Legendary game designer Yuji Naka says he wishes Sega valued them a little more.

This year video game developer/publisher Sega is currently marking the 60th anniversary of the company’s founding, and the celebration has included the creation of the Game Gear Micro and Sonic the Hedgehog taiyaki sweets. But perhaps the most fan-pleasing part of the festivities has been Sega’s recent decision to give away Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Nights into Dreams, absolutely free, on Steam.

Released in 1992 and 1996, respectively, Sonic 2 and Nights are two of the most respected titles in Sega’s history. They have something else in common, too, as development of both was helmed by legendary Sega programmer/producer Yuji Naka. So how does Naka feel about two of his signature titles being handed out for free?

Not too happy, as shown in a series of tweets he’s sent out:

“So no they’ve made Nights free too. First Sonic 2 and now this – just what is going on with Sega?

I think it’d be OK for them to value Sonic and Nights a little more, but I guess it can’t be helped since they’re old games now.”

Naka wasn’t done voicing his frustration with how his creations are being treated these days. In the thread, he also went on to question the way the free Steam games’ credits are being handled, taking issue with what he sees as more prominent billing for the teams that handled the Sonic 2 and Nights Steam ports than for the people who originally made the games for the Genesis/Mega Drive and Saturn.

“As usual, when you look at the listed credits, there’s no mention of the people who actually made these games. This really strikes me as strange. I think things like this are why the game industry is no good. They probably display the original creators’ names after you beat the game, but there are so many people listed who didn’t have anything to do with actually making it.

The whole reason the port can be ae is because of the people who made the original in the first place, so I think it’s odd to boastfully act as though it’s the porting team’s game. Shouldn’t the original games’ creators names be visible even without beating it? Or maybe they shouldn’t list the porting team’s name at all?”

Naka wasn’t along in his displeasure with the situation, as some Twitter commenters responded with:

“I think there are very few games in existence that are as good as Nights. If they release a version for the Switch, I’d like to buy it for the same price it was sold for [new in 1996].”

“I strongly agree with you. I saw they were free on Steam yesterday, but I didn’t download them. The credits were full of people who didn’t make them. Games are for gamers and creators.”

“I feel the same as you do, Mr. Naka. I have a lot of issues with how [porting team] M2 has handled their projects recently. I think the porting team should keep a low profile and work behind the scenes.”

At the same time, others felt that Sega has done nothing wrong, and that Naka may even be misinterpreting the driving emotion behind making Sonic 2 and Nights free.

“Giving away games for free doesn’t always mean the company doesn’t value them…It lets the maximum number of people play them, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s also a thank-you to fans who have been supporting the franchise for so long, and helps keep the love that particular game going.”

“I don’t think they’re giving them away for free because they’re ‘old,’ but to get people to experience masterpieces from a long time ago. Younger gamers these days are especially motivated by a game being free…but I don’t think that lessens the game’s value.”

“Regarding the credits, aren’t those to show who’s responsible for the release’s quality? Like if the port is bad, people will know it’s the porting team’s fault [not the original creators].”

There’re a lot of different aspects to weigh in the debate, not the least of which is that Sonic 2 and Nights were developed and originally published in an era when full-price retail releases were pretty much the only way video games were marketed/distributed. Sonic 2 is regarded by many as the high-water mark of the series, and with 16-bit-era retro games currently going through a revival in popularity, it’s probably frustrating for Naka to see what’s possibly the greatest accomplishment of his career being handed out with no compensation necessary, especially after all the time and effort he and the original developers poured into making it.

Nights, meanwhile, may be uniquely vexing for the opposite reason. It was an extremely ambitious project with novel approaches to gameplay, graphics, control, and even post-launch content additions. Even with all that, though, it didn’t capture a significantly sized audience at its initial release, and sales were low enough that it was more than a decade until a sequel (currently the last game in the franchise) was made. However, in recent years Nights is enjoying new-found appreciation for its attempted innovations, and a game that one could argue never got the credit it deserved the first time around now being given away for free might also not sit well with Naka.

Of course, making Sonic 2 and Nights free will mean more people play them, boosting interest in the franchise and increasing the chances for further sequels or remakes. With Naka no longer working for Sega, though, he wouldn’t necessarily be involved in them (and even the office where the first Sonic game was made has been torn down). But at least Naka can continue to have high hopes for his new upcoming game, the Square-Enix published Balan Wonderland, and take solace in the fact that enough people love Sonic to save the character from being turned into a horrifying CG movie star.

Source: Twitter/@nakayuji via Hachima Kiko, Steam
Images: Steam
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