Sega is launching a new mobile gaming initiative called Sega Forever, the long-lived publisher announced today. Under that banner, the company plans to bring loads of games from all eras of its 30-year history to Android and iOS devices as free-to-play apps. While all the games will share some universal trappings, they will be distinct releases rather than multiple parts of a larger Sega Forever app. They’ll come with ads built in—a common sight in free mobile games—and it’ll cost you $2 to remove them from any given game. The service is starting up tomorrow, June 22, with five Sega Genesis/Mega Drive games: Sonic The Hedgehog, Comix Zone, Phantasy Star II, Kid Chameleon, and Altered Beast. After that, Sega promises more games will be released every two weeks.
In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Sega’s Mike Evans, who’s credited with leading the creation of Sega Forever, laid out his vision for the service. Borrowing a page out of Nintendo’s mobile strategy, Sega hopes that releasing these games on more accessible platforms and playing on people’s nostalgia will revive interest in classic series, driving players to new versions, like the recently released Crazy Taxi: Gazillionaire, or even proving there’s enough demand for the company to pursue similar resurrections. As it just so happens, Sega recently proclaimed that one of its big goals moving forward is the revival of long-dormant series.
While all of the Sega Forever apps will be reworked to control via touchscreen, according to a Sega press release, they will be a mix of “ports” that have been specifically re-engineered to run on mobile devices and “official emulations” running the original games inside a program that simulates the console on which they were released. All Sega Forever games will also include support for Bluetooth controllers, so you don’t have to make Comix Zone even harder by trying to beat dudes up with crummy touchscreen buttons.
Evans also didn’t rule out taking Sega Forever beyond this initial mobile model. He mentioned that “about 90 percent” of the games are running on the Unity engine, a piece of software that’s used by tons of developers to make games for just about every available platform, and that, assuming the mobile roll out goes well, Sega Forever could come to PCs, Facebook, or consoles. Evans even mentioned being open to the possibility of turning it into a subscription service—presumably without the ads—for set-top boxes, like Apple TV. It’s about time people realized just how far ahead of its time the Sega Channel was.