Monday, 5 October 2015
PSN store versus Nintendo's Virtual console which is better?
I prefer to have physical copies of games to digital for lots of reasons but mostly for two reasons. One is that with physical games you have an object you can actually collect, an object which in the case of retro games or games released in a limited capacity will usually increase in value over time, this means that either the game is going to get rarer and rarer and owning it will be more of a pleasure or that if you are ever in desperate need of cash and forced to sell it then your at least likely to see a return on your investment. The other reason is that usually with physical games there is more chance of finding a deal, you can search for old games in pawn stores, on car-boots, sale sites, trade spares with other collectors, you can shop around for the best offer, in comparison digital games usually have a set price if they are available on a consoles virtual console/shop programme.
Sometimes though if a physical release is so rare that its average price is sky high online console shop services can provide a much cheaper way to experience these games and in this case they can actually be in a lot of ways the best way to go. Everyone of the console manufacturers has there own online games buying service (there are also lots of these for PC but I am not going to go into that right now) Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo and on them you will find a mix of full triple A titles, indie developed titles and classic/retro games from older formats. Its the retro stuff I will be focusing on in this case and in particular the retro games available on Nintendo and Sony hardware.
Obviously having been in the race the longest Nintendo's titles stretch back the furthest in time, they also on there latest console the Wii U give you the ability to look for games on a system by system basis so if you want to see what NES or SNES games they have for example then there are icons in the shop to click so that this is what you get. I do think that Nintendo could be described as a little bit greedy on the retro front though as they charge £3.49 per 8bit NES title and this is mostly regardless of what the game is. So while £3.50 might not seem like much for an all time classic like Super Mario 3 it seems like a fortune for stuff like Donkey Kong Jr Maths or Volleyball. Then there is Earthbound Beginnings a famicom (Japanese NES) title which as it had never been seen on these shores before and required translation Nintendo want £6.29 for. This is not the first time Nintendo have decided that never released on your shores before means mark up the price. The price of the average SNES game on the Nintendo Wii U virtual console is £5.49 but when Earthbound a game previously not released in Europe was brought to us Nintendo wanted £6.99 for the pleasure, I cant say that its not worth it as a loose cartridge of this game would cost you absolutely loads. N64 games are £8.99, with Wii games being 17.99, GameBoy Advanced games being 6.29 and DS games ranging from £6.29 to £8.99. So really the strength of Nintendo's service is the wide variety of formats represented but the area where they let themselves down is price. Not only are they in my oppinion quiet expensive but there is also most of the time no cross buy, meaning if a game is available on both the Wii U virtual console and the 3DS Virtual console and you want to play it on both your machines then your going to end up paying twice.
I just spent £20 on PSN the playstations online games store. Obviously the playstation brand doesnt have as long a history of games and machines as Nintendo. The original Playstation was released in the same console generation as Nintendo's N64, meaning that you wont find any 8bit or 16bit offerings on Sonys Store well at least not at present (A SNES title is actually going to be released on the PS4 soon, Super Starwars, which may be the start of something new or a one off, this remains to be seen). Ok so the earliest Retro games you can get (ignoring some arcade classics which have appeard in store) are original PlayStation games (or as some people call them PlayStation one or PS1 games). So the first question would be, how much are PS1 Games? Well a few of them such as G Police and Driver start for as little as £1.99 so less than a 8 Bit NES game, the vast majority of them seem to be £3.99 including long RPG's like Suikoden and Suikoden 2, Tekken,Tekken 2, Crash Bandicoot, Crash Banicoot 3 etcetera. Some PS1 games are £7.99 including titles like the PS1 Final Fantasy games and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Now this makes even the most expensive PS1 downloadbale game cheaper than what Nintendo charge for N64 games, but which are better N64 or PS1 games? Well that depends on the game doesn't it, size wise though PS1 games are generally bigger after all discs can carry a lot more information than carts can and some of these games were spread across more than one disc, so if anything it should cost Sony more to keep these games up online as downloadables. Nintendo do have sales in there store but usually these are just sales on either Triple A or indie titles apart from when the Wii U was released and Nintendo ran a early adopters offer of one certain retro game for 30pence a week for about 6 weeks I have never seen any NES, SNES or N64 titles on sale (Wii games have also been half price for the first week of there release when they first started doing them). Sony however involve PS1 titles on sale quiet frequently.
