Sega is doing what Nintendon't.

Instead of shutting down programmers and artists making unlicensed Sonic the Hedgehog fan games, Sega Sammy Holdings Inc. is giving them jobs. Ever since the speedy blue mammal debuted on the Sega Genesis in 1991, it's been the company's most popular character, spawning a cottage industry of modified games shared among enthusiasts.

Now, in a bid to revitalize the Sonic franchise, the Japanese game company enlisted its most devoted fans to create "Sonic Mania," which will be released Aug. 15. It's a risky move to put so much control into the hands of outsiders, but one that Sega is betting will pay off and set the company apart from Nintendo Co., which has taken legal action against fan games. If "Sonic Mania" succeeds, it could push Sega — as well as rivals — to attract new fans and breathe life into classic franchises.