Editorial: The death of backwards compatibility?

The Xbox One and PS4 were released to great fanfare, with critics hailing the consoles as promising glimpses of what is to come. With the release of these consoles, the current generation has heard the death knell, and is winding to a close. Sure, there will be games released for the current gen for a while, but eventually the march of time will overtake the PS3 and Xbox 360. Hell, the Wii has already thrown in the towel, with Nintendo putting all of it’s attention on the Wii U.

I’ve recently begun contemplating purchasing a PS4. Outside of Killer Instinct and Titanfall, there’s nothing I really want for the Xbox One, and the blu-ray player on the PS4 is definitely a nice bonus. But upon doing my research, I stumbled upon the fact that the PS4 does not feature backwards compatibility. Sure, there were rumors and murmurs that backwards compatibility could eventually be achieved via the cloud down the line, but this was all speculation. In the here and now, there’s no way to enjoy the previous generation of games on the PS4.

Deciding to check out the competition, I did some research on the Xbox One. Again, no backwards comparability. If you’re planning on selling your 360 to acquire an Xbox One, an entire generation games will be unplayable to you.

But this isn’t a recent development. When the 360 and PS3 initially released, they both touted backwards compatibility in some forms. The PS3 could play the entire library of PS2 games perfectly, while the 360 featured limited backwards compatibility with a list of Xbox games that Microsoft promised would continue to grow.

Eventually, though, the list stopped growing. Great Xbox games such as Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath and Timesplitters: Future Perfect were left out in the cold, while Barbie’s Horse Adventure was added to the list. After that, Sony eliminated the ability to play PS2 games in the newer versions of the PS3. Those hoping to enjoy PS2 classics such as Shadow of the Colossus or Persona 4 on their PS3 were outta luck.

So I now find myself contemplating buying a PS3 while everyone else is dreaming of the next generation. It’s not that I don’t want a PS4. Far from it. But there are so many games for the PS3 that I’d like to play, with JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle, Persona 5, and The Last of Us all catching my eye. If I were to get a PS4, I might never get to play those games.

By only focusing on the next generation of gaming, it feels as though Sony and Microsoft are doing gamers a disservice. For gamers who want to be able to enjoy the current gen while they wait for the next gen to really take off, they either need to hold onto their current consoles or cross their fingers for cloud gaming.

When cloud gaming does launch, Sony and Microsoft have revealed that only select games will be featured. This means hidden gems for both consoles will more than likely never make it to the next gen, but big titles like Call of Duty and Battlefield all but guaranteed to be offered. Even if a game you want ends up on the cloud, you must then purchase the game again. No matter how much you enjoy a game, paying for it twice is not fun.

Ultimately, it feels as though Sony and Microsoft are shooting themselves in the foot. They’re losing money from customers who don’t want to make the switch to next gen, and they’re denying fans the ability to play their favorite games on their new console.

So while everyone is shelling out for a PS4 and Xbox One, I’ll be enjoying my not-so-new PS3.


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