This almost made it into last november’s “PS3 month” but I backed out because I wasn’t sure on how interesting this might be. But well… it’s my blog so I decide in the end.
The thing is, I’m an european gamer, being more specific, I’m from Spain. But since this is a small country (comparatively) and I have a pretty huge PS3 collection, you can bet that while collecting those games I happened to gather copies from many countries in the world. And, with that, I learned a few things that maybe most people didn’t know about how the whole “packaging” of PS3 games are around the world.
It’s basically trivia. Little details and curiosities that won’t be of any use really but they can be interesting. In any case, it’s not that long of a read and there’s plenty of info and images so give me a chance, okay?
Starting with the most obvious. This little piece of trivia is known by most PS3 users, even if they never got as far as collecting for the system.That is the fact that there is (or there’s been) three labels on Playstation 3. The red label, the black and the blue one.
The red one was the one that Sony chose at the start of the generation. Game cases would have a vertical bar at the left side of the cover where Playstation 3 would be written in the classic spiderman font. Also, on the spine a little square would have the PS3 over a red background that would give this label its name.
Sony changed the whole design of those covers in 2010 and since then long gone was the vertical bar with “Playstation 3” on it and also the spiderman font. From then on games would have a horizontal bar on top of the cover with just the initials PS3 in its current font. Also, the red square on the spine was replaced with a larger black rectangle with PS3 written on it also on the new font.
The story about how the blue label came to be escapes my knowledge. What I’ve heard but nobody ever confirmed it was that they were supposed to change the whole image of the brand for the blue color so they decided to make the labels blue, but then the PS4 came along and they didn’t want people to confuse the different cases (as the labels on PS4 are indeed the same shade of blue) so it didn’t catch on. Of all the 300 and something PS3 games that I own, only 2 are blue label: Drakengard 3 and Mugen Souls Z.
Again, starting with the most known fact. When Sony changed the red labeled releases for the black ones, they also changed the cases themselves where games came in. Back in the day on the top of the transparent case you could see the bluray logo and “Playstation 3” sort of engraved in the plastic. When they changed the image however they got rid of the whole writting and just kept the bluray logo.
That was the most important fact and the most well known one but I happened to come across another that I bet most people never even heard about it.
And that is the fact that PS3 cases in America snap harder. They really do. I had games bought from Japan, Europe and I have plenty of games imported from America and the cases they come in, snap harder. They’re just harder to open and close. Why is that? I have no clue. The cases themselves don’t even look any different from the ones in here but they sure feel different when you open or close them.
Unless you buy all your games used, you must have noticed that games come wrapped in a transparent plastic. If you live in america though, what you may not know is that the wrapping isn’t just any random plastic wrapping as in, in other countries of the world, the wrapping actually has a seal. A playstation branded seal.
It is very neat looking and also very useful as it certainly helps you unwrap the whole game much easier if you just pull on that Playstation Strip.
It’s not just an America vs the rest of the world kind of thing though because there are actually two versions of that seal (that I know of). While in Europe the seal is located across two thirds of the case’s height, in Asia the seal is located much lower. Making the product look actually fancier looking but not as useful as pulling the game out of it is harder.
Just in case this concept is too hard to wrap around here are some pics that try to explain it.
It won’t surprise many that in different countries use different age ratings but I’m pretty sure not many know about them. There’s way too many different rating systems out there and I wouldn’t want to screw up with the ones I haven’t seen personally so I’ll just stick to the ones I know.
American games come rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). The symbols that represent the different ratings are alphabetical but they’re the capitals of what they’re supposed to represent like E standing for “Everyone” or M for “Mature”.
In Japan there’s the Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO). They also use an alphabetical system but the letters themselves don’t stand for anything. They go from A to D going from all ages to 17 and over and then Z for only adults games. One particular aspect of this rating board is that you can also read the rating in the spine of the case.
In UK games are rated by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). They use a numberical system that symbolizes the required minimum age for each game except for the Universal (U) and Parental Guidance (PG) ones. This ratings have in common with the Japanese ones that they can also be read on the spine of the cases.
