Backwards Compatibility is Not Having to Pay For Games Again

There really is something to be said for being a loyal customer and supporting a company through years and years of products, including newer and more expensive ones every few years. That is the life of being a videogame enthusiast; you get roped into purchasing new consoles every few years while your old system has been rendered obsolete and all of the cool new games are heading to the new system. Sure, there is always that couple of month buffer where those toned down versions of games get released for the older system, but it never feels the same and it feels like you are being fed table scraps for not supporting the newest and best.

Since we’ve moved on to being entirely disc and digital games the idea of backwards compatibility has been one that we’ve been talking about for a while now. If anything, it was a trend that was begun by Sony with the PlayStation 2 having the ability to play original PlayStation titles on the system, with there even being options to upscale the older games and do some anti-aliasing on them. All of a sudden with the PlayStation 3 the concept of backwards compatibility became a premium before it was phased out entirely. Why? Because you are still willing to go out and purchase a new PlayStation 2 to play those old games of yours, or because you’ll just repurchase the game’s re-release just to play it again.

Sure, in a way, complaining about lack of backwards compatibility seems like a first world problem if there ever was one. It wasn’t like you could jam a NES cartridge into a SNES or N64 and play those games, but we do live in a new era of digital and modern consoles are getting more and more powerful. It just seems like a natural thing, as older consoles and games are only supported for so long while a newer version is on the market; why not let us play our older games on your newer system?

Of course it comes down to money and how developers, publishers and even the hardware manufacturers want to make more of it. If you go out and purchase an old copy of Ghosts’n Ghouls right now there is zero chance that Capcom will see a dime of that money, but if they were to put it up online for a few bucks, they’d see money from that. That is the model that we are seeing more and more now with games that could easily be played on modern consoles but are simply not supported.

Wednesday saw the big unveiling of the PlayStation 4 and there has been talk about how Gaikai will integrate with the system and how older games will be “streamed” to your console in the future, but until then you can always play them on Sony’s cloud service. My only real problem with this is that many are claiming that this makes the PS4 “backwards compatible,” when the reality is, if I have my PlayStation 2 disc of Fire Pro Wrestling Returns, chances are that I won’t be able to play it on my PlayStation 4. That is, of course, unless it is released on their service and I am allowed to pay for it, again, then play it.

That isn’t backwards compatibility, that is me purchasing a game again.