It all started with Intelligent Qube. I have this game on a very old and decrepit Playstation demo disc and I have longed to purchase it for years, now. I saw a copy once, at a local GameStop, but it was $60, with no manual. First off, how the hell do people lose Playstation manuals? Secondly, sixty bucks for a used domestic title? Surely you jest. Then, I started poking around… There are quite a few games for the Playstation, a still viable platform due to backwards compatibility, that are outrageously expensive. The conundrum, basically, is why would a company as large as, and as canny as, Sony, let an untapped gold mine go untapped?
For early console manufacturers, it was the medium that forced a game to stay out of print. Cartridges are expensive, have a long manufacturing lead time, and use proprietary technology for each console. With the coming of CD- and DVD- based games, it no longer makes sense to allow a game to lapse into the hoary world of e- Bay. The way the game companies treat games is the same as they did on the cartridge systems of old: pop out a press run or two and move on. Wouldn’t it mean more profit for the console makers, game companies, and the game stores if games were kept in print continuously? Sure, this would require a slight change in philosophy, akin to the sales model employed by the music industry, and the readjustment of the used game market (which has become extremely unbalanced and faces a recession of sorts), but then the makers of the game would receive the profits when a game they have designed becomes a critical or underground hit instead of some jackass in his basement who hoards games with name value to throw them out on e- Bay.
1. Individual Re- Issues The easiest way for a modern game to be kept in print would be a simple reissue, much like Sony’s Greatest Hits line, but kept in print for much longer. There is little reason for games that have achieved Greatest Hits level to EVER be out of print long. I can think of half a dozen games from the Playstation’s Greatest Hits line that I still want to add to my collection but are just high enough for me to be reticent. You don’t let the Eagles’ Greatest Hits go out of print, so why can’t I go buy a new copy of Warhawk anywhere?
Examples Sony’s Greatest Hits, Microsoft’s Platinum Hits, and Nintendo’s Player’s Choice lines
Hits: Keeps good titles in print and inexpensive
Misses: Only cost effective for modern titles, usually results in hideous packaging, some key titles are missed
2. Bundle Packs Surely you have seen these at your local game store, slipcases and boxes containing two or three older games for the Playstation. The Grand Theft Auto box, for example, has Grand Theft Auto, the 1960’s London expansion, and Grand Theft Auto 2, all in one convenient box. Sony does this themselves with Spyro and Crash boxes. These sort of bundle packs are pretty neat because they let you have the original packaging for each game and allow for things like expansion packs and side games to be included with the rest of the series. Square one ups this by re- issuing 8- and 16- Bit games with improved graphics and CGI interludes thrown in, as well as releasing games previously unavailable in English. RockStar Games must really like this arrangement because they are re- releasing Grand Theft Auto 3 and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City together.
Hits: Gathers whole series together for easy collecting, games get their original packaging, usually
Misses: Games without franchises are out of luck, usually includes at least one stinker
3. Compilations Namco’s best release in the Playstation era: Namco Museum. SEGA’s best GameCube game: Sonic Mega Collection. Midway’s best Playstation 2 release: (probably) Midway Arcade Treasures. When a game is over 10 years old, the best way to release it HAS to be in a compilation. Compilations are an easy sell to gamers like myself who loved their NES and 2600 days, but hate digging that stuff out of the closet. Trust me, I could spend a couple hundred dollars on these collections, and the Konami and Capcom ones for the Saturn, and never have to buy another game in my life. Some people may take their retro- gaming so seriously they scoff at playing these games on a modern system and others are so caught up in emulating these same games on their computers, but to me, nothing beats getting a dozen great games on one disk that I can pop into my Playstation 2 any time I feel the need for some Pole Position to soothe my mind.
Hits: Price effective, cool special features can make them better than the originals
Misses: Only works for pre- 32-Bit games, for now
Well, I’ve got to go find a copy of Intelligent Qube. Have a good week and read the rest of these knuckleheads. Next week: Something.