Friday, June 4, 2010

Sony's Greatest Hits

The Greatest Hits label has long been an integral part of the game library for Sony's consoles. It was started to give elite status to best selling games on the PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Portable, and since the program began in 1997, there have been over 580 Greatest Hits titles across all four platforms.

When a game became Greatest Hits, two things would happen; the game would drop in price (usually between $19.99 and $29.99), and the collector's value of the original "Black Label" version would begin to rise. While it's not applicable to all games, RPG's in particular like Final Fantasy VII enjoy a noticeable difference in price when comparing the "Green Label" and "Black Label" versions.

Consider the Final Fantasy Anthology for PS1. The original printing had a black label, the old-style white ESRB rating, and listed Squaresoft as the publisher. The new print, which is still in production brand new, has a green label, the new-style black ESRB rating, and lists Square-Enix as the publisher.

The criteria for being under the Greatest Hits label has varied, but it has always been dictated by sales in some capacity. Originally on the PS1, titles on the market for at least a year that sold 150,000 copies were eligible to be Greatest Hits. That number eventually rose to 250,000 copies sold. On the PS2, a game had to be available for 9 months and sell 400,000 copies to become a Greatest Hits title. The PSP requires a game to be on the market for 9 months and sell 250,000 copies.

The PS3, however, seems to be different. While it is believed that a game must be on the market for 10 months and sell at least 500,000 copies, the induction of the God of War Collection into the Greatest Hits library proves this to be false, seeing as it came out on November 17th, 2009, and it's already been dropped to $29.99 MSRP with newer copies bearing the red Greatest Hits packaging.

Less savvy shoppers might confuse Greatest Hits titles with quality titles. While this is often a reasonably safe way to go about purchasing games, we advise against it. Many times poor quality games can rise to the level of others based on the strengths of a series name, advertising campaigns, or general hype. Case in point? SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Confrontation is a Greatest Hits title and trust's not that good, especially considering the quality of the original games on the PS2.

As an interesting side note, we calculated approximately how long it took for the following PS3 exclusives to make it into the Greatest Hits library and made a little bar graph. We listed them chronologically by when the game received the Greatest Hits label and included the number of months it took for it to meet the criteria of 500,000 copies sold. And for good measure, we threw in the Metacritic aggregate score for each title:

The prices of the above games now fall in the $19.99 to $29.99 price range for new copies, though older titles receive smaller print runs and you might end up paying a bit more.

What's curious is that excellent games like Uncharted: Drake's Fortune took almost two years to become Greatest Hits titles whereas the aforementioned mediocre SOCOM Confrontation enjoyed that label a mere 10 months after its release. As for the God of War Collection, that thing is an unstoppable beast of a game that we guarantee will be a top seller until the end of the PS3's lifespan. After all, it's two of the best PS2 games on one disc remastered in 16:9 aspect ratio and 720p resolution with added Trophy support. For $29.99, that's an absolute steal.

In the end, it all comes down to price. Currently on the PlayStation 3 there are 43 Greatest Hits titles, though not all of them have received re-packaging.

Expect plenty more to come.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice blog... I like the analysis. I'm actually surprised it takes almost 2 years for some games to become Greatest Hits... It always felt like it happened faster than that... Actually, it seems to me that Sony tends to batch games as "Greatest Hits", and that's the reason God Of War Collection made the list so soon - they were probably just looking to add as many titles as they could, and increase the attractiveness of the console to future buyers.