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Sega releasing every console game for free with ads on mobile (sega.com)
610 points by yincrash on June 26, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 255 comments

Having a 4 year old son I am the first person to put my hand up and say I absolutely HATE ads and general in-app purchases for games that he likes to play on my iPhone. In some cases the way these are implemented it is almost akin to being in a casino which is not a skill I really want my son picking up (watch this ad to see what prize you can WIN etc).

I welcome Sega's announcement and will be delighted to hand over $1.99 to disable all ads - I know their games are of a known quality, and will come without suprise violence included etc.

By way of example I have one simple game he loves to play that randomly brings up images of a guy holding a girl in a headlock with a gun pointed at her head.... and the same ad comes up repeatedly. I can't even disable it via an in-app purchase (trust me, I tried).

As an aside, I'd welcome some suggestions of games he can play, and if anyone reading this is a game developer I'll be happy to provide any imnput to something you are dreaming up.

EDITS: just for clarity of reading

Set up a DNS proxy, point your son's iPad at it, tail the log and then blacklist domains that serve these ads.

Bonus, this can also be used to remove YouTube and other kinds of ads as well as all the phone-home "analytics" if that's your thing.

  -- Edit --
Some options:

http://www.thekelleys.org.uk/dnsmasq/doc.html + ToDo's via Google

https://github.com/apankrat/dnswhisperer or more generally https://github.com/search?utf8=&q=ad+blocking+dns

There are also 3rd party services that provide this function. They have obvious privacy issues, but for a kid's iPad it might be an option.

Another alternative is buy him a Nintendo handheld instead of an iPad. No ads, no dodgy content, quality games.

My daughter is six and super-happy with the Nintendo DS. I have a 3DS that she also plays on sometimes. When she was 4, we bought one of those child-hardened Kindles and enrolled her in Amazon Freetime; she loved it.

Exactly the same progression with my five year-old. He still uses his hardened Kindle with Freetime, but for most gaming, really likes his DS I restored from a broken state on the cheap.

what if you dont like Nintendo games ?

The games are for a young child. It is quite unlikely that Nintendo makes a game that is unsuitable for or disliked by people of that age. They are the one console maker who focuses on gameplay experience instead of graphics technology.

Get a PSVita instead it's a ridiculously underrated handheld and will be going cheap these days.

But as it was a young kid we're talking about I think it's safe to say there will be something on Nintendo that they're into.

My main point was more just you really do get what you pay for and if these things on iPads bother you then please vote with your wallets and buy products from companies that actually care about quality of their software.

The console is supposedly for the kid, not you. I've never met a 4-year-old who didn't like Nintendo games.

Does not really answer my question. I don't feel that culturally these games bring much on the table. Why do you have to make 4-years old play games made for 4-years old? When I was 5 I wanted to play the games my 15 years old brother was playing.

Then don't buy a Nintendo handheld...?

proxy him and tail the logs?

There are tons of 3rd party games for the 3DS. If you can't find games you want to play on it, then you're not looking.

+1 for Pi-Hole for this sort of thing. Comes with pre-built lists of sites, and has a nice admin ui to handle blocks/allows.

The thing you want for this is called Privoxy. There are scripts out there to convert e.g. Easylist to Privoxy format. It should take less than an hour to get it all going.

Also, the kid and father could pihole the shait out of it. I know i really want to do it.

Q: About ad blocking dns projects in general, what's the downside ? (beside jeopardizing the future of the internets)

Making people who have passive ad income upset enough to tell people not to use it but in a non confrontational way

The same downside as adblockers: some websites will break or block you.

Wow, thanks!

My 3.5 year old loves Monument Valley. It's not something I thought he would have been capable of playing - and he does sometimes "need some help to win" - but he downloaded it himself on Kindle Fire for Kids Unlimited and just started playing it.

The Kids Unlimited thing has been great. All the apps are included in the monthly price, there's no ads, no in-app purchases, and all the games and apps are vetted to be child-safe. It's amazing to watch him download stuff and figure out how to play it without any help.

Thanks for making me aware of it. I've been looking for something to get my 6-year-old nephew that can be set up to be kid safe, and I hadn't really thought about the Fire tablets until now. How's their durability?

Rock solid. We've have had 2 fire 7's in our house for 1.5 years, in the hands of a now 8 and 6 year old and no issues. Things are covered in gunk (like how they manage the touch screen is beyond me), and they keep going.

I don't use unlimited, I've side loaded play store, set age range, enabled full parental controls on play store and on the tablet themselves... They have full control, but web is blocked etc. Play store is great, tells them they need to uninstall things to install the next game. They don't need my interaction to install X or Y now.

They did manage to download an app that let them have full access to unfiltered youtube, but we caught that pretty quick. YouTube kids is great as well.

Sounds great. Thanks for taking the time to answer, I appreciate it!

The durability has been really good. We've just got a regular Kindle Fire with a Kids profile on it; it's taken a real beating and shown no issues.

The Kids Edition of the tablet is more expensive, but comes with a very rugged case and a "If they break it, we'll replace it. No questions asked" guarantee for the first couple of years.

That sounds like an ideal warranty for a young child's electronics. Thanks for responding.

just mentioning this but: I broke normal kindles twice within a year or so, and got them replaced with no questions asked.

Amazon's customer service is beyond legendary.

> Having a 4 year old son

> games that he likes to play on my iPhone

Dude those thing are psychological traps aimed to break a 30yo-something will, what do you think they'll do to a 4yo?

This is important for parents to note. Teach your child about computing on a RaspPi where they'll actually learn real computing and not a walled device with a download button. I know they're convenient at a restaurant...etc, but they rigidly enforce instant gratification without much learning involved. I guess though it isn't super different than a Nintendo if taken with moderation, but I'd argue most of the games are less complicated in scope...more like slot machines than something with an engaging story and strategy. They also have an infinite amount of games at their fingertips instead of I'm bored with "x", time to go play.

