Disclaimer: The views in this piece may not reflect the views of TSS or other writers on the staff team. The intention of The Spin is to promote debate and discussion of an issue or something that’s happening in the fandom or the world of Sonic.
*During this article I will be writing about information which is based on secondary research which I cannot personally test or verify, I have used the information in good faith that it is correct, however should evidence come to light which puts that information as being wrong, take that information over the one detailed in this article.
I really hate having to do updates like this… I utterly hate it, I also find myself saying this a lot but my god it’s becoming harder and harder to say it with sincerity. Believe it or not, I want Sega to do well, I like Sega, I like the people who work there, I love the games they put out and they’ve entertained me for hours.
When you have the CEO of Sega Games admitting that they have betrayed the trust of fans and pretty much admit problems have existed within Sega, you might be thinking ‘well maybe times will be changing.’ Then you have the news that Sega are downsizing, greater focus on mobile games and strengthening the Sonic brand
Now let’s turn our attention to Sonic Runners, a mobile game which we found a lot of fun and has had a lot of support, but as a technical game it is very poor. But ever since Sonic Runners went into global release, I think Sega really need to take a big look at because this game could potentially be a great mobile game, but right now is so badly made I question if any Q&A has gone into the game other than ‘test as you go’ or if frankly, they do not care about the product and reflectively about their customers.
Lets go over some of the inexcusable problems that this game has.
Sonic Runners Uses Between 0.1GB – 2GB+ of Memory
According to the Google Play Page, this game needs only 30MB of data.
This isn’t quite true, the game needs around 100MB after installation…
However that’s not the problem, the problem is why the hell is the game using anywhere from 1GB to in some cases over 2GB worth of storage memory!
Here is a screenshot of the Sonic Runners folder on my phone.
1.62GB!? That is larger than the Rise of Lyric patch! It is larger than some of the games in last months Playstation Plus offerings, it’s larger than most digital only games on the Playstation Network and XBLA!
Yet a mobile game needs 1.62GB!? Sonic 4 Episode 1 & 2 combined isn’t anywhere near this!
Why!? Well… short answer, bad and lazy programming.
The issue can be found in a folder within Sonic Runners called ‘UnityCache’ what is this folder? This folder is 1.58GB on my device, here is a screenshot of that folder.
What is in that folder which means Sonic Runners is not a 30MB game but a 1.6GB game? Basically, old files that the game NO LONGER USES!
Every time Sonic runners updates, or a new event is run, the game downloads more bits of data, this data is stored in the UnityCache folder. Now say a new update comes, or a new event starts, or an old one ends and is replaced by something new. The old data is NEVER DELETED!
- The game doesn’t ever remove or delete the old data.
- The game never prompts you to delete or remove the old data.
- There is nothing in the games documentation that you need to manually delete the old data.
This is happening on every single device which is running Sonic Runners, iOS or Android, or even BlueStacks or any other emulator you use. Sonic Runners constantly downloads new data but never deletes the old absolute data. In the short time that it’s been out, there has been nearly 1.5GB old redundant data which is taking storage space from your device.
But wait I hear you say, you’ve checked your storage app? And it only shows something like 60MB? That’s the wrong folder, you need to connect your phone to a computer or use a specialist app to look at the files stored on your phone in order to find the right one. I too thought my device wasn’t having this problem, imagine my horror when I discovered that it was.
Why is this a problem? How much storage space does the average phone have? It’s around 8GB, even if you don’t count the storage needed for default apps and the running of the device, Runners takes 20-25% of your devices memory, because the developers didn’t bother to include a method for it to identify and delete old unused data.
And it’s not an isolated case either, just asking on the TSS Twitter I got a lot of replies, all varied depending on when they installed the game.
This is a disgrace, this is a mobile game! It is not a digital title on Steam, the PSN or XBLA, at most a game like this should only ever be between 100-300MB. But due to bad programming and design, it is using around 1.6GB and for some users over 2GB of data because the game does not delete/remove data it no longer needs.
And it doesn’t end there. Runners also never removes some of the notifications either.
This is only a small sample, some of these images are still in use within the game e.g. the NiGHTS event, however some are no longer in use and can never be used again since all of these image files have dates on them! Some of these images are from the soft launch version of the game! Why does this game still keep a notification image of the Chaotix being added onto the wheel with the message “From 3/5/2015 6am to 3/15/2015” Why has this not been removed from the game data yet!? Nearly half of the content in the folder with these notifications cannot be used again. Why are they not removed?
