PSone Classics: Where We All Stand

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PSone Classics: Where We All Stand

Hello everyone. Today I’m here to talk to you a little bit about PSone Classics – what it takes to get a PSone game from disc to the Store, the problems we face in doing so and what we’re doing to get more games to you guys.

The Process

The journey from PSone disc to PSone emulation can be a long one – here’s the short version.

We make sure we’ve got a good copy of the original disc (or discs if there are localised versions), then the game is cleared for publish by our legal department. They check there are no issues with any of the content in the game being under an expired license, or any confusion over ownership of the publishing rights. Then we make a record for the game as it will appear on the Store, including the image and all the description text in the eight Store languages. Next, the game disc is sent to SCEI (Sony Computer Entertainment International) to be turned into a digital version, where they run some initial bug tests before the package is sent to our software testing house in Liverpool. The game is played extensively to make sure that there are no serious issues and that the game works from start to finish. At that point, if no problems are found either on PS3 or PSP, we can publish it.

The whole process can sometimes take several months, depending on the ease of the emulation, the length of the game and how many issues are found in each round of testing.


The Problems

There are two major stumbling blocks between submitting a game for emulation and us being able to publish it: not getting legal clearance and failing quality assurance (QA).

First, the legal – without naming specific games, some contain brand-name products (such as character clothing) that are no longer under license from the brand owner. In the same way, some games have characters in them that are borrowed from other game series and the publisher no longer has the rights to use them, or music that has been licensed for a game and again, those licenses have expired. In cases like these, permission has to be sought to publish the game or a license has to be renewed and this can take large amounts of time and/or money, or might simply just not be possible. Sadly, when these licenses were originally secured, they were for the life of the original product and plans were not put in place for these games to be launched again on another platform, years later. In some cases, the publisher of a game may no longer exist, so it must be determined who holds the permissions to republish a game before it can be emulated for the Store.

The other problem is failing QA because of serious bugs, and when I say bugs, I mean giant cockroach sized uber-bugs. I have seen a lot of PSone QA reports with some weird and wonderful errors – menu screens with upside down text, explosions that kill your character at random after watching a cut scene, games that continue to slow down the longer you play them, or music that sounds like it’s coming from the bottom of a well… the list goes on.

If a bug makes the game completely unplayable or otherwise ruins your experience then that’s a fail and the game cannot be published.

If a game fails QA, there are some things that can be done to fix them but, unlike with a PSN title, they can’t simply go back to the developer for another round of fixes, so it can get complicated.

SCE are also constantly improving the emulator that powers the PSone Classics both on PS3 and PSP, so often serious bugs that prevent games from loading at all are fixed with new versions of the emulator.

PSone Classics: Where We All Stand

Why are some games available on the US Store but not available on the EU Stores?

The million dollar question…

This usually comes down to either publishing rights or bugs that occur within the emulated PAL version that did not occur within the NTSC emulated version. There are several PAL titles that don’t play well with the emulator because of a PAL-only copy protection system that was used in several key releases, and sometimes other bugs occur at random.

In some cases the original publisher of the game in the US is not the same publisher as in Europe, so publishing rights need to be secured – once again, a lengthy process and one that some publishers choose not to undertake because of the costs and time involved.

And in the case of specifically licensed content, such as music, when it’s renewed for use in the US, it doesn’t automatically mean it can also be renewed for all the territories we publish in across Europe and the rest of the world.

PSone Classics: Where We All Stand

What are we doing about it?

We are still dedicated to bringing you as many PSone games as we possibly can. How dedicated?
There are some PSone titles that we have been seeking legal clearance to publish from as far back as 2007, some of which are still on going and some (such as the six mystery titles I mentioned recently… here’s a freebie… one of them is Wild Arms) have only just been legally cleared.

There are titles which previously failed QA that are bug tested again with every new version of the emulator and they come your way as soon as we can release them.

We’ve just sent another round of first-party titles for clearance and emulation to fill in the gaps in the catalogue (yes, one of them is Tombi so stop asking!) and with the list of games you’ve been asking for, we will be going back to publishers and specifically pushing for the most requested and popular titles.

That’s all for now, I hope you’ve learned some things about the PSone process. We’re not finished on this subject though – I’ll be back next week with more, including your list of requests on the blog, where we’ll take steps to find your most ‘must-have’, missing PSone Classics and see what we can do to make them happen. In the meantime, please keep making your requests in the comments.

