Jump to content
Awoo.

Do you think that SEGA should stop listening to game journalists and critics?


Rabbitearsblog
 Share

Recommended Posts

Rabbitearsblog

It appears that some of the gaming journalists and critics seem to sprout out the same statements about Sonic that they made years ago like "Sonic had a rough transition into 3D" and sometimes you have to wonder if SEGA listening to these critics is only hindering the series.

Now, I'm not saying that all gaming journalists and critics are bad and some of them do have good insight onto what makes a game work and what doesn't make a game work.  But, if SEGA keeps on listening to the journalists who are constantly saying "Sonic was never good" or "Sonic had a rough transition to 3D" without any clear explanations about why a specific gameplay style doesn't work for them or why is this specific character or story is written that way, then that could harm SEGA more than it could help them.

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

BubbleButt TV

I'll admit there are professional critics who have bad ideas about the direction Sonic should go in, but there are also Sonic fans who have equally weird ideas that don't really make sense for the series

the problem is, which critics do you listen to and who do you ignore? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is two big issue with that statement.

The first one is simply that SEGA listening to videogame journalist isn't the source of the current issue with the Sonic IP. Sure, some have opinion that doesn't please us, and sometime even kinda dumb. But a lot of the things you say "Sonic had a rough transition to 3D" and stuff like that… aren't just the opinion of game journalist. A big bunch of the fans were sharing them. Same for criticism like "Sonic is now too edgy". It wasn't just "game journalist's opinion", it was an opinion that existed, and that SEGA decided to listen. Sure, SEGA did remove games that had low metacritics score. But to be frank… the criticism from these games did often not come from nowhere, and some of these game had deep issues that had to be resolved.

Especially as if the issue was only that they listen to game critics, Forces would be more like Generations, certainly wouldn't have the "try too hard" part of this story and not the boring levels xD. Same, the issues with Sonic Colors Ultimate certainly don't come from "videogame journalists" XD

 

The second one is that videogame critics and journalism aren't meant to help improve the game. They're not creating feedback with actionable things to do to improve the IP : It's not their role, their test are more for us consumers. To improve their game, SEGA have playtesting, feedback gathering, and looking at the overall reputation of these games.

  • Thumbs Up 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If they do listen to critic, they shouldnt listen to the ones who say that Sonics about running to the end of a level as fast as possible.

Cos that's how we got Forces: a boring game with even more boring levels where all you do is go forward with no variety.

  • Thumbs Up 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I mean, there is never harm in taking feedback on board. Not doing so risks creating an echo chamber and ultimately prevents learning experiences. However what Sega and Sonic Team appear to have done over the years is oscillate around the critical and fan reception to whatever their most recent project is -to a fault, I should add- and the issue with that particular laser focus is that the actual feedback being received is itself unfocused and extremely diverse. The fanbase in particular is incredibly subdivided, for instance: "I prefer Adventure Style", "I prefer boost style", "I prefer Unleashed's boost style in particular", "no Colours' formula is the best boost gameplay". There are so many differing voices it's impossible to listen to them all in an absolute sense without ending up with mish-mashed games at best and Frankenstein's monsters of games at worst. And in the case of critics, there is this sense of paramount obligation for Sonic Team to play it safe, because they learned the wrong lessons from 06 and Unleashed. Critics didn't hate those games for being ambitious and different, in the case of the former, 06 was a rushed buggy mess and Unleashed, while arguably a solid game, did have some notable flaws and just came along at the wrong time while the gaming community's perception of Sonic was negative coming off the damage 06 did to the brand. The result is games like Sonic Forces, where new concepts and ideas are quarter-assed in favour of shoving in nostalgia-bait and mashing contrasting gameplay styles together, hoping that everyone will be pleased. Even Lost World suffered from this, with some genuinely interesting ideas being chained to a wall in favour of what I would argue to be pandering.  

I think the solution is, yes, listen to critics and fans....to an extent. But have some initiative, take stock of Sonic's long and (overly convoluted) history, gain a firm understanding of what this franchise and character are all about, what works and doesn't, and ultimately form a solid identity and plan. They can then take that plan, execute it in the best way possible, actually try to sell it on its own merits and not just give the whole "look we went back to Sonic's roots again, remember the Genesis because we do!" spiel, and keep building off that foundation in response to initial feedback. And in that process, come up with *new* ideas and directions to take the series in, all the while respecting Sonic's roots. Halo Infinite is a great example of this, structurally it's a different beast from past entries but it still feels like Halo through and through. It's actually an evolution of the franchise. And lastly, it's been a long time since this series had a solid identity and it's about time that ST put work into building that back up, rather than throwing ideas at a wall in vain hopes that they will instantly resonate with fans and critics alike. I hope to god this is what they are trying to do with Frontiers, this franchise is an incoherent mess above all else in my opinion. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Blacklightning

There are a few big individual counterpoints to this train of thought so I'm just going to list them because I don't think there's really a concise way to sum them all up as a single point.

