Sega Is Mostly Okay With Sonic Fan Games
Fan remakes and other community passion projects can be a wonderful expression of communal fandom. Unfortunately, they tend to be shut down with depressing regularity. So it’s refreshing to see Sega go to bat for fan games, even if that support comes with some caveats.
In response to questions regarding fan games from the community, Sega social media manager Kate Chrzanowski wrote that “there is usually* no issue” with fan games as long as profit isn’t involved. Chrzanowski added the asterisk with the caveat that for legal reasons she couldn’t promise that all content was okay.
“We can handle outliers case-by-case as we notice them, but our goal isn’t to stifle everything,” Chrzanowski wrote.
Hey Sonic fans – I appreciate you all reaching out with concerns over fan games and monetization!
So long as no profit is involved, there is usually* no issue with y’all using our blue boy to hone your art and dev skills.
*((for legal reasons I can’t promise all content is ok))
— Katie – MiniKitty (@KatieChrz) May 10, 2021
Asked if it was okay to accept fan donations, she admitted that it was a tricky grey areas, and suggested that it was “normally best to avoid if possible.” Fan response was very positive overall, with many of them praising Sega for its stance.
Sega has benefitted from working with fan artists in the past. Christian Whitehead, an artist and programmer who played a large part in the development of Sonic Mania, produced a proof-of-concept port of Sonic CD for iPhone. Sega responded by partnering with Whitehead to create an official version that was eventually released on iPhone, Android, and Xbox 360.
Its stance comes in marked contrast to other companies. Nintendo is well-known for issuing cease-and-desist orders to popular fan projects. Other companies will also commonly shut down major projects, usually ports or fan tributes. They include Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes, a nifty piece of interactive fan-fiction that was shutdown just weeks before release.
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It’s nice that Sega is taking a soft stance toward fan games, since there haven’t been many new Sonic games to fill the gap recently. More Sonic games are expected this year, with a Sonic Colors Remaster being leaked last month, but otherwise most of the Sonic news has surrounded the upcoming movie sequel.
It is Sonic the Hedgehog’s 30th anniversary, though, so expect more news soon.