Gaming

Sega Bets Everything on Sonic Frontiers

Sonic’s Bold New Adventure

Back in May, I wrote about how Sonic Frontiers managed to break free from the predictable Sonic Cycle. The game kept fans eagerly waiting with minimal updates until its official announcement trailer at The Game Awards last year. Now, as the release date approaches, Sega has unveiled four additional trailers, reintroduced Super Sonic at the Tokyo Game Show, and set an epic soundtrack with alternative rock songs from One OK Rock and To Octavia’s Merry Kirk-Holmes. It’s clear that Sega is brimming with confidence for what could be a groundbreaking entry in the franchise.

Sonic Frontiers’ Price Point

Sega’s faith in Sonic Frontiers is unwavering, evident in its decision to price the game at $60 (or $70 for the Digital Deluxe Edition). This places Sonic Frontiers in direct competition with highly anticipated titles such as God of War: Ragnarok and Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, both slated for release in November. While some Sonic fans have expressed concerns over the higher price tag, it’s important to note that most current-gen AAA games fall within this price range due to enhanced graphics, controls, and game engines. Sega’s decision to deviate from past pricing practices further underscores their belief in the size and scope of Sonic Frontiers as the first open-world game in Sonic’s history.

Sonic’s Marketing Revival

In many ways, Sonic Frontiers’ aggressive marketing strategy harkens back to the early 2000s. Just like the hype surrounding Sonic Adventure 2, the 10th-anniversary title, Sega has pulled out all the stops. Sonic Frontiers has graced the covers of numerous magazines, with contests offering fans a chance to win the game alongside exclusive Sonic 10th Anniversary merchandise. The marketing blitz even included giant posters of Shadow the Hedgehog, adorning the Los Angeles Convention Center like a proud symbol at E3 2001.

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Promotional skin of Sonic Forces on PS4 controller.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Sonic Frontiers’ ambitious content surpasses its predecessors, packing in story campaigns from both Hero and Dark perspectives, engaging side missions, and the beloved Chao Garden. Its popularity led Sega to port Sonic Adventure 2 to the Nintendo GameCube under the title Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, introducing a multiplayer battle mode. Sonic Heroes followed suit in 2003, capturing the attention of younger audiences with a simultaneous release on multiple platforms. The extensive marketing campaign included the Sonic X TV series, McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, and zany commercials. Sonic Heroes proved to be a commercial success, exemplifying Sega’s hopeful anticipation for a similar outcome with Sonic Frontiers.

Striking the Right Advertising Balance

While Sega has had mixed results with past marketing endeavors, Sonic Frontiers represents a fresh start. Sega opted for a more measured approach, generating anticipation through coordinated content releases. Previews on IGN First and a public demo at Gamescom 2022 revealed enough to attract attention, followed by the announcement of a full-priced release and a competitive holiday launch date. Unlike Sonic Forces, Sega exudes confidence in Sonic Frontiers, genuinely believing they have a hit on their hands.

Sega is putting all of its chips on the table with Sonic Frontiers
Cristina Alexander/Digital Trends

Although Sonic Frontiers has received mixed feedback so far, Sega’s marketing campaign sends a clear message to fans: this is not an ordinary installment; it’s an essential one you won’t want to miss. However, it remains to be seen whether Sega’s gamble will pay off. While the company has seen moderate success with holiday releases like Heroes, Unleashed, and Colors, titles like ’06 and Forces fell short of their marketing promises. This year, Sega is going all-in with Sonic Frontiers, pitting it against heavy hitters like Skull and Bones, God of War: Ragnarok, and Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. While these games are sure to dominate sales, don’t underestimate Sega’s resolve. Their bold marketing decisions indicate that Sonic Frontiers is in excellent shape.

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OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

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