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Why does SEGA keep on rushing out the Sonic Games?


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So, after seeing a lot of Sonic the Hedgehog games like Sonic Colors: Ultimate and the Sonic Boom series, getting rushed out into the market before they are completely finished, why does SEGA keep on rushing out the Sonic games when they could have just took their time with the games?

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Chiming in because it relevant.

 

But Sonic Boom Fire and Ice actually was delayed for the specific reason to give it extra development time.

Its not like there is a magic button you can hit to push a game back 6 months and save it from being what it is.

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2 minutes ago, Sega DogTagz said:

Chiming in because it relevant.

 

But Sonic Boom Fire and Ice actually was delayed for the specific reason to give it extra development time.

Its not like there is a magic button you can hit to push a game back 6 months and save it from being what it is.

I guess that's true, especially if the game was bad to begin with.

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2 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

Money now is more important than maybe a little more money later.

Obviously this is all speculation, but yeah, business gonna business. It's worth remembering, discerning adults still aren't the core demographic of Sonic, it's kids (who are not especially discerning). For a while, it's felt like the broad strategy has been make sure every year has a Sonic game, it will have a modest budget, they must come out when they must come out, and even if it's not a critical hit, it'll sell enough to maintain the franchise. Even Forces for its critical panning still made its money.

In regard to Boom and Colors Ultimate... I personally just don't think Sega is very good at managing their external partnerships. Sure, we got a Sonic Mania, but it just seems like most everything else coming from an external partner (that isn't Dimps) just had terrible issues.

But if there's a bit of a light ahead, the success of both movies have shifted the landscape, and Sega seems to be more willing to delay Frontiers for the sake of quality. Sonic has a bit of a cultural reset right now, and there's greater potential in getting this right as opposed to getting it out.

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Sonic games used to have what we currently call "rushed" and quick production cycles in the early 90s and early 2000s and everything was fine, but once Sega hit a bump they kept tumbling, and then their reputation was stained. Now they're walking on eggshells to please investors, fans, and critics.

I honestly don't know if those short production times really went away. Forces properly started development many years after Lost World was released, and it appears Frontiers is the same. Maybe Sega taking their time with each release would be okay if they didn't wait years to start new projects? It's obvious the movies don't have this issue as Paramount is incredibly confident after the first movie's performance, and now the third movie and a spin-off TV show got announced before the second movie came out. This kind of output resembles the aforementioned quick production cycles from Sega in the early 90s and 2000s.

I think Sega to this day is still afraid of repeating another 06 that they keep playing it safe and slowed down releases so that there aren't as many bad reviews floating around that hurt the brand. Them not doing any kind of special promotion for Frontiers during the movie's opening week was a big mistake in my opinion, but to a lot of people this paints some sort of picture that Sega's taking their time... but I honestly don't know about that. Frontiers could very well be getting rushed behind the scenes and we don't know it, but they're treading incredibly carefully with revealing any information or promoting it. Only time will tell and I'm hoping for the best. It's just hard with their track record and when nothing is being shown to quell the trepidation.

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Money is more important to companies. Companies want to make money. They don't care about the artist, or the fans.

Bottom line: Money talks, and creative integrity walks.

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Sonic Boom came out 7 years ago, I don't think it really serves as an example of SEGA "keeping" rushing out games, I'm pretty sure they learned their lesson on that one (as mentioned, Fire & Ice even got delayed to add more polish, and sure enough that game was largely inoffensive entertainment - it's a better Sonic game than some of the mainline platformers they've duct-taped together over the years).

Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces were fully featured and not rushed (Forces was a disappointment, but it wasn't broken, the stage design was just crap), and Team Sonic Racing was just made on a small budget.

Colours Ultimate is really an outlier here and I'd say there's nothing much to worry about unless they duff up Origins and Frontiers on a technical level.

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The games still sell well enough on brand recognition alone, so even a rushed mess ends up bringing profit even if reviews and word of mouth say it's terrible, so the business side doesn't see any reason to change anything, game came out on the period they wanted, game sold well enough, all is well.

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to be fair Colours Ultimate is just a port, isn't it? I feel like it's not really comparable to a mainline game being rushed, and as mentioned earlier Forces wasn't rushed - just unsatisfying to many. I feel like Sega haven't been that bad with rushing their own games since '06 honestly - Boom was an issue, but it was also not really handled by them to begin with.

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It's a mixt of thing, but the core of it is "money". But don't worry, all devs and creative at SEGA knows that with more time a game can be better. The question is if it is worth it, and often "can we afford more time".

