Pure Opinion: PlayStation Classic is a Middle Finger to Backwards Compatibility

Earlier today, Sony announced the PlayStation Classic, a small form console that will play 20 pre-installed games and will only cost £89.99/$99.99. It sounds like a great deal on paper and it’s a move that Sony is making to capitalise on the recent success of other retro console releases. Yes, I mean the various Nintendo consoles.

As is the norm, the online crowds got excited and cheered for Sony’s move. Others, like myself, looked on in disgust while shaking our heads. Why? Because it wasn’t too long ago that Sony was saying that players want to play new games, not old ones, and that’s why backwards compatibility isn’t a big deal on PS4. And you know what? I’d have been half-tempted to believe the PR bull if this morning’s announcement never happened.

Fans of PlayStation have been clamouring for ways to play their classic games for a long time. We often look on in envy as the Xbox crowd enjoys Xbox 360 and original Xbox releases – all of which can be played without having to repurchase, providing you have the disc. It’s something us PlayStation players have wanted since, well, since day one, really.

But now we’re getting what we asked for, but instead of it being a move to keep players engaged and keep the fans happy, we’re being sold an emulation machine dressed up as a PlayStation with 20 games that we may or may not like. I can tell you now that from the games that have been announced, I’d be happy to play just one. Tekken 3, for any who are wondering.

It just seems a bit, well, money-grabby, doesn’t it? Sony obviously has a software solution for playing original PlayStation games, and that solution will be running on a mini machine that will be nowhere near as powerful as the PS4. It begs the question, then: why don’t we have these games on PS4? It’s a frustration that many of us have had before when PS2 Classics were announced for PS4. Even if you owned the game digitally from the PS3 era, you had to buy it again to play on PS4. Elsewhere, Xbox One owners are happily throwing their discs into their consoles or straight up downloading previous generation games, sometime with free enhancements that rival even the best remasters.

Now I know that for many this machine will be a cheap and cheerful present for somebody, or a cute little addition to the living room. And that’s fine, for those people I am truly happy. But as a PlayStation-centric site, I think we have a responsibility to not sit along the sidelines and just regurgitate the PR. The fact is that Sony has a habit of changing the goalposts to suit itself, and in turn we’re the ones being played.

So to wrap up this mini-rant, a Chris Classic, if you will; want to play your classic games? You’re gonna have to pay the toll to cross that bridge, but even then you’re only getting a sliver of the content. Oh, and you’re not even getting a damn power cable with your mini PlayStation. 

Honestly, it’d be cheaper to buy up the games you want, rip them on a PC, get hold of a decent emulator, and play your classic games with higher resolutions and all the other benefits that come with modern emulation packages. I guess I’ll be spending my evening scouring eBay and Amazon for FIFA 99, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, and the rest of the games that will never be re-released due to licensing.

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