More Backwards Console Compatibility, Less Backwards Thinking

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If there is one thing I like in this industry, it’s when a company does something that I consider beneficial that helps improve the value of my consoles. Backwards compatibility is one of those such features. When this current generation first started, it seemed the only system that I owed that would be backwards compatible would be the Wii U. But of course with that system, there was a catch. I couldn’t use the Wii U Gamepad to play original Wii games, so for me to play them I would have needed to purchase a Wii Remote (or Plus) and a Nunchuk controller.

However, earlier this year it was made more enticing when Nintendo announced that they were offering original Wii games in their Wii U Shop, and even offering three of their best games at half price. Considering one of those such games was Metroid Prime Trilogy, a game that originally went for hundreds of dollars on Reseller Central, aka eBay, that was a huge value in my eyes, and I commended them on not just providing good value, but also their continual support for the Wii. It was one of Nintendo’s smartest moves this year.

Let’s flash forward to E3, with Microsoft’s Press Briefing. It begins like normal, showing off gameplay for Halo 5: Guardians, followed by the announcement of a new IP called Recore. But it wasn’t until Phil Spencer came out when we were hit with this pipe bomb:

Yes, at that moment (for Preview Members at least,) the Xbox One was now able to play Xbox 360 games. Since then, Backwards Compatibility is now available to all Xbox One owners, with 104 games currently available. We’re still waiting for more games to be announced via the December update, but it should be coming within the next few days.

Granted Phil said these games are running natively on Xbox One, but we know that the games are actually running on an Xbox 360 emulator. Of the 104 games currently available, 30 of them are in my library, and I will admit the performance in each game varies. While Fallout 3 runs extremely well, maybe even better than it did on 360, others like Dirt 3 show significant performance issues. I’m sure these will eventually be improved once the emulator gets more patches, but at least it’s a start.

And let’s not forget the last thing Mike Ybarra said in that video. “With Xbox One Backwards Compatibility, we won’t charge you to play the games you currently own.”
To think when he first said that, it would be a reference just to PlayStation Now.

You all know my impressions with PlayStation Now, and all game streaming services in general. Not only would most high action games (such as first person shooters) be unplayable due to controller latency, but the service is also way too expensive. Just recently Sony added a yearly subscription to the service for $100, in addition to their monthly and three month packages, but I still will not see myself wasting money on it.

However, I do get where Sony is coming. Backwards compatibility for PS3 games, even if emulated, would be very difficult due to the complex nature of the PS3’s Cell processor. But what about games that were on the PS1 or PS2? Remember those were playable on the PS3, and they worked out quite well, until Sony decided to remove the Emotion Engine on later PS3 models. But again, there was always emulation, and those games were available for purchase via the PlayStation Store to not just run on the PS3, but on the PlayStation Vita as well. But those of you who want to put your classic discs into your PS3, you were out of luck. You couldn’t even download the game to your hard drive the same way you can now on your Xbox One.

However what Sony did this week might have taken this to a whole new level. Before PlayStation Experience there was a report that the PS4 was now able to play PS2 games via an emulator. And even though Yoshida flat out said it would never come to PS4, many gamers though that Sony would finally provide a form of true backwards compatibility. But if you watch this announcement, you’ll notice something disturbing at the end…

“PS2 Classics and PS2 formatted discs are incompatible with the PS4 system.” So what does that mean? I’ll answer it in a cleaner way than Henry Hill from Goodfellas. You have Dark Cloud as a PS2 disc? Blank you, pay me! Oh you bought Grand Theft Auto III digitally on PS3? Blank you, pay me! Oh you want to play San Andreas in 1080p and earn Trophies? Blank you, pay me! And how much will you be paying for these games? The same games you can buy on disc for as low as $5? You’re going to have to cough up upwards of $15 for each game! That is inexcusable.

This just shows the level of hubris that Sony is showing now that they are in the console lead this generation. They think that since they have sold at least 30 million PS4s they can do anything and their fans will eat it up. But as a PlayStation 4 owner myself, I will not give in to this level of greed that Sony is showing, a level of greed that is truly not “4 the Players.”

Then again, would what Sony did here be a candidate for “Dumbest Moment of the Year?” We’ll find out in two weeks.
Currently Playing: Fallout 4, Batman: Arkham Knight

Waiting For: The 2nd wave of Xbox 360 Backwards Compatible titles to be announced.

One thought on “More Backwards Console Compatibility, Less Backwards Thinking”

  1. Oh my, just wait for a sale then. How can refuse to pay for a game if it’s not even the same version as it was on PS3? Also, it’s PS2 Games. Does Microsoft let you play games from the original xbox without a fee?

    Granted, they have done a very minimalist job with the ports so far. Especially for people in Europe. But I’ll still buy some of those games just because I never had the chance to play them.

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