For those who may not be aware, Sega announced last May that we were going to get a collection of the Genesis Sonic games along with Sonic CD at some point in 2022. Just recently we finally got more information of the game, complete with a trailer featuring music from none other than Hyper Potions.
These aren't just the typical "let's add a emulator and some ROMS" like Sega has done with past compilations, this collection is going to have ports of the games. You know, those awesome ports of Sonic 1, Sonic 2, and Sonic CD made by Christian Whitehead and Simon Thomley but not only those we're finally getting a port of Sonic 3 and Knuckles! For those not familiar with the history behind Sonic 3 and Knuckles, Sega has refused to re-release this game in recent years due to alleged copyright issues with some of the music in the game. So when we got Sonic 1, 2, and CD lots of fans wondered if Sonic 3 and Knuckles would ever get the same treatment and Sonic Origins will be delivering the ports fans have wanted for years! While fans are thrilled about this inclusion, about a week after the trailer dropped Sega made the announcement... to start de-listing the classic games on Steam in favor of Sonic Origins. Is this a bad decision or a good one? I'll leave that up to your decision, however I do want to voice my opinions on the matter.
So to the general public, de-listing these original versions off of Steam may seem like it's a good idea. They would want to play the definitive editions after all, and this is exactly what Sega is thinking. However they're not looking at the whole picture. First off, Sega isn't like Nintendo and what I mean by that is they allow fan made content. This includes fan games and rom hacks. The Sonic Hacking Scene is huge, and in fact the two people I mentioned above were huge people in that scene. Simon Thomley (better known as Stealth in the Sonic Hacking Scene) has made numerous proof of concepts throughout the years. Likewise Christian Whitehead is well versed when it comes to the technical workings of the classic games, he knows this so well that his Retro Engine was the basis for Sonic Mania, yes Sega actually hired Sonic fans to work on it if you weren't aware! So why am I going on about the Sonic Hacking Scene? Well because a few people in the scene have already done what Sega hired Simon Thomley (with Headcannon Studios) to do with this collection. A sonic hacker by the username "Eukaryot" has successfully ported Sonic 3 and Knuckles to PC and made his code open source so other fans could port it to other platforms. This fan made port is known as "Sonic 3 A.I.R." and it requires the Sonic 3 and Knuckles rom from Steam. See where this becomes an issue with Sega de-listing the roms off of Steam?
You may be asking "Well Sega legally owns these games, so what if people can't purchase Sonic 3 and Knuckles from Steam and play Sonic 3 A.I.R.?" There's lots of Sonic fans who live in countries where it's pretty expensive to purchase games. The asking price for Sonic Origins is around 40 USD. Convert that to currency in other countries such as Brazil, and then you'll get a pretty steep asking price for a collection of old games. While I am looking forward to this collection, and don't actually think that the price is too steep with the amount of added goodies, these people still have valid opinions. Plus Eukaryot isn't really sure what's going to happen with his project now because of this. Sega plans to de-list the classics come May 20th, over a month before they set to release Sonic Origins. This will leave his project useless to newer fans who haven't bought the Steam releases come that date. There of course is the illegal way to obtain this game, however we obviously don't want to promote piracy. And that's where Sonic 3 A.I.R. combat this issue, you still had to buy the rom from Steam so the engine could get the data from the ROM. It relies on this data, without it the fan game will cease to function.See where this becomes an issue?
We've seen this happen before with the GTA Definitive Collection released last year. The three GTA titles added to the collection were de-listed prior to the collection releasing, and we all know that collection was released in a terrible state. Origins will most likely be great, we already know what to expect with Sonic 1, 2, and CD since these games are already out. (However Sonic 1 and 2 were stuck on mobile... until fans decompiled the games and got it to run on PCs. More on that later.) But the fact that companies do this is annoying IMO. Not everyone has the means to play the updated versions, so why not keep the originals for those who don't have access? They wouldn't be losing any money, because they still need to purchase the game from Steam. So at the end of the day, Origins is great but Sega once again is shooting themselves in the foot. They've made poor decisions throughout the years, and us Sonic fans know that all too well. Many fans will say "Lol it's just Sega being Sega again." Yet I want to support this game because it's been worked on by numerous amazing people. I know it's going to be a great collection, I just wish Sega will keep the originals on Steam. Perhaps with enough convincing they'll come to their senses. Anyways I'd like to hear your thoughts on this. Maybe you think it's a great idea, maybe you agree with me. Either way I am super excited for Sonic Origins and have already pre-ordered the game on Playstation 5.