Disclaimer: The views in this piece may not reflect the views of TSS or other writers on the staff team. The intention of The Spin is to promote debate and discussion of an issue or something that’s happening in the fandom or the world of Sonic.
On October 17th 2017, Sega opened it’s own online shop which had many collectors of Sega merch screaming with delight, even prior to the opening to the opening of SonicMerchandise.Com, fans had been begging Sega to have a store which would be full of exclusive or hard to find merchandise.
Whilst Sonic Merchandise attempted to do this, the selection was quite poor and lacked exclusive items other than very cheaply made T-Shirts which many fans didn’t take to.
But as was shown several times, anytime the store got an item which previously fans would have had to import, such as the Good Smile Company Nendoroid, or the original Sonic Monopoly Game, the products would sell out very quickly.
It was clear that there was a demand for an easy to use, easy to access store. Especially for those in Europe who for years have struggled to get any Sonic or Sega merchandise outside of generic objects.
A year after Sonic Merchandise closed down, we finally got our wish, Sega opened such a store, fans finally had an outlet for exclusive and limited items, provided you lived in the Americas or Australia… There was and still is one rather large omission from the list of countries that the store will ship to… The second largest gaming market in the world… Europe.
When the store launched, fans in the EU were heartbroken to learn that the store would not ship to their homes. Not a single item on the store had a single country in the European Union as a place that the store was willing to ship to.
But hope wasn’t lost, because not even an hour after the store opened, Sega’s former licensing guy Alex Solverson stated this…
For many fans, this wasn’t too hard to believe, for the last few years, fans who fall under Sega Europes care have often joked and sometimes raged at how slow Sega was to announce plans for the EU, even on big game releases. Several Yakuza titles in recent years have taken 24 hours for Sega Europe to confirm it would see a release in Europe, amazingly Sonic Mania was another title which saw a slow confirmation.
If you go back further, some of the 3DS classic titles took months for confirmation, and don’t forget the days when Anarchy Reigns took months to release in the EU after it’s release in both the US and Japan, despite the fact it was fully localised!
For EU fans, this delay to buy from the store wasn’t too much of a surprise.
So how come 9 months on, we’re still waiting?
The Question Has Not Gone Away…
The Sega store has seen hundreds of items across a variety of Sega franchises be put up for sale in those 9 months, some of which have been exclusive and limited in number, fans living in the EU have watched with envy as these items have since sold out with no explanation as to why the EU was denied access to said items.
This delay to allow EU fans delivery has not gone unnoticed. If you go onto twitter and search for anything along the following lines “Sega Store EU” or “Sega Store UK”, you can find lots of people asking the same question and making the same wish.
Quite often, if a company is quiet enough, fans stop asking or making these requests… But in this instance, it hasn’t, months on people are still asking and if anything, more people are asking the question.
Some fans have even taken some very drastic measures, looking into hiring middle men just so they can order things.
This is an extremely expensive approach, as someone who has had to do this myself, often you can end up paying double or triple the price for an item by hiring a middle man service.
It’s not just limited to twitter either, even on the official Sonic Livestreams, every single time the licensing section begins, if you filter out all the jokes and “T For Toaster” comments, the number one question people have is regarding shipping from the Sega Store to the EU.
Even during the standard QA sessions, it’s one of the most requested things fans ask behind Unleashed for PC.
So if so many fans have been asking for so long, what has Sega’s response been to the EU fans?
Sega has been, completely silent on this, despite obvious fan demand and pleading for the store to provide shipping to the EU, Sega have yet to provide a date or even anything solid other than the following standard PR answers.
“We are looking into it.”
For 9 months, this has been the response, and for many, this response is wearing very thin, it’s typically the go to reply for companies these days who don’t want to answer, just see how Sony have handled that Fortnight account lock (NSFW) and you’ll see what I mean.
Now despite the go to response there has been hints from Sega of America that there should be shipping to the EU, and that blame for the delay rests with Sega Europe, Alex Solverson has stated on the official Sonic Livestream that Sega Europe is dealing with the issue of shipping to the EU.
This live-stream was on April 5th, 3 months ago. The line in question happens at around the 27min mark, Aaron has made similar comments as well.
Which makes the following even more baffling. Sega Europe often retweet news items from the Sonic the Hedgehog twitter account, on a few occasions they have re-tweeted tweets about items on the Sega store, despite the fact their own fanbase which they represent cannot order said items.
Yet when fans point this out, the re-tweet is either removed, or no comment is given.
Yet the Toaster Did Offer ‘Limited’ EU Shipping?
So that toaster, originally only for people in the Americas and Australia, the EU was given the cold shoulder.
During the last 2 weeks of the campaign to get 1000 orders for production, the Toaster was stuck at around 650, then suddenly a very limited number of EU countries were offered the chance to order.
Now for some EU fans, this news didn’t go down to well, on the Sonic the Hedgehog Collectors Group, a few fans in the EU were angry that their nation was excluded from the list of selected EU nations eligible to order, others felt that Sega were now using them to please the US Fans since at the time it looked like the toaster would not get enough orders to go into production.
But that said, there was a noticeable increase in orders by around 200 units in that first week, not bad for a limited olive branch which got very little publicity.
Yet despite this being a white goods electrical item, you still cannot order anything as simple as a poster if you live in Europe.
So Many Missed ‘Exclusives’
During the lifetime of the store, there have been some noticeable exclusive items, and even entire collections which have now sold out. EU fans have missed out on the following items.
- Tails 25th Anniversary Collection.
- Knuckles 25th Anniversary Collection.
- Sonic Mania Adventures Merchandise.
- The Sanic Collection (If that’s your thing).
- The Colourless Collection
- The Patchwork Collection
- Yakuza T-Shirt.
- Streets of Rage Collection
- Multiple Tomy Plushies.
- Plus many other one off items.
By my estimation, this is over $1000 worth of items which are now gone from the store which EU fans were never able to order.
This Is Going To Affect Other Fandoms…
I’ve mainly focused on Sonic, but here’s the thing, the Sega Store has other Sega franchises on it, and there’s even been exclusive ranges on there which have been really cool. Furthermore, Sega have hinted that there will be a Shenmue collection added when the Remasters come out… including a replica Ryo Hazuki Jacket (this was confirmed on a Sonic Livestream).
Yet just imagine the day when the Shenmue Dojo posts news about the merch collection, and Shenmue fans in the EU discover that they cannot order anything.
Team Sonic Racing is in development by a UK studio, it’s going to be a very strange experience when the inevitable merch line launches and they can’t even buy merch for their own game.
So Why Can’t EU Order?
Yeah? Whats going on?
Much smaller companies like Limited Run Games and Fangamer can offer worldwide shipping on their products without any problems, what’s the problem here?
Sega has been looking into this and denying the EU shipping for 9 months, even longer if you include the period before the store launched.
If the people looking into this are still coming up empty, maybe someone else needs to look into it? Because right now being an EU Sega fan isn’t much fun.
Two weeks ago, I was on vacation in the US and I met a friend of mine who is also a Sonic collector, he had kindly ordered some items from the store asked me ‘what the merch scene was like in the UK for Sonic these days?’
Well… Come back to my next instalment of ‘The Spin’ and I’ll tell you all about it!