Sonic the Hedgehog's past five mobile releases have generated $8,726,000 from the past six years, according to Sensor Tower data.
If we include the puzzle RPG Sega Heroes, which features Sonic alongside various other familiar figures from Sega, that number rises to $11,226,000. Focusing on Sonic specific titles is different however, and is worth drawing attention to, as not since the original Sonic Dash on mobile has the blue blur returned its merits financially on the platform.
There's no doubting that Sonic has a passionate fanbase, and one that made its presence known following the debut of Sonic Dash on March 7th, 2013. Developed by Sega Hardlight, the endless runner has gone on to accumulate $10.8 million from a whopping 290.7 million downloads.
An impressive sum. One that in fact has bettered Sonic at the Olympic Games, Sonic Forces, Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom, Sonic Runners, and Sonic: Jump Fever's combined revenue, with the latter of these two titles now inactive. This doesn't take into account Sonic Racing which debuted on Apple Arcade's launch, but as a subscription-only service, the revenue in this case is established between the developer and Apple.
Out of the five most recent free-to-play releases, Sonic Forces has fared best at $5 million in player spending from 46.1 million installs globally. Next up is Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom - $2.4 million from 102.6 million downloads - and Sonic Jump Fever with $600,000 from 28.3 million downloads respectively.
Fourth place goes to Sonic Runners at $526,000 from 9.38 million, before Sonic at the Olympic Games (which launched on May 7th, 2020) rounds out the top five with $200,000 from $3.3 million installs.
This all shows that the conversion rate of downloads to revenue is pretty low for these titles. The truth still remains that it's largely the one per cent that will make up the bulk of player spending on mobile, yet these groups are not coming through for the hedgehog.
While not in the last five launches, Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed shifted $1.7 million from just under 29 million downloads, further confirming the lack of investment from players.
As Sega's beloved mascot sprint towards his 30th anniversary in 2021, these numbers do make you question whether Sonic has the same pull on the platform. On console, no matter the varying quality of games, Sonic games have always sold tremendously well.
So, what's the difference? Would Sonic be better to go back to basics and take on a traditional 2D game designed from the ground up for mobile à la Super Mario Run or Rayman Jungle Run?
Sega Heroes' puzzle RPG quest adventure seemed to be the closest the brand has gone to embracing the traditional mobile structure. $7 million from 4.1 million installs in sixteen months was a great success, yet the ending of its partnership with Demiurge stopped the game in its tracks much earlier than anticipated.
Most bewildering was the absence of a Sonic game launching alongside the Sonic film in February this year, which subsequently raced to over $300 million at the worldwide box office.
Yes, Sonic Forces and Sonic Dash introduced the film version of the hedgehog into their games, but it was nothing to get people truly excited, Couple this with the video-on-demand output - due to Covid-19 - and it's clear that Sega missed a golden opportunity for a tie-in experience.
There's a lot to love about the speed obsession mammal. His lasting appeal has seen him endure some of the harshest days any video game character has faced, yet Sonic always comes back fighting.
Data shows that there is an opportunity on mobile for Sega to create a new, fresh escapade if he can only stick the landing. Only time will tell.