Lost Releases is a guide to all official survival horror games digital and print media items. Counterfeit and pirate items are not covered. The goal is to be a resource to collectors searching information about which items exist. The website remains a work in progress, it is obviously not complete.
Promotional discs, whether playable or video-only, is a major focus of this website. Such discs are sent to magazines for review and preview; sent to shops to display trailers or let people try the game in-store; sent to shops for them to order the game; included with another game from the same publisher inside the game package or as a pre-order bonus; included with a gaming magazine; handed out for free in shops or at conventions; or sent to various members lists like for example PlayStation Club and Capcom Friendly Club in Japan.
Often the press are not sent factory manufactured promos and demos for review and preview. They are sent prototypes on recordable media. Prototype is a general term for various builds on recordable media, including terms such as review, preview, beta, and alpha discs. They are made for in-house use (development, testing, localization), review and preview purposes as mentioned, and as playable builds to bring to events such as E3 and TGS. Lost Releases does not cover prototypes.
Whether an item is official or not may not be clear for certain magazine demo discs and similar items. Currently, the following three types of promotional items are considered official or licensed: Items published directly by the developer or any of their licensed publishers (example); items published by the console manufacturers, Sony, Nintendo, Sega, etc. (example); or items licensed by the console manufacturers (example).
The second category is included as it is assumed that the console manufacturers have agreements with the publishers to use the contents. For example, Sony would receive trailers and demos directly from Capcom to include with the Official PlayStation Magazine demo discs. The third category is included because console demos need to be licensed by the console manufacturers.
There are some cases where the contents appear to have been recorded by the magazine staff, such as trailers filmed at conventions or gameplay recorded in the office. This German demo is a good example of the latter. Even though it falls into the third category given above, it is hard to say if this disc can be considered licensed.
However, the main issue is the discs labeled as third-party samplers on this website. These magazine discs came on media not specific to any of the consoles, meaning it is harder to track licensing. It is sometimes difficult to say whether the contents came from the rights owner, for example Capcom, or not. Perhaps they had permission to record gameplay videos and put them on the disc. Capcom may have sent out preview or review builds of the game and allowed the magazines to use videos and screenshots as they wished. However, does a loose permission mean that the item is licensed? While it is not a pirate item, if there is no formal license the item should not be considered official.
On the other hand, in some cases it is very obvious that the videos came directly from the developers or were produced in collaboration. For example, the making of Silent Hill 3 feature that is included on PSW Vol 33 (the Resident Evil Dead Aim gameplay footage on the same DVD is less applicable), and the numerous Biohazard trailers featured on Famitsu DVDs; Famitsu reportedly had a good relationship with Capcom.
So which discs should be covered, and which should not? Currently, a number of these dubious discs are featured in the third-party section, but the criteria to appear in this section may be revised to be stricter at some point. Most likely discs which contain videos recorded by the magazines will be removed. I am not completely sure where to take this section, which is why it has not been updated in several years.
This is a quick introduction to how optical discs are manufactured, so you can understand why this website keeps track of matrix and IFPI codes. I have written a slightly more comprehensive yet simple guide on my Nirvana website.
The master disc, which is on recordable media, is loaded into a computer and transferred to a glass master by the laser beam recorder (LBR). The LBR also writes the digital matrix code to the glass master. This code includes LBR IFPI codes, internal pressing plant job numbers, catalog numbers, layer numbers on dual layer DVDs, and more. The LBR IFPI codes always start on L, followed by three or four alphanumeric digits. It identifies the particular LBR machine which was used to produce the glass master.
The glass master is coated with metal, and electroplated with another metal layer in a ion bath. The metal layer is separated from the metallized glass master, this is now called the father. It is a negative image of the digital information, and can be used to press discs. Instead, it is plated again to produce a mother. The mother can again be plated many times, to produce multiple stampers used for disc replication.
Additional information, stamper numbers, can be added mechanically to the matrix codes on all the three metal plates. This code is used to identify the metal plates used in the production of a particular disc, to easily identify the source of possible errors. These stamper numbers look different to the digital matrix code, as they were physically etched into the metal. Two discs which have identical digital matrix codes, but different stamper numbers, will still contain the exact same digital information.
During pressing, a second IFPI code may be moulded into the disc. This IFPI code is placed close to the spindle hole, and identifies the pressing plant as well as the specific mould used to press the disc. The mould IFPI contains four or five alphanumeri digits. The two first digits, or three in the case of a five digit code, identify the pressing plant, while the last two identify the mould. In other words, the mould IFPI code does not give any information about the digital contents on the disc nor about the metal plates, it only shows exactly where the disc was made. This list on my Nirvana website can be used to identify country of manufacture by mould IFPI codes.
The various parts in the matrix code are shown in image 1. The matrix code shown is from Resident Evil Dead Aim (SLES 51448 0920947).
The master disc itself does not contain a matrix code. The matrix code is decided by the operator of the LBR. The same master may frequently be used to create multiple new glass masters. This could be to manufacture several glass masters at the same time to speed up the manufacturing process, or to manufacture a new glass master for a later reissue. These glass masters can then be numbered in the the digital matrix code, which means that discs made from the same source may still have slightly different matrix codes. If so, the contents can be determined to be identical by identifying the particular parts of the matrix code. For example, if a disc has an internal job number DIDX-01234 followed by a 1, and another has the same job number followed by a 2, the digital contents will be identical.
1. Various matrix and IFPI parts