Sega: Sonic Runners is a Failure

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Now, in the past, I have been quite vocal regarding my stance on a certain ‘free’ to play mobile game staring Sonic, however, one thing which was hard to deny, is that Sonic Runners was being downloaded, it was being played and people were spending a lot of money on it.

Now depending where you sit when it comes to this kind of game, this news will actually not surprise you, or it may take you completely by surprise.

That being, Sega considers Sonic Runners a failure, in terms of how much money it’s making. Personally, I’m… actually a little surprised at this since I could have sworn they said previously that the game was profitable and was apparently doing rather well.

Though at the same time, I’m not that surprised, the game has been heavily criticised for poor technical performance, an intrusive and invasive micro-transaction strategy and in some cases, randomly banning players for utterly no reason. Why would people want to give money to this?

However, another issue which is a little strange is that, according to the report, Sonic Runners on average was making 30 million yen per month, which is around £180,000, that sum is considered a failure? How much money went into developing the game for that sum to be considered a failure?

To put it into perspective, Sega considers games which make 50 million yen, or £300,000 per month to be successful.

Source: SegaSammy

43 Comments

  1. I haven’t played the game since the worldwide launch came out. The original Canadian version was a game I could kill time with, but whatever they’re doing with the game now is garbage.

  2. Success and Failure are not exactly that easy to suggest. A game that cost $50M to make and returns $60M is a failure compared to a game that cost $2M and returned $15M, even if the second returned just one quarter of the first in profits.

    Other than that, I cannot even understand which icon is which game except for Sonic Runners and Puyo Puyo. Is PSO2 somewhere there?

    And why are 11 out of 16 games anime-like?

    1. 11 out of 16 games are anime-like probably because Sega is Japanese. Just a thought :P. Also, that icon with the blue-haired girl with the ears(?) looks pretty PSO-like. That may very well be PSO2.

      1. Just remembering Sega from the Dreamcast years, their games had wide variety.

        I can’t understand why they never green-lit PSO2 in western regions. Judging by the amount of players on Japanese/SEA servers, you’d expect there’d be enough to fill entirely 3 servers and then some more in the west.

        1. Ah. I see where you’re coming from. Interesting point. I also wish PSO2 had come out in the West, as it’s the only MMO I’d ever consider playing regularly.

        2. Because in the past, SEGA RPGs has always had lackluster sales post-PS2 (or should I say Post-Gamecube?). In the Genesis – Dreamcast eras, their RPGs did as well as any RPG that wasn’t Final Fantasy, however since those days, the market for RPGs have changed tremendously, leaning toward more western genres like MOBAS and developers like Bethesda, Blizzard, Riot, etc. Even FF had to break their own formula in order to continue to appeal to both western and eastern sensibilities (to very mixed results). Many Japanese companies are kind of retreating from importing their titles into the west; a few companies like ATLUS, Nippon Ichi & XSeed are still courting western audiences with the understanding that they are filling a very niche market that won’t hit mainstream status. Either their games are very cheap to make or they already made so much profit

          These days, there seems to be a resurgence in the JRPG thanks to the gradual rise of popularity for series like Persona, Fire Emblem, and Xenoblade & new digital distribution services that eliminate faulty retail costs. Thanks to such factors, a SEGA RPG like Valkeriya Chronicles was a surprise hit on Steam and thus SEGA is starting to bring over more Japanese games through Steam or PSN. However, it may still be a long time before SEGA even considers a western port of PSO2, and perhaps because it has a lot of things going against it:

          1) Like you said, anyone who wanted to play this game, has already hit the Japanese/SEA Servers and either still playing or have left. Tell me, other than the English language what would entice players to go back?

          2) When PSO hit the deck in 2001, it was revolutionary as one of the few (or the first) mainstream MMO to hit consoles. Now, not only has PSO has to compete for attention with bigger giants like WoW, Second Life and FFXIV, but they have to also face off with cheap Freemium mobile games. What does PSO2 have that other MMORPGs lack that will make it stand out?

          3) Like I already stated, while JRPGS are slowly going back to popularity, they are still a very niche market in terms of exposure and sales. If they do release it in the west, I won’t be surprised if PSO2 joins the rest of SEGA’s games and become Download only. It served them well with Yakuza, but maybe PSO2 will wind up being just like Sonic Runners: with great sales but not enough money to satisfy SEGA.

          4) SEGA will need to rush this game out before 1st Q in 2017. Otherwise, there is the potential risk that the game will be lost among the hype for more anticipated titles like FF VII Remake pt 1 and maybe even SEGA’s own Shenmue 3.

          Keep in mind, that I’m speaking from a perspective from the United States. I’m not exactly sure what the play-by-lay is over in Europe, so JRPG acceptance may be different there.

