How much importance should backward compatibility really have when it comes to reshaping the home video game landscape? In the build up to a new era for PlayStation we examine if your old games really should matter to the next console generation (Part 2).
In all fairness, I vividly remember being mildly disappointed by the inability of my shiny new PS3 console to play old titles. But this was more a reaction to the bizarre dichotomy of a failure to play outdated software on a far more capable piece of kit. Couple this with the awareness that virtually all early launch titles suck and you start looking dewy eyed at what you could still be enjoying if you were more of a luddite.
It is though this innate top to bottom re-engineering of the console architecture that becomes the crux of the matter. In a perverse way a lack of backward compatibility from a nextgen console should be reassuring. You could take it as a guarantee of innovation, igniting a warm glow as you sense evolution is inevitable.
More tangibly, does the option of backward compatibility outweigh the actual practical necessity? Would you just like to know revisiting old game purchases was possible if the mood was ever to take you, given the likelihood it never will?
In personal experience, the embracing of a wholly new wave of games has always overridden any twinge of nostalgia. Even given the ability to buy a few old titles from the PlayStation Store hasn’t been overly tempting. PlayStation One’s Final Fantasy 7 was a must, but in reality my virtual copy has been played for an hour or so tops.
Perhaps a gaming past is better left behind anyway. Recollections of great games are all too often tarnished by a repeat visit, serving only to highlight outmoded visuals and primitive design. What’s more, with so many playthrough videos published on YouTube a retro curiosity show is never far away for those who need it.
If we refer back to Microsoft’s possible move towards blocking preowned games with Xbox 720, we can also appreciate the business motives at play. Having access to a huge back catalogue of historic physical releases isn’t something that makes commercial sense.
Game discs can be swapped, borrowed, traded and resold to zero monetary benefit for the manufacturers. It will also inevitably dent the sale of new full-price releases and represents a headache for all the console vendors within the life span of a single device generation. Introduce a wider notion of backwards compatibility and you just exacerbate the problem.
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