Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (opens in new tab) went free to keep on Steam last week, a giveaway that I acknowledged at the time kind of baffled me, because it seemed so random. As it turns out, it wasn't random at all. 2020 is the 60th anniversary of Sega, and it's celebrating the big birthday with free games, a Steam sale (opens in new tab), and two months of updates at sega60th.com (opens in new tab).
First things first: Sega has not been making videogames since 1960. As detailed in this IGN history (opens in new tab), the company actually has its roots in Standard Games, founded in 1940, which later became Service Games and ultimately Sega Enterprises. It began making arcade machines in the mid-'60s, before moving into the more familiar videogames and consoles in the early 1980s. Nintendo gave it the business but it held on, bounced back with the Genesis, and then got dummied by Sony—but again managed to ride it out, and is still with us today.
With 60 years now passed, Sega is throwing out some freebies on Steam: Along with Sonic the Hedgehog 2, there's also a free Battle of Kawagoe (opens in new tab) map for Total War: Shogun 2, and Sega 60th Items (opens in new tab) for Two Point Hospital. There are also four "retro-inspired" minigames that will be released on Steam over the course of the week:
- Armor of Heroes (opens in new tab) – Relic Entertainment – A retro-inspired multiplayer tank romp for up to four players in versus combat and couch co-op. Available from October 15-19.
- Endless Zone (opens in new tab) – Amplitude Studios – The Endless universe and Fantasy Zone™ collide in this side-scrolling shoot 'em up. Available from October 16-19.
- Streets of Kamurocho (opens in new tab) – Sega – Kiryu and Majima from Sega's critically acclaimed Yakuza series are raging on the Streets of Kamurocho in a new, but familiar challenge. Available from October 17-19.
- Golden Axed (opens in new tab) – Sega – A build of a never-before-seen glimpse at a canned project called Golden Axe: Reborn. Available from October 18-19. So, just one day.
You can also pick up a free copy of the 1996 Sega Saturn game Nights Into Dreams by signing up at the Sega anniversary website.
The Steam promotion (opens in new tab) runs until October 19, but anniversary content will continue to appear to on the 60th Anniversary website over the next 60 days, including competitions, Let's Play sessions, interviews with figures from throughout the company's history, and "content drops (opens in new tab)" that will begin on October 21 with something from Amplitude Studios.