Many video-game collectors like to compare the greatest-hits and original versions of titles the way music fans compare secondary and original pressings of records.
However, thinking about video games along the same lines as vinyl albums overlooks one crucial point: oftentimes the initial printing of video games is larger than subsequent printings of a greatest-hits version. Plus, not all greatest-hits versions are equal. Each system has its own unique twist on the trend. So here’s a look at how these popular consoles handled their re-releases, plus the positives and drawbacks to greatest-hits versions of games.
Black label vs. green label. Avid gamers are well versed in these terms, as they represent an ongoing argument in the video-game-collecting world. In many ways the original PlayStation “greatest hits” versions represent the pinnacle of an argument that extends to all other consoles. Which version of the game is truly the one to own? Many gamers are split evenly down the middle. Hardcore collectors often prefer the untarnished black case and colorful disc art of the original printing. However, gamers who solely wish to play the game and not display it on their shelves are happy with the lower price tag that usually accompanies a greatest-hits version.
Having said that, unwavering adherents of the “original printing” argument—those folks who value rarity above all else—can sometimes find themselves bamboozled. Some of the greatest-hits versions of PlayStation games, like in the case of Final Fantasy VII, actually have fewer printings than their original counterpart, and thus are technically rarer—and cost less money, to boot.
Also, many of the greatest-hits versions include gameplay tweaks and changes. “Resident Evil” for PS1 is a perfect example of this. Because it’s such a popular and iconic title, many collectors would scoff at purchasing a greatest-hits version of the game. However, that particular version included updates that utilized the dual-shock controller, which had just been released at the time. The original version of the game wasn’t compatible with dual shock.
Where it concerns greatest-hits titles, the PS2 didn’t deviate too much from its predecessor. Except instead of green labels to denote a new printing of a popular title, they switched over to red (a bold color that marketers use when they want to catch a customer’s eye). However, many collectors doubled down on their previous rejection of greatest-hits titles because they felt the black casings of an original PS2 game looked sleek when compared to the red-label versions.
One trend that remained unchanged from the PlayStation to the next-gen PS2 was that greatest-hits versions were still cheaper to buy than original printings. But again, these low price points often threw off collectors. Another example of a title that underwent fundamental changes from the original version to the next is “Virtua Fighter 4.” When it was released as a greatest-hits version on the PS2, it included new gameplay and characters. Not only that, the title was changed to “Virtua Fighter: Evolution.” Ironically, this title is now much sought after as a collector’s item.
I imagine this example befuddles game collectors everywhere. That’s because the Sega Dreamcast is itself now viewed as a hot item due to its relatively short lifespan, plus the fact it was Sega’s last game console ever produced. So how does one make a distinction between the Sega All Stars Line (Sega’s version of “greatest hits”) of re-released games and its original titles when all its games can legitimately be considered collectors items? Add to that the fact that both versions of games (the Sega All Stars and original white-label printings) cost about the same. Still, there are some hot finds in the All Stars realm if one knows where to look. The All-Stars version of the first “Marvel vs. Capcom” was a limited printing, more so than even its original counterpart. Plus many All-Stars titles included bug fixes.
PlayStation had “Greatest Hits,” Xbox had “Platinum Hits.” And just like with the PlayStation, most of the argument concerning the worth of Platinum Hits titles is an aesthetic one. Many collectors simply don’t like the silver packaging (there’s no pleasing some people). However, to say that the only differences in Platinum Hits versus original Xbox titles are merely superficial would be a misnomer. There are plenty of Platinum Hits games that come with bug fixes and other extras. The Platinum Hits version of “Mass Effect,” for example, includes a second bonus disc filled with extra DVD features.
Opponents of greatest-hits game versions can blame Nintendo for ushering in the trend. Beginning way back with the Super Nintendo, the company decided to re-release games once they sold a million copies or more. They called these versions, “Player’s Choice,” and the name stuck until 2011 when they switched to the new “Nintendo Selects” title. The re-released games were identified on previous consoles like the N64 and Gamecube by different-colored backgrounds in the corner of the game box. General consensus is that the original and Player’s Choice versions of the games aren’t too different from one another.
The Game of the Year Edition
For me this is the "best buy" if you will for any new video game. Often refered to as "GOY" or "game of the year version" of a video game which can be well worth the wait. As this version of the game will include the original game, but it will also include most all of the "DLC's" for the game. So lets look at Star Wars Battlefront as an example here. The game released in November 2015, out of the gate it seemed the game looked great, but lacked in overall game play quality. Then you also have the option to buy the season pass for the game or instead buy individual "DLC's". Instead if you wait say 9 months to a year for the "GOY" version, you'll get a better game. As EA is sure to create patches to improve the overall game play, then you'll get all the DLC's included with the cost of the game. Not to mention the game would probably have a lower price tag.
In the end, the thing that is so special about greatest-hits versions of games (and which many hardcore collectors ignore) is that these versions allowed gamers on limited budgets to enjoy popular titles while oftentimes getting an upgraded game in the process. Should this fact automatically render them less worthy than an original printing? There’s no evidence to suggest this should be the case.