Update: Be sure to read our follow-up story, Sega fixed this issue with a version 2.0.1 update later in the day.

Sega has just updated Sonic CD [Free] to version 2.0, and they've made it free with ads. The problem is that the game now has ads even if you bought it before, and in version 2.0 you have to pay $1.99 to remove the ads. Which, if you haven't bought the game before, is more than fair for a platforming classic, but it's a bad thing to do to previously paid users. Don't think that the age gate at the beginning won't show you ads if you put in a low number, either. I put in my age as 6, and got a Game of War [Free] ad where a woman in her underwear slowly had armor added to her. The Apple TV version may just be free without ads – it is on version 1.1.3, and 1.1.1 was the previous version before the 2.0 update. So you may be able to just get this one for free on Apple TV now! Christian Whitehead says the change wasn't done by him, either.


Here's the problem with the app now having ads after being a paid app before: one, it's disrespectful to people who owned the app previously. Granted, this is hardly the Watergate scandal, and the ad removal IAP is just $1.99 (cheaper than the normal price!) and this will revitalize the game possibly. But there's no reason to treat paying customers like this. Literally, there is none, considering that other developers are able to make sure that they take care of their paid customers if they make their app free. What developers have done before is to check the user's iTunes purchase receipt to see which version of the app they bought. I've talked to developers who have done temporary sales, scheduling an update when a game goes free, then another when the game goes back to paid, so that they can ensure by the specific version whether a user sees ads or not. Considering Sonic CD didn't go free on the App Store before now, it seems well within the realm of possibility for a version 2.0.1 to remove ads for anyone who bought the app before.

Hopefully Sega does the right thing here and takes care of previous owners of the app. Otherwise, Sonic CD's still a classic with a unique time travel mechanic, and if you want to play it, now's not a bad time, I guess.

We reached out to Sega for comment, and a representative says Sega is aware of the issue but has no further official comment at this time.

Update: Aaron Webber, a PR representative with Sega specializing in Sonic the Hedgehog, says that paid users shouldn't be getting ads:

  • Bryan Young

    I agree that this is unfair for previously paid users! Other developers have released separate versions of their games as a free ad supported version, leaving the paid users the original app on the App Store (ie. Cut The Rope 2). But never have I had a game update ADD ads to a paid download.

    • http://adamsimmersive.com Adams Immersive

      2 separate apps is one option; and it's also possible to have ONE app that knows you're a previous user and doesn't show you ads that others see.

  • coolpepper43

    Syte! Does this mean I should download all of my paid sonic games because they might change them all free with ads?

  • RelientKSoCal

    Thanks a lot, Sega. Why don't you work on porting Sonic 3 instead of inserting ads to apps already in the Store? Make Sonic 3 free with ads even, just don't do it to a game I already paid for.

  • ScaryFatKidGT

    I hate how everything has to be free for people to download it -.-

    • melvin2898

      I agree. My free version of Sonic CD is great!

  • vic_viper_001

    What the hell am I even doing here still!? Smartphone developers have done just about everything to drive me away, short of just grabbing my phone and stomping on it.

  • Enker

    I feel sorry for Christian Whitehead who had had fine conversion messed with like this

  • sleb

    The original Dustoff Heli Rescue just did this when they released Rescue 2. They changed the app to free with ads without compensating anyone who had purchased the game.

  • ramon31

    And that's why I don't buy App Store games any more... I only use 3DS and Wii U these days.

  • FrehleyzComet

    They won't change it. They did the same thing to House of the Dead a few years ago and never restored it for people who originally bought it.

  • DJCubs

    At least we've got something else to distract us from BioShock never coming back.

  • Weisse

    This is Sega, nothing surprises me.

  • djmartincook

    For doing this SEGA need to say sorry by re releasing jet set radio on iOS or even The Genesis Collection a bit like what they doing with Steam! Cmon SEGA!

  • JindoFox

    Cheers to Touch Arcade for being on top of this and publicizing it.

    Jeers to Sega for not anticipating this. Cheesing off paying customers does not bring goodwill. Booo. Fix it Sega.

  • JindoFox

    Argh! Full screen video ads are the worst. I'm paying the ransom to remove them. Justification: paying twice on an old game is like a subscription to support the developer. It's only two dollars, and I've enjoyed the game for a long time.

    I suppose we can debate whether I'm a hero or a villain for giving them two extra dollars when they asked for it in a rather aggressive way.

  • The Immortal Bryfang

    Oh man, dude, it's not enough that there's ads in an app I already paid for, but they're crazy intrusive ads.

    Start the app up: "SEEEGA!" See Sonic and hit the screen to enter the game, [AD]. Game loads on "Remove Ads" rather than "Start Game". Hit start and guess what? More ads, this one is unskippable. Then on the menu screen to select the level, there's an ad on the side. Then after I beat the level, yet another ad.

    This is ridiculous, they've pretty much ruined the app. I've seen legit F2P games that have more tact than this.

  • curtisrshideler

    These Sonic games have been out so long, I'd be surprised if this bumps sales much. I'd imagine all of us who wanted Sonic games already bought them. I'd appreciate if SEGA does this to new apps instead of ones we've already purchased.

  • rewind

    Honestly I think it's just as unfair as charging for a game, and then putting it on sale. Some people paid $24ish for all three Infinity Blade games, I got them all for free during App of the Week promotions. But I'm certainly not defending Sega's decision here, two wrongs does not make a right.

  • Gurney Halleck

    Sega. Keeping it classy 😑

  • Desertking24

    This is what is stopping me from buying games to be honest. I buy games expecting premium experience with no ads or anything. I paid for this game, my question is i just currently got a new iPhone and downloaded this game, will it be the one without ads or with ads?

  • Anonomation


  • Alex_Gol

    I guess I will not update the game then. Thanks for the info!

  • philsmtx

    This the exact reason people refuse to pay more than $1-2 for ios games... you always get burned by developers... TA always defends these actions...which sucks.. EXPECT all the other sonic games to do the same... mobile games will always have this miserable reputation

  • DeNappa

    Came here to angrily post "SHAMELESS CASH GRAB" but then read the update claiming that it seems to be unintentional. Darn! 😉

  • sobriquet

    Thanks for the update to this news, Carter. The game now has a 1.5 star rating on the AppStore. Sega must be shitting in their pants right now.

  • kevin888

    I'm so confused cause the app now says it's the free app of the week.

    • kevin888


      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Just yell out your window.

    • OrangutanKungfu

      Yeah, was just going to make the same comment. Free app of the week. Do people still have the right to be angry?

  • Locanis

    They just pushed out 2.0.1 version update that removes ads from the game for previously paid users. Pretty quick fix by Sega, so I'm happy now.

    • The Immortal Bryfang


      *puts away torch and pitchfork*

      In less than a day too? Alright, I'll give them a pass just this ooone time. I was a bit worked up because the ads were so ridiculously intrusive, but I'm glad they corrected their mistake and fixed the problem so quickly.

  • shining jade

    Use weblock on ios appstore ad problem solved