Oh, and we’re re-releasing Crash Bandicoot 2 on Wednesday. Yay!

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49 Author Replies

  • hi ross, thanks for this nice “overview”! nice article …

    but: im still sad, that the tomb raider-games are just in english – in german-psstore… im mean, i do understand them, but i love lara’s german voice … :(

    but who cares :(

    • You’ve hit upon something there that I didn’t mention. If originally the games were localised across Europe we try and convert all the discs – the English, the French, the German, etc – sometimes we can get the English version working but the localised ones fail QA. In that instance consider it better to give you the game in English than not at all.

      We do make every effort to provide localised games where we can, where available.

  • BRING BACK SPYRO! That is all <3

  • Great explanation Ross, but people will continue to find something to moan about :(

  • Very interesting post there, Ross! Thanks for that. Nice to learn about the interesting process behind a PSOne game going up on the Store! I never though it would be so complicated!

    Also, i already have Crash 2 (i snagged it in the short time it was up); put something else up especially for me? ;) Haha

  • Nice post, Thanks Ross!
    Now definitely can’t wait for Tombi! :-)

  • good job Ross with trying to make it clear to people how the process works and hopefully calm them down when it comes to Wednesdays update >_> take it easy dude.

  • Some of those bugs sound awesome, and totally random.

  • Thanks for this post, really informative actually. But it does lead me to a question. Rayman 1 has been released pretty much everywhere at this stage on the store, except for Ireland, and that’s confusing because it’s on the UK store so it’s probably not a PAL problem like you said, and I don’t think it’s licensing because the UK and Irish laws in that Dept. are very similar, is their anyway you could shed some light on this for me? Or am I wrong and is it some kind of licensing issue

    • Well with third-party it relates to Ubisoft rather than us. If the third-patry publisher has the ability to publish the game in a certain territory they generally do so.

      I’m not sure what the issue is with this title particularly, as I would have to find out from Ubisoft, but I’ll follow up on it as part of the ongoing work I’m doing in this area. You never know…

  • @ Ross:

    I’ve given a quick read to your post, which I’ve been looking forward to. I’ll admit – WOW, I didn’t realise the amount of crap you have to go through. Which makes your effort all the more admiration-worthy. Before I give it a deeper read (remember, every weekday afternoon I have to volounteer, hence the first quick read), I have a week-old question and a new one for you. Here they are:

    Last week’s question:
    – After reading your answer, I’ve come up with an idea that would give a voice to the minority, among European PSN users, who wants the Classics as badly as I do: an option to donate to SCEE (no, seriously) in order to provide the money SCEE itself could buy back the rights (for the Classics) with, maybe with an option to choose the franchise on which said money shall be invested. (After what you’ve said, I want to help SCEE even more).

    New question:
    Please note that I wouldn’t be so impatient about getting most of the noteworthy Classics in the PSOne library if only I wasn’t so afraid of even the slightest chance of the Store being made unaccessible/unavailable to the PSP following its successor’s release. Do my fears have any reason to exist or…?

  • It seems a little like going back and trying to get PSONE titles released are a slight waste of resources. Why not axe the idea of PSONE games and do PS2 games. MASSIVE library, and maybe easier to get the rights?

    Could work on PS3 and the upcoming NGP? Just an idea

  • If a PSone game was never released in Europe but released in the US, would it still be possible for the publisher to release it on the PSN or would the differences in NTSC and PAL prevent that?

  • The big problem I have with PS1 games on the EU store is that they are the awful 50hz PAL versions. Back then there was a massive gulf between the original 60hz versions, and the slowed down, bordered 50hz PAL versions. The difference was so vast that I imported ALL my PS1 games from the US and Japan.

    Now years later and with virtually everyone owning a 60hz capable HDTV why are you posting the same crippled 50hz versions of these old games? At least offer everyone an option to get the original, or the slow motion version…

    At least there is still the option to buy from the US and JP PSN stores, although hoops obviously need to be jumped through to fund such accounts.

    It’s also rather amusing to see just how comically vast the PS1 classics store is now in Japan. It’s epic. And a flood of new games come out every few weeks. Plus they also get PC Engine games!

    • The NTSC discs were for the most part, never localised and we have a commitment to provide content across Europe with multi-language support where we can.

      And while the Japanese PSone store may be vast, a lot of those titles would not do well in this market because of language and cultural barriers, which means they’re not commercially viable for us.

      That said, you should come back for the article next week. I think you’ll be interested.

