SEGA Explains New Strategy For Sonic

SEGA Explains New Strategy For Sonic

SEGA West CEO Mike Hayes has made it clear in an interview with IGN that the company doesn’t want to make any more bad Sonic games. From here on out Hayes says that SEGA will be listening to what the fans want in future titles and feels this strategy will bring the Sonic series back up to the quality standard it once had.

“It’s all part of a general strategy with Sonic where we are passionate about getting Sonic back up to the quality levels we’ve had historically,” Hayes explained. “We’ve gone through a major segmentation analysis of Sonic and where it would appeal to the different fans.”

Hayes explains that SEGA are targeting different audiences for different platforms. The company is going after the younger audience with titles on Wii & DS, while catering for the more devoted Sonic & SEGA fans with other brands.

“On the Wii and Nintendo DS, we’re driving those brands to the younger audience,” he said. “We have our Mario and Sonic brands that are very mass-market. Then we have our brands where we will focus on our SEGA and Sonic loyalists and we made the decision there to listen to what their feedback is.”

“We delayed the launch of Sonic 4 to make sure we got that as right as we could and we’re still listening because as we progress the series we want to make sure we get that right.”

Hayes then reveals that development on Sonic titles will take a different approach depending on the age group a game is targeted at.

“Where I think we provide Sonic for a younger audience, there we have to take innovation ourselves and try and understand and work out what will be the best game for a more 8 to 12 year old audience,” he said. “For the core fans, we definitely want to hear what they have to say about Sonic.”

“It’s just such a vital brand for us, and the most important thing is to get relevant quality, and that’s what we’re going to spend a lot of time and money doing over the next three or more years to get right.”

Source: IGN

Thanks to Mr.Isklue at the SSMB for the heads-up!

What do you think of SEGA’s new development and marketing strategies for the Sonic the Hedgehog brand? Speak out in the comments.

59 Comments

  1. Same stuff we’ve been hearing lately. Pretty much a reiteration.

    I hope SEGA still directs some of the 3D games towards ‘devoted fans’ as they call it. Devoted fans don’t only like the Genesis titles, you know. Or hey, I have a GREAT idea: why not just try to target ALL Sonic fans instead of picking specific categories?

    Having said that, I am looking forward to Sonic Colors immensely… even if it is for 10 year olds. Hope it can please an 18 year old, too. :-/

  2. @DC111:
    “Devoted” was my wording, but I don’t mean any offence by it 🙂 Mike Hayes wording in the quote is “loyalists”. :p

    @Extaticus:
    Lol! You’re on to me *hides*

  3. Oh, great. Does this mean all the mainstream Sonic games are coming out on PS3 and Xbox now? I don’t own either of those. I guess I’m an 8 year old for owning a Wii, huh SEGA? >>;

  4. lets just hope that sega makes sonic adventure 3 shenmue 3 jet set radio 3 crazy taxi 4 and a new console and sega can kick the italian plumbers cheap ass back to mushroom kingdom im fed up with reviewers licking nintendos ass all the time sega are stepping up now sure shit happened in the past (bernie stoker) but we must all ways remember genesis does what nintendon’t and being this good takes AGES!!! come on sega lets kick shigurus ass and bring back yuji naka and yu suzuki and you will be back on top believe it!! come sega ive been a fan for years and im not losing hope yet!!! oh yeah and another billy hatcher nights ristar panzer dragoon and saba de amigo for plastation move would be nice 2!!

    thanks

    dedicated sega fan

  5. I don’t think Sega should reach out mainly for a younger audience, they won’t appreciate it that much. A good Sonic game is a game with a lot of effort put into it, and they really think kids will pay attention to that kind of thing? HAH!
    Sega, stick with making good Sonic games, don’t aim for a specific audience. It’s not like you can make a Sonic game too adult (Shadow didn’t count) so just go about making a good Sonic game that will turn out suitable for everyone anyway. Look at Sonic 3 and Sonic Adventure 2, nothing babyish and yet it was suitable for kids.
    Though Sonic Colors is turning out fantastically and I can really see that it was the result of fan feedback, I feel that Sega could make another mistake by just simplifying Sonic too much were nobody would enjoy it.
    Sega, Sonic 4 was a great way to get the fans back, though ep 2 should improve on the physics. Just don’t aim for the mainstream crowd… you know they don’t look for Sonic games, they just look for crappy party games and other stuff like that.

