It won’t be long before the next generation of consoles will be in full swing and there are a lot of questions being thrown around about what we can expect. But more importantly we have people predicting what they think Sony and Microsoft might drop on us in regards to features of their new hardware and one of the more outspoken topics has been that of backwards compatibility. And it got me thinking: is backwards compatibility for the PS4 or new Xbox really that important?
Let’s take a look at Sony for a moment. For the PlayStation 2 it was definitely a feature that needed to be included and, thankfully, it was. With the PlayStation 3 it was needed, but not as much. And some models were backwards compatible, some weren’t. But, for me anyway, we’re in a day and age where backwards compatibility just isn’t as important anymore.
There’s a much simpler way to deal with the issue of back catalogues and I think it’s a win-win for both the manufacturer and the consumer. With the PlayStation Network and the Xbox Live Arcade becoming more popular and more viable, let’s just distribute PS3 and Xbox 360 titles via the digital avenue. Now I know that a major issue pops up here. People want to play the games they already own but let’s look at this in a logical way.
If a gamer has gone to the trouble of purchasing a new console and has also got rid of their last generation console (which is generally the only type of person who has a horse in this race, so to speak) then the issue of being able to play their old games is quite a minor one. The average consumer who fits this profile will likely end up playing no more than four or five old games. So put them on the PSN or XBLA and set a special, lower price for new console owners. It’s a middle man and it works for both.
I’m being forcefully realistic here I will admit. But with the current plans being put in place in defiance of the used games market and much stricter DRM being enforced platform-wide, it wouldn’t come as a shock to anybody to see Sony and Microsoft awkwardly push backwards compatibility off to the side. So let’s skip by the enraged responses and just get on with a solution. And this is the best one I’ve come up with. It’s fast efficient and future proof.
With internet connections getting faster and faster, it’s just quick and efficient. It allows for complete control on the manufacturer side and will, for the most part, keep gamers themselves happy. This is the best we can expect so I say we run with an idea similar to this. It’s not perfect but I think something along these lines could be a nice compromise for both companies and consumers. Neither will be fully happy but there’s no point in hoping for backwards compatibility. Keep your PS3 or Xbox 360 if you want to play old games. We’re moving into a new stage within the video game industry. So just ride the wave, man, ride the wave.