UPDATE: Following the publication of this article, the following happened.
A YouTube Video was posted showing a possible workaround for the instant crash bug. Looks like it was related to the always online DRM.
UPDATE 2: Sega has published a new update for Android users, the instant crash bug has been fixed but performance problems are still being experienced.
Game still can’t be downloaded by some users despite the fact it runs on those devices fine.
So… How did the Sonic Runners launch go?
Take a look at it… Just look at it, that isn’t them all, it’s barely a quarter of all the complaints I could find, it’s also just from one source, a small sample of all the complaints on the official Sonic the Hedgehog Facebook group regarding today’s release of Sonic Runners.
Sonic Runners was released nearly 20 hours ago and since then there has been nothing but problems reported, mainly from Android users, most iOS users despite some reported problems are actually able to get the game to start and are able to play.
Now with a lot of games lately there are bugs and issues, with mobile games especially, you have the minefield of non standardised hardware being an issue, however Sonic Runners really does set a new standard for some pretty major bugs and issues, some of which potentially pose risk to the actual device and the health of the person playing the game.
Since the game launched, players of the game have inundated Sega’s various Facebook and twitter accounts, as well as the official and fan forums to report problems with the game and in some cases issues which threaten the device it was running on.
The problems are mainly located on the Android platform, however iOS users have also reported serious issues ranging from game crashing, poor optimization, loss of connection and data loss.
Android users however have had nothing but hell since the game launched, if indeed they can get the game launched. I have at hand 3 devices which by all rights should be able to play this game without any problems, all these devices were able to play every single soft launch release build flawlessly.
- Samsung Galaxy S5 (barely 6 months old)
- Sony Xperia Z3 (less than a year old)
- Google Nexus 7 (3 days old)
All these devices are running the most up to date firmware/operating systems. the S5 has played runners daily at length since it originally launched. The following is a list of the VERY serious issues that I have personally experienced and other users on our forums have reported with the same/other devices.
- S5 & Xperia: Crashes the moment you try to start it up, it gives the impression that the app has closed, however it’s actually still running as a background app.
- Xperia: If the app is started and left in the background (say unnoticed by the user), the phone will get extremely hot to touch, the battery will also drain very quickly.
- Nexus 7: The worldwide release works and runs, however after only 2 min of play the device gets extremely hot, so hot in fact we had to turn it off for fearing the safety of the hardware and because we were very concerned that it would become a fire hazard had we left it running, one part of the device was so hot it could have potentially burned someone.
The issues with the Nexus 7 were so bad, the owner of it immediately uninstalled the game and made me promise never to install it on there again.
Regarding the Nexus 7 issue. This is almost certainly the result of the hardware not being upto scratch, the system is being pushed near it’s limit which is generating a massive level of heat.
But the issue is this. Why is an older device cleary struggling to play the game able to do just that. But more advanced systems can’t even get past a splash screen?
Following efforts to get the devices to play Runners, we also noticed that the devices had issues with their normal operations after the game was stopped, such as 3G & 4G connectivity completely failing for around an hour and some other web service issues, yes we even travelled to another location to verify this wasn’t a localised problem to the area.
As mentioned, other users who have got the game working on android have also noticed phones/devices overheating (confirmed on both iOS and Android), some have reported data loss when upgrading to the worldwide launch version and others have reported major performance problems on both iOS and Android.
Now to be fair here, I have some experience with developing games for mobile devices and there is a problem, unlike developing for a console, even if your testing studio has 100 devices, you will still never have universal compatibility or be free from problems, even from things such as the size of the screen can fail a build. When releasing a game for Android, you will NEVER have a problem free launch…
However… given the scale of the issues reported, this can barely be an excuse, some of the most advanced devices using the latest OS and firmware are reporting major problems, even in Sega’s own compatibility list, devices which should work are not, in fact Sega has only said iOS users must be over iOS 7. There is absolutely no reason at all why the S4, S5, S6 or the Sony Z3 shouldn’t be able to play this game. It’s frankly baffling how this was allowed to be released in it’s current state.
But you know what is really odd about all this?
Yesterday, all these devices were playing the game fine, absolutely no problems, I was enjoying the game and have been doing nothing but praising the game since it was launched, yes I have some issues with it which I was actually intending to bring up later if they were still present in the worldwide version, but given the state of the worldwide version as it stands right now, it’s not worth the risk to your device to play it.
Now to be fair, Sega have release a statement on the matter.
I want to be reassured that it’ll be fixed soon, I really do, I really love Runners and really want to play it again, however it took 2 years for them to fix Sonic 4 on mobile devices and it’s really easy to put a statement like that out, especially with no time frame or what they define as a ‘challenge’.
Especially since in a few hours time the birthday celebrations are due to begin, in which free items will be given away and users will have the chance to get classic Sonic… will we get it fixed in time to be in with a chance at picking him up? If not, how is that going to work? Compensation? If so how you going to do that since there’s no way to prove who was prevented from playing and who is a new user?
I don’t like this waiting game, especially when it was working fine the other day and there really is absolutely no justifiable reason as to why this became such a disaster for such a large portion of the user base who provided you with the test data for today’s launch.