    Phew.

  6. That isn’t too bad of a strategy.

    But knowing the sonic series fans, it’s going to be hard to distinguish people that give actual criticism from the bad trolls lurking review sites.

  7. DC111: Sega said that Colors is for everyone. And besides, I don’t understand what the huge deal over the age issue about Colors target audience is. Sonic games aren’t really that freakin hard anyway and just because Sega at first said something about Colors being a ‘kids’ game now the fans acts like they can’t enjoy it anymore? What age audience is Sonic Heroes aimed for? 18 years and older? Hell, the most recent game I’ve brought is Kirby’s Epic Yarn and that game looks like it’s intended for young kids since you can’t even DIE in that game and the cutscenes looks like you’re watching a childrens cartoon but I still find the game fun to play.

  8. I’m just interested in this Mario and Sonic idea. It seems like we might be getting more of the duo, and according to that rumour, a non sport themed one too.

    Exciting… =)

  9. I think it’s very wise of them to take fan feedback into account and recognize their past mistakes with Sonic games. Sonic 4 and Sonic Colors are proof that that strategy works (together with a little fan-service).

    It’s just their attempt to divide their fanbase even further that doesn’t sound good to me.

  10. Also, I’m getting rather annoyed about how SEGA seems to always bring up the age issue when they’re talking about Sonic in recent interviews. -_-

  11. Oh, I dunno. I think this current “division” might work out, just not in the way SEGA wants. I think it’s better that way. =)

    I mean, look at Sonic Colours. Everybody loves that, even the “core” fanbase Sonic 4 was made for. I hope their plan backfires the same way it has with Colours. That way, there will be good Sonic games that everyone will enjoy.

  12. I am gonna be honest here, I don’t really like the idea of Sega aiming the games towards the younger fans. :/
    What about the older fans? o3o

    I kinda liked before how they were aiming for older fans..[[basically maturing Sonic]]

    THIS IS MY OPINION. JUST AN OPINION. C:

  13. @Jakeiii
    That was the best thing about Sonic’s Future that I’ve ever heard from a fan’s point of view.
    I AM ON YOUR SIDE!!!!!

  14. im up for the whole younger generation games, they seem much more fun, just dont focus them mainly at nintendo consoles please!
    I like to consider myself a “devoted” sonic fan, but im gonna be gutted if i cant play these new sonic games on my xbox. I have a nasty feeling sonic is going to become nintendo only again, in which case im either gonna have to invest in a wii or say goodbye to the hedgehog =S and i dont wanna do either tbh…

  15. “We delayed the launch of Sonic 4 to make sure we got that as right as we could and we’re still listening because as we progress the series we want to make sure we get that right.”

    Let me say that I love the Sonic series, for better or worse, but that doesn’t change that Sega’s handling of it is inexcusable. So Sega comes out and says “we’ll get it right this time!” Even if they do, what does that prove? That they completely forgot what made their franchise great in the first place and are currently in the process of trying to remember? It’s not exactly something worth applauding to say “we’re trying to get our own design philosophy right.” It’s like saying “I’m going to write an autobiography, but I forgot to do the research.”

  16. @Jakeiiii: “Just don’t aim for the mainstream crowd… you know they don’t look for Sonic games, they just look for crappy party games and other stuff like that.”

    …Dude… the mainstream crowd would be THE BIGGEST POSSIBLE AUDIENCE.

    Appeal to the mainstream correctly, and they WILL look for Sonic games.

  17. The way I see it, listening to what the fans want might not work too well. There are so many sides to the fanbase that it will be impossible to please one group without upsetting another. For instance, Shadow the Hedgehog came about as a result of some fans wanting a darker story and more Shadow. You can see how well THAT turned out.

    As for me, I only own Nintendo consoles, so I guess I’m getting the more lighthearted stuff.

    Just the way I like it! 🙂

  18. I can understand their decision to make games for different audiences. I feel like trying to make one game that appeals to both would is something they just don’t know how to do right now. I think it’s better if they do it this way and keep it simple for right now, and as they get things right, maybe they’ll move in that direction. And I definitely think it’s possible. I mean granted, I don’t follow the strategy for Mario but I feel like Mario Galaxy (and pretty much most Mario games) aren’t divided into separate audiences. And those are always successful.