  • Tombi.. What a classic ;)

  • thanks for this, can you explain why some games leave the store? like Silent Hill

    • Silent Hill has licensed content where the license has not been renewed in Europe – this was not confirmed until after we initially published and we were unfortunately legally obligated to remove the game.

  • Tombi! Crash 2!! Now only Tekken 3 to go ;)

  • Fantastic post. If it was me I would just have posted a page saying ‘Stop f’in moaning about PS1 classics’. But thats why im not employed by SCEE.

  • Ross, I have a question.

    I used to have a game years ago by Midway called Team Buddies. I loved it to bits, even if it was just wall to wall swearing. It was developed by Psygnosis Camden, who are now SCE Studio Soho.

    Would there be any chance that this would be a title up for the port? My copy was robbed from my home years ago, and I’d love to buy it again.

    • It’s now added to the ever increasing list – I’ll see how it performed on release and we’ll see if it’s a solid candidate. :)

  • Love the article. Look forward to similar features in the future.

  • @ Ross:

    That’s a relief for sure. :D But what about my idea, namely the option to donate? I’m not kidding – I might give you something each week, like “donate to SCEE for Classics’ rights”, or even better, “choose a Classic franchise to donate for”. As another commenter here said, “just bring back Spyro” (despite you already said it would be a nightmare). If this could be possible, we might even make other Stores bite our dust. Okay, maybe that’s a bit boisterous, but there you go.

    Also, I’d suggest something – namely, still no kidding, you might skip the disc-getting passage as well. You know, piracy and other stuff – well, you know what? You might get back at them by taking advantage of their work in emulation by using their own software. Illegal ISOs are all over the net, so maybe it’s time for piracy to pay back by using said ISOs to put our Store on the same level as other Stores. Maybe this was written in a rush, but still, these two ideas might be… interesting to say the least. ;)

    • Not sure about the second part there, can’t condone those sorts of shenanigans…

      However, it would be interesting to see how much support there’d be for donations. :)

    • Oh, and there’s more than one Spyro title in QA at the moment.

  • @ Hamildan

    Silent Hill was pulled from the EU store because it was the American version. The EU version was acctually cencored to edit out the “Gray child” enemy. Thus, the American version wtill wouldn’t be allowed here, I’d reckon, since it’s not been rated by various classification boards.

    Judging by the above post, I’m guessing the EU version had a happy little brain fart while being tested.

  • Great post, now people can see what hard work it actually is and it isn’t just getting the game from the disc and uploading to the PS Store (if only it was that easy :P)

  • Why bother converting PS one games in the first place!?
    Let’s face it, they look like crap on a full HD tv and the time and effort it takes to convert them would be better invested in creating NEW and EXCITING PS3 games…

    • But we’re already creating new and exciting PS3 games. :)
      PSone titles are very popular and have download numbers across SCEA and SCEE to confirm that – and while it’s true some of them suffer in the translation to larger screens, don’t forget PSP, NGP and PSSuite.

  • It’s great to finaly see someone explain something in this information-starved world of games. There are a lot of publishers and developers who could learn something from this post.
    Thank you for clarifying things.

  • Nice post, Thanks Ross.

    Is there a list anywhere of what games have been submitted and what’s passed and failed, and where we can suggest titles for conversion?

    • Not specifically re: the submissions/failed/passed but if you’d like to suggest a title you can leave a comment here. I have compiled a list of requested titles from all the Store update posts since I took over blog duties – I intend to share much of this list next week – but there’s always room for more.

  • @ dsl278

    Some of us like nostalgia. If you don’t, there’s plenty of NEW and EXCITING PS3 games for you to go play.

  • Thanks for the transparency – I think it’ll make people a lot more sympathetic to your work on getting PSone classics onto the store.

    One question though – do you have to go through the same rigmarole all over again for PSone games coming to PlayStation Suite? Or are you covered for that?

    • I can’t talk in any more detail about PS Suite at the moment, but don’t worry, these things have been taken into consideration.

  • Apart from the legal bureaucracy, which in fairness is the biggest delay in getting these titles to the store, I am amazed that the digitalization/emulation process produces so many bugs.

    I mean, if the original game didn’t have any bugs/glitches why should it after SCE convert it. I assume SCE are aware that a PS3 can play these games without trouble directly from the disc and the certain owners of certain PSPs can play all of these games from a direct rip, with no sign of ’emulation bugs’.

