Sony Corporation became the latest video game company to jump on the retro video game bandwagon this past week as it released the Playstation Classic, a $100 version of its first-generation game system. The re-released console easily plugs into modern televisions via an HDMI cable and comes preloaded with 20 of the original system’s most popular titles.
Released on December 3rd, the classic game console became available exactly 24 years after the original 1994 system. The two included controllers are identical to classic controllers, but the console itself has become much smaller. Just 15 centimetres wide and 10 centimetres deep, it has less than a quarter of the volume of the bulky 1994 version.
Sadly, the new console is not backwards-compatible with older games, but it comes preloaded with multiple global hits including Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, Rayman, Twisted Metal, and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six.
Sony’s release comes rather late given the explosion in the last several years of classic and classic-inspired video games, the biggest of which is undoubtedly 2016’s Pokemon Go. That game, which was a pioneer in augmented reality technology, still counts 147 million active users as of May 2018, according to data tracking company Superdata.
Other companies have also caught on to the retro trend. For example, Arcade1Up sells refrigerator-sized arcade games that can be purchased at Walmart for $300, and Amazon has recently launched an entire page dedicated to classic gaming - called Retro Zone - on its online store. According to Mat Piscatella, a video game industry analyst for market research company NPD, Sony is well advised to join the fray. NPD research shows that one in five new consoles sold in the United States this year has been a retro plug-and-play device.
“In the past, we thought games were more disposable entertainment,” Piscatella told the New York Times, adding that recent sales figures have shown the “intrinsic value that old games can provide.”
Sony also follows the example of its rival Nintendo, which released a low-priced, modern-TV compatible version of its original game system entitled NES Classic in 2016 that came with 30 original games. A year later, the company released a similarly designed version of its second generation Super NES Classic. Selling at $60 and $80, respectively, Nintendo said on November 28th that the revamped consoles had together sold about 4.5 million units since they arrived in the shops.
The sales of modernised retro consoles have contributed to the overall growth in the video game industry, which rose 11% in the year to 2017, according to NPD.
Classic and classic-style games have also become popular options on smartphones and tablets. On November 24th, Popular Science compiled a list of a dozen of such games that are available on iOS and Android, citing the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario, Tetris, Roller Coaster Tycoon, and Pac-Man.