Gamers are understandably a controversial people when it comes to big budget releases. Broken and unfinished games that are released have become an unfortunate norm. This causes an understandable setback from players who can only hope that the game they paid full price for will eventually be redeemed with updates.
Even retro games are not exempt from this, as Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy’s catastrophic remaster showed. The one kind of game you would not expect to get backlash from fans is a collection of decades old games. The coming Sonic Origins remaster should be a straightforward compilation of the hedgehog Sonic games from his 90s heyday with some improvements in quality of life. It should be the one Sonic release that does not make fans angry. It required something to do, but Sega found a way to create controversy during the game’s rollout.
Sonic Origins had a somewhat rocky start due to the radio silence from Sega. Originally announced as part of the character’s 30th anniversary celebration, the game was conspicuously absent when Sonic went back to the cinemas. A release date was finally announced on April 20th. The announcement also included details about the game’s pre-order bonuses. This is where players took serious trouble with Sega’s plans for Sonic Origins.
Pre-order bonuses are not the lightning rod for controversy in gaming circles as they once were. Making characters or skins dependent on pre-orders is old news at this point. However, Sega broke new ground in the pre-order bonus field by making seemingly standard features such as character animation in the main menu exclusive to Sonic Origins’ Digital Deluxe Edition.
While Sega renewed itself in terms of what features companies can charge customers for, it performed something positively banal evil with its other DLC offerings. Menu animations are an unexpected thing to lock behind a payment wall, making it memorable in a “horse armor in Oblivion“in a way. It’s bold enough to become a meme. To take one Sonic staples like Mirror Mode and turning it into DLC is a depressingly tried and true video game publisher tactic.
This chart feels as if Sega is mistaken for an absurdist parody of the gaming industry’s worst practice as a solid business plan. It also shows how separate the video game companies’ business side is from the products they make. If a chart is needed to explain the best way to buy a game, the responsible company has gone horribly wrong somewhere along the way. Ideally, a retro gaming collection would have no DLC. At most, any additional revenue generation of retro games should offer something new to the procedure that adds value to the game, such as Streets of Rage 4‘s survival state, Mr. X Nightmare. Doing the opposite of it washed away much of the good will for a long time Sonic fans had for Origin.
To further inflate the flames, Sega has announced that it will remove the individual games collected in Sonic Origins from digital storefronts on May 20th. The only exceptions apply to Switch owners. Sonic 2 will still be part of the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack, which has had its own PR issues, along with its selection of Sega Genesis games. Switch owners can also still buy the first two Sonic play piecemeal as part of Sega Ages series of games.
Although Sega has at least given players a warning before pulling the games from digital storefronts, it’s a worrying move on several levels. From the consumer perspective, it is annoying when choices are removed from the market, especially for players who only want to play a particular one Sonic games and not his entire 16-bit catalog. For fans of game history, it’s disappointing to see gates of the original versions of the games drawn in favor of the remaster.
While the games are in progress Sonic Origin will not be radically altered, there will inevitably be at least some minor differences between the originals and their remasters. Inability to play the originals on modern hardware unless players have already purchased them will rank both purists and game conservatives. As the founder of the Video Game History Foundation, Frank Cifaldi post it on Twitterthis practice risks making the original versions of classic games go the same way as the original cinema version of Star wars.
Sega’s handling of Origin‘rollout shows a serious lack of self-awareness, especially given their willingness to antagonize a fanbase that has had very little to be excited about since the games included in Sonic Origins was first released. This is strange considering that Sega is not even trying to sell the Digital Deluxe Edition of the game for much more than the base version. For $ 44.99, it costs only $ 5 more than the basic version.
Sega could have saved itself the headache and made Digital Deluxe Edition the default from the start. Still, these controversies may not detract from the final product, depending on how well Sonic Origins holds the landing to provide a satisfying experience. However, it should give fans of other Sega properties a break. If they can nickel and dime fans of the eternally popular Sonic franchise in ridiculous ways, it does not bode well for the upcoming reboots of cult favorites like Jet Set radio avoid similar tactics.
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