Sony have announced that the PlayStation’s upcoming 25th anniversary will be celebrated with the release of the PlayStation Classic – a recreation of the PlayStation that’s 45% smaller. This sounds like a dream come true, which is why the problem is that it’s actually not.
The PlayStation Classic is in fact Sony’s attempt at perpetrating a marketing gimmick that ultimately exploits the nostalgia factor of PlayStation players old enough to remember the original model.
The main flaw is that the PlayStation Classic will only be able to play 20 pre-loaded games. These aren’t an initial wave of launch titles, they’re the PlayStation Classics’ entire discography. A games console is only as worthwhile as the games that it can play, and the PlayStation Classic can only play the equivalent of a bundle.
Really, we should’ve seen this coming. Look at PlayStation’s history. The PlayStation 2 is still the best selling games console, and one of the reasons for that is its backwards compatibility. But when the PlayStation 3 came along, that backwards compatibility was replaced with PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games being available as purchasable downloads on the PlayStation Store. They were called PS one Classics. There are a few of us who’ve kept our PlayStation 2s in working order, with its compatible games. But for most people, that just wasn’t practical. For them, continuing to play PlayStation or PlayStation 2 games meant effectively buying them all again.
Finally, when the PlayStation 4 was released, there was similarly no backwards compatibility there either. PlayStation Network was released with the premium PlayStation Plus. Slowly but surely, everything PlayStation were outputting was being replaced with a fee. And even then, PlayStation Plus only listed games for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 2. PlayStation games had disappeared entirely. With each generation of consoles, PlayStation eliminated access to the past, and this culminated with the PlayStation 4, when PlayStation games finally became off limits.
And it would seem that this was their plan all along. It’s completely consistent with their market behaviour so far, which is to become ever more cynical – and now, PlayStation games are only available on their very own console, and there’s only 20 of them.
I’m not being fooled by the cheap nostalgia ploy, though I suspect many will. The 1990s never went away for its generation, but for everyone else, in the week in which the Captain Marvel trailer opened with a Blockbuster Video, it would seem that the decade is getting back in – and the more popular it becomes, the more you’ll be charged for admission… but how much will it live up to expectations? Well, about 45%.