Welcome to parenthood. You even sound like the parents of the 80s and 90s now.

Before that it was too much TV.

Before that it was too much radio.

In Victorian times it was reading too many books.

Kids of today will always be kids of today, doing the things that they do instead of the things that you nostalgically remember doing. Even Socrates noted that.

Never before have there been people watching the analytics and in real-time figuring out how to make their stuff more addictive.

I am also down with pointing out that the world has changed less than people think and do it quite often myself, but on the other hand, there are some real differences between mobile games and television, or even console games of the past. I do not keep my kids entirely off the tablets, but I do, without them really realizing it, keep them well away from the Skinner boxes. I'd rather just pay to buy something.

When they are older, I will have a discussion with them about this. But discussing how they work and why they are dangerous and why you need to stay away from them requires multiple concepts a 6-year-old is not yet able to deal with. (Children are not just little adults.)

All of those are examples of the same fundamental, where children can become monofocused on one domain and suffer long term for lack of broad exposure to experiences.

They are also easy traps - from the 18th century to the 21st century, if your kid is wrapped up in books or a phone you don't have to worry about who they are interacting with, what they are doing outside, if they are in danger or putting others in danger - they stay home and are low maintenance.

Problem is, low maintenance doesn't produce robust human beings.

People keep saying that (shortly after becoming parents), and yet the kids keep turning out alright.

I grew up like that and boy did it ruin my life! Living on a farm 10 miles from the nearest road, playing concerts, traveling, and working remotely to finance it all. It's a shame I was so wrapped up in my books and computers and video games as a kid because I could have led a normal life in a cubicle like everyone else.

I have to agree heavily and with your previous parent comment. Bad media, content, entertainment, recreational activities does not produce bad children.

I'm not completely certain but I'm fairly positive having your child interact with the bad people or hanging around the wrong types of friends (etc) far trumps any "bad forms of media".

Too much TV was and is a real problem.

I wasn't around for "too much radio". Sounds suspect. There wasn't that much programming available.

Too many books? Pfft.

“the girl who sits for hours poring over a novel to the damage of her eyes, her brain, and her general nervous system, is guilty of a lesser fault of the nature of suicide.”

"[novel reading is] one of the most pernicious habits to which a young lady can be devoted. When the habit is once thoroughly fixed, it becomes as inveterate as the use of liquor or opium.”

"I have seen two poor disconsolate parents drop into premature graves, miserable victims to their daughters' dishonour, and the peace of several relative families wounded, never to be healed again in this world. 'And was novel-reading the cause of this? inquires some gentle fair one... I answer yes!"

"Girls are not apt to understand the evils of novel-reading, and may think it is only because mothers have outlived their days of romance that they object to their daughters enjoying such sentimental reading; but the wise mother understands the effects of sensational reading upon the physical organization, and wishes to protect her daughter from the evils thus produced... Romance-reading by young girls will, by this excitement of the bodily organs, tend to create their premature development, and the child becomes physically a woman months, or even years, before she should."

- various sources

The medium changes, the message stays the same.

* One should be careful to avoid the trap of using fiction as an escape from reality.

* One's behavior can be influenced by the stories.

* Stories allow one to experience another's life vicariously. Make sure they are equipped to understand and handle the experiences and pains of that life.

People didn't use to consider it edifying to read any book whatever, no matter how unchallenging and hackneyed. Now adults pat themselves on the back for finishing a young adult novel that's 100 pages long.

Well I think some gaming is okish, with moderation and even as a time-off for parents, but at that age socializing should be the primary activity, and that includes making a scene in public and facing the consequences.

That said there are plenty games suitable for children that aren't manipulative iap-infested swamps. sure you have to pay those, but destroying reward centers of kids that age isn't worth the saving from freemiums.


We're in a thread talking about old consoles. It's easy to forget that the majority of games on any console were awful shovelware (I'm sure many of us have the experience of booting up an old, fondly remembered game only to slowly realize it's crap).

This has actually never happened to me. I replay the games I played as a kid about every two years and they are always great. The game I reply the most are Kid Chameleon for Sega 16bit and Wonderboy in Dragon's trap for Sega 8-bit.

I might look into this but I cannot stand ads and I'm inapt at using mobile phones, so probably not.

All games I remember good still are, my MAJOR gripe is that post 1995 most games got standardized as to what left/right clicks are for and how movement control is performed (wasd+shift/space) so going to play game before or around that timeline with those clunky ux is a major mental drain

i.e. Fragile Allegiances, Magic Carpet, Shogun Total War are all enticing but I cannot play without getting frustrated.

Honorable mention to Master of Magic, which is completely workable.

Mobile wise since Dwarf Fortress got a mobile skin I couldn't be happier.

The few games I still like to play from my Atari 5200 days are Missile Command, Gyruss, Frogger, and Pac Man. All of them have been ported/updated but they are still fun in their original incarnation under emulation.

From my Sega Genesis days: Streets of Rage, all of the Sonic games, and the Mortal Kombat series are still pretty fun.

I'm not saying that there were no good old games. What I'm saying is they benefit from the same effect as old movies and books, where the best remembered and preserved titles are good ones and the crap is mostly forgotten about, leading to an unrealistic perspective on how relatively good or bad the medium writ large used to be. For every Super Mario Brothers 3 there's a Mystery of Atlantis.

Most ads don't work without a connection, so for games that allow it, I just disable Wifi on my son's iPad. Works great for e.g. Zombie Tsunami, it's actually a way better experience without wifi.

This hack works. I wish there was way to disable internet for some apps. I am sure that's possible on android.

Huawei's EMUI can do this. You can enable and disable WiFi, cellular data and even roaming on a per app basis as well.

So at least Huawei did something good with their own UI.

I agree. I wish there was a way of disabling internet on a per-app basis. The iPhone has this for mobile data, but not for wifi.

