PlayStation Greatest Hits & Affordable Content Curation
Despite the fact that gaming has become a prevalent slice of our culture within the past two decades, the hobby has always had a barrier of entry that’s difficult to break. For years, its hefty price tag has served as a gargantuan barrier-to-entry; continuously pushing newcomers away as the video game industry chases after greater technological innovation. It’s an upsetting reality, and it appears that platform owners don’t have a vested interest in creating a path for players with low disposable income to enjoy the games they offer. This wasn’t always the case.
However, there was a time when that path existed; and it was the only way that I, the son of two immigrants who didn’t speak english and sometimes couldn’t afford dinner, could afford to enjoy video games. That path, at least the one I’m most familiar with, was the Greatest Hits line-up of games published by Sony for the North American branch of their PlayStation platform. At the time of its creation, Sony’s Greatest Hits roster contained some of the best video games that were available on the PlayStation console. Any title that received this prestigious label would be sold to consumers for $19.99, a cost-friendly price that gave so many of us an opportunity to enjoy the hobby.
Sometimes you would wind up with a SpongeBob game, but for every licensed game released there would be at least two other solid titles – and those SpongeBob games weren’t half bad. Through the Greatest Hits program, I was able to get my hands on the games that I’d spent years coveting within the pages of Electronic Gaming Monthly. I could finally play games like Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy or licensed oddities like Dragon Ball Z: Budokai. Sony’s program allowed me to take chances on games like Burnout 3: Takedown, a game that existed within a genre that I had very little experience in. Was this curation necessary to my enjoyment of these games? Would I have eventually played these games if their price had gradually decreased over time? Perhaps. Without the Greatest Hits program, I wouldn’t have taken so many risks, as many of the featured games were outside of my comfort zone. While it was merely a smart marketing tactic on Sony’s part, I likely would’ve never played NBA Street or enjoyed titles like SSX Tricky.
For a time, there was a part of me that resented the Greatest Hits label. I understood it to be a symbol of my family’s socio-economic standing, as if Sony was telling me, “You don’t deserve this game, Jurge. You have to wait until the market seems this title as affordable.” Today, however, I realize just how significant something like the Greatest Hits line-up was to my enjoyment of video games; and how the program directly affected my current knowledge of the medium. Presently, the PlayStation 4’s Greatest Hits catalog only exists in Asian territories, strangely enough; and its absence in the Western market puzzles me. Perhaps there aren’t enough physical releases to sustain such a program, so I’d love to see the program begin to spotlight digitally-distributed video games. An online marketplace like the PlayStation Store has plenty of great games – of all styles and sizes – that would fit right in with the spirit of the Greatest Hits brand.
Despite hosting titles with varying price points, home consoles still lack a curated list of modestly priced, good video games which could serve as a bridge to players who aren’t able to afford full-priced games. Lastly, a program such as PlayStation Greatest Hits is incredibly important because great gaming experiences shouldn’t be walled off to a certain level of class or privilege.