SEGA Want Sonic to be as Popular as Hello Kitty

Sonic the Hedgehog may be a well-known gaming character, but SEGA want his popularity to reach beyond gamers. How do they plan on doing that? With more licensing and merchandise. SEGA’s Jurgen Post, COO of Sega Europe, hopes that one day Sonic will be as iconic as Sanrio’s Hello Kitty.

“Sonic is a well-known character, but we’ve got a lot of room to grow in merchandising,” he told MCV.

“We dream of Hello Kitty. We’re still far off from that but we can see that our profits are growing year on year in the US and Europe [on merchandising].

“We’ve got a licensing team on the ground in the UK who are focusing on that and that team will expand. We’ve got a team in the US and which will also expand. We used to run it all out of Sega of Japan, but having people on the ground is making a big difference.

“We will always do the computer game but the merchandising is a very important aspect to Sonic.”

I guess we now know why this is happening.

Source: MCV UK

RUMOUR: Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Evidence Builds Up

Following the leaked temporary box art (shown above) for Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Nintendo Wii that hit the net last week, more evidence of the game’s existence has appeared in two reports. The first one from French website SEGA-Mag.com on April 14th claims that Spanish voice actor Fabio Tassone who worked on Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games has the new game listed on his online resume, but the only problem is that it’s not there, so if the report is true, then Tassone has since removed it.

The second report is from the print edition of UK trade magazine MCV, which Sonic Wrecks founder ArchangelUK says contains an article about Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games entitled “Will this be the biggest video game of 2012?”. In AAUK’s news story at Sonic Wrecks he reports that MCV’s article features an higher quality version of the logo than the one seen in the temporary box art, which could mean that assets for the game have already been given to some press out there.

MCV also claims to know this new Mario & Sonic game’s current release schedule:

“MCV understands the game could arrive as early as this Christmas.”

The last two games in the series have both released in the holiday season (apart from the DS version of the first game), so it’s kind of expected that this new game would follow suit, but it’s very odd for a major trade magazine like MCV to be speaking about an unannounced game so openly like this. It’s also worth noting that this article is currently nowhere to be seen on MCV’s website. Could SEGA be planning to reveal Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games soon?

Sources: SEGA Mag and Sonic Wrecks

SEGA Removing “Poor” and “Average” Sonic Titles From Retail

Who saw this one coming?

In an unprecedented move that will surely leave a few people scratching their heads, SEGA told MCV today that they will no longer be selling Sonic games that receive “poor or average” Metacritic scores at retail.  So… basically… every game released in the last decade?  *rimshot*

I wish that were me making a joke, but it legitimately looks like every Sonic game we’ve seen recently will be vanishing from store shelves.  SEGA’s SVP of EMEA Jurgen Post said the following:

We have to do this and increase the value of the brand. This will be very important when more big Sonic releases arrive in the future.

We could make a lot of money on back-catalogue Sonic titles, but let’s keep the number of Sonic games available under control. Otherwise you can have cannibalisation. If there are ten Sonic games on the shelves, with people seeing Sonic Rush DS or Sonic Rush Adventure, this may not help our overall strategy.

Out of all the crap released in Sonic’s recent memory, the Rush games have been critical highlights and fan favorites.  The Metacritic average for Sonic Rush is 82.  Last time I checked, 82 is a damn fine score.  Why single these two games out?  There are way worse Sonic games to make examples of.  If Sonic Rush is cited as “average,” it looks like everything will be disappearing.

With this news, what does that mean for recent critical bombs, like Sonic Adventure for XBLA and PSN?  Will they be going away soon as well?  We will keep tabs on this situation as it moves forward.

For now, SEGA’s plan is to appeal to the core fanbase from the 90s and the young crowd with their upcoming holiday release schedule while curtailing the sheer amount of Sonic games available.

“Colours will play well to our younger Sonic fanbase, but should also appeal to the older fans once they realise there are no unwanted surprises,” added brand director David Corless.

“It’s the first console title for a while that’s clearly influenced by Sonic’s platform past but also keeps the series moving forward with new ideas and innovations that complement that legacy. Sonic 4 on the other hand is old school and primarily for those core fans who remember the originals. But there are also a number of younger gamers who’ve recently discovered the classics on the iPhone or XBLA, PSN and WiiWare so it’ll appeal to them as well.”

So, they’re making games targeted at specific audiences that should appeal to both audiences.  Yeah.

Original Story: MCV

EDIT: The guys at NeoGAF have made a list of the games that will remain on store shelves.  Keep in mind that this is speculation at the moment:

OK, just looking through metacritic, these games are being pulled (current gen only):
Sonic the Hedgehog 2006
Sonic Unleashed
Sonic and the Black Knight
Sonic Classic Collection DS
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games
Sonic and the Secret Rings
Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity
Sonic Rivals
Sonic Rivals 2

and these are staying:
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
Sonic Rush
Sonic Rush Adventure
Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection

Thread here.

New Brand Director Respects Sonic’s Brand Heritage

SEGA’s new Brand Director for the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise David Corless has spoken out to MCV about his visions for the franchise, current marketing strategies and pleasing Sonic fans, new and old. With the 3 titles on the way in the next couple of months, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1, Sonic Free Riders and Sonic Colours, Corless feels that Sonic Team has performed well.

“Sonic Team has done an amazing job,” says Sonic’s new brand director David Corless, who took the role this summer. “They have gone back to the original games for inspiration and come back with three games that, so far, we’ve only had positive feedback on.”

Corless goes on to speak about SEGA’s strategy of appealing to the core Sonic fans, while also trying to attract the mainstream audience, something we’ve heard Sonic Team’s Takashi Iizuka speak about many times before. Corless feels that pleasing the core Sonic fans isn’t too hard, but pleasing both those fans and new ones is a tough job.

“I don’t think Sonic fans are hard to please. There is just a lot of them and they are all hugely passionate and have their own ideas on what the ideal Sonic game should be,” continues Corless.
“The core fans are very vocal and get a lot of attention but we also have a huge, younger fanbase that we need to consider too. So it presents a challenge. It’s hard to please everyone.

Corless wants to assure fans that he and SEGA respect Sonic’s heritage and want to create games that live up to that heritage, while also taking the series forward.

“We want to create games that respect the heritage of the brand whilst also moving it forward.”

Where does our new Brand Director see Sonic in the future?

“Daft Punk put it well – better, faster, stronger,” concludes Corless.

For the full article, head over to MCV.

What do you think of David Corless’s statements? Let us know in the comments.