SEGA says quality beats discounts with Frontiers.
It might surprise you to hear that Sonic Frontier’s Holiday 2022 release window wasn’t the original plan. Rather, SEGA delayed the game for quality reasons, as they lay out in their December 14 Investor Q&A:
Originally it was planned to be released on this year, the 30th anniversary of Sonic, but we have postponed the release for a year in order to further brush up the quality. Not only for this title, but during the development phase, we have been steadily conducting analysis to improve the quality of the title before release, such as introducing game testing based on external evaluations, and I have a feeling that it will become a good game and have high expectations for it.Dec. 14 2021 SEGASammy Investor Q&A (English), page 1
Considering the controversies surrounding the release of Sonic ’06, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, and even the recent Sonic Colors: Ultimate, SEGA has not shown a consistent willingness to delay games for quality control in the past. Either this philosophy is shifting, or Sonic Frontiers is being treated as a truly pivotal release. In response to a question on repeat sales, SEGA is looking to make Frontiers a game worthy of its value, rather than launching it at a discounted price like many recent Sonic games:
For the pricing strategy, we feel that we are at a point where we need to rethink. For example, for the new Sonic game, as we are focusing on quality and spending certain amount of money on development, we think it is important to maintain the price by maintaining the value of the IP at high level, rather than simply lowering the price at early stage to increase the number of unit sales.Page 3
Sonic was an important topic throughout the Q&A, with another investor asking about SEGA’s monetization strategy for the franchise. SEGA noted that the games remain at the forefront, with the movie bridging the gap between generations and bringing millions of people to the Sonic IP. Sonic merchandise licensing continues strong in North America and Europe, but has proven difficult in Japan. SEGA expects to continue pushing other franchises like Persona and Project Sekai (the new Hatsune Miku mobile game), but neither are expected to reach an audience at the scale of the Sonic franchise. Monkey Ball’s recent success also puts it under consideration for merchandising opportunities.
Here are some other non-Sonic highlights from the Q&A:
- SEGA continues to look into what they can do with NFTs and Play-to-Earn models. They know people hate it, but they still want to figure out what permutation of it people (and Japanese regulators) will be willing to accept.
- SEGA is looking to acquire further IPs and studios as is reasonable, and would rather look to build partnerships with others in regard to new technologies (with NFTs being the listed example) than to tackle new technology on their own.
- When asked to define Metaverse, SEGA believes it to be some form of digital community for players to gather, usually needing an audience larger than 10,000 players. They note that Phantasy Star Online 2 has some of those elements, but they see quality game development as a priority over strictly building a metaverse experience.
- Creative Assembly is still working on a shooter, but they can’t say much more than that.