This past week, Sony announced what the new tiered system for their online services would be. Essentially it boils down to the more money you pay for the service, the more games you could play, with the Premium Membership being the one that has all the retro goodies. Not only can you stream/download PS4 and PS5 games with this tier, you could also stream/download classic PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP games with the PS3 option being the one that’s streamable only. As an added bonus gamers could also get early demos to upcoming games. Now this sounds like a fantastic idea, but PlayStation still needs to deliver on some things to make this new service worth it.
Now what does PlayStation need to do to make more retro gamers hop on and shell out the cash for the Premium tier? Their line up of classic games has to be outstanding. At the time of this writing we don’t know what will be offered yet in regards to the older games. First party titles are to be expected but hopefully we’ll get titles that DON’T have HD remasters. Say the original line up includes games like Jak and Daxter or Final Fantasy X. Good games, but each has a PS4 HD equivalent that not only looks better, but also has trophy support. If gamers, modern and retro, have a choice on playing a game with updated graphics, most will be choosing the remastered one. Graphics aside, PlayStation also needs to show that they learned from their PlayStation Classic blunder. Not saying all the games on that system were bad, but the selection was weak compared to the 16-bit consoles SEGA and Nintendo put out. The game line up should also be diverse, and hopefully include games that are becoming super expensive on the second hand market. It would be great to play classics like Tomba or Brave Fencer Musashi on this service, but that leads us to the biggest thing PlayStation needs to do.
When this launches, and the game library is good, the emulation quality will be the deciding factor. We all remember the outcries from Nintendo fans about the spotty emulation when the N64 games came out on Nintendo Switch Online. While those fires seemed to have died out, there’s no telling what PlayStation will go through should the emulation be bad. Sadly PlayStation doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to emulation quality. The Classic was ridiculed for its spotty emulation and there is no way that will fly here. They already have an uphill battle since the PS3 games are streamable only so that may add some problems, but the games that may be under the microscope more are the PS1, PS2, and PSP titles. A lot of those games haven’t been available since their original release, and gamers will be going over the quality of the emulation with a fine tooth comb before going on social media with their verdicts.
As of now, the new tiered PlayStation Plus is scheduled to launch this June. PlayStation said that more news will be revealed closer to launch, and these reveals may make or break this new model. Originally I was all for the Premium tier. I was ready to fork over my hard earned cash but the more I thought about it, the more hesitant I became. I don’t want to spend money on games I already own physically, or can play the HD version on my PS5. While I remain hopeful, I also remain cautious. PlayStation burned fans before with the mini, so if they learned their lesson from that, we may see something pretty special. Only time will tell.