PlayStation has been an absolute juggernaut this generation, with a strong start out the gate followed up by some of the best exclusive software we have seen this generation such as God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Persona 5 and many more. It is very hard to find a dent in Sony’s armor this generation, especially with responding to fans feedback. Pulling down the walls in Fortnite with crossplay across all platforms, and giving PlayStation gamers the ability to change their PSN ID which has been a widely requested feature for what feels like years. With all this being said, even with how amazing of the year 2018 was for Sony, there is one glaring misstep which is so strange in a number of ways. What is that misstep you ask? The answer is the PlayStation Classic.
The PlayStation Classic should have been a slam dunk for Sony. The massive library to choose from with the PS1 could only possibly be rivaled by the PlayStation 2 in the sheer number of memorable titles. With the insane success of Nintendo’s offerings of the NES and SNES plug and play consoles. There seemed like no possible way that this could go wrong for Sony. But as we have seen in the past few months of the PlayStation Classic being released to the public, it has been overwhelmingly obvious that the PlayStation Classic is a flop. The PlayStation Classic has been seeing massive price cuts over the holidays, including a Target deal that brought the console to the low price of $35. Even with these overwhelming deals, it appears that PlayStation Classics are stuck to the shelf. Now you may ask, what could cause something that seems so simple to accomplish end up failing so badly. Especially considering Sony’s ability to absolutely deliver this console generation it seems completely bizarre. However, there are a ton of varying factors that all came together to cause the poor performance of the PlayStation Classic.
The most important aspect of these classic plug and play consoles is, of course, the game selection. There were no doubt some absolute classics on the PlayStation Classic, games like Metal Gear Solid, Twisted Metal, and Syphon Filter. However, some absolute crowd pleasers that would have maybe helped move the system off the shelf such as Silent Hill, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Parasite Eve to just name a few games that could have graced this console. Now, Sony may not be 100% responsible for the PlayStation Classics lackluster lineup. Nintendo had a very easy time acquiring rights to the games they used on their plug and play console for one simple reason. Most of Nintendo’s most memorable titles were first-party titles that they own 100% of the rights to. While Sony has a robust 1st party lineup without a doubt, companies like Konami could very well have killed any chance of Silent Hill landing on the console. Music and game licensing is a very fickle beast, and sometimes there is no negotiating with companies that own these properties.
One of the many complaints that consumers had was the decision to go with the original PlayStation controller and not the DualShock which featured the two joysticks which we are all so familiar with. The list of games that could have come to the PlayStation Classic, such as Ape Escape (the first game to require the DualShock in order to play) could have given Sony more options for games to bring to the platform. This would have been especially a good idea if they were struggling to acquire licenses and rights for some of these classic games. For many, the thought of playing a PlayStation controller without sticks is just appalling after almost 20 years of using DualShocks.
Digital Foundry’s PlayStation Classic Review
The most baffling decision out of the whole mess that is the PlayStation Classic is the choice to use the PAL versions for 9 out of 20 of the games. For those that may not familiar with this issue, PAL is the television standard for TVs in Europe during the late 1990s. PAL versions of games have a refresh rate of 50 HZ, whereas the North American standard during this time was 60 HZ. Fighters and racers benefit from a higher refresh rate, so to include PAL versions of these games is bizarre, and just blatantly absurd. Combine this with the fact that the PlayStation Classic came in at a high price point of $99 USD. This is $40 more than the NES Classic and $20 more than the SNES Classic. It seems like such a small amount to make this big of a difference, but the NES Classic launched with 30 games for $40 less, with almost all of the “must play” games. It sets a certain precedent that consumers will expect, and paying more for less is a hard sell no matter who you are.
In conclusion, Sony has been an absolute juggernaut this generation. The PlayStation 4 seems unstoppable, however the strength of the brand makes this blunder stand out so much more. The PlayStation Classic feels like a half thought out cash grab, hoping to pray on consumer nostalgia and inevitably failed. Myself personally, I am heartbroken that this product was mismanaged the way it was, because the likelihood of a PS2 Classic feels like a long gone dream now.