Backward Compatibility: Future gaming in reverse? (3)
How much importance should backwards 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 3).
“With the opportunity for these kinds of transactions naturally becoming limited for customers, it could be unnecessarily aggressive for Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo to engineer it out.”
Make no mistake, backwards compatibility and the countenance of preowned games are inextricably linked. As it happens, in the UK we’re seeing high street market forces banish secondhand trading with the demise of Gamestation, GAME and HMV stores. With the opportunity for these kinds of transactions naturally becoming limited for customers, it could be unnecessarily aggressive for Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo to engineer it out.
Download-only delivery or on demand streaming will of course be the silver bullet eventually. It can’t come quick enough for all of them and with it gamers should experience genuine backward compatibility with fewer limits. But these are awkward times and Sony knows it can’t escape optical discs for Blu-ray if nothing else.
It’s ironic that by selling PlayStation on a contemporary physical medium Sony has added another layer of backward compatibility for movies. For me personally this adherence to legacy holds much more importance than games, as I’d rather not trade in and buy my HD films again or buy a standalone player.
While the need for physical disc sales remain, the potential for download releases gets skewed too. Wondering why the prices for new games are highest via the PlayStation store? Because Sony has deals with the retailers to ensure they don’t undercut the discs sitting on shop shelves. Like we said, awkward times.
Couple all this with an online purchase history gamers won’t want to abandon with each console upgrade cycle and you start to appreciate the balance Sony will hope to strike.
So in many ways it will be as much about how these fundamental mechanics of video game consumption are revised in subsequent generations. Backward compatibility will similarly have a role to play in regard to the online ecosystems Sony and Microsoft have cultivated. Online connectivity to shared services also poses a relatively new spanner in the works for ensuring seamless generation-spanning support.
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