  19. @Umiyuri
    Well, I’ve never heard anyone at school, or outside, mention Sonic Colors, or even Sonic at that matter.
    Seriously, they only care about party games (like guitar hero, just dance, sing-star, etc.). Though Sega is just looking at what make more money (number of casual gamers > hardcore gamers) I think that they’ll still make more than enough money just pleasing the hardcore gamers. There is no way a Sonic game will catch a mainstream audience like a party game would. You can’t play a Sonic game at a party or anything, so why would casual gamers find it appealing in any way?
    If Sega wants to do it right, then they shouldn’t focus on the casual crowd TOO much. 🙂

  20. Interesting! So it’d be safe to bet that most 3D Sonics will be Wii games now and the other consoles will get the best versions of Sonic 4 episodes. I can live with that, but it sure is a shame that the Hedgehog Engine won’t be used again, it was awesome.

  21. “SEGA West CEO Mike Hayes has made it clear in an interview with IGN that the company doesn’t want to make any more bad Sonic games. From here on out Hayes says that SEGA will be listening to what the fans want in future titles and feels this strategy will bring the Sonic series back up to the quality standard it once had.”

    This statement is a whole contradiction by its own. How can they make a good game listening to such an unstable fanbase?

    “Hayes explains that SEGA are targeting different audiences for different platforms. The company is going after the younger audience with titles on Wii & DS, while catering for the more devoted Sonic & SEGA fans with other brands.”

    Thi8s couldn’t sounds more indiscriminating even if it wanted to, is he implying that only the kiddies own a DS and a Wii? while the “most devoted” Sonic fans are the ones who own stuff like the 360, PS3, PC, Iphone, ect?

    GTFO Mike :I

  22. Sounds like a good strategy, but it won’t stop the criticism. A wise person once said,
    “You can please all of the people some of the time, and you can please some of the people all of the time, but you can’t please Sonic fans. Ever.”

  23. My guess for the Wii/3DS brand? Probably make the Sonic series more Mario-esque. Makes sense, since Mario and Sonic were in heated competition back then.

  24. @Axl-fox pretty much what you just said

    What I got was that owning Wii & DS qualified me as a “younger audience” 😐 This guy is very misguided if that is in fact the case. I like a good balance of serious and non serious. I’m really getting tired of Eggman and his little robots fumbling around with childish cartoon sound effects. SAB2 was the perfect blend, but I digress…

  25. I think the main problem with franchise right now is that SEGA West has a CEO that doesn’t understand the franchise.

    On an unrelated note, the ads on here are starting to get on my nerves. I can ignore ordinary banner ads, but when they start playing sound on their own (and won’t always stay muted when I try to turn off the sound)… well, let’s just say they’re defeating their own purpose. At least there’s still Sonic Wrecks.

  26. Hmm. Interesting. Very interesting. *blows bubbles out of fake pipe*

    Okay, well I like this plan. I mean, not everyone owns a Wii. Actually realistically we should realize not everyone has every platform a game might come out on.

    They can’t please ALL the fans (not on purpose anyways) because they ARE in different categories, having different opinions. So it’s best to not try to please them all in one title, but to make multiple titles that can give each group something to look at.

    Even if they target a younger audience it doesn’t mean older audiences can’t enjoy it. SatAM wasn’t targeted toward adults in their mid-30’s was it? (Was it? 0.0)

    Honestly, I’m kinda interested he specifically said 3 or more years though. o.O

  27. @Chompy

    Really? What I got out of it was the more of the younger audiences have a Wii (likely due to the more cartoony and light-hearted games) while more of the older and adult audiences have an Xbox 360 and PS3 respectively. Not that ONLY those people have those consoles, just that to take one age group into consideration, one of the 3 consoles is the best way to reach them. =p Make a little more sense? o-o

    Aaaand on the last part I have to agree. As fun as Sonic Colors looks, the only thing I dislike is the abundance of Disney/Nintendo cartoon style to it and the series now days compared to the somewhat cartoony/somewhat raw coolness that was in the Adventure series. lol ^^;

  28. Well this is the reason I stopped playing Sonic games. Sega has made it clear that Sonic is mainly for younger kids. That puts us 16-18 year old sonic fans in the corner. I miss playing the balanced games like Sonic Adventure (series)and Sonic Riders.

