Welcome to the newest In-Depth article, where I spend an article to give you a case study on a particular Sonic subject, using loads of research based on the SEGA historical record, statistics, and other data. This time, I wanted to spend the last In-Depth article of the year (the next large article of mine will be *deep breath* this year’s Supersonic Year In Review piece) talking about a subject matter that has been commonly used in arguments, such as the Nintendo exclusivity deal that SEGA had with Nintendo a few years ago. The argument is that Sonic games tend to sell well when they’re on Nintendo platforms. Out of curiosity, I decided to see if that’s true. So here goes.
It is worth reminding you that, obviously, Sonic hasn’t always been on Nintendo consoles. One-third of Sonic’s history was back in the days when SEGA was still making consoles and Sonic games were very much exclusive to these consoles only (with occasional exceptions, such as Sonic Pocket Adventure). In fact, Sonic games were so exclusive to SEGA consoles that a few of these games even came with a SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive. Sonic 1 and 2 did this, and the success of the Genesis really helped boost sales. Sonic 1 sold 15,000,000 copies worldwide, and Sonic 2 sold 6,000,000 worldwide. However, we don’t have sales data for every region. Mostly the US. We do know that in the US, Spinball sold a million copies. Sonic 3 sold 1,020,000 copies in the US, and Sonic & Knuckles sold 1,240,000 copies. Sonic CD sold 1,500,000 copies. By the way, if you feel like the 600,000-700,000 game sales that Sonic Lost World and Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric/Shattered Crystal has never happened before, I have news for you. This is not the first time it happened. Sonic 3D Blast sold “700,000+” copies. If these numbers sound familiar, that’s for a reason. Sonic games typically sold for that much in the last 5 years.
Unfortunately, we don’t have any hard sales data for Knuckles Chaotix (other than the fact that the 32x was very unpopular and the game didn’t sell well), nor for the SEGA Saturn games. However, what is perhaps more telling: the Adventure titles, despite the era of SEGA being a hardware producer waning, actually sold more than Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles combined. Sonic Adventure sold 1,200,000 copies, and Sonic Adventure 2/Battle sold 1,732,200 copies (Yes I know that is Wikipedia, but pay attention to my link, because I’m not linking to the article, but source(s) that the Wikipedia article gives). There is no sales data for Sonic Shuffle.
Now we get into the third-party era, where Sonic games begin to be released on Nintendo consoles. So how much do the sales change? Not much. Sonic Advance sold 1,515,000 copies. Sonic Mega Collection, which was on multiple platforms (on the PS2/Xbox it was Sonic Mega Collection+), sold very well. On the Gamecube, it sold 1,453,000 copies. On the Playstation 2 and Xbox? Even more, selling 1,710,000 copies in the US and UK. Sonic Heroes sold 1,730,000 copies. Sonic Rush eventually sold 1,290,000 copies by March 2007. But the sales were worse for other games. Oh, and as for Sonic Riders? This may shock you, but it didn’t even break 600,000 like Sonic Lost World did. In fact, by March 2007, more than a year after Sonic Riders released, it only sold for 560,000 copies! If that wasn’t bad enough, Sonic Rush Adventure did even worse, with just 378,000 copies being sold in Europe and the US!
We then get to the era of the “dark age” of Sonic. However, if you really wanted a big indicator that game sales do not always reflect quality, this would be it. Even as Sonic’s reputation plummeted, his game sales really didn’t sink with it. Shadow The Hedgehog sold 2,060,000 copies on all platforms by March 2007 (it sold 1,590,000 of those copies in North America and Europe by March 2006). So what about Sonic 2006? How well did it sell? 870,000 copies. As for when the 2000s gave way to the 2010s, Sonic sales were as crazy as ever. Sonic Unleashed sold 2,450,000 copies. Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing sold 1,070,000 copies and its sequel sold 1,360,000 copies. Sonic Colors sold 2,180,000 copies, and Sonic Generations sold 1,850,000 copies.
In conclusion, is the argument that Sonic games sell well on Nintendo consoles true? No, it is not. In fact, Sonic game sales have been very consistent, with only a few hiccups. So where do Sonic games sell well? It’s hard to say, because that’s just how consistent the sales are. But if one thing is clear, it’s that Sonic’s fanbase is a lot larger than the internet community that exists. Despite the roller coaster of game quality that Sonic has been dealing with, his games continue to sell 800,000-1,500,000 copies, with few exceptions. I really wasn’t expecting to see these results, but this is why I do these kinds of articles. Because you never know what you may discover. So, while the sales for Sonic games as of late may seem alarming, and understandably so, Sonic has been in this situation before. Time will tell just whether this is a permanent trend or not.