Home Gaming Friday Debate: How important will backwards compatibility be in the next generation of consoles?

Friday Debate: How important will backwards compatibility be in the next generation of consoles?

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BackwardsCompatibility

The current console generation is undoubtedly winding down, as the existing Xbox One and PlayStation consoles begin showing their age. It’s more than likely that we’ll see something from the next generation this year, whether that be the successor to the PlayStation, or the next Xbox systems.

There are all sorts of rumours about what those systems might do – and one of the biggest ones is that the next Xbox at least will make a move towards streaming from the cloud. We know very little about the upcoming new PlayStation or Xbox systems, but the one thing we do know for certain is that their underlying technology will be provided by AMD. That means that, as we saw with this generation, the new consoles will probably use X86 instruction sets. That would, theoretically, make backwards compatibility with the current generation of systems relatively trivial.

Speaking on Twitter, Digital Foundry’s John Linneman guessed the PS5 will have the feature

Here’s the question then: Is it an important feature to you.? A few years ago I would have said no, but I think it non only makes sense for the next generation, but would be a welcome feature. Microsoft proved this generation that there’s still value in playing older games, and the increasing backwards compatibility library holds a few gems that are still worth playing. I’d honestly be delighted if I were able to play the Ps4 and Xbox One’s games on the future consoles, especially as so many of my games are digital. When the shift happens, grabbing a new console and having a tonne of games to play out of the box would be a good feature.

While I was happy to say goodbye to the PS3 at the start of this generation, the increase in digital libraries this time around would make the exclusion of the feature a huge letdown. What do you think? Big deal, or not something you give a damn about?

Last Updated: February 1, 2019

29 Comments

  1. Pariah

    February 1, 2019 at 11:15

    For the most part, being on PC helps me not have this problem. The only major exception are the much older games for Windows 98 and prior which generally have trouble.

    But, saying that, it’s a feature that I think should be a no-brainer for consoles. It absolutely SHOULD have that feature. People pay a small fortune for their games, they should be able to play it on a newer version of their consoles.

    Reply

    • G8crasha

      February 1, 2019 at 13:05

      I personally think they would do BC simply because it makes sense, but not because there is a massive demand for it.

      Reply

      • Pariah

        February 1, 2019 at 13:14

        I think there’s far more of a desire for it than you realise. Sometimes, just the option of it is what people want – not necessarily the actual act of it. And while objectively that’s not something that should be catered for – public / consumer sentiment is massive.

        But then there are those of us who do still play games from 2010. Like I still have BL2 installed. I still play Terraria. There are games that have longevity. And let’s say that next gen I have some cash and decide I want a PS5 for the exclusives. Wouldn’t it be a much stronger selling point if I could play the PS4 games I missed out on as well?

        Reply

        • G8crasha

          February 1, 2019 at 13:23

          I get your point…I really do, but I can’t think of any older games that I have ever gone back to play again in recent years. The only games I ever played over and over again were the original Doom in 1993, and the original CoDs. Other than that, I play, I finish, I put away and forget. There are just too many new games released on a regular basis that I am eager to play, but unfortunately, I only have so many hours in a day to play games, and I’d rather play newer titles where I haven’t experienced the game before. Your situation in life determines the value you place on older games, and my situation doesn’t warrant me stressing over older games.

          Reply

          • Pariah

            February 1, 2019 at 13:31

            To be fair, the cost of playing new games all the time far exceeds the cost of replaying games that you enjoy, a few years down the line. It is significantly cheaper to game with backwards compatibility than to just keep playing new things.

            I get where you’re coming from though, and you’re certainly not alone in your way of thinking and doing. I just feel like it’s about as common an opinion as the opposite – the people who do play older games, based on my interactions with others both locally and abroad.

          • G8crasha

            February 1, 2019 at 13:31

            I’m rich :o)

          • Pariah

            February 1, 2019 at 13:35

            Brag brag. 😛

  2. Pieter Kruger

    February 1, 2019 at 11:20

    It’s crucial and both MS & Sony knows this. Both will have BC for next gen, 100%!

    Reply

  3. Caveshen Rajman

    February 1, 2019 at 11:20

    Backwards compatibility allows three things, in my mind:

    It allows you to relive a game you previously experienced, or share it with loved ones who have not yet experienced it, without hoping for a remaster/re-release/etc.

    It allows game developers to focus on new content instead of being forced to spend unnecessary effort on remastering content if they can just re-release their older games or, in the case of Xbox/GoG, let a third party put in some improvements and just release it on their platform instead. You still get something out of an otherwise dead game.