Even if it was a passive permission - i.e. you had to specifically go into settings and disable it, rather than being asked for each app - I'd be fine with that.

Not without rooting it isn't. I don't think even Android 7.0 has an option to disable internet access on per-app basis - you can disable most permissions, but accessing the internet does not require a special permission(there used to be an INTERNET permission but it has been removed by Google)

There's a way. A firewall, that work as a local VPN. You don't need to root your Android. I use NetGuard. https://www.netguard.me

It's open source.

I wonder if this local vpn trick would work on iOS.

Does iOS support VPNs? I've never used an iDevice before.

They'd have a hard time selling millions of them to corporate drones "in the enterprise" if it didn't. This and Exchange support are basically unavoidable for those kinds of sales.

Joking aside, iOS has supported VPN connections since as long ago as iPhone OS (feels weird calling it that now) 4 I think?

It does.

Haven't tried if it works but my android version (6.0.1) seems to have an option for disabling internet for specific apps. Note that I haven't rooted (yet). Going to Settings -> Data Usage -> Settings will show me a list of apps and I can chose between following four options Allow, Forbidden, Wi-Fi only and Data only.

Thanks, didn't know that. For other people the path was Settings -> Data Usage -> Data Usage Control for me.

Which manufacturer? ASUS?

My Motorola Moto G4 Play has Android 6.0.1 too and the only option present is to restrict background data.

I also have a G4 Play. I recommend installing LineageOS on it, rooting it, and installing AFWall, which allows setting app-granular networking permissions for WiFi, VPN, and cellular.

OnePlus (3T) for me. (on the Data Usage page it was the small dots menu button in the top right hand corner.)

Mine is a OnePlus 2 device.

It works.

>(there used to be an INTERNET permission but it has been removed by Google)

Can't say I'm too surprised by this development. I am surprised they were magnanimous enough to give it in the first place.

It was likely implemented before google took over android.

It seems unlikely, given that the permissions system (if we're talking being able to approve certain permissions only, per app) only came in a relatively recent version of Android (definitely >3).

Apps still need to add the INTERNET permission to work. It's just now it's one of those that are automatically granted without action from the user. I suppose there could be some hack to disable it for certain apps though.

search play store for "no root firewall"


ISTR that's coming in iOS 11.

Ha. Awesome idea. I'll check it out!

The ads are insane. Want to save your progress (even in games with built in save mechanics in the original cart)? You have to watch an ad. Want to progress to the next level? Watch an ad. Want to progress past an in-level save point? Watch an ad.

It completely removes the player from the game and makes it tedious to play. I mean, I guess I'm happy they are releasing these at all, but they need to come up with a better way to serve ads that doesn't defeat the purpose of the game itself (quick bouts of fun).

Am I reading the discussion wrong or do they offer you a two-dollar no-ads option? Because for that price it seems like a no-brainer.

Until I see reports that it truly is "no ads" in the purchased version, I'll hold off. I've been burned too many times by the "pay full price to remove ads" only to get more ads.

I downloaded Sonic the Hedgehog this past weekend. My 3-year-old son was really intrigued as he watched me play. Within a few minutes, he wanted to play. The mechanics of a the game are a little difficult for him, however, the ads made the game almost unplayable for him. "Finding the 'X'" (to exit out of an ad) is now a mini-game within a game.

That said, SEGA got $1.99 out of me really quickly. $2 is a killer deal for sense of nostalgia, let alone a fine video game.

My son was talking about Sonic the Hedgehog at the breakfast table the next morning.

My son is 5 and I let him play Sonic on an emulator. He was hooked almost immediately.

You should definitely report the game to Apple. Games have ratings, and a guy holding a girl in a headlock with a gun pointed to her head is depiction of violence and likely not 4+ age friendly.

Apple are the only people that can force the game to change it's ad inventory.

I've done that before, and no-one cares.

The app had an age rating of 4+, it kept showing alcohol ads.

I told Apple, who did nothing, I told the app maker who did nothing, and I reported it to the UK regulator who told me the ad network was using demographics, not app age ratings, to deliver ads. Since the phone owner had a credit card the ad network "knew" the person using the phone was over 18.

I pointed out as politely as I could how fucking stupid that was, and the regulator is now "working with" the industry to try to fix this.

Excuse me if I sound intolerant but, do kids really need to play mobile games? I don't understand why most parents are happy to hand over an iPhone to their kid, then complain that their games are constantly trying to syphon money. Just find something else to keep them distracted then, get a second hand gameboy for example.

Nope they dont. In fact it has shown to slow their development (social, mechanical, physical, speech).

Kids should be playing in the real world for a long time before they are exposed to the virtual world.

But so often parents make these decisions based on nostaliga ("Oh look my 3 y/o son is playing Zelda just like I did when I was a kid")

I don't have any suggestion for an iPhone. But Humble Bundle has had fantastic ad-free bundles of games, where you pay what you want.

Maybe get your four year old a cheap Android phone or tablet and some Humble Bundled games? Then you won't have ads, and if your child breaks the device, at least it wasn't your iPhone.

Looks good. Definitely something to consider. I agree it would be nice to have an alternative to my iPhone, I fear it is only a matter of time before we have lots of tears and a broken screen.... :)

For a game suggestion, I'll mention "Re-Volt Classic" [1]. It's a very high quality port of an old PC game. It runs beautifully on today's mobile devices, and the game is really well made IMO. Be careful not to get Re-Volt 2/3/etc., they're awful modern micro-transaction clones.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1OH4ZKr1iY

Oh wow, thanks for this, I loved revolt on the PS1 as a kid (that menu music tho <3) and have played the far superior PC version on and off over the years since.

