Back in 2006, a man was blogging about the problems of Sega while nobody batted an eyelid. His name, though unknown at the time, was Ben Andac, and he worked as a game evaluator and Admissions and Recruitment Executive for both Sega Europe and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.
His words were written anonymously and on an inconspicuous blog, but the posts all vanished after an early, teasing reference to a “transforming Evil ‘Night’ Sonic who looks like a werewolf and can stretch his arms out Dhalsim-style.” This was over a year before anybody had known a thing about the famous Werehog. Andac was trying to warn us, and nobody listened.
So why bring it up now? Well, some Internet detectives have taken it upon themselves to find the long-deleted blog entries that Andac wrote anonymously, and they reveal some incredibly telling things about Sega of Japan. Like, for example, that Sonic Team was working on a NiGHTS game for the Xbox 360, until Sega of Japan wanted to cash-in on the Wii’s success and forced the studio to rebuild the entire project from the ground up in under a year without any budget increase whatsoever.
Even worse is the description of Sonic Team as little more than a “sweatshop,” kept on a leash as an external Sega studio and forced to do little more than assembly line work and milk the Sonic cash cow. “There’s no doubt that Sonic Team have lost their quality touch,” wrote Andac in 2007. “They are worse than talentless: they are without passion. Bored, weary, closed-minded and out of touch with any sense of what makes games good anymore.”
I have spent a good deal of time assaulting Sonic Team for their many past failings, pointing out how occassional Sonic developer Dimps seems to make a better game. If even a fragment of what Andac told the world is true, then this explains everything. And I feel pretty damn sad about it.