    It gives gamers something else to in-between new game releases, and because it’s often a lot cheaper, it means that the gaming industry still gets some income, gamers get to save a bit of money, and generally the oversaturation of the games market becomes less of a stressor because you can play at your own pace with the assurance that you can always come back to a game you previously missed (which is probably the biggest appeal of the Xbox version of BC imho).

    Speaking completely personally, I think that the only people who shit on backwards compatibility are the people who have time, money, or opportunity to play all the new games in the world. Everyone else is just kinda happy to have the feature, even if they don’t use it as much as they would like to.

    Reply

    • Skyblue

      February 1, 2019 at 21:42

      The truth is that the real buy-in is that a new console can launch with a full library of existing blockbuster games while waiting for launch titles for the new hardware. Easy sell vs waiting for new titles to arrive for your shiny new console… Welcome to PC gaming you bothersome pheasants! :-p

      Reply

  4. Original Heretic

    February 1, 2019 at 11:25

    It would only be important to me in games I haven’t played. It’s it been played, then meh.

    Reply

  5. Admiral Chief

    February 1, 2019 at 11:15

    My PS4 is now just over a year old, granted, I don’t play much games on it, I use it as a media centre. Backwards compatibility will be quite important for me.

    It will not only be a bad business decision, but also a really d!ck-d00$ move

    Reply

  6. Steffmeister

    February 1, 2019 at 11:25

    Very Important. There are a few PS4 games that I want to replay in 4k one day. Horizon:ZD, God of War, RDR2, to name just a few. Also replaying Bloodborne with a stable 60fps would be nice. As a PC gamer 1st I wasn’t too tempted with the PS4 pro. I dont have a 4k TV yet.

    Reply

  7. Guz

    February 1, 2019 at 12:10

    The only way I would consider getting a next gen console if it was Backwards compatible, and then only for the sony exclusives that I have missed out on as a PC gamer, might just get a PS 4 on the cheap when they come out to play them. suffering from some serous FOMO

    Reply

    • G8crasha

      February 1, 2019 at 13:10

      You make sense, but I would argue that a game would have to be damn good title for me to consider going back to an older game and playing it if I missed it the first time around – and how many of those are there? Very few. Most games are okay to acceptable in standard.

      Reply

  8. G8crasha

    February 1, 2019 at 13:05

    Personally, it doesn’t make much difference to me. I rarely, if ever, go back and play old games that I’ve already finished, so I have no interest in backwards compatibility.

    When a new console hits the market, people tend to sell their older console to get some additional cash to put towards the new console, and of course, you’d get more for the old console if you throw some games in with it, so I’d generalise and say, for the average person, they won’t go back and play old games as they would prefer to sell everything as a batch to get more money to put towards the new console and new games. But of course, you have those more privileged individuals who have the cash to splurge on a new console and who are able to either keep their old console (hence, they’ll still be able to play older games), or give it away for free to someone else.

    Also, out of the hundreds of games that are released each year, very few are worth going back to down the line. Generally, if a game was successful, there is a very strong possibility a sequel would be in the works, and as humans, we tend to like the newer rather than the older.

    Reply

    • Pariah

      February 1, 2019 at 13:10

      There’s an entire market based on nostalgia. All those remasters and GOTY editions (years after the fact) and such – all nostalgia. Those recent mini consoles? And then the speedrunning community still plays many games from the 80s and 90s, so I’m going to disagree with your sentiment. There are a number of older games that runners wish they could play, but can’t due to licensing and lack of access to the required consoles. Emulators find some use here, but they can’t officially run anything with illicit software. Backwards compatibility would go a long way in supporting this sort of thing. A long way.

      And not all nostalgia requires a full playthrough. Sometimes you just want to jump in for a day or 2, get that nostalgia bone tickled, and you move on to something else.

      And lastly, the main argument here is the digital space – people have collections of games on their respective platform that CAN’T be resold with their old console. What about those? As Geoff said, maybe last generation that was ok, but this generation is another beast entirely.

      Reply

      • G8crasha

        February 1, 2019 at 13:14

        At the end of the day, it would come down to the financial viability of making a console backwards compatible. If the majority want it (and I speak of those that don’t really consider themselves hardcore gamers who spend hours a day playing a title, or wait with massive anticipation for the next big title – I speak of those that might do a few hours a week or buy a handful of games a year out of the hundreds that are released, e.g. those that are avid FIFA gamers, but care little for other titles), then yeah, MS and Sony must make the next generation backwards compatible, but we can only assume there is a large enough market for BC consoles. I would assume MS and Sony would have done some thorough research on whether or not a BC console is worthwhile. It’s all about profits at the end of the day!!!

        Reply

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