Awesome suggestion, video looks great, will be buying it soon. Thanks :)

Some years back my wife and I decided to write a series of apps for toddlers that had zero ads, and absolutely no annoying sounds or music. We wanted to make something your kid could play quietly, without any help. The iPhone/iPad app version has been down for a while since we didn't profit enough off of it to continue paying the $100 annual apple developer fee. The Amazon version is still up if you want to see what we had in mind. It's called "Quiet Toddler Games for Tablets" when you search under Apps. I still like the concept, it's too bad that it didn't really pick up.

Maybe set up a Pi-hole at home and filter your network ad traffic, specifically for your kids devices?

Thanks foir the suggestion. He just uses my iPhone which I lock, but if disabling wifi doesn't work I'll try this approach instead.

Hmm, I installed sonic on Android, first screen that popped up before getting into the game was "give money to get rid of ads". So maybe install it and pay for it :)

That's funny. I remember not being allowed to go to Chuck E Cheese's or play carnival games that offered prizes for the same reason, parents didn't want priming for casino visiting. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I often wonder if this kind of extreme parenting is more or less likely to result in the negative consequences the parents are trying to avoid.

One could hypothesize that, having never learned to enjoy a pleasure in moderation, a person might be more vulnerable to going off the rails with it later on.

Anecdotally, the friends I have that are most prone to binging on sugary things are the ones who were never allowed sugar as kids.

Maybe, but having a 4 year old I'm happy to be called a helicopter parent with regards to casino type content.

When he is older, yes I'll need to pull back a bit :)

Would it work to explain to him why casinos are bad?

"Games that are like this (point to app), like casinos, have "random" endings. "Random" means that sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, and if you were to play many many times, and count the number of times you win and the number of times you lose, they would stay at similar levels. For example, you win two times for every one time you lose. But, here's the trick: these games are made so that they trick people, even very smart people, into thinking they win more often than they lose, but they actually don't! These games take over your brain and make you think things that are not true. And if you let them do that, you will lose more often than you win, so overall you will lose and that is bad. So it is best to stay away."

Your kid will also learn about probability!

Thanks, will check them out :)

Jailbroken iPhones can get FirewallIP[1] which offers Little Snitch functionality where domains and IP addresses can be allowed or denied for each app, triggered by the App's request to access a resource.

Android briefly had WhisperMonitor[2] but that was killed when WhisperSystems was puchased by Twitter.

[1] http://cydia.saurik.com/package/com.yllier.firewall7/ [2] http://www.androidauthority.com/worlds-first-true-firewall-f...

If the game can be played offline, just turn off wifi and you can disable cellular data on a per-app basis with settings > cellular > use cellular data for (toggle)

I use this to disable ads and upgrade posts in angry birds, and it works very well.

The in-app purchase says "remove non-SEGA adverts" which sounds like you'll still see ads even after paying, which seems shady to me.

Second, I've got a retro arcade collection on iOS/android that might be a bit harder for the 4yo but has some games he can play. My niece likes "pong" and "duck hunt". Check my website for more info. I'm working on a graphics revamp as well.

I have a second game (on iOS only) that's free called "tic tac blam" that might be easier for them to pick up. I'd appreciate feedback on either one.

Well if it's Sega ads it'll probably just be ads for future free games you can download, or possibly for their console game releases. As long as the frequency is much less, that's might not be too bad, and possibly useful.

Right, but it's still odd since most people would expect all ads to be removed if they pay.

> I'd welcome some suggestions of games he can play,

The BBC have some games under the CBeebies brand.

LEGO have a few which are somewhat enjoyable.

Dogbyte have "blocky highways" (and when he's a bit older "blocky roads").

I use the AdBlock app for iOS, it sets up a dummy VPN that blocks a lot of ad servers. Works pretty well.


It seems to me that Sega pulled an interesting instance of the well-known fallacy "Works for Google, so it will work for us".

(Not sure if there is a short name for this. "Google fallacy"?)

Usually, the fallacy is more along mimicking technical details such as using a commodity hardware server setup or introducing high-scalability technology into early software stacks.

However, seeing the same fallacy applied to ads, at such a large scale, is new to me.

Free games on phones with obnoxious ads is new to you? And you associate it with Google?

On the App store when browsing the various apps with in-app purchases you can get a history of the popular purchases. Needless to say I am quite astonished at how rapidly the in-app purchase price increases. From simple 99 cent purchases to 99 dollars.

The ability to make in-app purchases needs to be turned off by default rather than buried three levels down in iOS

I'd pay 20 quid, it's a huge catalogue (though they probably have extracted most of the revenue already).

Hey, you can lock certain parts of the screen from touch on the iPhone. It locks the phone inside an app and you can define "dead" parts of the screen, really handy.

Thanks, yes I've done that. Works well in keeping him off youtube/my work email etc. The kid lock is great, unfortunately doesn't stop the ads.

it's crazy that a kids mode wouldn't affect ads. in some countries it's illegal to advertise to children, and in many others there's at least strict rules on what you can and cannot advertise to children.

For those with rooted Android phones, AdAway (available from F-Droid) does a good job of blocking in-app ads in my experience.

I've just downloaded a couple of games, and I do have the option to buy for £1.99, an ad free version.

Perhaps you could setup Pihole and blacklist Sega's advertising domains?

I think this is awesome, and I wish Nintendo would do it too, but I was hoping for an Emulator style application, a single app, where new games can be added as they come out. Being separate apps, it's fine, but it's going to make it a PITA when you have over 100 games you'd love to play. Thank god for iOS searching.

I think nintendo has it right. I'd rather pay for the games and not be the product.

Except that Nintendo doesn't offer the vast majority of their back catalog in any shape or form.

Nintendo is clearly motivated by something other than profit. They release the NES Classic Mini, a license to print money if there ever was one, and it's impossible to buy one without hammering Walmart's private APIs with a script. Then, after a little over one season, they cancel the product entirely.

Perhaps Nintendo feeds on nostalgia brainwaves or something.

