Although this generation of gaming has been reliant on amazing new games, there has also been a pretty steady demand for enjoying older experiences, as several players still find comfort with them.
Microsoft has been taking advantage of this with a huge backward compatibility program on Xbox One, while Sony has gone the opposite route, merely offering some PlayStation 3 games as part of its streaming PlayStation Now service.
With the next generation, however, we could see a bit of a change. Marc-Andre Jutras, who worked with such companies as Activision and Ubisoft and is currently teamed with Cradle Games on a forthcoming role-playing adventure called Hellpoint, recently spoke with GamingBolt about the backward compatible possibilities on the new systems- and he believes it’s a vital feature.
“The PlayStation I think will do it. I know, was it the Xbox 360 where they had a backward compatibility list with the original Xbox? They had to approve the game title by title? I think that was weird, and I hope it won’t be like that,” he explained. “I prefer to have an emulator that will run all the games a console has, maybe with small bugs and glitches, instead of saying I have 50 games in my library and I can only play four of them because the others aren’t approved yet.“
While most companies prefer to introduce new experiences to players, Jutras believes that familiarity- and access to hit games right off the bat on a new platform- make more of a difference. “I don’t like it with the Switch that it’s not backward compatible, but when they came out with the Wii U, hey every game on the Wii worked. That should be the way to do it,” he continued. “Because let’s say you come up with a new console, your user base at this point is zero, and the number of games you have for your console is also zero. So you need developers to make games, and you need people to buy the console. And that’s a chicken and egg kind of issue. Will developers jump on the bandwagon and make games that make people buy the console, or will people buy the console, which makes developers want to make games? So it’s already a big challenge when you release a new console because you end up not knowing if you have enough games to sell a console, or if enough consoles are sold to sell a game.”
As for what Sony could do to turn around its thinking with backward compatibility, Jutras said, “What I want from the PS5 is, Sony made some awesome exclusives, I mean I bought PS4 because Bloodborne was on console, and they got a whole sale for that one exclusive. And I think Microsoft has faltered in that area, though you look at how many developers Microsoft has bought in the last year, I think they finally figured out you need exclusives if you want to sell the console, and they need to be good… anyway, so I have hopes that the next generation of consoles will have great exclusives, and that Sony and Microsoft figure out that if you release a console that can play all the old games, you have a user base that is likelier to jump on board because they can play their huge catalog of games. If I have 100 games on Xbox 360 and 100 games on Xbox One, and a new Xbox comes out that plays all my Xbox 360 and Xbox One games, I am much likelier to buy the new Xbox than I am to buy any other console.”
Now the real question is if the companies will step up and do it. Microsoft seems like a very strong possibility, especially with the way its backward compatibility program is going. And Sony could certainly learn something with the PS5, making PS4 games backward compatible and performing better than they have before.
We’ll see what happens in the year ahead, as both the PlayStation 5 and “next” Xbox are likely to be introduced in that timeframe.
(Hat tip to GamingBolt for the details!)