When looking forward to a fresh console generation, it’s mostly the new things that get us excited. Extra features, better visuals and new games are all well and good, but there are other ways in which a good games console must earn its place under your TV. Multimedia has been a big part of this generation and, with rumours surrounding the Xbox 720 supporting digital recording and playback of your saved clips, playing various media is going to be on the agenda for sure.
What is still wrapped in mystery however is the state of backwards compatibility. Forget multimedia! games consoles should be about the games and, whilst new games are exciting, they can often be hard to come by at the start of a console’s life. Heading back to your old titles is one such way to alleviate any deficiencies in a console’s launch lineup, and the practicality of being able to retire old consoles from your living room is undeniable. Here are ten very good reasons why the PS4 and Xbox 720 should really have backwards compatibility.
To Compete with Nintendo
Nintendo don’t always get it right, a point that is painfully clear by the very fact that they have continued on stubbornly with the disgraceful console name “Wii.” For all the stick we can give them though, they know how to do backwards compatibility. I bought my Xbox 360 and my Wii at roughly the same time back in 2006, selling my Gamecube and original Xbox in the process. I never once mourned the loss of my GC, with all my games and peripherals working as normal on the Wii. The Xbox was another matter, to the point where, to this very day, I still can’t play my copy of Shadow of Memories on Xbox. Nintendo get a few things wrong, but the Wii U is once again gracing us with almost perfect backwards compatibility.
To Appease the Fans
No one likes to have to pay for things unnecessarily, so it’s safe to say that being able to use old peripherals and games on new systems is often a plus for the consumer. Most gamers wouldn’t say no to backwards compatibility, and it’s the average gamer that Microsoft and Sony should be aiming to please. Sure, they offer classic games as downloads, but who likes re-paying for stuff they already own? Not to mention that…
Sony Were Criticised For Removing Backwards Compatibility
Aside from the early 60GB models, the PS3 has since had no true PS2 backwards compatibility. You’re covered when it comes to original PlayStation games, but the second generation of PlayStation is painfully absent on modern iterations of Sony’s console. They were able to do it at the PS3’s launch, so the removal of this feature drew a lot of fire from commentators and fans alike. Let’s hope Sony don’t make the same mistake twice.
To Stay Consistent
Though the BC of the Xbox 360 and PS3 is somewhat lacking, it is still very much there. If backwards compatibility were to suddenly be dropped from the 720 and PS4 entirely, it just wouldn’t be consistent? There has to be some form of backwards compatibility next generation, if only for the sake of continuity.
Focus on Digital Marketplace
With all the talk of new optical media technologies that next gen consoles may be using, it’s understandable that backwards compatibility may become impractical. After all, if the disc drives no longer play the older media of the PS3 and Xbox 360, we’re in a bit of a pickle with our old discs. That said, the increasing focus on the digital market can easily rectify this. Offering original PS3 and Xbox 360 games as downloads would be a good start as far as BC is concerned, though Sony and MS will have to do a better job than they have done so far; releasing a greater variety of games at reasonable prices.
To Make our DLC Purchases Worthwhile
This generation of consoles has seen a stark shift towards digital purchases. Whilst this is inherently a good thing, the scepticism remains of the true value of digital media. If the next generation of consoles is going to have any kinds of compatibility, it must at least be with previously purchased digital games. Whether on PSN or XBLA, if the DLC and downloadable games I’ve purchased are suddenly made redundant, then I’m throwing in the towel as far as MS and Sony are concerned.
We Won’t Have To Re-Purchase Our Old Games
I’ve been on the topic of digital versions of old games for the past few points and, whilst it would be a start, being able to use our old physical media would be a much more ideal alternative. Digital downloads cost money, and it’s often money we’ve already paid out for older generation games on disc. Therefore, should future disc trays support our old PS3 and Xbox 360 games, we’ll all save a lot of money on repurchasing old titles.
To Justify High Hardware Prices
Hardware prices are on the rise and, as graphics and processing power constantly improve as they do, this trend isn’t going to end any time soon. I have no real issue with paying out some $400 (£300 most likely after conversion) for next gen hardware, but only if it offers enough versatility to justify that price. Shiny visuals just aren’t going to cut it alone. Naturally, backwards compatibility often increases the production costs of a console, especially if extra processor and disc drives are required to fully emulate the experience. Even so, if the extra price isn’t too much, decent BC can really make that high price tag much less daunting.
This Generation has had Great Games
I have no doubt the quality of game development will continue to improve in the next generation, just as it has been slowly doing over the past thirty odd years. That said, some of the games we’ve had in the past have been incredible, with some of the games from our current gen being the best of the bunch. To suddenly have these game relegated to older systems laid to rest in the attic seems like a crime. Let them stay relevant Sony and Microsoft, and do them the respect of granting good backwards compatibility.
Many of us Have Older Hardware
Nintendo definitely do a good job with this one, especially when you consider that the Wii U supports almost all of the really obscure Wii peripherals the big N have released over the past six years or so. By comparison, the dawn of the Xbox 360 and PS3 saw us all having to buy new hard drives, memory units and controllers till the cows came home. Granted, these new accessories were better, but I sure as hell don’t want to be shelling out for more junk if it isn’t much of an improvement. If MS and Sony aren’t going to bring in all new controllers with whistles and bells on, then they may as well just let us use our old ones with our shiny new consoles.