I've started to think that Nintendo's goal is survival, not profit. This is different than most American companies, and perhaps most companies in general. Profit and survival are, of course, related, but different things. First, I mean survival as-is, not just survival as a legal entity. So that means not laying off employees to survive. When the goal is survival, the risk-reward calculations may be different when you've got enough profit. It may mean not exploiting a cash-cow as aggressively as possible because after a certain point, the risk of over-extending yourself becomes non-trivial, and the extra profit is just racking up the score.

Rumor is that the NES Mini was just a way to burn through left over hardware stock.

"I think we could have done a better job communicating that was gonna be a limited run," Scibetta told Ars. "It was supposed to be for that holiday. We extended it actually because demand was so much, then we stopped producing it."


Maybe, like, wanting to make something good and be proud of it.

Nintendo doesn't know how to run a business. They know how to make games.

It's a shame. Because, as you said, they could effectively print as much money as they wanted with a long-term production run of the NES classic and the obvious sequels for SNES, N64, and Game Boy.

Per Wikipedia, "Nintendo is one of the world's largest video game companies by market capitalization. Founded on 23 September 1889...."

I think they're doing okay running a business.

You'd think that, then you'd see them doing things like stopping production of the NES Classic, which is one of the most idiotic moves ever.

So long as you can sell a product at a profit, you keep fucking selling it.

They slow trickle out games and franchise reboots to drive console sales based on Nostalgia. That tactic seems to be working for the time being...

It seems a little backwards though right? Imagine if they offered a Netflix-style service (or akin to PlayStation Plus).

They could grant access to their back catalog for something like $10/mo, and roll out segments of the back catalog over time to promote it.

Then use nostalgia-based franchise reboots and new IP (lol, but occasionally something like Splatoon catches on) to push new console sales and then slowly phase-out back-catalog support from older consoles.

You could time the phase-out with a holiday season 2 years into a new console (aligns with discounts and once initial new console buzz wears out).

Seems like a much more predictable revenue stream than hinging on the success of a new console.

You could also create leaderboards and niche competitions for the hardcore audience (Super Mario Maker has a sizable hardcore following).

Will that work for the next 30 years? We know the nintendo model has worked over the last 30.

As long as they keep making games they'll always have a back catalog to sell.

I see it more as Nintendo makes good games to drive sales and that tactic seems to still work for the time being.

I believe they have it set up so you can pay once to remove all ads from the game as well.

... you can actually buy your way out of the ads.

Would you pay a subscription for access to the old games? Ad revenue is recurring and is probably more attractive to Sega (vs. a one time purchase fee).

No, but I wouldnt be opposed to spending 20-40 for a good game either.

The issue is that once they have your money, what is their motivation to offer updates to the game when new iOS versions come out?

This is no different from every other phone manufacturer but Apple. They have no reason to support older phones because it doesn't make them money. It does benefit Apple because they get recurring revenue from the App Store.

You might be willing to pay 20-40 bucks for a game, but the vast majority of users aren't.

I still have my sega. I'd rather just buy the original cart, new or used :)

I just hope this won't be weaponized to attack emulation. Many big publishers and platform owners are unhappy with proliferation of ROMs and emulators. With things like these (and according to other commenters the ads are obnoxious and emulation quality not that high) the argument can change from "emulation is SATAN, these old games for old platforms must DIE OFF" to "there is a legal way to play our games, this is piracy".

They wouldn't be totally wrong if they made that argument. Although, I personally believe that if you already own the game in one format, it's fine to use a ROM on an emulator. I'm open to other arguments though.

The thing is that ROMs and emulators on PC offer some big incentives - stuff like Launch Box, settings and shaders, raw power of the device, controller support, etc. The emulator used/bundled here is apparently inferior to even one SEGA themselves used before on older devices.

In theory the ROM sites have a disclaimer that this is archival purposes, to be downloaded by legal owners, etc. - in practice anyone can download them. But if it wasn't for these borderline illegal sites the games would D I E. Nintendo famously used an 'illegal' ROM of Mario and sold copies of it, some people speculated that they lost the original material.

Yes, I guess piracy sucks and is technically illegal but even I (and I don't play many games at all) had to download cracks for physical legal copies I owned (including once for a game published by SEGA, funnily enough).

I think this is great, but 121 MB download for a game whose ROM file is 316 KB? I mean, of course I expect overhead but the cynic in me suspects most of that is analytics, tracking, and advertising libraries.

It's also built in Unity, which explains the terrible performance and emulation.

It really boggles my mind that they did this... performance is absolutely critical for emulation.

This is like using Javascript to run a car.

Please don't give the Javascript community any ideas.

node-opencv + johnny-five = profit?

Sega games with poorly-coded emulators/ads aside, the Sonic 1 fully-native port is still incredible from a gameplay standpoint, and contains a few surprises even for those very familiar with the game. It's worth it to pay for ad-free. (and it also works on the new Apple TV too, but I recommend having a MFi controller if you want to play it like that)

As an aside, the same guys that did the Sonic native ports are now working on a new Sonic game in the classic style. It's the most excited I've been about a new game in years - http://store.steampowered.com/app/584400/Sonic_Mania/

The Sonic game uses the most vile type of in-app ad. The ad requires you to play Game of War for some indeterminate amount of time. You are made to play it after every stage. I hope Sega changes this, it basically makes their game unplayable.

I'm starting to get to the point where I wish people weren't allowed to call advertising supported products "free." I don't know what other term would be better, but I feel like users are paying some non-monetary cost.

"adware" works for me.

Brainshareware is more accurate but it is a mouthful.

This is adware like popover ads used to be on the web. You know, the ones you couldn't get to the background.

Apple changed apps with In App Purchases from being able to say "Free" to "Get." Maybe they'll do the same with ad supported apps as well.

Just noting that they changed that for all apps, even truly free ones with no ads or purchases.

Does any app have “Free” on the download button now?

