April 13, 2024


Feel everything

Sony once again seems to offer the worst version of its PS1 games

Sony’s revamped PlayStation Plus service is beginning its slow kickoff around the globe, bringing users varying amounts of downloadable and streamable games — provided they subscribe at the right price point. As the first concerted effort Sony has made to feature its classic back catalog in the current console generation, the new PS Plus scheme is significant. However, it may ultimately not be the best showcase for said classic games.

Early reports on social media first surfaced by Videogames Chronicle appear to show that some of the PlayStation 1 games offered on the service are the slower-performing PAL versions of games, as evidenced by lower frame rates and opening titles crediting Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

In the pre-high definition era, regional video formats standardized TV performance parameters. In Europe, that format was called PAL and had a refresh rate of 50hz and a frame rate of 25 fps. In North America, the format was NTSC, and had a higher refresh rate of 60hz and a standard frame rate of 30fps. There are other differentiating factors between these two formats, but these are the most relevant today — on a crisp, modern display, the lower refresh and frame rates of a PAL game will have some slight choppiness when compared to the NTSC version, making the NTSC version preferable in most circumstances.

Since the revamped PlayStation Now is just starting its rollout — the service has just gone live for subscribers in the Asian region, and won’t arrive in North America until June 13, nearly three weeks from now — it’s unclear as to whether or not this will be the case in every region, or if the option to play the NTSC versions of the available PS1 games will be added later on. A lot can change in the next few weeks.

However, there’s a precedent for this. Back when Sony jumped in on the mini console craze with the PlayStation Classic, the company also made the baffling decision to emulate the PAL version of several games on the console — something that did little to dissuade those skeptical of the company’s investment in its back catalog. The coming weeks will likely show how interested Sony is in making nice with those interested in its retro offerings.

Polygon has reached out to Sony for confirmation and will update this story pending a response.