The "classic console" market has become as crowded as the actual console market. While the 'all-in-one" device that plugged into your television and offered a collection of old-school video games has been around for a long time, in the last couple of years the product has evolved from a novelty to a quality product. But is the future of gaming really all these retro looking devices. I certainly hope not.
I suppose we can blame Nintendo for all this. The NES Classic was a huge hit, one so big even Nintendo didn't realize what they had, but the first classic console that included high-quality games that a lot of people still remember playing the first time around was one of the hot tickets of its day. It, in turn, spawned the SNES Classic, which saw its own success. Now, in just the last week alone has come news that the original PlayStation will get a classic console of its own, that the previously announced Sega Genesis/Mega Drive device is being delayed, but likely because Sega realized it needed to up its game in this space, and a renewed rumor that a Nintendo 64 classic console may also be on the way. This holiday season could actually see a renewal of the N64/PSX console war, in miniature form.
While it's great to see a lot of these classic games get a new lease on life, the fact is that this isn't exactly the most efficient way to do it. Do we all really need all these devices hooked up with yet another HDMI cable in addition to all our existing consoles? While they're small, do we really want to go digging for the particular device we want everytime we get an urge to play a particular game?
The recent launch of Nintendo's online service for the Switch shows part of the problem. While some of the initial 20 titles released as part of the online collection crossover with what is available in the NES Classic, most of them do not, and one wonders if they all ever will. If Nintendo eventually releases everything on the NES Classic online then those who spent a not minuscule amount of money on the product may feel cheated, which might lead them to not spend the money on Nintendo's next device. Alternatively, if you can't ever play some of the NES classic titles online, many of which would have to be called essential, then is Nintendo online really worth it? If people flock to the PlayStation Classic, will that ever cause Sony to put any of those games on the PlayStation Now service?
Rather than using these strong game libraries to strengthen the products they already have, these companies have decided to carve them up and offer as many different products as they possibly can. This isn't exactly the most consumer-friendly choice.
The problem is that if they went with a consumer-friendly choice, these companies would earn a lot of loyal consumers. If the Nintendo Online service eventually has the bulk of Nintendo's classic catalog a lot of people will happily pay for access to that, the same goes for Sony.
I don't have the space, physical or mental, for all these classic consoles and all their varying titles, regardless of how much I might want to play them.