SEGA Promises Improvement for Sonic Series

July 31, 2009 Written by Dan Massi


Sonic the Hedgehog hasn’t been really made a splash in the videogame market since his the release of Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast. Despite being such a popular gaming icon, Sega’s blue-tinged hero has been consistently stumbling in terms of sales and quality, and SEGA realizes that.

Last November, Sonic Unleashed was “unleashed” upon the world. The game was hyped to be the return of Sonic’s past glory, but once again, he slipped on his shoe laces, and the game scored a lousy [shal]Metacritic[/shal]score of 54. IndustryGamers recently sat down with Sega of America’s VP of Marketing, Sean Ratcliffe, and asked him about the quality issues with recent Sonic titles.

“The quality is something that will be fixed over time. It’s not something where you wake up one morning and say, ‘You know what, we’re going to improve our quality on this franchise,’ and it magically happens. A lot of hard work goes into striving for quality. Interestingly, I think Sonic Unleashed was very well received by the kids. There was some talk about the werehog aspect, the slower pacing and more combat-oriented gameplay, but when we go out and test this stuff and sit down with the consumers, kids actually like that.”

“I think older, die-hard Sega fans who grew up with the franchise and the first Sonic the Hedgehog associate Sonic more with 2-D side-scrolling super fast, and they liked the daytime gameplay, but when it came to the slower paced gameplay they were fairly critical of that, and that’s fine – they have their opinions.”

Sonic Unleashed scored an average score of 54 on PS3. Compared to 60 on Xbox 360, and 66 on Wii.

Sonic Unleashed scored an average of 54 on PS3, compared to 60 on Xbox 360, and 66 on Wii.

“The point in terms of quality is that we’re constantly trying to improve the quality. When we were in Tokyo recently there was talk about several Sega properties and how we can best make sure we’re constantly pushing that quality bar on Sonic.”

“Yes, it’s always a challenge to raise that quality bar, but our competitors are trying to put the best product out there and we’re no different. Given that it takes a couple of years to make some of these games, it’s not surprising that we’re not going to see the effort that’s being put in over the past 12 months until another 6-12 months.”

When spoken about revisiting the classic gameplay for Sonic the Hedgehog, Ratcliffe did say that the team is always looking at that as well.

“The answer is yes; we’re constantly looking at our classic IP, be it Sonic or anything else. And now we have different avenues open to us to deliver that. On iPhone, for example, we launched the original Sonic and consumers loved that.”

“So that’s a big part of our strategy, in terms of taking classic IP and making it available digitally, rather than spend a huge amount of money trying to re-imagine that IP on 360 and PS3; there’s a lot more financial risk attached to that.”

So, can we expect the next Sonic game not to be lackluster? Will there finally be improvement to the series? Post what you would like SEGA to do in the comment section below.