In part of a presentation highlighting the company’s strongest performers, Sonic Runners is ranked as a failure. The game generates a little between ¥30 million [$256,563 USD] to ¥50 million [$427,588 USD] a month.
It should come as little surprise to anyone following industry news that the mobile market is a veritable shark tank, fighting with many others for a limited pool of money and attention spans. SEGA is part of those never ending digital meat grinding, and is touting their successes in the market. Sonic Runners isn’t so fortunate.
These numbers appear under the Domestic Market section, likely indicating they are Japan specific, but the fact Runners fails to even show up in the Overseas section doesn’t bode well. In fact, the game is no longer available for download on the U.S. Google Play Store and hasn’t been since Nov. 2015.
This shouldn’t come as a shock given the negative reception that surrounded Runners. Since officially going global Summer 2015, the game was constantly criticized for performance issues, glitches, and microtransaction practices that for all intents and purposes amount to under-aged gambling for new characters. If anything, it was a fine endless runner at its core drowned by countless terrible design decisions.
Most of these came to a head with the recent 2.0 update that added death walls to runs, offered more performance issues and overheating devices, and did little to improve the character unlock structure to make it less like a gamble.
One thing to note though is Sonic Dash 2 (referred to as Sonic Dash Boom and Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom) is expected to meet continued successes overseas with pushes to continue expanding its market presence.
Originally, I was just going to throw up a clip of The Critics’ Jay Sherman just saying his trademark line of “It stinks!” but that would be simply broadside-ing with an elephant gun what at its core is a good game wrapped up in layers of garbage, like one of those Babushka figurines.
So, let’s talk Sonic Runners. Even though Sonic Dash is still very much a thing and is celebrating 100 million downloads by shoe-horning in a brand it has no business even associating with in Angry Birds, Sonic Team decided it wanted to take a stab at this crazy bizarre world known as mobile freemium development.
Enter Runners. Simple enough premise: Sonic and friends run to the right and collect gems and rings through an obstacle gauntlet of spikes, enemies, dash rings, pits, loops–you name it. At the end of each segment, Sonic encounters Eggman hauling a stash of goodies and is tasked with smacking that old greedy capitalist of all his money for your own purposes. Then the level speeds up and repeats with a more difficult layout. Rinse and repeat two more times to max speed until you eventually die.
Throughout this, you’re treated to very simple stories of Team Sonic helping out Animal friends, lost Chao, and even scared groups of Wisps in their battle to stop Dr. Eggman from whatever anti-environmental/furry critter plot he’s hatching for that chapter. It may sound like I’m complaining or ready to just eviscerate the game, but this isn’t the case.
SEGA announced at the Sonic birthday event that’s taking place at Tokyo Joypolis that Sonic Runners will launch worldwide on June 25th. Despite only launching in Japan and Canada, the game has had a decent success up to now with more than 500,000 people having played it already. As of right now there’s little information about the worldwide release, but it’s safe to assume that it will launch on both iOS and Android.
So SEGA put out a update for Sonic Runnerswhich you have to download if you want to be able to play the game, which is okay as long as you can download it. Except it’s not officially released yet outside of Japan and Canada, so Android users outside of those countries can’t update the game the normal way.
Thankfully, Neowl from our forums has uploaded the .apk file, so just install it on your Android device and you should be able to play the game again. And your save data won’t be lost by downloading it. Alternatively, you can also download the update through the Japanese QooApp store. You should also be able to download any future updates through that as well. iOS users should be able to normally update the game through the App Store.
As for what the update actually does, we don’t know the official patch notes but our forum members have noticed framerate improvements and that the game no longer closes when their phone goes into sleep mode. So you no longer have to worry about your phone going on stand by because of how long the loading screens are.
Sonic Retro forum member woun has been uncovering a plethora of data contained in the recently soft launched Sonic Runners. The new assets reveal upcoming characters and events that will take place in future episodes of the game. While several characters were shown off in the game’s latest trailer, new surprises include Metal Sonic and Big the Cat! Sorry, had to include an exclamation point, because c’mon… it’s Big the Cat!
Also revealed are upcoming events featuring characters and locations from Sonic and the Secret Rings, Shadow and Omega with creepy glowing purple eyes, and what appears to be Metal Espio and Metal Eggman. You can see woun’s findings as they come over at the Sonic Retro forums.
[UPDATE: Read below for a lovely write up by forum member Roybertito about the game and some of its nuances.]
As seems to be the case with mobile games and their oblong release dates, Sonic Runners bursts out of the warp zone and onto your friendly local digital shop. There are some caveats, however.
As of this time of writing, I am unable to download the title on any of my three Android devices (a Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 2013 running on the latest version of Licorice, and an Xperia X10 running on Gingerbread) on the Google Play Store but those on the Apple side of the digital world have already gotten the game running. Interestingly, the version released is marked as 1.0.0t, representing it’s a test build. Of course, the humor isn’t lost in the event that another Sonic related thing was leaked early, as has seemingly become a trend in some capacity.
Regardless, early reports show the game plays like an auto runner ala Rayman Jungle Run with you in control of Sonic and friends’ movements as they zip through the grassy knolls of Sonic Lost World’sGreen Hill Recolor #29 Windy Hill Zone. And if that isn’t enough to tickle your free-to-play mobile game fancy, plenty of microtransactions are included! One such, as posted over on Sonic Stadium’s Twitter via H Hog, invites players to invite their friends to play the game for a bounty of red star rings and the chance to play as series fan girl and general annoyance, Amy Rose. But only if you get 10 friends to join the game!
Remember, we’re dealing with normal Amy here, not arguably better Boom Amy.
Regardless, with the game now on the shops and playable on the iOS side of things, it’ll only be a matter of time before Android users can join in on the fun and advertising.
SEGA gives us our first glimpse at what Sonic Runners actually looks like with this new gameplay trailer showcasing Sonic, Knuckles and Tails running through worlds from Sonic Lost World.
It also teases that a bunch of other characters will be in the game, including Shadow, Amy and Vector. Aside from that, there appears to be some sort of story mode that includes boss battles with Eggman, and Chao return as support characters that seemingly affect the way you’ll play the game.
Oh man, you guys, we usually don’t do leaks by anonymous tipsters but this was just too good to pass up. Rayman is gonna be in the upcoming Sonic Runners! This tipster gave us this piece of promotional art in which Rayman is shown running alongside Sonic, Tails and Knuckles. What made this leak especially convincing is that just like Sonic, Rayman consists of a re-used model from previous games with black lines around the edges.
It makes sense as well. Just like Sonic will have, Rayman has had a couple of “endless runner” games that aren’t really endless but actually have stages. These games, Rayman Jungle Run and Fiesta Run, were pretty darn good. So hopefully they’re an indication of how good Sonic Runners will be. And who knows, maybe we’ll see additional guest characters from other mobile games as well, like maybe Mega Man!