Sega claims the Sonic franchise has surpassed 1.5 billion sales and downloads
But this looks largely thanks to the hugely popular free-to-play mobile titles
Sega has published updated sales of its biggest franchises and claimed that the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise has cleared 1.5 billion units.
This number includes full premium game sales, as well as downloads of the various Sonic free-to-play titles that have been released over the years.
While the franchise sold well at the peak of its powers in the 90s, and continued to have a strong following despite the disappointing commercial and critical reception of some titles in the 2000s, the explosion of the mobile market has taken the Sonic franchise to new heights.
Sonic Frontiers - TGS trailer
Since 2013, Sega has released Sonic Dash, Sonic Runners, Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom and Sonic Runners Adventures on mobile. These endless runner games are free-to-play but feature microtransactions.
Factor in the various sequels, and free-to-play versions of the original Sonic titles, and it becomes clear that much of the 1.51 billion number is made up of free-to-play mobile downloads.
For example, the most popular of the endless runner games, Sonic Dash, has reportedly surpassed 500 million downloads as of 2021, making up over one-third of the franchise’s overall units with one game.
Sonic Forces: Speed Battle, a mobile game from 2017, reportedly passed 94 million downloads as of April 2022.
Google‘s Play store also offers some insight into how the games have performed, as it places badges denoting how many times the game has been downloaded on popular titles.
Sonic Dash has a 100 Million + downloads badge while Sonic Forces, as well as several other Sonic titles including a rerelease of the first game in the franchise, have the 50+ Million downloads icon.
While this isn’t firm evidence, as it’s unclear whether Google counts re-downloading the game as a separate download, or it’s just based on user accounts who’ve accessed the game, it further points to the popularity of the series on mobile.
While Sega has rarely released any firm data on the sales of the series’ premium games, it did claim last year that during its 2021 fiscal year, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020, Team Sonic Racing, Sonic Mania, and Sonic Generations had combined to sell over 4,400,000 units.
Sonic’s next big-budget adventure, Sonic Frontiers, is planned for release on November 8, 2022 on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Switch and PC.