What would be the obvious bought-and-sold lemon of the Criterion game catalogue, I wonder? Some Quantic Dream dishrag, I suppose.
Frank’s right in that there’s a relatively high base technical cost to reissuing old games that forces devs, rights holders, etc to be selective about what they do and don’t reissue, and that the likes of LRG may not be enough to make reissuing obscurities a consistently profitable venture, but by the same token, there’s an increasing number of developers/publishers dedicated to reissuing the most unheard-of shlock with no advertising, no effort to contextualise or add value to the games and oftentimes not even competent emulation, and yet someone must be buying their trash because they continue to release game after game.
(Here’s one example: Thunderbolt Collection, a two-pack of unremarkable unlicensed console shooting games by the Taiwanese company Gamtec, out next week—there’s a compelling story that could be told about Gamtec, the Taiwanese dev scene of the ’90s, the odd places & communities they were able to reach with their games, etc but not only does this package not attempt any of that, it doesn’t even make any effort to explain what the games are beyond the words “FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE EASTERN” in the trailer, and they’re instead just tossing them onto digital storefronts as if that’s all it takes… and maybe that really is all it takes.)
One factor is that some of the more recent entrants into this space are from countries where more can be achieved for less: Ratalaika Games (frequent partner of Strictly Limited Games/ININ) is based in Poland, QuByte Interactive (recent collaborator with rent-seekers Piko Interactive) is a Brazilian company, etc. Even Japanese-made packages are able to be profitable with lower sales, for a variety of reasons that include but are not limited to a tolerance for relatively expensive media and terrible work culture.
In Ratalaika’s case, much of their underlying emulation is licensed from existing commercial or open-source options, which is something more companies should be doing but aren’t. (Some are just stealing open-source emulators, which is a whole separate issue.) Like, it really is silly that the industry has been pursuing commercial emulation of certain hardware for multiple decades now and it’s still a coinflip as to whether company x’s reissue of game y is going to be adequately reproduced, and that every new entrant in this space should be expected to reinvent the wheel.
RE: Hamster, the “ROM in MAME” comparison works inasmuch as they are very plainly presented, but as Brandon mentioned, they’ve become increasingly granular about adding very specific per-game options and enhancements, and the base emulation (mostly handled by a reputable white-label studio called Gotch) is oftentimes more accurate than MAME due to a greater familiarity with the games (and not just the obscure ones, either).
Insomnia’s no fun.