PlayStation Premium Might Have Already Been Derailed By Remakes
While Sony seemed to underplay the fact that classic games will be added to the new PlayStation Premium as something of a bonus prize, it has been the main topic of conversation ever since the announcement was made. Sony's lack of understanding for what an ace in the hole its own back catalogue is feels emblematic of the whole endeavour, which is chasing a comparison to Game Pass despite lacking Game Pass' central appeal (day one games), making PS Premium more of a nostalgia cash-in like Nintendo Switch Online. However, banking on nostalgia isn't too bad when you have the back catalogue Sony has. The only problem is it feels a little too late for this to work.
When we think of the classic games of the PS1 era, a few games gather in our collective consciousness. Final Fantasy 7. Crash Bandicoot. Spyro the Dragon. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. The problem is all of those games are already playable on PS4 and PS5 through modern remasters. FF7's is a reinvention of the game, but even then, the original version is readily available right now on Game Pass. The other three (Crash, Spyro, and THPS) have been polished to modern standards with a graphical upgrade and have a few Easter Eggs thrown in for good measure – a cut level on Crash, some new skaters on THPS – but remain by and large the same games. That's part of the reason the remasters were so successful. There's some appeal for the hardcore fans to get to experience their favourites in blocky polygons again, but for most players, the better version is will be preferable and, with 400 PS4 games included on the service, likely free alongside it.
That's just the games that have already been remastered – there are plenty more to come, even if they haven't been announced yet. A Resident Evil 4 remake is one of the worst kept secrets in gaming, while the original Resi 4 is one of PlayStation's most definitive titles. Leaving it out would feel like a conspicuous money grab forcing players to shell out for the new one, whereas including it means all that money is left thoroughly ungrabbed, and that doesn't sound like the actions of a major video game company. Prior to the announcement, I argued in favour of some Tomb Raider remakes. Now I'm not sure if I want them. There are too many games either remade, being remade, or pencilled in to potentially be remade one day that it feels as though a lot of classics are going to be deliberately left out so that companies can sell our childhoods back to us at a later day – which wouldn't be so insulting if it wasn't for the fact that's what most of us are buying with PlayStation Premium anyway.
There are still reasons to be cheerful, of course. I've previously gone to bat for the 2000 Spider-Man game, and while its fingerprints can be found on the PS4 Spider-Man title, it's not a remake, it's an entirely new experience. Kula World, the first game I ever played, could make an appearance. Wild Arms could feature. A whole generation of gamers could be introduced to the joy of Knack. There will be great games on the service, no doubt. But many of the legendary titles have already been usurped by modern polishes, while others still might drop out so that companies can profit off similar polishes in the future.
We can't judge it too much until we see the full line-up, but if you announce a scheme like this and only mention a handful of PS4 games, people are going to ask questions. PlayStation has a lot of great classics, but it might have already sold us too many of them for Premium to work.
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