    They were games that any age could play while Sonic Heroes, Sonic Rush (series), Sonic Unleashed, and the Story book series were aimed at younger age groups.

  29. They shouldn’t care about who they are aiming for though.. Just make the games good and people will start like sonic more, its not that complicated.

  30. To people who wants Sonic Adventure 3….

    Can you explain why you want a Sonic Adventure 3?

    Direct Sequel to Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Heroes, and Shadow The Hedgehog….ok…explain how can that be possible.

  31. People are really making a big deal about this? Again? *sigh*

    Listen People, I’ll say it once: Sonic the Hedgehog has always been for everyone, but the target audience was, and always, Kids.

    You can look at the character and tell that he is a game character for a younger audience. A lot of mascots are like that. Yes, I’m aware that when Sonic was created, he presented a sense of “attitude” that distinguished himself from other mascots at the time, but in the end, he has always been targeted towards young children. Just like Mario, just like Kirby, etc. However, Sonic, and every other mascot, is AVAILABLE for everyone, so if you wanted to play a fun game, why not buy it and play it. It’s not like people are going to berate you for buying Kirby’s Epic Yarn in your twenties, or buying Super Mario Galaxy in your thirties. Are you self-conscious or something!?

    As far as I’m concerned, SEGA can only make maximum potential out of Sonic if they put him on the Wii. For many reasons:

    1. The Wii is…commonly known as an “underperformed system”. Thus, Nintendo and a few third-party publishers, if they put the effort, can create games that can fully utilize the console to its limits, and this results in games with little bugs or errors.

    2. The reception towards Wii games are noticibly less strict, and this is obvious with Sonic. Sonic Unleashed has a 60 (360) and a 54 (ps3) on Metacritic, but the Wii version has 66 despite the fact that it’s a downgraded version of the true version. This happened with SASASR: 360=75, ps3=77, and Wii=78. The most recent piece of evidence is Sonic 4 Ep1: 360=70, ps3=74, and Wii=80 (a full six point difference at least!). A significant portion of Wii-exclusive reviewers tend to sugarcoat the reviews, thus leading to a better track record for the franchise.

    3. The Wii itself is the highest selling console of the three, not to mention that it is marketed as a “family” entertainment system. Thus, the core audience of the Wii is a young audience; kids and young adults. Not to mention that…it’s freaking Nintendo for Christ’s sake. Their mascots revolutionize the gaming world. Plus, if Sonic has good games on the Wii, kids will play it, and that will slowly create the future fanbase that will buy future Sonic games.

    Sonic being on the Wii is probably the best thing for Sonic Team and SEGA to do. And if they say the target audience is kids, they’re right. So what? Is it unfair for the HD console loyalists that wants Sonic on their console? Maybe, but I won’t know because I have a Wii *laughs evily*. But again, people are taking this way too seriously, and that should tell the SEGA managers that they need to put tape over their mouths for the next three weeks.

    If my rant is wrong in any form whatsoever, please tell me. I accept constructive criticism.

  32. I could probably see why SEGA is doing this so they could stick with that new majority of the Audience, but has SEGA really forgot about us older gamers? I’m 13 and well do I still count for that matter I resereved Sonic Colors when I was 12 so Im a bit in a pickle.

  33. Simple, Aim sonic games for All Ages, Just Like Pixar Aim for Everyone with there films, such as Toy story 3, which i know Pixar said is for the older fans that grew up, but they managed to make it appeal to the new younger viewers too ^^

    So Sega, Just Aim sonic for all ages, like you did with the “Sonic Adventure Series” which didn’t go childish/cheesy and didn’t go all dark/emo and violent.

    Sonic Adventure is proof that sonic can work for all ages.

    I just Know the Colours Plot/ VA is going to ruin the mood for me because that element is aimed for the kids…. But hey they added a Skip Cut scenes ^^ or i hope they add Japan Option, normally the game isn’t that embarrassing when you have Japan voices on.

  34. SK72: “I just Know the Colours Plot/ VA is going to ruin the mood for me because that element is aimed for the kids…. But hey they added a Skip Cut scenes ^^ or i hope they add Japan Option, normally the game isn’t that embarrassing when you have Japan voices on.”

