I Hope Sony Hasn't Given Up On Its PlayStation 2 Classics

Photo: Junko Kimura, Getty Images

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.

Every PS2 Classic added since August 2017. (Screenshot: Kotaku, PlayStation Store)

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. 


Comments

    Not even sure why the PS1 classics you could get off PSN for the PS3 aren't playable on PS4.

      Oh, thats easy, they want you to re-buy a game that is bought online on the PS3 and get you to buy again on the PS4. Honestly if you buy something on their online services you should be able to play it on any Sony console they release after original game release.

        I don't know about that, I mean you can still play it on the PS3 it's not like when the PS4 was released you couldn't keep your old console.

          Xbox and PC have changed consumer expectations with this.

        Damn straight. And the same should be true of Nintendo with their habit of making people rebuy things for every console and handheld all over again.

      Yeah, that sort of emulation should be simple (and cheap) enough these days, you'd think. You can play those games on PS3, PSP and Vita, not to mention that PS1 mini thing that also emulated that system. PS4 should have been able to do it, hopefully PS5 will.

    I think this might be just an Australia/Europe problem since the USA has Playstation Now, a game streaming service that has a lot more of the Playstation 2 back catalogue than what is available for single purchase through PSN.

    If the PS5 doesn't have insert-disc backwards compatibility with PS1 and PS2 games, I will riot.

      Pretty sure it will just be PS4 games since I assume it's gonna require no work what so ever (or the absolute bare minimum)

      I really hope I'm wrong its just they've kinda proved their point on past backward compatibility which I'm still not completely happy about lol.

        Yeah Sony's approach to BC has sucked compared to Microsoft's, and it's one thing I really want them to fix in the next generation.

          Be honest though, is it something you actually needed or is it something that just would've been nice to have?

          Personally, when PS4 was announced I thought it was the first but standing here at the end of the cycle, and with a great deal of chagrin, it's honestly the latter.
          It's also the first gen I've not purchased an Xbox either as I was waiting for that must have game or feature and the exclusives and BC just wasn't enough.
          Just me though.

            I've played more of last gen than this generation because I am sick to fucking death of open world adventure games.

              That's cool, there is obviously folks who would definetly get more value out of BC, no question there.

            Backwards compatibility is always a nice-to-have, I would think. That said, as a streamer, it'd be great to be able to run older games without needing to set up an older console as well.

            I agree about the XBone though. It's easily been the least-essential system of this generation if you don't care about Forza and backwards compatibility.

              I wish it wasn't true and God knows there's folks for whom BC would be a must have, sadly they haven't shown themselves to be the decider in the market.
              I hate to admit that the old Xbox and PS games I pull out amount to 2-3 titles a year if that and always the same games.

              This is the also the first gen I haven't gotten an Xbox and it does irk me a great deal.
              It's always been close but no cigar. Had a Fable appeared I would have been in without a second thought (even though I was busy before lol)

              It is looking like BC has made enough of an impact to be less than an after thought though and it's hopefully great going forward.

    I would wager they didn't sell all that well.
    Between the exclusives, the latest multi platform games, the remasters and PS+, I would be interested to see the sales figures on the classics program.

      They didn’t sell because they provided a half assed range of games and didn’t promote it.

        Seriously?
        There's a ton of good games on there and they promoted it about as much as you would expect a company to push a backlog.
        That's like saying no backwards compatibility was a death blow for the PS4.

          *They half assed it with an emulator that is barely performant is the biggest issue.

          Why would people buy them when they can literally run any of these games better on any laptop made in the last five years?

            That's sorta why I'm interested in the numbers, if they aren't selling what's the point in improving it?
            I would say the PC emulators and games being free and easily downloadable would be the reason most would go that direction myself.

          What I said is nothing like saying the BC issues were a death blow. I said or implied nothing of the sort.
          If Sony were interested in pushing the ps2 classics they would have provided more than a pittance of seemingly random games and done more to push the games.

    They didn’t invest any kind of effort into doing it in the first place. Some of the titles available are so random, the kind of stuff no one wants to replay.
    Like someone else said, the emulation should be cheap and easy these days, there is no good reason why they couldn’t have had an insert disc solution aside from greed of course.

      Greed is certainly a factor but it's a massive oversimplification to claim it's the only reason holding it back.
      I want the option to be able to insert any of my old PS and Xbox games in to any of the new consoles, pretty sure everyone does but that's no reason to be unrealistic about that.
      (Correct me if I'm wrong but you've spoken a lot about gamer entitlement with unrealistic expectations being a major part of that no?)

      Emulation has never been cheap or easy, it's always been a long, time consuming and resource intensive endeavour.
      It's taken years, hundreds of emulation projects, free labour and massive community contribution to create the better emulators and they are still not 100% perfect, and that's just on the less than legal side of it.

      As for the business side, I'm pretty sure MS has already explained the complexities of their own insert and play project in response to questions of why available games have slowed so much and why the bigger more popular games that we actually want are taking longer to manifest, if at all.
      Aside from needing the permission of publishers and studios to allow these games to be supported, it's done with extensive work since no emulator can run every game perfectly and requires a long process on a game by game basis.
      On top of that there's licensing issues, resource issues, investment conflicts, budget/time constraints and more.
      Even if they manage to get the nod from a 2nd/3rd party, they need to make it run with the emulator, hand off to testing teams to play the entire game to find bugs, hand it back to the emulator team to fix, play the whole damn game again and repeat until perfect because "good enough" doesn't cut it for all parties involved at that level, as evidenced by comments here even.

      Further more all of this is done on zero return for something already proven to be irrelevant for the greater consumer base.
      I hate it too but that's the dirty truth of it.
      I'm happy MS is trying it but we know the point is to claw back as much position as they can for the next generation while chiseling away at the competition by focusing on selling points they aren't.
      It's a tough pill to swallow but we know deep down that it's not out of the goodness of their hearts, no matter the PR angle.
      Be it good publicity, consumer confidence or what ever else, if that doesn't turn in to sales, it's gonna get the flick.

      I know this is gonna be an unpopular view but it is what it is.

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