- Part of designing games professionally is being able to parse good feedback from bad, and that doesn't happen when you outright exclude an entire category of people from critiquing your work out of biased spite. Just because IGN is a meme doesn't mean that there aren't people in the same profession that know what the fuck they're talking about.

- Fans give bad takes too - arguably MUCH worse ones. Do we just pretend their feedback isn't valuable either because of the loud, stupid, spoilt ones? We shouldn't arbitarily paint huge groups of people with the same brush when it would be so much simpler and more productive just to categorize arguments that have some semblance of logical backing.

- Feedback isn't innately useless just because it's negative. It's arguably much more useful to know what you did wrong than what you did right, and it's generally a lot easier to point out too because the human mind tends not to make a big deal out of overanalyzing things when you're enjoying yourself. Shit, if anything Sonic's needed more of this the past few games - it's equally as aggravating when people use kid gloves on a franchise that has had literal decades to get its shit back in order as it is when people use Sonic as one the lowest-hanging fruit of a punchline in the industry.

- As mentioned earlier by Kazhnuz, fixing Sonic isn't even a reviewer's job. Their critique can be incidentally useful, yes, but reviews are made primarily for an audience of players, not designers, more or less a guide to what games are worth a buyer's time and money. It's not a good idea to shove some sense of responsibility onto them when the onus should be on Sega and Sonic Team not to fill their games with stupid bullshit that nobody asked for in the first place, which leads us handily into:

- Do you genuinely believe Sega came up with stupid bullshit that nobody asked for as a knee jerk reaction to critics??? The same people who have been most vocal about their displeasure for nonsensical gimmicks and would probably give out consistent 8+/10s if Sonic just kept a holding pattern around one likable playstyle every couple of years? No I'm sorry, Sega's thought process is way too far out of left field to blame critics for this. The idea that Sega pays these people any heed at all would imply feeding themselves with the safest, most risk free sludge imaginable instead, and the way Sonic games have been designed ever since Unleashed and beyond, for better and worse, have been anything BUT safe. You don't get shit like the Werehog by taking anyone's actual advice on things.

-To be frank, I think people have been seriously overstating the actual impact journalists have had on the design processes of these games in the first place, which can probably be better described as "all the talented people left Sonic Team about a decade ago" and "execs keep making stupid mandates on things they clearly don't understand". Why are we giving critics flak for this when it's so much simpler just to tell Sega to pull their heads out of their asses? They are excelling in almost every other area right now, between Yakuza, Puyo Puyo, Persona and Bayonetta just to name a few - there is nothing stopping Sonic from being good besides Sega. THEY are the problem in this equation. Nobody else.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Everyone else has covered what I mainly felt, but I wanted just wanted to add that Sonic fans in general (not directed at OP) need to really get over this "Sonic vs. The Critics" mindset. It turns into pathetic self victimization.

Yes, I know with cases as Sonic Unleashed there was an awful review. But that was 13 years ago! Some fans let critics take too much real estate in their head and turned this into us vs. them mentality. It's immature.

The thing that makes it worse is that often you see that Sonic fans have it out for certain companies almost as if they are monoliths and not organizations made if individuals. For example, if IGN gives Sonic Colors a good review then they are stunned as if every reviewer at IGN has something against Sonic because they are stuck 13 years ago.

And finally, in ways if anything I think Sonic Team and Sega SHOULD care a little more what mainstream video game players think. We are living in a world where even "kid" video games have advanced to the level of BoTW, Metroid Dread, Odyssey but Sonic hasn't met any if the expectations of the recent gen games. This last decade in general has been Sonic Team pandering to nostalgia and only showing their games off at niche fan events than creating games with legacy. 

The thing too is I see more fans blaming critics and their fellow fans than willing to blame SEGA/Sonic Team for making mediocre games in the first place. Try having a conversation about Iizuka or the game producers or directors and their role in making the games, and you will get people who are super defensive and won't hear it and proceed to blame the fans for being too hard to listen too or critics for providing criticism.

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

To be honest, if SEGA truly were listening to journos and critics, we’d be getting a lot more games like Sonic Mania and Sonic Generations, and a lot fewer games like Forces and Lost World.

I think if anything, the reverse may be true - SEGA might do well to listen to a few of them from time to time! 😅

  • Thumbs Up 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like other have said, I'm not sure if SEGA listens more to critics or to fans. Or for that matter, if they listen more to hardcore fans or to random people on the internet throwing in their two cents and who may or may not even actually like Sonic to begin with.

