When SEGA Forever finally launched last week, fans reacted in a variety of ways. There was definitely excitement at the concept of being able to play almost every SEGA game, from every SEGA-made console for free.
But there was also disappointment, as the handful of launch titles were games that we’d experienced time and again over the years and most of them were already available on iOS and Android – now updated with the SEGA Forever menu system. Even bigger disappointment came when many (but not all) users found problems with the games’ emulation.
Certainly, at SEGA Nerds HQ, we’ve all been reporting different experiences with SEGA Forever. I, for one, found the emulation on my one-year old Android tablet so bad (almost unplayable on Kid Chameleon), that I went out and bought a second hand 6th generation iPod Touch, just so I could try and play the games properly!
Ultimately, reviews in the app stores have been mixed and some fans wanted answers.
Luckily Eurogamer picked up their hotline to SEGA HQ and spoke with Sega Networks’ chief marketing officer, Mike Evans, about SEGA Forever and the problems fans have been having. One thing I’ve got to commend Eurogamer for, they certainly fired some straight shots at Mike Evans, holding nothing back.
Here’s a few highlights from the interview:
Eurogamer: You say it’s [the launch has] been positive, but I’m looking at the top reviews – I know they’re not gospel and are prone to hyperbole – but one of the top ones on the App Store for Altered Beast says ‘Sega Forever is a massive joke’. You look at Phantasy Star as well – ‘this needs to take massive steps with the emulation’ – these aren’t specialist guys, these are the top reviews on the App and Android store.
Mike Evans: We need to look at the larger trends on reviews as well, so rather than spot-checking one to represent the overall feel, we’ve been actively listening to all the reviews and trying to figure out if there is an area that we need to address. Phantasy Star is the title where we need to have the most work, if we’re honest, we had a couple of challenges with Sonic out of the gate with users not being able to disable ads, we submitted an update yesterday and that fixed it. We’ve actively been going back to individual consumers one on one to address those issues. We want them to have the best experience possible.
Eurogamer: I played two of the games today and I had issues with stuttering and audio issues – a lot of people are asking why we used to have versions of these games that used to run perfectly on mobile back as long as 2009, why is it that these ones aren’t working.
Mike Evans: It’s difficult to comment on the individual case because of fragmentation, all I can say is it’s a small proportion. Without knowing the channels the game was run on previously it’s difficult for me to make that comparison. Like I said, it’s something we’re working on.
Eurogamer: Speaking personally as a Sega fan, it saddens me when a once great company releases stuff in this state. There’s a patchy track record – M2’s work on the 3DS [with Sega Classics] have been incredible, the best of their kind – then you see stuff like this, and I think it’s fair to say it’s been shoddy. I’ve played them on a variety of devices and the experience hasn’t been good at all, and it’s a shame to see once great games treated like this. Do you see why Sega’s reputation isn’t what it once was when stuff like this happens?
Mike Evans: I think that whilst we’re continually working to improve on quality – we have to understand the context of mobile in that sense – if you look at the vast majority there’s a lot of very delighted fans out there. We’re going to continue to improve, the core is very important to us as well, and make those changes so we’re happy and they’re happy.
Eurogamer: Is Sega Forever more of a cash grab than trying to preserve Sega’s past?
Mike Evans: No. This is a passion project for us – it links into the corporate statement of reviving the brands as well, it’s really something that’s going to be done on an amazing scale. If you look at this project it’s not a high-yielding project for Sega, it provides enough cash to make it viable but it’s about getting the IP to the fans and allow them to rediscover it.
Eurogamer: And in terms of curation – the first five games weren’t a particularly imaginative selection of games. Will there be more curios coming further down the line?
Mike Evans: I’d welcome your feedback on why you don’t think it wasn’t a great line-up. I’d love to know more.
Eurogamer: Altered Beast, to start with, isn’t a great game, a lot of these have been available before. There’s such a wide range of Sega games, and to see the same games doled out again and again and again is a bit disappointing.
Mike Evans: We spent a long time internally trying to figure out the best launch line-up – some of it’s based on historical context. And that’s important to the core as well – Altered Beast, it’s a title a lot of people love, a lot of people grew up with, and it was the original title that shipped with the Genesis in 1989. And then we tried to tie it with things like Phantasy Star 2 which is a little more core, Sonic which is obviously a little more mass-market. The whole notion of what we’re doing with this project is that typically Sega will give you the Ultimate Mega Drive collection – Sega will prescribe 10 titles. For many of you, you’ll love three of them, the rest either they’re new or you haven’t played them before. What we’re doing here is every couple of weeks you’ll see new titles coming out, and the idea is that a user can choose which titles mean something to them. We’re starting with the Genesis, because it’s the most successful platform – it’s a good place to introduce the mainstream audience to what we’re doing. That said, I’m very cognisant of getting some fan wins in there as well – I’m actively looking at Segagaga as a title which will be a great thing, there are other titles I’d love to see like Panzer Dragoon. They’re the things that take a bit more time, but what we’ve got to do is get the quality right as well, and that’s important. We’re going to keep working and the selection is about what we hear back from the fans, what we hear from the market and what we hear about the quality.
There is a lot more to the interview and, even if you’re not a big fan of Eurogamer, I’d recommend giving it a read, because they seem to be asking SEGA the right questions. You can find the interview here.