Sonic Frontiers’ daring advertising exhibits that Sega is all in


Again in Could, I wrote about how Sonic Frontiers miraculously prevented the controversial Sonic Cycle by conserving updates dry between its first teaser trailer and its official announcement trailer at The Sport Awards final yr. Now the sport is lower than two months away from launch, and with the reveal of 4 extra trailers, two various rock songs taking us again to 2007 (Vandalize by One OK Rock and I’m Right here by To Octavia’s Merry Kirk-Holmes), and Tremendous Sonic making his triumphant return on the Tokyo Sport Present, Sega appears assured that it will likely be a giant deal for the franchise. Hell, I’m feeling extra assured about this recreation than I ever felt for a few of its predecessors. And that’s saying one thing.

In truth, Sega is so positive about Sonic Frontiers that it’s pricing the sport at $60 — or within the case of the Digital Deluxe Version, $70 — and placing it in direct competitors with God of Conflict: Ragnarok and Pokemon Scarlet and Violet in November. It’s a giant gamble to go all in on, but in addition a sore level for some Sonic followers. Most current-gen AAA video games are priced between $60 and $70 attributable to enhanced graphics, controls, and the engines they run on, however some have balked at Frontiers’ price ticket not solely as a result of it’s “too costly,” however as a result of they will’t bear in mind the final time a Sonic recreation value that a lot.

The value tag deviates from the price of previous Sonic video games, and that’s one other signal that Sega believes Frontiers has the scope of a full-sized Sonic recreation — particularly because it’s the primary open-world recreation in Sonic’s historical past. That’s according to the remainder of the sport’s advertising cycle, which exhibits that Sega is extra assured concerning the collection than it has been in years.

Sonic’s well beyond cool advertising

In some methods, Sonic Frontiers‘ aggressive advertising push is a return to the early 2000s. Take the hype cycle round Sonic Journey 2, the Tenth-anniversary title for the collection, as an example. The sport was featured on the quilt of a number of magazines, contests have been run for an opportunity to win the sport together with some Sonic Tenth Anniversary merchandise, and an enormous poster of Shadow the Hedgehog with the caption “Unleashed” draped the Los Angeles Conference Heart just like the American flag at E3 2001.

The quantity of gameplay content material Sega packed into Sonic Journey 2 — story campaigns from the Hero and Darkish views, facet missions, and the beloved Chao Backyard — was sufficient to provide followers sufficient bang for his or her buck. It was so standard that when the Dreamcast was put to pasture, Sega ported it over to the Nintendo GameCube below Sonic Journey 2: Battle, which launched a multiplayer battle mode (therefore the title).

In 2003, Sega went equally onerous with the advertising for Sonic Heroes. It was the primary Sonic recreation to go multi-platform, releasing not solely on the GameCube, however on PS2, Xbox, and PC as properly in an try to introduce youthful audiences to the Blue Blur. Sega went as far as to dub it the Yr of Sonic, releasing Sonic X onto the American airwaves and McDonald’s Pleased Meal toys to tie into the sport (although these toys got here out a number of months after its launch, oddly sufficient), in addition to airing wacky commercials. With team-based gameplay, 4 storylines, degree designs tailor-made to every group (to not point out the return of Workforce Chaotix), and graphics that have been an enormous enchancment from the Sonic Journey video games, Sonic Heroes proved to be commercially profitable.

It appears clear that Sega may be anticipating a repeat of that success with Frontiers … or at the least that it hopes for one.

Discovering the fitting promoting steadiness

That’s to not say that large advertising pushes have all the time paid off for Sega. Sonic ’06 is an notorious instance. It was developed solely as a launch title for the PS3 and Xbox 360, however the remaining product didn’t dwell as much as the heavy advertising ensuing from the collection’ fifteenth anniversary.  That was attributable to numerous elements, together with crunch points and the event group being cut up in half.

Quick ahead to 2017, and Sega’s advertising technique for Sonic Forces concerned releasing a heavy stream of trailers on YouTube each week and collaborating with Hooters in Japan. Sure, you learn that appropriately — Hooters. Ultimately, the sport was a business failure attributable to a lackluster avatar creator system, sloppy writing (save for Episode Shadow), stiff animation, boring lighting, and some antagonists being falsely marketed as boss fights. It was the one mainline console Sonic recreation to value $40 at launch — a price ticket that maybe foreshadowed a insecurity within the remaining product. I nonetheless have the Sonic Forces PS4 controller pores and skin that got here with my GameStop pre-order to show it, and I’ve come to remorse it.

Promotional skin of Sonic Forces on PS4 controller.
Cristina Alexander/Digital Traits

Frontiers is a totally totally different story, although. There was radio silence from Sega concerning the recreation between the teaser trailer on the Could 2021 Sonic Central stream and its announcement trailer at The Sport Awards seven months later. With a extra cautious strategy, Sega would anticipate a extra coordinated content material blowout with previews on IGN First and a public demo at Gamescom 2022. That was adopted up by the announcement of a full-priced launch and a really aggressive vacation launch date. Not like Sonic Forces, Sega appears assured it has successful on its fingers right here.

Whereas the sport has gotten some blended buzz (we weren’t positive what to make of it once we performed it at Summer season Sport Fest), Sega’s advertising marketing campaign is sending a robust message to followers. This isn’t a throwaway installment of the collection; it’s a giant, necessary one you received’t need to miss. 

It’s not clear if that gamble will repay. At one level, Sega was profitable in releasing mainline Sonic titles throughout the busy vacation months, however that gamble has not paid off in 20 years. Whereas it did see some degree of success with Heroes, Unleashed, and even Colours, ’06 and Forces fell extraordinarily in need of the guarantees their respective advertising cycles gave.

This yr, Sega goes large time in betting on Sonic Frontiers towards Cranium and Bones, God of Conflict: Ragnarok, and Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. The final two video games shall be gross sales behemoths, so Frontiers goes up towards titans. Whereas Director Morio Kishimoto stated in a current interview that Frontiers underwent inner playtesting as soon as each three to 4 months all through its improvement till July, and the sport simply received an award for Finest Upcoming Sport on the Tokyo Sport Present — a primary for the collection — the sport’s final destiny stays up within the air. Nonetheless, don’t rely Sega out of the combat. Its advertising choices could also be daring, however that might sign that Sonic Frontiers is in superb form.

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