I mean they are certainly listening to someone rather than following their own instincts, but I'm not sure who. I guess the real answer is probably that they listen to critics, fans and casual observers all at once and desperately try to make sense of it all.

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sega needs to stop listening to and trying to please the outright haters, not the critics.

It felt like the past 10 years, nearly every change was done to please people who made memes about how much they hated the series(except the original Genesis triloyu).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rabbitearsblog
On 12/14/2021 at 9:15 AM, batson said:

Like other have said, I'm not sure if SEGA listens more to critics or to fans. Or for that matter, if they listen more to hardcore fans or to random people on the internet throwing in their two cents and who may or may not even actually like Sonic to begin with.

I mean they are certainly listening to someone rather than following their own instincts, but I'm not sure who. I guess the real answer is probably that they listen to critics, fans and casual observers all at once and desperately try to make sense of it all.

It feels like SEGA is trying to please everyone, but they only end up making the games worse off since they are trying to put in so many ideas into one game without thinking clearly about how the game will come out.  SEGA needs to start taking some of these ideas, but have better planning for how the stories and the gameplay will work out.

On 12/14/2021 at 8:26 PM, Slash said:

Sega needs to stop listening to and trying to please the outright haters, not the critics.

It felt like the past 10 years, nearly every change was done to please people who made memes about how much they hated the series(except the original Genesis triloyu).

I agree. If SEGA is trying to please the haters of the series, then they are pretty much out of luck because the haters of the series will still hate the games because they never cared for the series in the first place.  So, SEGA should try to please the fans of the series, who actually cared about the franchise and are giving out constructive criticism that could help steer SEGA to a clearer path with the franchise.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SEGA is neither trying to "please the fans" or "pleasing the haters", they're trying to target a market. "The fans" represent only a small percentage of a buyer base in every videogame, targeting them can be as much useful than an hassle, because what is visible from them depends also of location, portion of the fandom, etc.  And I would add that several things present in the "meta era" games were asked by "the fans" (by that I mean "a portion of the fandom") too at one point on the other, depending of which portion, even the game having less serious scenario.

So no, "listening to the fan" wouldn't be a good idea in itself. Especially as many "constructive criticism" are either not useful ("you shouldn't rush your game", "you should take your time", "make better stories", etc), tend more to opinions and their own vision of what "should be Sonic" than to something really interesting, or are too overspecific and just one way the IP could go. ( And it's not an issue : our role and our expression of our opinion shouldn't be seen a something meant to "help" SEGA. It's not our responsability, and that's why I don't really like when people says that a vent about a game we don't like done by a big corporation is "non-constructive" ). Creation isn't a democracy. What they have to is to improve their game quality, and target better their natural market.

Then if they loose some of us in the process, what they need is to have a strong enough market (which I honestly don't know if they have), so it's not that an issue for them. We're just a small percentage of the player base.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rabbitearsblog
On 12/12/2021 at 7:38 AM, nobukitsu88 said:

The thing that makes it worse is that often you see that Sonic fans have it out for certain companies almost as if they are monoliths and not organizations made if individuals. For example, if IGN gives Sonic Colors a good review then they are stunned as if every reviewer at IGN has something against Sonic because they are stuck 13 years ago.

This is something that I don't get also because at the end of the day, IGN is just a company and their employees change every few years or so.  Just because a group of reviewers from IGN said that "Sonic was never good" over 13 years ago, doesn't mean that IGN as a whole hates Sonic.  It was just that group of reviewers who seemed to hate Sonic and since then, those reviewers are no longer at IGN and we now have a different set of reviewers from IGN who have different views on the Sonic franchise at this point. But, some fans still see IGN as a company that hates Sonic just because one group of reviewers from years ago said that "Sonic was never good" and unfortunately, that's something that IGN can't escape from, despite the fact that different people are working with the company now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sega listens to critics?

I don’t think there’s a definitive good or bad answer here. If they did listen to critics more, we’d likely more often get better games but at the expense of ambition or creativity.. so not much different than the past decade, bar quality.

There’s no “if they didn’t” because they already don’t, they’re too busy taking (and often misunderstanding) critiques from fans, if anyone at all.

  • Thumbs Up 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

they listen to them sometimes, and they don't other times, and the games are about as good as always. its kind of a non issue

  • Thumbs Up 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Sega should probably just listen to more ratings from fans, and common gamers, rather than just critics (The same goes to other developers.) That being said, critics do help people decide which game they want buy sometimes, but what I don't like is when critics bash an entire series. For instance some people have played games that were not rated very well at all, when they were children, but they sometimes enjoyed them.