In most parts of Europe the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) system is in place. This is a purely numberical system that shows the minimum age required to play the game going from 3 to 18. Early PS3 games had this restriction looking monochromatic being just a white number over a black (or dark grey) rectangle but ever since 2009 they also got colorful. The 3 and 7 rating has a green background, 12 and 16 is yellow while in the 18 one the background is red.
The reason why I prefer not to import games from Germany is the USK rating system they have. Like the PEGI system, it’s purely numerical and also colored but the size of the symbols is just crazy. It seems like these have been designed for any grandma that might be buying games for their grandsons having in mind that they probably don’t have the best sight right now. As you can see from the pic down there, the size of the USK rating is absurdly big.
And at last I’ll be talking about the ratings I found (or not found) in games I imported from China. Because even games as violent as Max Payne 3 don’t seem to have any age rating at all. I like how much cleaner the covers look without a square telling you the age you’re supposed to have to play the game but maybe it’s a little irresponsible. Maybe the age requirement is written on the back of the box in chinese though, I wouldn’t be able to tell.
Grab any PS3 game case you own and look at its spine. Somewhere near the bottom you’ll find a 5 digit serial number which is associated which each game. The first PS3 game then (the one with the 00001 number) is Resistance: Fall of man but those serial numbers aren’t sorted by release date or anything like that.
Apart from those numbers, on top of them (or sometimes below) you’ll see a four digit alphabetical code as well. They’re usually something like BLUS or BCES or something similar. I’m going to explain what that means.
The first letter is always a B and it’s supposed to mean that the optical format of the game is a Bluray. Back in the PS2 era there were games coming out on CD apart from the more typical DVDs so maybe that’s why they felt the need to be specific about this but really, all physical PS3 games come on Bluray.
The second letter tells you if the game is first-party published or third-party published. That’s if the game was published by Sony or not. If the game was, like Uncharted or Infamous, it’ll display a C. If the game is third party, like Bioshock or Dishonored, it’ll have an L.
The third letter is the one that’s related to this article the most as it’s the regional letter. It tells you from which region the copy in particular is from. American games have a U, japanese games have a J, games from Europe have an E and the games from Asia have an A.
The fourth letter however is a mystery to me. Of all the games I own, only a single one has anything different than an S. EX Troopers, a Japanese import has an M as the last letter of its code. But what is that supposed to mean? I have no clue. If anyone reads this and does know the reason, please write it on the comments below.
I left this for last because I honestly know very little about this. I tend to try and avoid those horrible colored boxes at all costs and I mostly succeed.
Here, in my country (and in Europe in general), the budget releases come under the brand “Essentials“. All of the games come with a horrible red frame surrounding the game’s cover but the boxes themselves are transparent like the regular ones. Back in the PS1 era when Sony first introduced the whole budget re-releases they named it the “Platinum” brand and that brand stayed on PS2 and, wouldn’t you know? Also in the first years of PS3 the budget brand was also platinum. Those were even more ugly as they mixed the classic silver color with a very strident yellow.
In America, the color is very similar for those budget re-releases. They decide to replace the black for a very distinctive red that even makes its way into the whole case. Being honest here, this “Greatest hits” brand is my favourite of them. Those game cases don’t look half bad.
I can’t say the same for the budget brand in Japan though. This so called “PS3 the best” makes the cover of the game to also be surrounded by a frame like in Europe but in this case, the stylized with round edges are replaced by a simple rectangle of pure white. And Ironically enough, the yellow chosen to replace the black of the ps3 label seems to be same ugly yellow that the platinum brand chose. It’s a collection of ugliness. I should also mention that in Japan it’s quite common that different publishers do their own kind of budget re-releases each with its own style and name (UBItheBest, Atlus best selection, etc…).
And that’s it for today. I hope you found something interesting out of all of that trivia. If anything, now you’ll be able to tell where does any PS3 game come from and how old it is just by looking at its case.
Anyway, I hope you liked it. If you have more information or just any doubts about any of the stuff explained, comment below and I’ll be happy to answer.
And as a farewell I’ll leave you with the last bit of trivia. It seems like someone screwed up when designing the cover for the game Fuel and if you look at the spine of that case you’ll see that the letters are oriented in the opposite direction. While any other game on PS3 is written downwards, on Fuel is written upwards. Bet you didn’t know that.