Debate of the Day: Why is Backward Compatibility Important?

kotor

The Playstation 4 and Xbox One have now been officially announced, and the most clear proclamation made about either of them has been that neither will play last-generation games. Neither are backward compatible.

Yes, there are various issues about “always-on” connectivity and restriction of used games, but those issues are far more murky and have yet to be resolved. But backwards compatibility keeps coming up as an issue people love to gripe about when it comes to these new consoles.

It’s one that’s never particularly bothered me. I don’t throw away or sell my old consoles, and if I want to play a classic game on a new system, it seems like there are few titles that don’t have a HD remastered version of them out. We didn’t complain when the Gamecube didn’t play N64 games as gaming evolved, so why should we care now?

I’m genuinely curious. From what I can tell, some of this may come from the idea that many people like to sell their old systems to have money to put down toward the new one. Without backwards compatibility, you’re throwing your whole library away too if you do that. Additionally, I guess it’s nice to be able to play classic titles without hooking up an entirely separate system. But how often does that happen? I believe I’ve used backwards capability functionality less than a half dozen times across the lifespan of my PS3 and 360, and it just doesn’t seem all that important to me. Perhaps I’m alone in this, and I’m curious to hear more counter opinions on the matter.


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