2D pixel art will not be 'viable' in 10 years says Sega

The makers of Sonic Superstars think pixel art is going to become an even bigger niche in the future, even for indie developers.

Between its status as a 2D platformer and usage of the classic character designs from the Mega Drive days, Sonic Superstars is clearly the closest thing fans will get to a Sonic Mania 2.

The key difference is that Sonic Superstars uses 3D visuals instead of pixel art, primarily because Sega doesn’t think the latter sells particularly well.

As such, it’s not too surprising to hear Takashi Iizuka, head of Sonic Team, say that pixel art won’t be as ‘viable’ in another decade or so, suggesting Sega has little interest in using it for any future games.

Speaking at Gamescom, Iizuka talked a lot about preparing for the next 10 to 20 years of Sonic by building on the new 3D format introduced in Sonic Frontiers.

However, he recognises that there’s an audience for 2D games and explains how Sonic Superstars is an evolution of that style of gameplay.

‘We look at the pixel art – it’s great – but when we think about 10 to 20 years in the future, we don’t think it’s going to be a viable art style or presentation for our players,’ Iizuka tells GamesRadar.

‘And in order to advance and really step things up, we did want to make sure that we’re presenting something that 10 to 20 years down the road we’re still evolving and creating new content for.’

Iizuka does have a point considering pixel art primarily appeals to nostalgic gamers who grew up playing consoles like the Mega Drive as kids. However, there’s a generation of gamers who didn’t grow up with pixel art and thus don’t hold it in such reverence.

In time, they’re going to be the primary audience, so any game with a throwback pixel art style isn’t necessarily going to have the same appeal as it does today.

It’ll be interesting, though, if the rest of the industry shares Iizuka and Sega’s viewpoint. Square Enix, for example, clearly sees the value in pixel art as it was a key selling point for Octopath Traveler.

That game’s HD-2D visuals proved popular enough for Square Enix to retain it for the sequel, plus Triangle Strategy and the upcoming Dragon Quest 3 remake. Some people even want to see more developers make use of it, as evidenced by fan-made projects like this concept for a Pokémon Red & Blue remake.

There are also countless indie games that make use of pixel art, including the recently launched Sea Of Stars, which has seen critical acclaim and has already sold 100,000 copies in its first 24 hours.

The real question, though, is whether this market will still be as bountiful in another couple of decades. As far as Sega is concerned, the answer is no.

We’re speechless. Thank you ❤️ pic.twitter.com/OJXJ0mawpg

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