Once upon a time, any game that featured Sonic The Hedgehog was considered a “must buy” in gamers’ minds. When he burst onto the scene in the 1990s during the reborn console wars, he was a mascot that SEGA could happily hang their hats on and have fun with. For a time, they had plenty of fun making games with Sonic and his pool of allies. But as SEGA went third-party, the quality of his titles started to drop heavily, with only the occasional title being good. Fast forward to 2023, and Sonic Superstars was meant to be a “return to form” while also being rather modern.
By that, we mean the game was designed to look and play like the 2D-style games of the Sega Genesis and beyond but have a modern 3D look. The gameplay was meant to “feel fast,” but you could also have fun with your friends by playing the game in co-op mode, including having a four-person co-op run in the campaign or doing multiplayer battles! While there was some backlash to the title, specifically over SEGA stating that 2D visuals “wouldn’t be coming back,” there was hope that the game could do well and keep the momentum Sonic had built up with his previous 3D title.
However, according to one inside, SEGA revealed that Sonic Superstars didn’t do well in sales:
There’s plenty to unpack here, but one of the key ones is that despite the “sluggish” sales, it’s not a game that was bashed by fans or critics overall. If you go to Metacritic, you’ll see that reviewers game the title a 73 on the critics’ side and an 88 on the gamer’s side! That’s hardly a bad title. However, many reviews did point out that while the game was “fun,” it didn’t stand out in many ways that likely would’ve helped sales.
Then, there’s the Mario issue. As the tweet above noted, SEGA launched their title just DAYS before Nintendo dropped what would be their second Game of the Year contender, a title that would sell 12 million units in less than three months. Based on what we’re hearing from this insider, SEGA’s title might not have even crossed one million units sold.
SEGA was even cheeky about things after the “dual launch,” stating that they still want Sonic to be above Mario in the gaming world, but that backfired on them, now, didn’t it?
While it’s impossible to say that the closeness of the launch was the only factor in the game’s “weak” sales, it definitely didn’t help, and many will now wonder if SEGA will take another swing at a 2D-style title anytime soon.