Users are (on average) clearly paying some monetary cost as well, otherwise the business model would not make sense. So rather than paying X to get a product, you now pay some Y >> X, plus the additional annoyance and wasted time.

Since it's a skinner box, why not call it skinnerware?

What does this mean? Skinner boxes have nothing to do with showing ads.

> Skinner boxes have nothing to do with showing ads

Watch this add.

Get your reward.

That is why I am starting to randomly click on ads simply so they waste the money and get a lesser ROI and scewed stats.

Well, Play Store does explicitly mark the app as contaning ads.

Google has invented such a narrow definition of 'not-advertising' that the label cannot distinguish between apps bundling countless third-parties vs someone linking directly to their own website in the game-ending credits.



Is this a joke? It seriously sounds like an onion article, that's how absurd it is.

No, this is quite common. They have ads now which are just webviews that open an HTML\JavaScript version of a small slice of a game, often Game of War or similar generic RTS\tower defense mobile trash. Apple actually does allow this app-within-an-app method of code downloading if it's just a webview. They actually force you to not just watch but actually play and progress in the game for about 20/30 seconds (i.e. add play one short round of tower defense or drop a few units on the ground and fire at enemies) before going back to the app.

I'm trying to find an example of a game with it so you can see for yourself (I would assume many Android games have the same thing), but it seems I've uninstalled them all out of frustration.

This is my preferred way to pay for games, having it ad-free so I can trial the game without paying, then if I like it pay a one-time $1.99 to play the game ad-free.

I think everyone wins, you don't pay for games you don't like, game developers are funded and can focus on making enjoyable games instead of trying to engineer games using dark tactics to extract maximum revenue with pay to win IAP's.

The Game of War is an ad that you can close after a short time when the X appears. Not a fan of this ad-style but I wont be seeing too many ads if I like the game as I'll just shell out for the one-time ad-free IAP.

Not that I'm defending the ad, but if you wait the timeout an x will appear to close the ad. No game play needed

Was just going to say this. It's annoying, but of all the ads, it's actually more of the least offensive. Instead of a faked video of what the game "is" you actually get to see the mechanics of it. No idea how true the ad is to the game since it's not my cup of tea but it's smart.

The ads like this usually have fine print explaining that the game/ad is not representative of the actual gameplay experience.

Many ads like this will also let you exit out by pressing the area where the x would appear immediately, even 10 seconds before they actually render the icon.

Actually, these ads are a little smarter (more likely poorly programmed). I've waited and tried to time it out, and no X appeared. A few times, I was presented with the "click here to install" modal window with no other option to exit/close (after waiting for 60 seconds+). If you click on the install button, a browser opens, then the app store open, and when you finally make your way back to the original Sega game I found that it couldn't keep it all in memory and the whole thing reloads from the beginning.

I'm not taking it too seriously, but it's a real quick way to make me never play any of the classics they put out on IOS.

IIRC you can escape that one by tapping in the top right before it loads.

I seem to recall you can close out of it after 5 seconds without playing unless they've got different tech for the sega ones. Either way it for sure means I'd never ever play a game that had such a shitty and obnoxious ad.

Other fun patterns: - Fuck you for playing games on mute whilst listening to music, Ima override that with super loud obnoxious bleeping for my ad - This ad is just going to keep pretending you clicked on it and open the app store, even though you didn't - Top new feature ad: freeze phone when wifi drops (because I'm on the underground and signal is transient).

I'm fine with a pop up ad that I can x out of straight away to "pay" for a free app. That's a fair deal, same as advertising in a magazine etc. But the obnoxious phone hijacking appstore opening stuff just ensures I'm angry and sure as hell not downloading.

I simply don't understand how those make people not annoyed and actually generate conversions

> I simply don't understand how those make people not annoyed and actually generate conversions

if you can preselect your target group/audience to consist purely of suckers, this can be very profitable.

it's literally preying on the weak. it is so clearly and straightforward EVIL that it should be regulated.

and it is, in many EU countries at least. but the lowest common denominator for these ad markets is whatever the big, US-based, app/play stores allow. even if they'd make regulations (in law), which they won't, I strongly doubt they would pick a sensible[0] level of what is considered "okay", given that extremely powerful (including beyond deceptive) advertising is already considered so "normal" and ingrained in US culture. certain ads are basically allowed to con people (within some limits, but still)

[0] in terms of public health

Or, you can just purchase the game to get rid of the apps.

This is such a false dilemma. "Pony up money or get the same content with a less-than-stellar ad experience." What about supporting your product with ads that don't suck? I know this is much easier in theory, but I'd like a Web where the advertisements didn't suck so much.

Mobile ads are much better than web ads, in my experience. You just need to wait X amount of seconds and it's gone. Apps don't have pop-unders or any of those insufferable loop traps.

Plus you can often pay to make them go away. You usually don't have that ability on the web.

Then its not exactly free.

oh no :(

there's a certain level of abusive advertising beyond which I think whoever decided to put it there deserves to have their software pirated.

sure, the ad networks also carry blame, but the devs provide them with a platform and medium. both are guilty and the cumulative effect of the ubiquity of abusive ads is very damaging to society.

Deal with ads and play for free or pay to not have ads. Or you know, don't play at all.

The top left is always a close button, click it at any time to close the add.

How does this "gameplay" react with ad blocking dns ?

What happens with wifi off ?

I'm holding out for Dreamcast games, since it's one of the few Sega systems I didn't own (and at one point I did own the Master System, Genesis, Sega CD, Game Gear, Nomad, Saturn) and there are games for the DC I would really like to play. Too bad Sega can't/won't get their third-party licensees to release stuff through this program.

Crazy Taxi is already out and it's surprisingly good.

Cool! I just went and looked at WP's list of Dreamcast games[0] and honestly, besides Ecco, Seaman and Shenmue there's nothing from Sega I want to play. I'm hoping they do as good a job at bringing third-parties along for the ride as the JP PSN did for PS1 games.


