As many people know, there was something of a press junket recently where Sega and Big Red Button invited some video game journalists to come in and play/talk about Sonic Boom. It was no big deal, and something that happens all the time in the industry. Except something important did come out of it. In both interviews with Kotaku and Siliconera, Bob Rafei, the CEO of Big Red Button, made statements that showed the developer isn't listening to the fan community.
When both sites asked Rafei about the fan reaction to Sonic, Knuckles, Tails and Amy's new designs, Rafei had responses that seemed odd. To Siliconera, he said, "The majority of it was strong and positive so we know we are hitting the right chord." He told Kotaku, "It was, the majority, overwhelmingly positive. So I think it validates what we're trying to do."
The problem is, the fans weren't happy. There has been a huge response to the Sonic Boom character designs, but they tend to range from apathetic to disgust. In an informal GameFaq poll where 155 people voted, 63 people cast neutral or negative votes on the design, 79 people thought it was decent but had a few issues, and 9 people hated it. Multiple polls on the official Sega forums show people have mixed feelings on the game's designs. In one poll asking thoughts about the announcement trailer, 84 people voted in all and 46 votes were cast that were neutral or critical of the design choices. In another poll asking if people were still hating on the designs, 36 out of 66 respondents had just gotten used to it, 22 were still not used to it or hating on it, and only 8 people liked the design. Not to mention, many people voiced their displeasure on sites like Reddit, NeoGAF and YouTube. Kotaku even put together a collection of some of the most hilarious reactions to the designs.
My point is, the responses to the Big Red Button's Sonic Boom redesigns weren't "overwhelmingly positive." If anything, they were largely apathetic or negative. Rafei didn't acknowledge this, though. Instead, when both sites asked him about the fan's response, he chose to offer an opinion that everyone was happy with the direction the team took.
This matters because it shows Big Red Button isn't listening to the fans who have known and loved Sonic the Hedgehog games for years. They're only listening to the positive opinions, which are dwarfed when compared to all the people who have any issue with the designs. As many people will know, the developers that are most successful and produce the best games are the ones that do listen to their fans. They're the ones who are willing to make changes, even if they're last minute, to improve the experience. Recent cases include CD Projekt Red, who has gone above and beyond to make their games more accessible to fans by avoiding invasive DRM and avoiding platform exclusivity. Even BioWare stepped up, when fans responded negatively to the Mass Effect 3 ending, by offering free DLC that expanded and improved the ending.
The Sonic Boom redesigns weren't immediately loved and accepted by fans. If anything, people gradually realized that nothing was going to change because this is an all-out, multimedia blitz that includes two video games and a TV show and the point where anything could have been changed has long since passed. We know that these designs are set in stone. It just would have been nice if Big Red Button had acknowledged that people weren't happy and not tried to discredit and make it seem like those who weren't were part of a small, vocal minority.