5 reasons why the PlayStation Classic is missing classic PlayStation games

Vicarious Visions/Activision

Today, Sony revealed the complete lineup of games included in the PlayStation Classic. The 20-game collection has been met with a lukewarm reception. Where Nintendo’s recent plug-and-play retro consoles include best sellers, critical darlings and cult classics, Sony’s hardware has many glaring software omissions.

Sony was perhaps doomed from the start in curating a perfect lineup for the PlayStation Classic. Let’s walk through a few potential reasons why the PlayStation Classic is missing so many of the console’s standout games.

Music licensing

Many PlayStation developers took advantage of the console’s disc-based storage by including licensed popular music. The soundtracks to extreme sports series like Tony Hawk Pro Skater and JetMoto spanned a variety of record labels and required complex licensing agreements.

Music rights are generally limited to a certain period of time, impacting how games are sold years after release. For example, a 10th-anniversary patch for Grand Theft Auto 4 removed songs with expired license agreements. More recently, Alan Wake returned to digital storefronts, but only after Microsoft renegotiated its music licenses. The need to renegotiate music licenses (or remove songs and receive backlash from fans) may have prevented a number of music-heavy titles from making the cut.

SCEA / Captured by Launchbox Games Database

Additional licensing issues

Madden ’98 is arguably the best 2D football game ever made. It was was produced by a third-party publisher with license agreements with both the NFL and its players. Gran Turismo was one of the highest-rated and best-selling games on the original PlayStation, launching one of Sony’s most well-known franchises. It also features 140 licensed vehicles and a handful of licensed music, including songs by The Chemical Brothers and Garbage.

The only thing more difficult than negotiating with record labels may be negotiating with international car manufacturers and the National Football League, both of which have only become more powerful in the past twenty years.

Image: Capcom

Remakes, re-releases and remasters

Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Resident Evil 2 seemed like obvious inclusions when the PlayStation Classic was announced last month, but none made the final cut. All four properties are owned by third-party publishers, and all four have fresh remasters, re-releases or remakes on store shelves or in development. The publishers may have opted to keep the classic games off the PlayStation Classic to avoid cannibalizing sales of their stand-alone, upgraded software.

The strange exception to the rule is Syphon Filter, a game that, following a trademark renewal, has been rumored to receive a remake. In hindsight, that renewal may have simply paved the way for its inclusion on the PlayStation Classic.

Light Weight/Square

Most of the PlayStation’s best games were third-party

Nintendo has made most of the best games on its consoles. In the present day, that can be frustrating for folks who want to play big, third-party releases. But for retro titles, owning the majority of a console’s best games is an advantage for Nintendo. The company doesn’t have to make as many agreements (and share as much revenue) with outside publishers to include beloved games on their retro plug-and-play systems.

Square Enix published Final Fantasy Tactics, Bushido Blade and Vagrant Story. Acclaim published Mortal Kombat 2. Capcom published Mega Man Legacy and Dino Crisis. Eidos published Tomb Raider and Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. Some PlayStation-era publishers no longer exist, with the rights to their games distributed to new owners, further complicating licensing.

Yes, third-party publishers like Square Enix have other games included on the PlayStation Classic lineup, but each game requires its own licensing agreement. Sony is more likely to fight for the inclusion of Final Fantasy 7 than Square Enix’s lesser-known Parasite Eve.

The lack of DualShock

Most omissions can be explained away by these business challenges. Then there’s Ape Escape. Though the Sony-published series has been neglected for the past decade, it had a strong run from the late ’90s into the early ’00s. Plus, it didn’t include lots of licensed music or star pro-athletes. However, in 1999, Ape Escape was the first game to require the DualShock (or Dual Analogue) controller — a PlayStation controller with twin joysticks. The PlayStation Classic ships with a recreation of the original hardware’s joystick-less controller, making it impossible to play Ape Escape or any other games requiring the more advanced controller.


…Still, the list we got was really crappy! Is there a way Sony can back pedal and throw Tomb Raider, Spyro, Crash, Resident Evil 2 and Twisted Metal 2 on there?

I was dead set on buying this, but now it’s like – you’re better off, just sticking to your PS3 or whatever console can still play PSone Games on an HDTV today.

Also, whose idea was it to include Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six on it? It’s like one of the worst versions of the game, trapped on a classic console.

I can understand every other game on there, but not that one.

Dear Sony,

Take out Rainbox Six.

