Sonic the Hedgehog Grows Up: Sega Promises Better Quality

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Steve Anderson
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Sonic the Hedgehog Grows Up: Sega Promises Better Quality

That little blue bundle of speed that's been with the gaming community since the days of the Sega Genesis in the 1990s, Sonic the Hedgehog, has been a lot of things. He's been a gaming icon, he's been a lightning rod for negative comments, and he may well have been one of the biggest reasons Sega doesn't make consoles any more. But Sega's recent announcement should be giving fans a little extra hope.

Sega, in the form of Sega of America's chief operating officer Chris Olson, promised "a greater focus on quality" and work to "bring Sonic to where the gamers are." While that mostly means younger gamers--just look at the surprising success of the Sonic series currently running on Cartoon Network--that also means older gamers who remember Sonic's exclusively side-scrolling adventures. Sega's Haruki Satomi noted that Sonic's less-than-stellar outings did plenty of damage to the Sega brand in general in a July interview with Famitsu.

For its part, Sega isn't necessarily looking at catering to the older gamer just to get the Sonic image polished up, but rather slowing down a bit and putting more polish on releases. This is a strategy that's worked very well for some developers, like Bethesda, currently riding a wave of hype for the upcoming Fallout 4 release, and likewise hurting some companies treating franchise titles as annual releases.

Olson further made the comparison to the early days of mobile gaming, when rushed development was fine as getting product to market was the most important thing. But since audience expectations have increased markedly, there's now a clear value in taking time to develop the best, most polished titles.

Gamers' tastes are fickle, granted, and gamers aren't always the most patient. But just look at the reaction around Fallout 4. If it hadn't been for Fallout: New Vegas, we'd have been waiting almost a decade for new Fallout. While it appears that Fallout 4 would have been worth such a wait, it's a wait that probably would have been unbearable for most gamers. Still, there's a happy medium between releasing rough games just to fill the market and polishing to such a degree you wear away the market's patience with absolutely any rough spots a game might have.

Improving Sonic wouldn't be all that difficult; just make some decent Sonic games and it's improving on much of the low-end releases we've seen from the blue speedster of late. Both new Sonic gamers and those who remember the Genesis era will be grateful for the advance.

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