    I still have my entire collection of PS1 games (some 150+ which all work on a PS3) and the best thing Sony could do, is allow me to digitize them myself through the PS3.

    How hard can it be to design a program that reads from the disk (to avoid piracy) and rips it directly to your HDD as a protected proprietary format. It is no different than what we currently do with CDs to the XMB, why do games have to be so different?

  • Hi Ross,

    I’ve alway understood the ‘legal’ issues regarding re publishing old software and I can understand how to some this sounds odd as on the original boxes somewhere it will say SCEE, and to alot of people that must mean SCEE ‘has’ the rights to do with the software what they choose to do (as if the rights of the game have somehow transfered to SCEE in the end)

    It does seem strange though after you explain the process why even bother for what you can ultimatley sell a very old game for? It is at this point, why didn’t Sony just look into giving us a method of using our original PS1 discs that I’m sure alot of die-hard fans have kept over the years? (I have!)

    We have bought them once, kept the best games and can still play them on our PS3’s bugs and all without any legal issues!


    • Firstly, I would say don’t underestimate the sales potential of PSone Classics. We wouldn’t be spending 2 and a half years sorting out legal clearance if it wasn’t worth it for us as a company. ;)

      As for disc base emulation, while I cannot comment on this as firmware and XMB systems is not my area, I will pass on your suggestions to the relevant people.

  • My advice still stands Ross a universal store AKA import store that will solve the problem nice insight of your problems but going the universal route let the ppl decide where the money goes.

    in the end it still goes to the devs a Win Win for them, it is good to see wild arms on that list what are the other 5 of 6?

    looking fowand to next week thilling chapter of PS1 classics with our list i got a new list for next week & who know‘s a universal/import be a plus feature like the rumour cloud gamesaves thing. ;)

  • Has there been an official statement on Castlevania: Symphony of the Night?

    If I recall correctly, it’s on the US PSN store, but not in European / Australasian regions.

  • @ Ross:

    Great! Maybe my second idea wasn’t a good idea, but I sadly have to admit that not all of my PSOne games were original copies (buying a Playstation as late as in the early 2000s did little to help in that regard, considering that games tend to disappear from shelves after a while) – and I’m seriously looking forward to pay back through donations and, especially, purchasing again games that I used to own, whether they were original (Crash Bandicoot 3, platinum version, bought with the console itself) or not (Crash Team Racing).

    I hope this piece of trivia didn’t come off as undesired, since it’s exactly what i want to make amends for.

    Thanks for all of your answers!

  • A great overview, cheers Ross. Utterly fascinating and a bewilderingly interesting list of glitches.

    I’d like to ask about another PSone game too actually; Hogs of War. It was 3D Worms with pigs, for the uninitiated. Any chance on adding that to what must be looking more like a novel now rather than a list?

    • Not the first time it has been mentioned and thus, already on the list – but thank you. Please do show your support for any specific titles. That goes for everyone!

  • wow, this is so informative, thanks alot. its interesting to find out the process of something like this, and will be very useful if ever a questions pops up about the PSone digital titles in the future.

    will totally take all this into consideration next time i spam the ‘wheres my Dino Crisis!?’ button 8D

    kinda surprised that all the artwork and stuff gets done at the start, would have guessed it was the last thing to be done 8o.

    and didnt realise mostly everything was done without the original developers! all you need is a decent version of a game \o/. no wonder theres no trophies for them xD

    • The artwork and descriptions consist of information we already have on file (packshot and pack/manual info), so this doesn’t hold us up.

  • Fingers crossed that Tombi gets released! Would also love to see Chase the Express, Pandemonium! and WipEout 2097 on the Store too.

  • I’m just wondering. Are these bugs present in the original games or as a side affect of them being emulated?

    • We don’t hold up game in QA for gameplay bugs that already existed in the disc release. Generally there are no showstopping bugs in the original game code, as they would have been fixed back in the day.

  • “And while the Japanese PSone store may be vast, a lot of those titles would not do well in this market because of language and cultural barriers, which means they’re not commercially viable for us.”

    which titles you talking about most games from there end up on SCEA store & we getting the JAP Imports still Right. :|

    JAP Imports are in japanese anyway different taste or not i just finish the catherine demo and that was in japanese apart from some voices in english. :D

    • Yes sorry, I don’t want to put out misleading information.
      The deal with Monkey Paw is going ahead, it has been finalised for some time as I understand it – we will be getting at least 10 Japanese Import PSone titles.