Chu chu rocket is a pretty good game and it's available on Android and iOS.

> Somehow, someway, SEGA is using an emulator that is worse than the one they were using in the 2009 iOS releases. That emulator wasn't very good to begin with either.

Ouch. Releasing an emulator that runs slower on modern hardware than their old emulator did on old hardware? Sounds like they used whatever the iOS equivalent of Electron is called.

Stealthily sledging Javascript in unrelated threads seems to be becoming a sport in these parts

Eurogamer hates it too: "Unity ports run much worse than older emulation, even on high-end devices"


It's a shame that did such a lousy job with the emulation. It's one thing to be inaccurate and fast or accurate and slow, but making a slow and inaccurate emulator for the Genesis in 2017 is super lame.

Its not their first offense in this domain, I remember buying a DS collection of Sonic games and their was slowdowns, while in the meantime free emulators can do the job without problems.

Monetizing 20 years old games is already easy money, they could at least do it as well as people doing it on their free time...

Actually I will say one thing, maybe not on their iOS releases but for their recent 2D sonic remakes on consoles they actually hired from the Sonic fangame community (Christian Whitehead IIRC) to rewrite the engines and they run ridiculous good.

So yeah for once the paid version was as good as a passion driven fan version.

That's a bit different. The DS had a 67 MHz ARM9 and an ARM7 running at half that and even the best homebrew emulator. Even the best emulator on DS is not great. Meanwhile the iPhone 5S (chosen since it's the oldest supported by the upcoming iOS 11) has a dual-core ARM CPU running at 1.3Ghz with way higher IPC than an old ARM9.

The Sonic games are quite good, as they are native ports. But the other games should be avoided, with or without ads.


SEGA® Forever™ is a free and growing classic games collection of nearly every SEGA game ever released from every console era – Master System, Genesis/Mega Drive, Dreamcast, and more. Available on iOS and Android mobile devices.

-Play free

-Save your game progress

-Leaderboard -- compete with the world for high scores

-Controller support -- fully integrated wireless Bluetooth controller support

-Offline play

-Games released every month; download them all!

It's not free. Every game has "in-app purchase".

It appears to be ad supported with an in-app purchase to disable ads for $1.99.

According to eurogamer,

"You can play them forever without paying, or you can spend a one-off fee of £1.99 to ditch the ads, which appear on the start screen, the save screen, and I think at launch, but will not interrupt play in anyway"


Oh so it's $1.99 PER GAME. I was wondering why this amount seemed rather cheap.

You can play without paying money, right? That's much one definition of free, isn't it?

Edit: Why the downvoted? I thought free = no money?

Not if they force you to do work for them in order to use it. They're basically employing you to look at ads, and paying you in game time.

And what about Google? They basically employ you to look at ads and then pay you in being able to check your emails?

I wouldn't call Google free either.

You can't really compare some classic games to Google's product offering, there's a huge difference in the scale of value here.

Wheres the tipping point for when the product offering is enough for it to be ok to be supported by ads and data?

I wouldn't attach a value judgment in this situation. If you're making money off of ads and data then your product isn't free, regardless of whether you think the business model is good or bad.

In that case almost nothing on the app store or Google Play store is free.

That's precisely the point.

I guess I'm not getting this. The game costs no money out of pocket to play, I'm just exchanging ads for playing? Isn't that a free (as in money) game?

It's free (as in money), but "free (as in money)" is a very limited definition of free

It seems that most people would like it to be free as in charity, which would never happen.

I agree, they need to make money somehow and I actually don't have any issue with the way Sega is doing it (ads if you don't want to pay money, or 2€ if you don't want to pay with ads).

What I object to is mainly assimilating not paying money and being free : it's not free if there are ads, you're paying with time, mind share (because there would not be that much money in ads if it was not at least a little bit effective) and potentially security (as ads are a known malware vector)

That's why I insist that free as in no money is a very restricted definition of free, and should not be considered equal to simply free, because it then undermines products that actually are free

You may as well say that a game is not free if it poses a challenge, since then you pay in frustration. When we're talking about prices, "free" refers to money. You're certainly right that there are other interesting axes you could examine games on, but I don't see how they belong on the game's price tag.

To pay in frustration the company would need to have a revenue model that could make money from your frustration.

As things stand, they have ads, which require your attention not your frustration. That means time paying attention to the ads in addition to the time spent playing the actual game.

And you keep referring to the price tag, but as everyone in software knows there are different meanings of 'free'. Not all of them refer to money, but all of them are important to understand.

In this case the argument is clearly about things like child-appropriate content; at which point there is a clearly valid need to distinguish between ad-supported and non-ad-supported apps. You can argue about what to call them if you like, but 'free' and 'ad-funded' wouldn't seem far from the mark.

There are tons of (actually) free apps and games. They can either be open source ("charity") or they could theoretically be marketing for new Xbox One/PS4/Switch Sega games.

"Free" as in other-currency-than-money isn't free.

If they just changed "Free" to "Ad Supported" I think most people here would be happy.

Money is not the only currency.

> Edit: Why the downvoted?

HN isn't as bad as Reddit, but there ARE a handful of touchy subjects that will get you swamped by downvotes, even if your comment reasonably adds to the discussion.

Advertising is one of those triggers. You just don't want to say anything here that could possibly be interpreted as supporting ads, if your care about your fake-Internet-points count.

For what it's worth, I threw you an upvote because this didn't seem fair. And there's 50/50 odds that this comment will result in you getting a sudden wave of upvotes (psychology is weird).

Exactly what I wanted to say.

* With an in-App purchase of $1.99 to remove “non-SEGA ads”, at least in the ones so far (like Altered Beast).

Also, at the current rate of release, it will take years to reach “nearly all” titles so I would take this with cautious optimism. Your favorite games may show up tomorrow or 3 years from now.