A game cost a lot to do, and most of it is simply the salary of the creators working on it. A game have its dev time and budget decided most of the time during the conception phase, where many features and stuff are decided (I don't know a lot of game that have been made with agile workflow lol). Adding several months of dev time create two financial issues :

- You gain the income later. During that time, you have to work, and even if you have good reserve, it create a time where you simply have less money. Sure, at the level of SEGA, it'll certainly fine. But we don't know how much the money can flow inside SEGA. Are the budget of every team restrained (certainly), how much ? How you justify if your team is spending more than they have earned the last few games ? Will you be listened ?

- You make the game cost more, as you add more dev time, and thus more cost to the game. The question is often : will the additional sales of quality will be worth the additionnal costs ? Saying "yes" is part of how the longer dev time have been justified in the QA to investissor that was delayed. But sometimes... You have to release the game, especially if it is not seen as strategically important. And if to really make it better it needs a lot of time (or manpower) or to redo a large part of the work already done, it's harder to justify it.

- If the "bad games" manage to sell well, investissor will care less about quality, as "people will buy it anyway".

- A lot of the higher up in the dev world (and a lot of non-devs) seems to think development as something magical, which can make it difficult to justify a technical necessity that seems "useless" for them. A big example of that (I think the most commons), is all the people that will say "but just fix the issues/glitches" when you say that something needs to be redone to actually fix those things.

 

And TBH, as the issues of Sonic Colors Ultimate are quite commons to this studio's port and that the game have other technical issues, I would not put totally on "SEGA rushing games" here (but SEGA being bad to handled external studios)

Edited by Kazhnuz
s/done/decided for features, I'm not very smart sometimes
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On 4/19/2022 at 9:35 AM, itskidchameleon said:

to be fair Colours Ultimate is just a port, isn't it? I feel like it's not really comparable to a mainline game being rushed, and as mentioned earlier Forces wasn't rushed - just unsatisfying to many. I feel like Sega haven't been that bad with rushing their own games since '06 honestly - Boom was an issue, but it was also not really handled by them to begin with.

So, it's more like a problem with SEGA handling the qualities of the games?

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I'm not sure by what people mean by "rushed", but the answer to what you're seeking is basically the nature of work, resource and time, which is money. Game development is not charity after all, it's a business.

While Kazhnuz has summed up a few of the key points, I'll just add some perspective in what game development entails in a more colloquial way.

First, you present an idea. If the idea garners interest (among other things), you will be asked for cost estimation. To simplify this explanation, it's would be time span. Based on that, the company will lock some amount of money for the project. This is what people know as a "budget".

Things can go wrong before and after this point. You may have underestimated the amount of work needed to create the game, or development may not go as well as anticipated. Either way, you'll run out of money before you complete the project as initially planned. This is what people can call "going over budget".

You typically are not given more time. Doing do would cost more than the promised amount of money you'd spend. And yes, you typically do not get more money. After all, the planned revenue for the year was all calculated based on the plan. It's normal; You don't get infinite resource. Just like you don't get to extend the due date of your homework at school.

To counter that, you'll have to do what is called "scoping down". In other words, you cut corners. Typically non-essential stuff. And this is actually very normal. Some games would take into account that risk an plan things that could be cut (say, playable Tails for example). No game I've worked with or read about ever got their full scope. And this is okay as long as you are able to ship something that's deliverable enough.

If the project is at least well managed, progress assessment will be regularly evaluated. If it's shown very early that it will not deliver in time, it may be decided that work on the project is to be stopped right away, saving the trouble (aka a "cancelled game"). If, however, you're too deep in and would waste too much to cancel it, then you may exceptionally be given more money to wrap it up. It's typically really not to "polish it" but to scavenge it to make it sellable. You can see how this first extension is very undesirable and usually is not a good sign when you somehow hear about it.

Also note that throughout all of this, you are typically dealing with money that is not yours, so it's extra bad when it's known that it's been misused.

Knowing how things work, the publisher is never really "rushing" development. Typically, it's either not well estimated, or trouble arised during development and you have to deal with it. Your teacher at school never "rushed" you into finishing your project after all.

By the way, this is not only how games work, but pretty much any commercial project. The rules are not the same as a bridge or subway project where you'll typically hear that they'll spend the extra money (because it's too important, but also more likely because they're too deep in).

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  • 1 month later...

Yeah I wish there were different themed worlds, I mean I see almost the same ones. Market Street, Planet Wisp, Seaside hill, etc. How about an amusement park or a jungle-themed level of some sort. Yeah SEGA rushes them probably b/c they need profit quick!

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