  • I <3 you for clearing things up Ross – kudos!

  • Why are we getting these old games instead of spending time developing new games that actually use the hardware we bought? If I wanted to play old classic games then I’d play them on the hardware I bought 15 years ago.

    Can we not dwell on the past and start making new games because I’m starting to wonder if I wasted my money buying a PS3 now. And don’t get me started on Move.

    • The publishing of PSone Classic titles in no way harms or impedes development of new games. If they’re not for you, don’t buy them.

  • I would love to see the Resident Evil serie, Dino Crisis serie, Point Blank serie (with Move support) but that would be a little more difficult to request I think.

  • Wild Arms?
    Crash Bandicoot 2?!?

    Oh, HELL yeah!
    You, sir, have just won the internet.

    The only thing still missing, is the original Spyro trilogy, but since it were Insmoniac titles, and thus – in its days – something they call second party titles, I doubt the legal issues would be that big of a problem. SCEE was the publisher, after all. So I presume the reason it hasn’t been released yet is due to emulator issues?

    (By the way, apart from Spyro, there is one other thing I’d personally like to see: Legend of Legaia. A great JRPG that mostly got ‘average’-scores at its release, but ended up being kind of a cult classic. I don’t know if there’s a high demand far a PSN re-release though…)

  • @ CaptnSpaulding finally someone who know what hes talking about

    i agree 100% with you

    if they used the time, and the money that they spend on getting psones games to psnstore, then we would have crosschat and lots more usefull stuff on our ps3.

    if they start remaking old games in hd, like they did with god of war, then i fully support sony, but asking 19 euro for old psones games without any changes i cant understand.

    to bad there are people who pay that for psone games they probably still play on smaal crt tv’s

  • thanks for that. it was an interesting read! please if possible pass on (or add to the list) Chase The Express and Syphon Filter 2. I need these games on my psp/ps3 !! i need to complete my syphon filter collection and number 2 is all im waiting for !!! keep up the good work guys !!

  • Hogs Of War would be lovely, but I think that may be in limbo as the original publisher is gone, the most recent publisher lost the rights and it has Rik Mayall doing voices. Would love it though!

    My most wanted is ‘In Cold Blood’ from Revolution/SCEE. I found it in a shop two years ago for £1 but they couldn’t find the disc. It wasn’t the greatest game in the world but it had an intriguing story and I never finished it.

    It’s actually quite sad looking back at old favourites then remembering the amount of licensed music meaning it will be difficult to republish. Tony Hawk must be a nightmare, game is all licences!

    Thanks for the post, and I look forward to Crash 2!

  • Hey Ross,

    good read. I like this comprehensive guide. Kudos to some secrets revealed! Also Kudos to the decision of releasing a game in english to all territories than not at all. Besides that, it must be awesome getting a hold of each and every copy of the PsOne games that are submitted …

    As said on several occasions before; Legend of Dragoon, Jade Cocoon and Soul Edge / Calibur :).

    And again an Japanese Import and US Import Section would be great. Yes I love to go the extra mile :).

    Ah … I know there are several testing and what not things, but actually is there something, I as customer could to to speed things up on certain spots?

    Besides I’ve to scold you. You didn’t mention that Dead Nation had been released in Germany ;). You naughty one! (Also the folder for FAERY: Something, something of Avalon is still not in german language ;).)

  • Good post, very interesting !

    I’m really looking for this games :

    Broken Sword 1
    Broken Word 2
    Destruction Derby 2

    Thanks !

  • @42 Chase The Express! Great shout.

  • I would really love to see Skullmonkeys. It was a really obscure platformer, but everyone who has played it loved it. I really regret selling it.
    I imagine though it will get rejected for both legal (I dont think the company exists now) and technical reasons. I have read that people have tried to emulate it on the pc with every possible emulator and on hacked PSPs and have failed miserably. Even the slim PS2 seems to not run it. Haven’t read anything for the PS3.

    Has it been looked into?

  • And Discworld ! (sorry for the double post)

  • A very open and refreshing article on PSOne games on our PS3…thanks Ross.

    The lesson here is simple for SCEE, open up and reveal info, talk to the PS3 gamers and let them know a few things and you keep them happy.

    Everyone has wondered about this process so this sums it up nicely!

  • Cheers for the official word on this Ross.

    Good to hear it’s not dead :) Looking forward to playing more classics. Can’t wait for Wild Arms. Best intro song to a game ever.

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