          1. 1) Not everyone. It requires quite some patience to get past the katakana capcha procedure, as well as the fact that half the game, despite the awesome effort of the translators, is in Japanese. Not to mention that not everyone has the knowledge or isn’t as motivated to try all that. I believe that, if PSO2 was released to the west, it’d have as initial player volume at least double the amount of total players that play(ed) or even attempted to play on the Japanese version.

            2) The same thing other MMOs have; a bit of loyal fanbase, a battle system that isn’t exactly like that of others so it may be something some players may like, a different crafting system, a different setting, a different story, etc.

            3) True and quite plausible.

            4) Tbh the game has already lost any initial appeal it would have. It should have been released 4 years ago while it was still new. Now the engine is old, the graphics are dated (and graphics are always the first important impression).

            I’m in Europe, but I have no idea about JRPG or anime acceptance here. I only know what I like.

    2. They’re all mobile games, most of them never came out int the West. PSO2 is nowhere in that list because it’s not mobile.

      Those numbers are probably only for the Japanese market too.

  3. game was fine until they changed the buddies n character bonuses, then it was a matter of time till I realized it’s impossible to place decently without limit smashed characters. They shot that game in the foot.

  4. I started not liking Sonic Runners after the big update that changed everything. Wasn’t so crazy about it before that either. However, I’m surprised seeing Sega considering it as a failure. I though they were pleased with the rather high number of downloads and the profits it made. Oh well…

  5. I consider it a failure, but not because of its SALES. I’m shocked that SEGA would outright say that, but I am even more shocked that it’s due to its sales. I thought it was doing pretty well, financially.

  6. Another way to look at this is that the report seems to be a snapshot on how Sega’s mobile games are currently doing financially. Note also that sales are shown as a monthly sum as opposed to an overall sum. It’s entirely possible that Sonic Runners started out as a “Success” when it was under the “New Titles” column and then eventually petered out and worked its way to the “Failure” row after it had been an “Existing Title” for a while. In other words, based on the above, it is possible that Sonic Runners was still overall successful and just not raking in the Monopoly paper it used to.

    Also of note is that Sonic is said to be overall less popular in his home country, so what we see in the West may not be indicative of a game’s success in Japan.

  7. ahh that’s kinda sad..
    maybe its faliur because of the amount of demands or claims from the glitches or other stuff going bad on the game itself?

    and… hey.. where is Sonic Dash 2? or is becasue its not as expensive as Sonic Runners? or because its another developer?

  8. Can’t say I’m surprised. I’m just glad people are being smart consumers and knowing better than to spend money on it.

    Speaking of, anyone else notice Runners is STILL missing from the Play Store?

  9. Sega, if you didn’t mess with Runners so much after the world wide release, then you wouldn’t think it’s a failure. You brutality destroyed a pretty good game. Why did you do this? I can’t fathom a good reason.

  10. Doesn’t the big gap between £180,000 and £300,000 kinda answer your question? Or do you think something has to only make about £100 to be considered a failure?

    1. Your thinking in too small terms.

      Consider how these figures are for 1 year, now factor in the average amount it was making per month. You now have an approximate gross profit.

      The fact that Sega says this figure is a failure is troubling because most mobile games won’t ever see those figures and some would consider them a huge success.

      It’s not the fact the gap is 120,000 between failure and success. It’s the fact that Sega that a gross profit of around £180,000 per month is considered a financial failure.

      Runners should not be a million development title. It should be in the thousands.

      1. Most of a game’s budget is in marketing. Game of War, that shitty mobile game with Kate Upton advertising it, cost $40 million in ads alone (source: http://www.dorkly.com/post/71697/5-insane-things-about-the-mobile-game-starring-kate-upton). Of course Sonic Runners doesn’t have that marketing cost, but considering a 9-month development cycle, voice acting (even if basic), original soundtrack, server and update maintenances, some basic marketing etc, it’s easily over the $1 million mark.

  11. Oh gee, I wonder why it failed?

    In all seriousness, though, that’s no solid indicator that SEGA actually thought the game was rubbish. This is, after all, the industry that can sell millions and millions of copies of games (games they knobbled with in-game DLC and pre-order garbage) and STILL say they underperformed. Pouring money that isn’t needed into things no-one asked for, all for the hype factor. So, to me at least, it means little (if anything at all).

  12. Not surprised really, I can’t remember when sonic had a top selling game. Sega just better do justice to Sonic soon or there going to be looking for another mascot.

  13. Maybe if this game was a game sold at a fair price with no always online requirement, perfected gameplay, and no gambling with real money, then maybe the game would have done a lot better.

  14. I didn’t play the game really so I’m definitely not going to pretend to forget what happened. Most people WERE praising this game. It was considered a good Sonic game and sad to be superior to an actual Sonic game. That DID happen so hopefully no one pretends that it was always a bad Sonic game just because some people never liked it to begin with. Different opinions exist so yes some disliked it from the start.

