for the gaming landscape to change enough that a team fit for the IP emerges with a good pitch, like Mercury Steam did for Metroid. Of course, that could happen tomorrow, or it could have already happened and SEGA decided to reject the pitch for w/e reason.

This whole post sounds kind of indifferent but that's really how I feel about it.

The real best thing to do for the IP would be to inject it with a new creative team. I don't think they would need to take a break for that, but some old heads would need to give up the reigns and they might not be willing to do that right now. We all saw how hamstrung Sonic Boom was and how the movie basically only came together at the last minute, like a school project, thanks to all the disagreements. Maybe Sonic Team should let a completely new team take a crack at it without all the helicopter parenting, just to see what we end up with.

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Rabbitearsblog
8 hours ago, Wraith said:

The real best thing to do for the IP would be to inject it with a new creative team. I don't think they would need to take a break for that, but some old heads would need to give up the reigns and they might not be willing to do that right now. We all saw how hamstrung Sonic Boom was and how the movie basically only came together at the last minute, like a school project, thanks to all the disagreements. Maybe Sonic Team should let a completely new team take a crack at it without all the helicopter parenting, just to see what we end up with.

The thing is is when will Sonic Team ever get a new creative team?  Does SEGA have to put in new members for the team or will someone at Sonic Team finally quit after so many years?

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Cosmos Rogue

Well, if Sonic were to go on hiatus maybe we could run out the clock on some people hitting retirement age...

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4 hours ago, Rabbitearsblog said:

The thing is is when will Sonic Team ever get a new creative team?  Does SEGA have to put in new members for the team or will someone at Sonic Team finally quit after so many years?

That depends. Is Iizuka and other leads reaching the age of retirement in Japan?

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KingMario05
25 minutes ago, CertifiedNobody said:

They did

Source? With them hyping up the game that started all this over stuff like Unleashed or the Adventures, I... wouldn't be so sure about that.

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