SEGA have officially launched SEGA Forever for iOS and Android today, a service that will offer a growing collection of free (ad-supported) retro SEGA games from a large number of old SEGA platform, with the option of buying each game for $1.99/€1.99 to remove the ads. The games also include new additions like leaderboards, cloud saves and controller support. In an interview with MVC UK, Mike Evans explains how SEGA Forever is really only the first step of their project. Where things get interesting is when he discusses expanding the scope of the project, mentioning the Switch as a possible platform.
Later down the line, because around 95% of these games are in Unity, with that I can take these to other platforms and do a dedicated TV component as well, Android TV, Facebook, PD desktop, or even something like the Switch — Mike Evans
When asked about Panzer Dragoon Saga specifically, Evans explains that he’d also love to see the game added to SEGA Forever, but bringing those games to the service isn’t an easy task. In fact, he’s been to Japan and met people who worked on the original SEGA Saturn and Dreamcast consoles. They’re examining ways to emulate the Saturn and Dreamcast, but at the moment any games from those console would have to be ported to mobile rather than emulated:
It’s incredibly complex, we looked at emulating that stuff, there are people who have emulated it online, but the challenge we had was that you have translucent pixels and emulation automates the rendering for this stuff, we thought we could get to about 85% quality but for Sega we need to push it a bit higher. We have an ongoing R&D project to see if it’s something we can do, [but] for now we’re going to pick off some top titles and do some ports. — Mike Evans
The full article is definitely worth reading if you’re interested in SEGA’s goals with the project. Personally, I very rarely play mobile games, and at the moment SEGA Forever offers little that isn’t already available on PC. What also worries me is that SEGA’s strategy with mobile has been a bit of a mess. Mobile games have repeatedly been launched and then shut down within mere months, both in Japan and overseas. New SEGA mobile forums (forums.sega.net) were launched and soon abandoned. It doesn’t exactly encourage anyone to invest time, and more importantly money, into SEGA games that are likely to disappear soon. Of course, there shouldn’t be any concern of the SEGA Forever games disappearing once you paid for them, but the key question is if SEGA Forever will be around long enough for it to fulfill its potential?
That said, SEGA should have a good idea of how well these classic games will perform at this point. Creating a stable source of revenue from a plethora of retro games seems like a solid strategy, one that will hopefully lead to new, unique, ports over time. The idea behind SEGA Forever also fits into the SEGA’s strategy of reviving older brands. Hopefully, we’ll see the service expand beyond mobile, and include classic games that haven’t been ported to other platforms before. You can view the official launch trailer and read the official press release regarding SEGA Forever below!
Official press release
SEGA Forever offers retro gaming fans an ever-expanding collection of classic SEGA games, available free-to-play on mobile platforms. Each game is available for download as an individual ad-supported title, with the option to remove all ads via in-app purchase for $1.99 (regardless of original console generation).SEGA Forever allows you to create your ultimate retro gaming playlist. Unlike previously released classic game collections, fans can set up a dedicated folder of favorites on their mobile device and curate a personal collection of retro games chosen from titles spanning two decades of SEGA history. The upcoming lineup will include games from all console eras, including:
- Master System
- Genesis/Mega Drive
- Game Gear
- SEGA Saturn
First five games launch June 22, followed by new releases, each as a standalone app*, every couple of weeks:
- Sonic The Hedgehog
- Altered Beast
- Phantasy Star II
- Comix Zone
- Kid Chameleon
Added features within SEGA Forever games:
- Cloud Saves
- Offline Play
- Controller Support
- Community News Feed
- SEGA Forever menu screen languages in English, French,Italian, German, Spanish, Russian and Brazilian Portuguese
- iOS & Android (at launch June 22)
- Worldwide (excluding Japan, Mainland China, and North Korea)
Social channel links:
Unless they show a single saturn port that’s not actually a PC or Arcade “port”, I don’t think “its potential” will gain any credibility, specially when current emulation (both PC and android) can offer Zwei or Burning Rangers, to name two examples that never got ported.
If we have to wait too much for those kind of ports, high chance is that sega will abandon this before it happens.
On the other hand this sounds similar to what nintendo wants to do on switch with their online subscription and monthly nes games, ever since the wii no other console had a selection of third party virtual console games comparable, so it could really be an interesting thing on that machine, and while I would not spend 2$ on a rom for android, I would gladly spend them on a switch one.
I get the feeling that for now, they’re just going to release the games they already had. But I don’t think it would make sense to port those Saturn and Dreamcast games only to mobile. If they’re going to port them anyway, the core audience that would spend money on them is on console.