Add Twisted Metal 2 (leave in the first game for all we care)

Yeah I’m out and not buying it. Especially since all of these are playable on PS3/Vita anyway

Yeah that’s the biggest disappointment. I literally can get these all on my Vita. Lol

Myself and three other friends had preordered it. We all cancelled our preorders. I wonder how many others have done the same, and if Sony will see those numbers drop dramatically after the game announcement.

Yeah. I still have many of these PS1 discs. I own some of them digitally on PS3 and PS4. I have some Squaresoft titles on Steam. Hell, I have FF7 on my iPhone. Which is to say nothing of emulation. All of which is to say this lackluster list has me reconsidering my pre-order. The only appeal at this point is the novelty of having an officially licensed mini-Playstation in my gaming cabinet. Which isn’t a good reason to drop $100.

I was so bummed about the list. I ended up canceling my pre-order. I went from "ZOMG SO EXCITED!!!11" to "…eh." so fast and I’m bummed.

I would have loved to have played games that I consider quintessential to the PS1 era like Croc, Crash, Spyro, MediEvil, Clock Tower, etc

This article was a good read and I imagine these reasons are largely responsible for how poor the list ended up being.

If it’s of any consolation, the thing will most likely be cracked in no time to allow anyone to sideload whatever games they want.

Eh, if your going to bother sideloading just use an emulator or buy (most of) the games on PS3/4/Vita.

This wouldn’t be so dissapointing if they’d just handle emulation better on PS4.

They also messed up by announcing the console and drumming up hype several weeks before unveiling the official lineup.

This seems spot on to me, and I think it shows a lack of vision for the product on Sony’s part. The SNES Classic felt like a celebration of the best of Nintendo’s history, giving older fans a nostalgia blast and introducing younger fans to some classics that really held up.

This feels more like a fun little toy meant to inject some retro fun into the holiday season. There’s nothing wrong with that, but on the heals of Nintendo’s efforts, it seems a little hollow in comparison. It’s kind of a bummer, since the PS1 was my first console as a kid.

As the article states, the Playstation really didn’t carry all that many "first party" titles. While some people gripe about Nintendo constantly using their flag ship characters, it’s also Nintendo’s biggest advantage to keep using those characters.

Personally I think the ideal list would have been 20 copies of Masters of Teras Kasi.

According to Giant Bomb, it’s (currently and scientifically) the 34th best fighting game of all time!

Thanks for this, I was at first excited for the full list, but my expectations have been replaced by a sense of confusion.

I agree that Sony was carried by many third party devs, I’ve also stated that it’s impossible to fulfill everyone’s "dream list". I still think that Sony could have done a slightly better job curating this list.

To make things more confusing, Sony did publish a lot of games, but it seems it didn’t hold on to the rights of some of these studios with an iron grip.

I dunno, this wikipedia entry doesn’t necessarily help clarify (to me) why there isn’t a Parappa the Rappa, or instead of Gran Turismo a title like Need for Speed.


or instead of Gran Turismo a title like Need for Speed

If there’s no Gran Turismo because of music and car licencing, there’ll be no Need for Speed either.

It was joked about on Kotaku, but if Sony simply released an "RPG Classics" console, I think that system would have sold amazingly well.

a ‘memory card’ with a selection of games to plug in and play. that would sell like hotcakes frankly.

Honestly? Yes.

I am happy to see Persona make it though.

Persona’s such a weird pick to see internationally, honestly. The original game was localized so poorly that they had to cut a third of the game and Atlus restructured their entire localization effort to avoid screwing up like that again. Straight-up, Atlus’ current situation internationally can be traced back to that mistake.

It’s a really interesting choice, very admitting of their fault. But I think if I were Atlus I would’ve pushed to get Persona 2: Eternal Punishment in there outside Japan instead.

Absolutely. We could make a ps1 classic with nothing but 20 JRPG’s!

FF Tactics
Chrono Cross
Parasite Eve
Parasite Eve 2
Suikoden 2
Vagrant Story
Breath of Fire (at least 1 entry)
Wild Arms
Arc the Lad

What others am I forgetting? Instead, we get FF7, which I own on ps3, Persona, which I have the far superior remake on PSP, and Wild Arms, which I own the far superior remake on ps2 (Alter Code F). Sigh.

Legend of Dragoon, which was actually a first party title and a pretty solid RPG.
Front Mission 3
Legend of Legaia
Tales of Eternia
Star Ocean 2

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