Sony started porting PlayStation 2 games to the PlayStation 4 in December 2015, beginning with the games such as Grand Theft Auto 3, Twisted Metal: Black and Dark Cloud. There are now just over 50 PS2 games playable on the PS4, but the pace of new releases slowed from a trickle to a drip.
It now appears to have dried up entirely, but there are plenty of great classics that were left behind.
“We will be working tirelessly to bring you your favourite PS2 games with new releases on a regular basis, and we hope you love playing PS2 games on PS4 as much as we did making them!” wrote then-President of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida in a post on the PlayStation blog when PS2 Classics on the PS4 were first announced. That no longer appears to be the case.
The last PS2 game to get released on PS4 was The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga in June 2018. It was the only one released in the last year, leading many to ask if an already somewhat lacklustre initiative was being quietly mothballed. Every couple of months someone on the PS4 subreddit posts a question along the lines of “What happened to PS2 Classics?”
The closest Sony has come to talking specifically about the program was in a May 2018 announcement that PS2 Classics would become available on PlayStation Now, the company’s streaming and game-download subscription service.
Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It might not be surprising that the program has tapered off as we approach the end of this hardware cycle, but it raises questions about Sony’s plans for past titles.
In an April interview with Wired, Mark Cerny, the architect behind the PS4, confirmed that its next console will be backward compatible with the PS4. Not only will last year’s discs for Spider-Man and God of War work on the PlayStation 5, assuming Sony decides to call it that, but the current slate of PS2 Classics will presumably be available as well.
If anything, now would seem like as good a time as any to continue porting that part of the PlayStation catalogue.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to go back to 2004’s Spider-Man 2, previously one of the best Spider-Man games around, after playing Insomniac Games’ modern take on the web crawler? Or what about the original God of War? While Sony remastered and ported God of War 3, the first two games in the series remain confined to the PS3 and Vita.
There are, in fact, a surprising number of great PS2 games that haven’t been ported yet. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater never made the jump to current gen, nor have PS2 favourites such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, Gran Turismo 4 or Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.
While many of the most high-profile PS2 JRPGs, such as Final Fantasy 10, Final Fantasy 12 and Kingdom Hearts have all been ported as remasters, others such as Dragon Quest 8, Drakengard 2 and Suikoden 3 haven’t.
And then there are cult classics such as God Hand, Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy and Black, which might never see the light of day again without being part of the PS2 Classics initiative.
Microsoft has invested heavily in making backward compatibility a robust feature for the Xbox One. Every month, new Xbox and Xbox 360 games become available to download, with some then also getting added to Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s download-only version of PS Now.
While there are only 33 original Xbox games currently on the Xbox One, there are over 500 Xbox 360 games, approximately a quarter of the 360’s library. It’s now possible to play Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 and Star Wars: Battlefront 2 all on Xbox One as a result.
While it’s possible that the PS4 will overtake it, the PS2 is currently Sony’s best-selling console. It deserves a bigger part of PlayStation’s present, and whatever its future ends up holding.