(I am really hoping that Sonic Frontiers will be excellent btw.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think they should ignore any nonconstructive criticism from either fans or the media. During the 2000s, Sonic games were creative and unique (at least in my opinion), but they lack enough polish in the gameplay department. But, instead of keeping the strong aspects of these games and improving and fixing their flaws, Sega throw everything out of a window and here we are.

Part of the issue is that a lot of journalists did pretty bad feedbacks and failed to consider the redeeming qualities of the games. I think that's because most gaming critics aren't game developers with technical knowledge, but journalists that like games.

But in the end of the day, the responsibility of taking the right feedback is on Sega.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The thing is that SEGA seems adamant to ignore the nuance of criticism and try to take the most extreme methods to avoid making the same mistakes.

-People don't want to see Modern Sonic playing like garbage in a classic game? Let's try avoid that issue by splitting the franchise into two Sonics!

-People hate Sonic's friends demanding completely different gameplay styles. Let's get rid of them altogether.

-People hate Sonic having poorly developed relationships with awkwardly designed humans? Let's get rid of them altogether with some convoluted attempt at world building!

 

You can find examples of all of these being well received in the franchise with the Adventure games, Advance games, Sonic X, the film, etc. I wonder if SEGA is trying to actively avoid the problem that Sonic has never had consistent quality and not addressing the lack of quality control.

I wonder if it baffles SEGA that the film does well despite Sonic being in a realistic world with realistic humans. IDW does well despite doing the same edgy stuff the franchise used to be mocked for doing. Speed Battle making loads of money despite a selling point being its huge cast of characters. I do see all of these things as flawed, not as cool or exciting as the stuff I saw in the past, but that kind of shows just how much people like these concepts that people will take them in flawed products.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Treacher

To an extent, sure. Like how they were much more receptive to Sonic 4 Episode 1 than the more hardcore retro fans, their reaction spurring a certain Jim Sterling to go off on that portion of the fanbase during the entire debacle:

https://archive.is/FnYuA https://archive.is/dNNRt

Those times, it got pretty ugly and while I get that some were being shitters, he came off as unprofessional and flippant, which was echoed in other scenarios where there was a disconnect between reviewers and fans where the reviewers and critics basically told them to go fuck themselves over Mass Effect 3's ending or the entirety of the DmC reboot's development, basically disregarding and mischaracterizing any and all criticism levied towards the games and the companies' provacative PR. It's not unheard of at all that journalists don't know what they're talking about on a myriad of topics, which I could go for quite a bit but I don't want to digress for long. 

With the 4: Episode 1 example provided, you can see how his comments on "physics", among other things would not have been the best feedback to take in slavishly and I'm greatful that not only did Dimps' and co try to do better on that front for both Generations and Episode 2, but also Sega approved Mania to be made with the Retro Engine and a team that new what they were doing eventually.

This would also be somewhat ironic because both Episode 2 and Sonic Generations' 3DS version wound up getting worse metacritic scores on average after the initial shock and awe of having a 2D Sonic game billed as a direct sequel to the classic games wore off and followed suit in the wake of passionate fans not being afraid to pick apart what went wrong in Sega's execution-and I have a hunch that if Sonic 4: Episode 1 were to be re released as it were on current platforms, I wager reviews from them would be much more lukewarm, if not negative after getting a reminder and better point of reference as to the heights 2D Sonic could reach following Mania Plus. You also have critic consensus similarly souring on the Adventure titles post Dreamcast but that also has its own unique circumstances like the growing pains of standards in regards to 3D platformers, not wanting to rain on the Dreamcast's last parade and different sets of reviewers for different consoles and of course, differences made between ports of the two games after Sega went 3rd party which became more and more evident with Sonic Adventure 1 in particular that is its own topic that I think may have been brought up and discussed earlier.

Been a while since I've rambled on for that long and there's probably a bunch of different directions that this could go. I will say that criticism is invaluable provided it comes from a genuine place of understanding and expressed coherently and intelligently. One problem is how it can be addressed and being able to parse through and separate objective criteria and personal feelings and how to go about establishing standards. Again I feel like this could be dissected and prodded into more but on the flip side, I'm not keen on dismissing complaints towards something just because it's cosidered to be parroted or echoed by more (in)famous figures. Like, every now and then if you take umbrage with certain aspects of games such as the tone or writing of the pre Pontaff/Maekawa era of Sonic games or say that the alternate genre/objective shifts should've been canned or that the controls and scripting weren't fine tuned and excessive, you might get labeled as someone blindly following or listening to a critic/e-celebs' opinion when it's really a shared sentiment that was formed independently of them.

I have never watched a ProJared video in its entirety, I heard he took a dump on SA2, and I'd rather not get lambasted as a fanboy of him or Arin Hanson/EgoRaptor (don't like or follow him either) just because I don't think highly of the earlier 3D Sonic titles. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

You must read and accept our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy to continue using this website. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.