Sega Forever will see a change that will focus on ported titles, not just emulated ones. Sega made the announcement today on March 1st, saying in a straightforward manner that the ported titles they’ve released (technically, updated free re-releases of previously-released games) have been more played than the emulated titles. As such Sega says their “plan this year is to focus on porting titles natively. As a result of these changes, the cadence of releases will reduce."
Sega does seem to be teasing what’s next with an image, file name “Could-this-be-a-teaser-question-mark.png". The silhouetted art appears to show Dynamite Headdy characters and…are those the monkeys from Super Monkey Ball? Considering how big those games were in the early days of the App Store, and that they don’t work now, they’d make a lot of sense to return to Sega Forever.
The ported titles having more downloads makes sense in several ways. One is that they included the Christian Whitehead and co. Sonic ports. It would be tough for any Sega ported title to match that degree of quality because Whitehead, Stealth, and crew were decades-long Sonic obsessives who not only brought intense passion but a deep knowledge of how those titles worked, which made for ports with exceptional quality. Virtua Tennis Challenge (Free) was at least an actual mobile game, updated for 64-bit and modern devices. Crazy Taxi (Free) is Crazy Taxi.
The other problem was that the ported titles so far included a lot of forgettable filler. Nobody thought about Decap Attack until our resident gaming history nerd Shaun Musgrave wrote a review of it last year. Where’s all the Streets of Rage games, like Streets of Rage 3 with American and Japanese versions? All the Golden Axe games? Other Sonic games? Where was the cleverly-timed tie-in to Sonic Mania with Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Machine? Heck, you have an emulator…how much work is really required to just put out all the classics and let the downloads rack up? The downloads you’re not getting today are ones you might not get tomorrow. There’s no reason to participate in artificial scarcity for games that are over 25 years old at this point.
So here’s my advice for Sega:
1) Make sure the Sega Forever emulator is improving in quality. Heck, find people in the community that have made emulators (especially knowledgeable in sound emulation, a problem with not just SEGA Forever but also those Genesis clone systems) and hire them to work on the emulator. Make sure that the experience of playing a Genesis game with touch controls is as ideal as possible.
2) Don’t skimp on the releases. Keep putting out games, and focus on getting the good ones out. Nobody cares about ESWAT. You want this to be like Ketchapp’s strategy of constantly releasing titles? Then keep it up. Ketchapp doesn’t stop releasing new titles, you can too, until you run out of Genesis games that people care about. I know Nintendo came up with the Virtual Console strategy of staggering releases, but Sega does what Nintendon’t.
3) Sure, come up with some cool ports, but I understand these take time and effort – choose wisely. Don’t just go for ‘popular’ games but also ones that have notoriety. Sonic CD was notable because the game had so few official releases after the Sega CD version. Maybe there’s some Saturn games that would work? Dreamcast classics? Sky’s the limit.
Here’s to a Sega-filled 2018.