Can anyone verify how "good" it feels to play these games? I can't fathom the idea of playing Mega Drive games without a physical controller, my experiences of touchscreen controls for games designed for a controller are not good.

For me, not good at all. I tried Sonic on an iPad, and it was terrible, control was not accurate. Played the first two stages and then gave up.

I second that Sonic is terrible even more modern games like Jet Set Radio are unplayable. The only enjoyable ports I found on the App Store are Secret of Mana and Rtype.

One thing missing from this discussion: people who in the past bought the game are now required to pay for it again in order to have it ad-free! That's the reason for the big influx of 1 star ratings in the AppStore.

Apparently this isn't actually the case entirely. You can do a restore purchases on the old version now. I haven't tried it myself though.

Edit: remove unrelated edit!

You are correct, it seems a new update was released to allow the restoring of old purchases.

That's good to know. I've stayed away from them because I thought they might be bad ports or something.

Sadly, they are also bad ports. http://www.retronauts.com/?p=3278 They may improve with time, but for now, Sonic is the only playable game in the collection. On the plus side, it is free-with-ads, so you can try before you buy. I think there's promise here, but the current offering is pretty terrible.

Was excited until I download comix zone and heard the choppy audio and the game was lagging out - worked fine over 20 years ago. Just read a article and they ported these games into unity blah blah blah that doesn't excuse that you should test your product to see the final quality before porting everything over. This is unplayable garbage guys...

Looks like this is just another ploy to shovel a bunch of junk onto the App Store and collect the ad revenue. They had this IP just sitting around and not making any money, so what do they care. It doesn't actually need to be any good.

That kills the brand.

Why in the world is an emulator wrapped up in Unity?

this is actually awesome. Altered Beast is one of my favorite game of all time. Really looking forward to see Aladin and Jurassic Park becoming available.

It would be cool if they could release those on a more portable format so it could get put inside a raspberry pie or something!

Altered Beast was the one game I was willing to admit jealousy to the Sega guys for, still not sure I'd trade Excite bike for it though.

I wonder if VMU minigames will be ported with the associated Dreamcast games.

In other news, Hasbro is releasing Monopoly for free in exchange for listening to a timeshare pitch on every 10th roll.

The possibility of playing Shenmue on an iPhone is interesting..

I can't fathom free ads from Sega, I will gladly pay the handful of George Washingtons to keep my kids away from the onslaught of unregulated ads that this storied franchise is about to endure

Very slow ports, pay money and still get advertised to, launch titles are a yawnfest.

It's time to forget about the company that Sega once was and ignore anything that comes from the company it has become.

I sure hope that includes Seaman!


Apparently, the developer of Seaman is making a sequel. I don't know if it will be published by Sega or someone else.



They only seem to be available on the US App Store.

I look forward to Herzog Zwei being available!

SEGA owns the rights [1], so it's a possibility. They haven't released it in any recent Genesis game collections I know about, though.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technosoft#Closure

They didn't make these available in the Japan iOS App Store. It sounds like we're not missing much, though.

Wait, I don't get it, it's "every console game" or juste those 5 ? Where is my Street of Rage ? :(

I've seen so much malware spread through ads on Android that I'm more than willing to pay the 1.99 charge.

This is amazing and unexpected. I hope this sets a precedent for other developers to follow with their old titles.

So there's no option to pay a small fee and get an ad free experience? :(

Sort of on topic: Check out the book "Console Wars" by Blake Harris, about the battle between Nintendo and Sega. A really awesome book, in my humble opinion.

This is incredible. Please let me pay to remove ads though.

They do. It's $2/game

Dear Sega, you won't probably read this comment. If you do this for saturn Dragon Force.... I... I don't even know how to express the feelings if this happens. I know it won't be a reality but I guy can dream. My favorite game growing up. (only finished it through an emulator because I didn't understand english when I was a kid. The memories of non sleep till I finally finished the game.

Some of them are in the Dutch store. Not Sonic though. I did see the Dreamcast version of crazy taxi!

Serious kudos to Sega.

This is how old games should be handled throughout the industry when possible. The likelihood of someone not already familiar with a title or franchise to play it is a function of A) its cost and B) how dated it is. Once a game is seeing marginal returns, it's kind of a very corporate mindset to try and suck it dry of every last penny. Especially when you view games as a form of art.

I fear for so many incredible titles, especially as we possibly enter a real VR age.

Unless I force it on them (I probably will), my children may never give a second glance to the titles I grew up with and consider masterpieces, when they could sensually immerse themselves in a modern AAA or VR title.

So many great soundtracks, assets, feats of code, all deserving to be in a museum somewhere, lost in the ever-growing sea of content. Eventually only treasure-hunters like myself seek to experience and appreciate them.

Not only that, Sega can much more accurately determine what franchises might see profitable continuations, given a large enough sample size.

Having not played any of these titles on mobile myself, I can only imagine that Sega has ruined this very noble idea with intrusive ads and a payment scheme for removing them.

They should be handled by a visibly and audibly slow emulator? No thanks.

Well like I said, I haven't played them. Is the shipped emulator not good?

>Well like I said, I haven't played them. Is the shipped emulator not good?

Sounds like no:


I'm a little confused by your post.

You started with "Serious kudos to Sega." and ended it with "I can only imagine Sega has ruined this very noble idea with intrusive ads and a payment scheme for removing them."

Should they be applauded or shunned?

Additionally, the games of your youth are special, partly because they were a part of your youth. There will likely be games of your children's youth that they hold near and dear likewise. Maybe they will be serious enthusiasts and want to track the history of video games and see how we arrived at this current age, but thats a lot to take in! In my opinion, Nintendo has continued to release novel and fun games throughout the years that stick to the same principles that they designed the original Mario and Zelda following. Their last few console titles would be a good place to start and a potential bridge between the new and the old.

Sega isn't just one person. I started out praising them and then remembered they have a marketing team.

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