    Were you also embarrased and skip the cutscenes for games like Heroes, Sonic ’06, Secret Rings, Unleashed, etc? Cause the writing and the voice acting didn’t seem like they were aimed for the ‘older’ crowd either. Why can’t we just enjoy Colors and not worry about the game being aim for kids crap? Now some of you guys act like you’re ashamed

  35. I think it’s nice that they’re focusing each game on a certain audience, but releasing them all around the same time so no one is particularly disappointed or left out. Since a lot of fans like a lot of different aspects of the Sonic games, I think it’s good as long as the quality of each game is the best it can be.

    It’s like going from a whole tub of one-flavored ice cream to a tub of Neapolitan, where everyone gets to pick the flavor they like.

  36. Regardless of one’s opinions on the current Sonic games, no one can deny that SEGA is at least -trying.- Your mileage may vary if their boasts hit the mark or not, but they are trying.

  37. @krazeekidd102

    o.o …That was very well said. XD I think the only thing better than putting it on Wii is putting it on Wii and other consoles or at least making equally cool games on other consoles to be available and make more sales. That way, some people buy 2 copies of the same game and others get a chance to play it and Wii version is STILL made and sold. =)

    I do see how it’s hard to make it for multiple consoles I guess, especially since originally it was only for one console and most games are except now and then. But I hope they can make the largest rang of availability.

    Quite honestly, they can’t stop me from buying a childish game anyways and I don’t really care what they think. If I want that game, Imma play it! XD

  38. Why do some of you guys care so much about what age group the games is aimed for? The age thing isn’t stopping me from playing Sonic games as long as their good and fun to play. Just like Colors, don’t really give a damn if its a kids game, it still looks awesome.

  39. @TwoPoint0: “Well this is the reason I stopped playing Sonic games. Sega has made it clear that Sonic is mainly for younger kids. That puts us 16-18 year old sonic fans in the corner. I miss playing the balanced games like Sonic Adventure (series)and Sonic Riders.

    They were games that any age could play while Sonic Heroes, Sonic Rush (series), Sonic Unleashed, and the Story book series were aimed at younger age groups.”

    So are you saying that the older fans can’t play and enjoy (good) games like Sonic Rush and Sonic Unleashed cause you think they’re for the younger age group? And if I remember correctly, alot of older fans likes the Sonic Rush series a whole lot better then the Sonic Riders series that you said that are well balanced for people age 18 and up. I’m 26 and don’t give a damn about the age thing, all I care about is some good games.

  40. @sonicfan1984

    Ironic isn’t it? Considering Sonic Riders was really childish (specifically, cartoon/comic-like) and is basically Sonic Heroes as a racing game (Sonic Free Riders seems to have improved and added on this idea. o.o)

    Yeah. It’s quite strange. First they praise it, then start complaining about it. But the truth is we know good and well you can hold just hold down right some of the time but some of the time you can’t in both the classics and newer titles, and games like Unleashed and Sonic 4 you can’t just spam the boost/homing attack to win. It’s just a sleezy insult for being able to do it a lot. Which is funny considering those 2 things I actually consider fun. A lot more than going “OMGosh I turned left! This is hella fun! I JUMPED ON A ROCK! I’m so excited!! 8D”. lol (Not that I don’t like platforming, just saying. It’s going way out of hand that someone should make a parody. :3)

  41. Sega u r just making sonic too limited if you get what i mean sonic adventure 2 was fun adventurus it wasn’t limited sonic went everywhere a secret base in a piramid now sonic is too ground based you need to make a game that gives fans that feeling of adventure that resent sonic games have realy missed, sonic colours is creative but there is only one main environment “space” sonic unleased was just a colab of diffeent cities not creative (sonic and the secretrings and balck knight explains them selves) sonic hereos was also creative but it din’t give me the same sence of adventure and fun as sa2 however sonic hereos was still awsome, sega

    if you want insparation don’t look at mario or other games look at yourself and plan from there (look at Sa2 Sa1 and Sonic Hereos), Make sonic fun and adventurus again

    I hope some one from sega reads this 🙂

  42. Why do I have a horrible feeling that some really idiotic fans are gonna demand their crappy fan characters to appear in games?

