Opinion

Face Off: Is it good or bad for Sonic: Lost World to be Nintendo exclusive?

[Editor’s note: Welcome to yet another lovely new SEGA Nerds feature! In the Face Off, the gloves come off, and we battle it out over controversial or long-debated topics. A word of caution, things may get testy, and some feelings will probably be hurt along the way. Hey, it’s the Internet, it’s serious business, right? Once it’s all said and done, you get a say in it all by voting in the poll at the bottom of the article. Also, be sure to voice your opinion on who you think won the debate in the comments!]

Round 1: FIGHT

Chris: Despite having been bitter enemies for so many years, Sonic and Mario go great together, and SEGA’s decision to make Sonic: Lost World a Nintendo exclusive is a great move.

Why, you ask? Because Nintendo desperately needs some solid Wii U support from third-party companies, which appears to be drying up faster than in any generation before it. The Wii U’s dearth of games actually is beneficial to SEGA in this instance because when Lost World is released, it will have much less competition on its platform compared to if it was released on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.

Moreover, SEGA and Nintendo’s strategic partnership means they’re working together and can select a beneficial release date for Lost World so it won’t have to directly compete against a Nintendo first-party title. In truth, Nintendo has every bit of desire for Lost World to sell great as SEGA does. That’s because it will show other third-party companies that non-Nintendo games can sell well on the Wii U.

James, top that!

lost-world-boxart
Look how awesome Sonic looks on the Wii U cover!

James: I hear you, Chris, but I can’t help wonder if all those nights recording the Nerdcast and the few-too-many Yeunglings have started to addle your brain. After all, this is SEGA Nerds – not Nintendorks.com. And while you’ve made quite a compelling argument, it seems as if these points would benefit Nintendo far more than they benefit SEGA, and SEGA’s fans for that matter.

Let’s look at some numbers for a moment (and you know where I’m going with this).

The Wii U has an estimated install base of 3.45 million units (as of March 2013). PlayStation 3 has an estimated install base of… are you ready? 77 million. The Xbox 360 has an estimated install base of a rather coincidental 77 million. Take a moment to let that sink in.

Now I’m not an accountant, or a CFO, or anything, and I’m aware that Nintendo assuredly doled out some big beans to secure exclusivity of Sonic from SEGA, but it seems almost impossible to me that whatever Nintendo offered could be more lucrative than the potential sales from an absolutely astounding 154 million customers worldwide.

By denying themselves sales from the enormous pool of PS3 and 360 gamers SEGA is shooting themselves in their speedy, red-shod foot.

Round 2

Chris: You make a very compelling argument, my friend. It’s very true there is a lot of Xbox 360s and PlayStation 3s out in the wild, especially compared to the 4-5 million Wii Us.

However, I think you’re forgetting the fact that Sonic games have been selling tremendously well on the Wii during an era when third parties have been terrified of releasing exclusive games on the platform. In fact, I’d wager to argue the Wii has become Sonic’s home away from home, and I think the Wii U could be a perfect next step. To prove my point, Sonic and the Secret Rings sold more than 2.5 million copies,  Sonic and the Black Knight sold nearly 1 million copies and we all know the Mario and Sonic games have been crazy popular. Point being, Nintendo owners love them some Sonic the Hedgehog.

Moreover, take a look at the art style of Lost World  and the Deadly Six. Sonic Team is taking a much more kid-friendly approach to the game to appeal to a younger audience, which fits perfectly on the Wii U. The rough and tumble kids who have grown up playing on the Xbox 360 and PS3 are only interested in the next Call of Duty game so they can shoot their friends in the face. You really think they’re interested in the cute and cuddly Sonic and Tails? It’s a sad state of affairs, but I think there are two different kind of gamers nowadays, and many of them just aren’t interested in “kid friendly” games anymore.

Sonic-Lost-World-Enemies
Chris thinks the Deadly Six will fit perfectly on the kid-friendly Wii U.

James: Okay, okay, Sonic’s sold well on the Wii and indeed the Gamecube before it. Searching through the PS3 and 360 Sonic games on VGchartz.com illustrates that the numbers across the board are about the same as on Wii, but let’s put aside sales charts.

The exclusivity of Sonic doesn’t stop with the Wii U, it extends to the portable realm as well! As a proud owner of a Playstation Vita, I’m seriously disappointed that Lost World will not be beaming off that beautiful OLED screen. I understand that Sonic games have historically performed wonderfully on Nintendo’s handhelds and have sold less quickly for the PSP and Vita.

But the very same arguments you wrote promoting Sonic’s landing on the Wii U can be logically extended to the Vita. Sony’s handheld is an exceptionally strong system with an innovative premise that has yet to be fully exploited by third party developers. SEGA would do well to release Lost World on the Vita. The game’s interesting premise and innovative take on the classic Sonic formula would find a hungry audience craving high quality, HD titles among a library of titles that can be rightfully classified as sparse. Doesn’t the Vita also deserve an incredible Sonic the Hedgehog game?

I’m afraid that we may have reached a classic stalemate, with the winners and losers of this debate falling in line with the “Haves” and the “Have-nots.” Here, the “Haves” are those with Wii U and 3DS, and the “Have-nots” being those of us who chose PS3, 360, or Vita. Unfortunately, we all can’t win, unless gamers are willing to buy every console on the market. Time will tell if Sonic can convince the hold-outs that the Wii U is the future of gaming. Any way you slice it, it looks like certain Sonic fans are in for a long, slow wait.

Last Word

sonic_allstars_race_vita
James wants to see Lost World hit the Vita, like a previous Sonic game.

 Chris: As a Vita owner myself, I certainly feel your pain. We need more quality games, and Lost World would be a welcomed sight on Sony’s handheld, which has become the video game industry’s red-headed stepchild. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed looks great on that beautiful screen, and I’m sure Lost World would look equally amazing, if not better.

With that said, though, there’s another SEGA game that I want to see on the Vita before Lost World ever lands there, and that’s Phantasy Star Online 2. So until SEGA brings that over, I don’t want to see another game grace the Vita.

In the end, it’s a risky move by SEGA to devote so much to the Wii U, but it could pay off big. For those who say SEGA isn’t taking chances anymore, look no further than this agreement with Nintendo. If they prove successful with Lost World and the other two Nintendo exclusive titles, they’ll look ingenius. However, if they fail, everyone will scream “I told ya so,” probably including you, James. 😉

Final Verdict!

Was Chris or James correct?

[poll id=”5″]

[Editor’s note: James Tocchio co-wrote this article]

Chris Powell

Chris is the editor-in-chief at SEGA Nerds and Mega Visions Magazine. Over the years, he's written for publications like Joystiq, PSP Fanboy, RETRO magazine, among others. Oh yeah, he's also been a diehard SEGA Nerd his entire life.

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