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Sonic games won’t suck anymore, Sega promises

Following the poor reception of recent titles like the Wii U's Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, Sega promises fans of the speedy blue hedgehog that they "can look forward to a greater focus on quality."

Chris Olson, Sega Networks' chief operating officer, spoke to Polygon about the reception of some of the company mascot's recent titles. Olson said Sega "wants to bring Sonic to where gamers are." Those gamers are skewing younger, he added, pointing to the popular Cartoon Network TV series upon which the game was based.

He recognized that "there's still a very large-sized audience with old-school Sonic fans who grew up with the Genesis," as well, and in Sega's efforts to satisfy the newer fans, recent titles "didn't hit the mark" with the veterans.

"We have an obligation to the fans of Sonic and the consumer," Olson said. So while the company will continue to "[evaluate] different ways to bring cool experiences" based on Sonic, it will do so with an increased emphasis on combining "cool" with "quality."

Sega CEO Haruki Satomi echoed that dedication in an interview with Famitsu in July. "Sega in the 1990s was known for its brand, but after that, we've lost trust, and we were left with nothing but reputation," he told the magazine. "For this reason, we'd like to win back the customers' trust, and become a brand once again."

Olson, who specifically oversees the Western market's mobile game sector, compared the smartphone market to that of console games when explaining how Sega plans to regain that trust. "The [video game] business is always a conflict of weighing bringing a title to a market and making the yearly plan versus maybe waiting and bringing something else," he told us.

"You can see that on the mobile side of things. In the earlier day of mobile development, there was a tendency to bring things out immediately. Those days are ... gone. Consumer expectations have been raised."

What this means for the Sonic franchise is slowing down the speedster's release schedule. "Video game development is a pretty chaotic thing, and it's important not to rush things," Olson said, "because we want to be sure we're bring out the most polished thing."

But Sega won't necessarily cater to longtime Sonic fans in its attempts to increase quality. "When we look at bringing Sonic to modern-day gamers, we ... obviously want to appeal to as many people as possible but still focus on what it means to be Sonic and a Sonic game," he explained.

"Maybe that might lose some fans along the road, but we're picking up new fans that will hopefully grow with us as Sonic grows."

Correction: Chris Olson is the COO of Sega Networks, its mobile division. A previous version of this article named him as COO of Sega of America.

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