Remember that quaint mantra from a few years back, “You can’t compete with free!” The misguided idea behind the quip was that if the public could get your product for free, typically in digital form via the internet, then you were sunk. Dunzo. Kaput. The problem with this thinking is that selling a product has always had to be about more than an infinitely reproducable digital file, making any claim that “you can’t compete with free” exactly two words too long. And, of course, we’ve seen so many counterexamples in which people and companies very much compete with free, and in fact make a killing at it, so as to make this theory essentially dead. We recently touted the fact that Nintendo is barely able to keep its Nintendo NES Mini in stock as perhaps the ultimate example of this, given how pretty much every computer and smartphone can get all those same games and functions via emulators.
Well, it looks like others noticed this success Nintendo has had competing with free and have decided that they can do so as well. Sony has decided to jump into the retro console market with its Playstation Classic console, despite that it too has emulators available roughly everywhere.
It’ll be out on December 3 in the US, Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia, and includes games like Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3, and Wild Arms. There’ll be 20 bundled titles in total, but those five are the only ones announced at the moment.
The PlayStation Classic will include two original PS1 controllers and a HDMI cable, and cost US$ 99.99 (€99.99 in Europe, AUD$ 150 in Australia).
And guess what? It’s going to sell like crazy. And that’s because the reason for buying one goes beyond simply wanting to play a Playstation game. Anyone wanting to do that could simply download one of many emulators and game files and have at it. You know, “free.” But this console will compete with free the exact same way Nintendo did: by having a small, slick console that reeks of nostalgia and serves as a conversation piece, all while having the available ports and cords for a modern day television on which to play it.
Frankly, that’s not exactly a ton of work to do to compete with free. There’s no secret sauce. No magic formula. Just make what people want, don’t make it laughably expensive, and reap the rewards.
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