Back in May, I wrote about how Sonic Frontiers miraculously averted the controversial Sonic Cycle by protecting updates dry between its first teaser trailer and its official announcement trailer at The Game Awards final 12 months. 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 Here by To Octavia’s Merry Kirk-Holmes), and Super Sonic making his triumphant return on the Tokyo Game Show, Sega appears assured that will probably 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 certain about Sonic Frontiers that it’s pricing the sport at $60 — or within the case of the Digital Deluxe Edition, $70 — and placing it in direct competitors with God of War: 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 expensive,” however as a result of they’ll’t bear in mind the final time a Sonic recreation value that a lot.
The price ticket 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 in line with the remainder of the sport’s advertising cycle, which reveals that Sega is extra assured in regards to the sequence than it has been in years.
In some methods, Sonic Frontiers‘ aggressive advertising push is a return to the early 2000s. Take the hype cycle round Sonic Adventure 2, the Tenth-anniversary title for the sequence, as an illustration. The recreation was featured on the quilt of a number of magazines, contests had been run for an opportunity to win the sport together with some Sonic Tenth Anniversary merchandise, and a large poster of Shadow the Hedgehog with the caption “Unleashed” draped the Los Angeles Convention Center just like the American flag at E3 2001.
The quantity of gameplay content material Sega packed into Sonic Adventure 2 — story campaigns from the Hero and Dark views, facet missions, and the beloved Chao Garden — was sufficient to offer followers sufficient bang for his or her buck. It was so widespread that when the Dreamcast was put to pasture, Sega ported it over to the Nintendo GameDice below Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, which launched a multiplayer battle mode (therefore the title).
In 2003, Sega went equally laborious with the advertising for Sonic Heroes. It was the primary Sonic recreation to go multi-platform, releasing not solely on the GameDice, however on PS2, Xbox, and PC as nicely in an try and introduce youthful audiences to the Blue Blur. Sega went as far as to dub it the Year of Sonic, releasing Sonic X onto the American airwaves and McDonald’s Happy Meal toys to tie into the sport (despite the fact that 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, stage designs tailor-made to every crew (to not point out the return of Team Chaotix), and graphics that had been an enormous enchancment from the Sonic Adventure video games, Sonic Heroes proved to be commercially profitable.
It appears clear that Sega is likely to be anticipating a repeat of that success with Frontiers … or not less than that it hopes for one.
That’s to not say that large advertising pushes have at all times 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 last product didn’t stay as much as the heavy advertising ensuing from the sequence’ fifteenth anniversary. That was attributable to numerous components, together with crunch points and the event crew being break up in half.
Fast 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. Yes, you learn that appropriately — Hooters. In the top, 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 last product. I nonetheless have the Sonic Forces PS4 controller pores and skin that got here with my GameCease pre-order to show it, and I’ve come to remorse it.
Frontiers is a very completely different story, although. There was radio silence from Sega in regards to the recreation between the teaser trailer on the May 2021 Sonic Central stream and its announcement trailer at The Game Awards seven months later. With a extra cautious method, Sega would watch for 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. Unlike Sonic Forces, Sega appears assured it has a success on its palms right here.
While the sport has gotten some blended buzz (we weren’t certain what to make of it once we performed it at Summer Game Fest), Sega’s advertising marketing campaign is sending a robust message to followers. This isn’t a throwaway installment of the sequence; it’s a giant, necessary one you gained’t need to miss.
It’s not clear if that gamble will repay. At one level, Sega was profitable in releasing mainline Sonic titles through the busy vacation months, however that gamble has not paid off in 20 years. While it did see some stage of success with Heroes, Unleashed, and even Colors, ’06 and Forces fell extraordinarily in need of the guarantees their respective advertising cycles gave.
This 12 months, Sega goes large time in betting on Sonic Frontiers in opposition to Skull and Bones, God of War: Ragnarok, and Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. The final two video games can be gross sales behemoths, so Frontiers goes up in opposition to titans. While Director Morio Kishimoto stated in a latest interview that Frontiers underwent inside playtesting as soon as each three to 4 months all through its improvement till July, and the sport simply gained an award for Best Upcoming Game on the Tokyo Game Show — a primary for the sequence — the sport’s final destiny stays up within the air. Still, don’t depend Sega out of the battle. Its advertising selections could also be daring, however that would sign that Sonic Frontiers is in excellent form.