  43. I’m 29. I loved the classic Sonic, and when the Dreamcast hit with the first real Sonic game in ages I got the system just for that one game.

    All I’m saying is – you can’t split the fanbase like that. Some of us core (old guys) fans – also love the lighthearted cheese of the 3D adventures. Heck I read the Archie comic too. Right now I have a DS and Wii for my Sonic addiction. I would really be offended if this means the future 2D games are 360 and PS3 only. Or that the wii is getting a gimped easy version of Sonic 4. Why even talk age? Nintendo has been making “best game ever” Mario games always without talking kiddy and adult segments. Sega just need to rephrase and say “We’re doing a Mario”.

    Look at the storyline in Halo, Gears and Resident Evil. How are these games more appealing to an adult cerebral wise compared to the Sonic games? I feel better playing a really well thought out Saturday Morning story than watching some clichéd and banal though guy nonsense.

  44. I’m worried. Sonic games have always been fine to me and now I don’t like where this is going…
    Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, Sonic heroes, shadow the hedgehog, Sonic Rush Adventure, Sonic unleashed,…
    Were they bad? I don’t think so!
    I’ll be very mad if I see Sonic games get worse (Becoming too childish, predictable and lacking other playable characters) because of some out-of-nowhere criticisms.
    SEGA doesn’t have to change things completely. just bettering the path it was taking is fine.

  45. @ espioofchaotix

    you didn’t think Shadow the Hedgehog was bad? Oh dear.

    Which is exactly why I’m worried that Sega might take fan remarks and advice too seriously. There’s nothing wrong with hearing out your target audience but if you start following them too carefully you’ll get jumbled in a mass of opinion (a lot of it unfounded, even bad). Sega also has to trust in their own talent and ability, give games extensive play tests and remember that not all good ideas make good games………. and that bad ideas generally make bad games.

  46. My first sonic game was SA2B, and as such, I don’t mind a ”darker” sonic game as much, if done well. I find unleashed and colours to be likable, but I would miss it if Sonic became 100% lighthearted(I would accept it, the sonic series started this way, but still..) However, shadow the hedgehog was over the top. Sonic06 had a crappy sonic storyline, I liked those of shadow and silver, but the overall plot collapsed under it’s own weight and the plotholes.

    If I would want to give advice to Sega, I can only say this: take a look at the fangames. They reflect the overall wishes well.

  47. Sonic MUST have games for everyone, regardless of his age ! Look at Mario, everyone, from seven to seventy-year-old, is enjoying them !

    Why SEGA must ALWAYS separate its fans in categories like simple “targets” and no more ?!!

    *this game is exclusively for 9-year-old children !” ‘this game is for the true fans of Sonic !” “this game is only (yeah, only) for those who like 2D-games !*

    Pffff, pathetic…

  48. See, I was agreeing with him right until the part where he said he’s going to take the fan’s feedback and that they were reaching to a younger audience. Sonic isn’t meant to have a particular audience. You should be able to jump right into a game, be you young or old, and be able to appreciate it. Not to deep to get the whole plot into a jumbled mess, or too light so that you have no clue what’s going on. I’d wish Sega would also realize not all the old school fans are for 2D, and the younger fans are for 3D and vice versa. Fans are fans. No need to reach to the general audience in any other way other than the Mario/Sonic Games, which everyone plays simply for the fact that it’s all emphasizing the use of the sports area of the wii. Futhermore, the fans in my opinion should have a say, I mean, that’s how we got Sonic Colors, by saying we mostly liked the Daytime Levels. But, fans shouldn’t have the complete voice in all topics. I respect Sega at least in a few choices and fans shouldn’t complain in every small detail. We seriously need a balance of feedback and improving games.

  49. Well I know Sega have always tried to appeal to the fans, and they have listened to then unlike what some like to believe. But sometimes they haven’t always hit the mark. But now they seem to be doing well, not a perfect touchdown with 4, but I’m sure Colours will be a hit. I do find ot strange how they have decided and finalized which divisions they are going to terget for each particular title. It’s not like some fans enjoy everything too.

  50. Hmmm, in all truth, I only play Nintendo systems, but I don’t want to be excluded from the more die hard fan games. I kind of don’t like the idea of separating the audience by age. I am not an 8-12 year old and I love the “Mario and Sonic” series.

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