You might now be thinking ‘can I delete this folder?’ Yes you can! Deleting this folder will bring your game down in size to just over 200MB with no ill effects, all you are doing is removing the old unused data. You’ll have to download the newest data, but it’s tiny, well within what you would expect for a mobile game.
Sonic Runners Gets Hot & Drains Battery Due to Unnecessary Server Requests
This section contains information I cannot personally verify, I have used it in good faith that it is correct (see notes at top of article).
Most games which are connected to a server will at some point carry out a request for data or provide the server with updates to pre-existing data (account updating). Some games will do it more than others at a more regular basis.
For a game like Sonic Runners, ideally a 5min long game should probably use 1 or maybe 2 requests for data. Sonic Runners doesn’t do that, Runners does something else which results in over 250 requests for data!
Two users on our forms performed an experiment to see what Runners was doing when it run, they both game very similar results. According to the first user, this is the second half of requests he saw in a 5 min period of playing the game.
Based on the file name, you would think that these are advert requests, however the second user casts doubt on this. In his experiment he found over 250 requests to the server, the majority of which were player updates/data requests, all encrypted. But the game is calculating and sending data whilst it is running.
This is incredibly inefficient and is probably one of the main causes for poor performance, overheating devices, and poor battery life which have been reported since the game was launched.
The thing with mobile devices is that using services such as wifi or the radio at certain frequencies can rapidly drain the charge held in a battery used by mobile devices, in addition, these components require a lot of power, which means your battery gets hot. Now if your game is making 250+ connection requests in a period of 5min… your battery life is going to plummet.
This gets really technical as to why, if you want more information on this, google search “LTE Battery Life” and you will find a lot of sources talking about the issue.
This should not at all be happening in a game like this, the game is making far too many requests for data, it needs to be dramatically cut down or redesigned in order to correct this problem.
How Did This Get Past the Q&A?
In every single release of Sonic Runners, there has been a problem, sometimes it’s localised to either the iOS or Android build (usually Android). Some of these problems appear random and require a lot of testing, some however are downright unforgivable, e.g. “Android version crashes on startup due to server requests”.
Why is this still a thing which keeps happening!?
This is a new bug which (verified by myself and Sonic Retro staff) now occurs in Sonic Runners ever since the last update, there is no way this should have got past Q&A given the nature of Sonic Runners and the aim of the game.
Here is a bug which now generates following the NiGHTS update.
That screen will remain on the screen and you will never progress past this screen to the next menu. You have to close down the app and restart to get past this.
How to do this bug (Android confirmed).
- 1: Start Sonic Runners and get to the episode screen.
- 2: Press ‘back’ on your device to get a message saying ‘return to title screen’ select yes.
- 3: At the title screen, tap the screen to re-start the game.
- 4: Bug now generates, game freezes on this screen, you have to force the app closed to fix it.
Why is this a problem? When the game starts creating ‘random’ levels, if you get a level you don’t want, quitting runners/returning to the title screen and then re-starting the game generates a new level.
Every single person in the higher leagues does this since it’s the best/most efficient way to get levels you want to play on. Yet now it results in a crash, but it’s not an exploit since it’s using an actual in game design feature, which has now generated a game breaking issue.
Then there is this in the English version of the game.
How is this even remotely possible!? You redesign/change a mode in the game, you check it in Q&A and see it’s not in English, how does this get a pass!?
Why is Facebook Support Disabled When It Works Fine?
Following the worldwide release, we were told that Facebook support was temporarily disabled for… reasons.
Well it’s actually not disabled and it works fine.
It turns out if you have a Facebook friend who has the game and you play in the same league or they’re in the global top, if you see them on the leader-board, tap their name and you can still send them a free revive!
The functionality still works, so why is it disabled!? I don’t want to claim a micro-transaction conspiracy here, but I really can’t see any other reason why this is disabled.
Why is All This Other Stuff Still Broken.
- Companions no longer pick up animals.
- Frame-rate drops to shockingly low levels.
- Clipping through objects
- Jump arcs completely failing.
- The wheel will sometimes never stop spinning resulting in a loss of 50 red rings with no compensation.
- Free Revive often doesn’t work.
- Red Rings often display incorrectly when you get them as a reward at the end of an episode.
I could easily go on.
Sega… we want you to do well… We like Sonic Runners and want to support it, underneath all the adverts and the broken elements is a fantastic little game. We see you say stuff like you’re moving more into mobile & PC and are supporting/strengthening Sonic. But right now, with the current state of Runners, you won’t win back the fans who feel betrayed, this is another potential example which can still be turned around.
Please fix Sonic Runners, it’s a great game which has a lot of problems which could so easily be resolved and you’d have a nice little game which your user base would love to play.