    I heard of some updates that bothered people and I’m sure this is what leads people to now dislike the games.

    As for it beinbr a failure, maybe because it didn’t make as much as their goal was set by the time it was set for.

  15. I only cared about this game because of the characters anyway, but getting them is just too much. I lucked out and got Classic Sonic, but I want Shadow, Tikal and the whole slew of characters. There is way too much to do, and the thing is always crashing on me anyway. I think it does that because I had to get the game through an apk file, as it appears that it still isn’t back in any marketplace for Android in the U.S. I thought a standard apk would work, but it crashed when I tried to use my hard earned red rings, so I sought out a modded apk with unlimited red rings and it STILL crashes. The music is phenomenal, the gameplay is actually kinda fun, and the character roster charged up my nostalgia tenfold, but it is just too much for me to bother with right now. Top it off with the fact that it heats up my phone and has my data charges through the roof on account of how many times I’ve redownloaded the stuff from the initial startup, I’m just going to give this one a pass until they tweak it or something.

  16. I took Runners off my phone literally just because of how impossible it was to get any of the characters. I only got excited about this game because of the character roster and the weird story bits like the Metal Eggman thing. And the fact that it confirmed all the characters can play similarly to Sonic so they have no fucking excuse to not try to make them work again.

  17. Personally, I believe that the game is stalling because of the glitches and bugs associated with the app recently. It has been crashing a lot and being pulled off app stores – so I imagine this contributed to stalling…. Also, it is important to note that Sonic Runners can easily swing out of the stall area with introduction of new playable characters which influence many players to spin the premium roulette wheel many times for a price… Granted, the character Sticks just came out – but there definitely is not enough “hype” in countries such as Japan (for obvious reasons) to attempt to get the character. Next big character releases I bet it will shift

  18. Unsurprised that sales are stalling– having a reputation for severe technical issues, embarrassing typos, and updates that make the game worse tends to do that.

    But I’m surprised that $30 mil is considered a failure. I know that video games have this weird thing where they can be considered failures because they failed to meet projections, even if they managed to break even. But this is weird. My only explanation is that this actually refers to sales growth, and that Runners, due to having stalling sales, is simply failing to expand its audience beyond the current playerbase.

  19. To say that SEGA needs to set their priorities straight is like saying the Earth should revolve around the sun at least once every year. Hopefully this means some proactive action towards Runners, whether that mean FIX IT so that it is actually fun to play, or just scrap it all together and say “Well, that’s the last time WE try to handle a mobile Sonic game by ourselves”. Seriously, I’d rather just have someone more reliable like Hardlight just come in and fix the mess in this game, if that’s even an option.

  20. When Nintendo releases their first Super Mario Mobile Title, then people will shift from SEGA to Nintendo, gladly!

  21. Maybe if they also released it on the 3DS, like Pokemon Shuffle, this wouldn’t have happened. It’s like they don’t care about Nintendo systems or use them as scapegoats for their own fuckups.

    Sonic Runners is a failure = Sonic 2015 is a failure. I guess we’re coming to that conclusion.

    Maybe the Sonic franchise could benefit from a brand new video game company, whose interest in the franchise is akin to Ian Flynn’s (major Sonic fan who incorportants many concept from several different Sonic games and mediums, but is only allowed to do so much under Archie’s rules, while SEGA still maintains the rights to Sonic). Naka may have abandoned Sonic, but Sonic could use a home at Prope (or a whole new company), same with NiGHTS, Samba de Amigo, Ristar, and Billy Hatcher. SEGA doesn’t care about those anymore, so let a more compotent company (with barely any IPs, but a fan’s love for the series) care. And no, Nintendo would not be a good choice, given their higher priority IPs. Sonic would get lost in the IP jungle with Earthbound, F-Zero, Ice Climber, and For the Frog the Bell Tolls (remember that game?). Sonic would be overshadowed by Mario, LOZ, Pokemon, Kirby, and Animal Crossing, just like Crash Bandicoot under Activision (Guitar Hero and COD).

  22. Sooo…Chain Chronicle is a success, high on the earnings chart, but they are shutting down the international version and Gumi has been taken off the English localization and distribution. That’s confusing. Tho I guess this list is based on Japanese sales and success, maybe Chain Chronicle was suffering elsewhere.

  23. Two things:
    1. Sonic is always a failure in Japan, so is this an international ranking or is it just Japanese, beacuse if it’s the latter, that would explain a lot.
    2. That, and the game does suck. I’m a huge Sonic fan and I can’t bring myself to touch the game because it’s just SLOW. DOG SLOW. If a game is a pain to even boot up, who’s gonna play it?

  24. My only complaint about this game is the roulette, I despise it so much! I only have Amy, Vector, and Silver unlocked! I hate playing that stupid thing and wasting my red rings!

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