Sega has announced Sonic Origins, to be released on June 23, 2022. It’s a bundle that incorporates the original Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic CD and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 + Knuckles into one single pack, incorporates some additional story scenes and generally makes the whole “original Sonic saga” into a coherent experience. It’s also the first time Sonic 3 has been rereleased for quite some time following numerous rights disagreements over the music.
This is, on the surface, good news — particularly if you’ve somehow managed to survive this long without multiple copies of, at the very least, Sonic 1 and 2 in both your physical and digital game collections. It’s great to see Sonic CD getting another outing after its excellent downloadable version for Xbox Live Arcade, and Sonic 3 (and Knuckles) is, of course, a welcome sight also.
But then Sega had to go and do this:
Yes! Aren’t you delighted to see the Ubisoft-style unnecessarily complicated table of things that you don’t get if you just buy the game? Aren’t you thrilled at the fact that not one, but two packs of DLC have been announced a full two months ahead of Sonic Origins releasing? Aren’t you hot under the collar at the prospect of one of the packs apparently consisting primarily of basic game elements such as animations in the main menu and a hard difficulty?
Let’s not beat around the bush here: this is stupid. The first Sonic the Hedgehog is thirty-one years old at this point, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a new release of it to be a properly definitive edition. Yes, it sounds as if Sonic Origins is incorporating a bunch of new stuff, including unlockable art, “missions” to complete and “museum” features… but a lot of those are already incorporated into the main game, making the piecemeal excision of such specific things all the more baffling.
And it’s abundantly clear that it’s for no other reason than to make a bit more money, because both the preorder bonuses and the features from the two DLC packs are part of the “Digital Deluxe Edition” — meaning this supposedly “additional” content will be available from launch. So, and I can’t emphasise this question or ask it loudly enough, why the fuck isn’t it in the base game at launch?
Sure, a lot of this stuff sounds like it doesn’t matter. You don’t need hard missions. You don’t need additional music from other games. All you really need is the games. And, indeed, the standard edition of Sonic Origins will provide you with just that. But it’s more the principle of the thing, and this is something we’ve been seeing for well over a decade at this point: the deliberate excision of material from a completely finished game in order to get people to pay up for some things that should have been included in the first place.
Sega’s probably delighted at the amount of “engagement” that the angry spreading of the diagram above has been getting them on Twitter; these days, the old adage about any publicity being good publicity seems to hold especially true. But are those precious social media figures really worth pissing off the people most inclined to actually pick up this collection?
(Phone rings.) Hello. Sorry, what? There’s not even a physical release? Okay. Thanks. Yes, grapefruit. No, no, grapefruit. Cheers. (Sound of phone hanging up.)
(A moment’s silence.)
Okay, Sega. Listen carefully. You have one opportunity to make this right that doesn’t involve fundamentally changing your current launch strategy, and that is to get all this DLC bullshit out of your system with the digital release, then do a full packaged release with everything on the disc or cart. No updates, no DLC, no dicking around with anything. Of course, we’d all rather you simply included everything in one digital download in the first place, too, but you seem dead set on not doing that, so we’ll call this a just-about-acceptable solution.
In future, though, please just release the whole sodding game all in one go. It’d be nice to buy something finished, complete and with no need for a “roadmap” at least once in the next decade.
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