Sega Forever was revealed with much fanfare, with the idea of bringing more of Sega's classic library to the masses either in remastered or different forms. In this case, that form was mobile, but the execution of the emulation has left some very unhappy fans.
Players have been flooding the App Store and Google Play with negative reviews, complaining that the emulation is very poorly executed with problems like input lag, bad frame rates, and audio glitches. Apparently none of the games reach the expected 60FPS. The issue is that the emulator is based on the Unity engine, and not the more popular RetroArch that is widely viewed as a better emulator.
Sega's chief marketing exec Mike Evans said "fragmentation" was the cause of many issues. "Within mobile there's a lot of fragmentation," he told Eurogamer. "If you look at all the different OSs, all the different devices—with mobile, as you go live, you get some feedback which you can't get within a sandbox environment. What we're doing is taking that and continue working on it, and try and get every instance of every OS in advance ... we've got some really good updates coming out soon which will address some of the challenges of the d-pad, some of the shading as well that we're looking at how to improve. It's just the start of things."
As for the use of Unity, he said the goal was to reach as wide of an audience as possible, and Unity allowed that flexibility. "It enables us to broaden it... it opens up other commercial opportunities for us with Apple TVs, desktops and the Switch as well," Evans said.
Following the launch, the devs behind RetroArch said they had been approached by Sega, with the publisher seeking to use their emulator, given its popularity and success with code. But the devs said they walked away from the deal when Sega asked them to give up too much of the rights. However, Evans said that Sega can't use General Public License software, which RetroArch is. "From a Sega perspective, we can't bundle GPL software with Sega proprietary games, because we lose certain rights within the games. It's a corporate policy for us. That said, where we are with the Genesis and the Mega Drive, we have a proprietary emulator that was used on the DS and Steam as well, and we've spent a lot of time working on that until the quality is solid as well."
Evans said that, while there has been negative feedback, Sega has gotten a lot of positive response as well. "I think that whilst we're continually working to improve on quality - we have to understand the context of mobile in that sense - if you look at the vast majority there's a lot of very delighted fans out there. We're going to continue to improve, the core is very important to us as well, and make those changes so we're happy and they're happy."
John Keefer posted a new article, Sega Forever Emulation Is Pretty Bad, and Sega Knows It
Retroarch isn't an emulator, it's a front-end to emulation engines. The licensing would have been much more complicated than what is described here unless they developed their own engine/core.
At least they know and are working on it. It must not have been worth it to them to do the extra QA but I always feel like companies can be better at testing before releasing something.
Sounds like a job for Steve Snake!