Blizzard's Overwatch just arrived on XBOX One, PS4 and PC. It was released on May 24. A Tuesday. The same happened with Uncharted 4 two weeks before, Battleborn the week before that, Fallout 4 when it was released, Bloodborne, The Witcher 3, [Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain](tag:2683985), [Tom Clancy's The Division](tag:2684169), [Deus Ex: Mankind Divided](tag:3677367) will release on a Tuesday, as will [Mirror's Edge Catalyst](tag:3647161). Look, you get the picture; It's a really popular day for AAA releases.
But why? Why not release such enormous titles closer to the weekend; a time when gamers are likely to be paid or have more time on their hands? And why specifically on a Tuesday?
I assumed it was a mysterious marketing decision that meant little for us gamers, that is until I did a little investigating and realized this iconic character held the answer:
SEGA & The Genesis
Welcome to the '90s; the age of appalling haircuts, woeful advertisements and shite pop music. Bit harsh...
Nintendo was on top as one of the most famous brands in the world and their god-like abilities had ensured the video game market could rise from the dead. SEGA was attempting to have their name and IPs heard in Nintendo's proverbial nightclub and it wasn't always easy to shout over Mario scratching on the deck. But this was the age of great ideas for the Japanese company.
SEGA managed to release a 16-bit console, the Genesis, before Nintendo could release its version, the Super Nintendo. This release had a remarkable impact on the industry and they wanted to ensure that the games for said console equalled that impact.
At the time — and still to this day — Sonic the Hedgehog was their most famous and successful brand. Their sequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, was set to introduce Sonic's sidekick Tails and was mere months away from completion. But it needed to make a statement; one that the whole world could hear in unison.
Sonic 2: The World's First Video Game Global Launch
In the book "Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation," which is based on more than 200 interviews with former Sega and Nintendo employees, Blake Harris describes how Sega's crack marketing team of Al Nilsen and Madeline Schroeder decided to celebrate the launch.
- Karyne Levy
The team came up with a model that they deemed "Sonic-worthy." Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was going to release globally on one day. This is standard practice today, but for its time this was huge.
"We're going to start in Japan, move to Europe, and then end in the US," said SEGA marketing director Nilsen to Schroeder. He was the project manager of Sonic the Hedgehog and he wanted to ensure that Nintendo fans would hear of this little guy's accomplishments.
"No trucks, no boats: everything will be delivered by plane exactly one day before. [...] we're going to have the world's first global launch, and in the process we're going to break every single sales record," said Nilsen.
But a great model needs a great name.
Puns On A Tuesday
The team threw around a few ideas, hoping to come up with something that would be emblematic of this momentous occasion. Eventually Nilsen, in his infinite wisdom, came up with something that would impact the course of video game history:
"It should be Tuesday, and we'll call it Sonic 2sday," he said.
Sonic 2sday landed on Nov. 24, 1992. Prior to this date video games released all over the shop, you never knew when an anticipated product would arrive in your area or even arrive in a particular retailer (no way I could go back to this model). Blake Harris beautifully summarized what the release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 meant to the gaming world:
... the idea of a coordinated worldwide release might have seemed interesting but irrelevant. But the point of the global launch wasn't to dazzle with concept; the point was that the concept created connection.
Normally, with games released at different stores on different days, customers couldn't help but feel like these things sort of fell out of thin air. But to know the exact date that something would be arriving, to have it circled on the calendar ahead of time, gave the gift of anticipation.
SEGA had gifted the world its first video game blockbuster, and we all know how hype for a particular release date has evolved over the years. SHUT UP, UBISOFT!
The art of the blockbuster is that it popularizes something before it even exists, and though Sonic 2 was still months away from completion, Sonic 2sday gave [former Sega North America CEO Tom Kalinske] and company an opportunity to unleash the biggest blockbuster the videogame world had ever seen.
So the next time you pick up a copy of your most anticipated AAA release on a Tuesday morning, maybe you'll take a second to think of the little blue hedgehog who started it all.