This gets back to the £20 I spent earlier, so what did I buy? Well I paid £2 for Wild Arms a PS1 RPG which would usually be £3.99 but is on sale. I spent £2 on Twisted Metal a vehicle combat game again usually £3.99. I got Grandia another RPG for £3.25 its usual price being £6.50. I spent £2 on Klona Door to Phantomile which would usually be £4. I wont list everything I got but the thing I think is most worthy of mentioning is that I got Arc The Lad 2, Arc The Lad 3 and Gaia Seed all games which to my knowledge were never released in the UK/Europe and how much did these games cost me £1.85, £2 and £2 and even if they hadn't been in the sale they still would have only cost £3.69, £3.99 and £3.99. What is more all of these games can be played on my PSP, my PS-Vita, My PS3 and a PS-TV if I happend to own one. My only complaint is that as of yet you cant play them on the PS4 which I hope is one day considerd but still one price to be able to play the games on multiple formats is pretty darn impressive, especially when in most cases the games are cheaper in the first place.
Is it just PS1 games though? No there are actually some PS2 games available to download for your PS3 including Virtua Fighter 4, Suikoden 4, GodHand, Capcom Vs SNK 2, Maximo, Red Faction, Sonic Heroes, are all usually £7.99 Some PS2 games are as little as £5.79 though including Conflict Desert storm 2 and Conflict Vietnam not surprisingly these are only playable on the PS3 though and not any of the handhelds. Now its hard to compare these titles to Nintendo's offerings as the PS2's counterpart the Gamecube has so far been ignored by Nintendo but still these are cheaper than Nintendo charges for N64 titles.
I wont mention the PSP titles available on the Sony Store as unfortunately they are only available to play on either a PSP or a PS Vita and I didnt talk about the games that can be gotten on the 3DS.
So which is better? Again it depends exactly what you want and how much you are willing to pay. I feel that both online stores have things they really should do to better themselves.Well lets take this on a brand by brand basis as both companies have there strengths and there weaknesses.
Sony needs to start involving the PS4 in the whole retro downloads arena, its got enough power that with a little work it should be able to play all of these old games the PS3 manages without even using a quarter of its power, also there is no reason why they couldn't make the PS3 and PS4 play PSP games, there are no touch based controls or anything to stand in the way and not everyone likes handheld machines but they would still enjoy some of the great games the PSP had to offer if they were available on the big screen (I know this is answered to some degree by the PS-TV but it could very easily be done by the PS4). Also it should be made far easier to find PS1 and PS2 games, you should easily be able to look at all of the titles available from a certain format with just a click or two like it is on Nintendo's store. I am hopping that with the fact Super StarWars is due to appear on the PS4 this will open the flood gates and sony will look at approaching other companies who released games on older 16 and perhaps 8bit formats to offer something to fans of this period of gaming. Yet I have to admit I have to take my hat of to them when it comes to both the prices and the idea that if you buy a PS1 game you can play it on most of your devices, I also think they handle sales really well, involving the retro games in these is a great idea as it helps draw attention to them.
Now Nintendo have the wide variety of formats on offer but I do think that there is some real greed there, sure there games are good and you could very easily make an argument for the prices being worth it but I do think when compared to others there prices seem greedy especially when they expect you to buy the game twice if you would like to play it on both your Wii U and 3DS. I think cross-buy is definetly an area they should look into. Yes you'd get less money by letting the person pay once and play on multiple devices but it would encourage people that having a hand held and home console made by your company so you could benefit like this would be the thing to do. Also involve your retro titles in more sales.