Backwards Compatibility Coming to XBOX ONE

Backwards compatibility is a tricky fucker and a slippery slope that divides gamers like an 8th grade dance creating two completely separate camps of users; those who want backwards compatibility with their new consoles and those who do not care. Obviously. But, why? What is the disconnect between the two camps? Why wouldn’t someone want or care about backwards compatibility?

The layman, or anyone of the PC Master Race (read: idiots) would look at backwards compatibility as an easy sell with an easy logic: buying my new console doesn’t depreciate the value of my old games that I’ve poured dollar-after-dollar into and I don’t have to clutter up my space with multiple large black boxes just to be able to play my game library. Seems simple enough. But there are other variables to consider. There are now added value props that mesh well with the idea of backwards compatibility especially now with the 8th generation of consoles being all-in with trophies, gamer points, and sharing of achievements, screen shots and video streams being a part of the social/gaming era we now live in.

So, what are the points for? Let’s recap but keep our focus on the XBOX ONE:

  • All (or most… let’s be honest, probably the ones you want to play and not the shitty ones) of my old games can be played on my new console
    • This includes titles that are download ONLY or exclusives to XBOX LIVE ARCADE
  • Gamers save space on their shelves by not having to have multiple consoles to play their game library
  • Updates and features for the XBOX ONE now integrated into classic titles
backwards compatibility
All these games. Or some of them? Like 3? Roll the dice!

So why wouldn’t gamers want to be able to play their classic games? It seems like a no-brainer to want to be able to bolster a solid library with more titles. Or, maybe you’re a new console owner who can’t afford a bunch of new $60 games because you just dropped six times that much on your new console, extra controller, Kinect, etc and you want to be able to play with your new console, but you just can’t afford more games? 360 titles to the rescue, right?! Sure, you could trade in that old console to GameSuck for a thirteenth of the amount you spent on it and maybe that can go towards the tax of your new console or a third of the cost of one of your next gen titles. As a consumer, it just doesn’t add up. It’s not worth trading the console, but you don’t want to spend the money on a new console if all you can afford to play is games on your old console.

Gamers in the opposite camp don’t see the value in backwards compatibility and they wonder why it makes sense to invest the money into a new console just so they can play the games they could play on their last console. It’s a valid question. The cost of new consoles is not going down with each successive generation, so adding new consoles and new games to your collection can become an expensive venture even for the most hard-core gamers with disposable income. Many gamers have to choose between one console a generation and are lucky enough to be able to afford a second during the generation’s life span which relegates most to choosing a side and putting their money into titles and accessories for their preferred entertainment machine.

So, why spend all that money to take the next step into the newest console generation only to play old titles? Does the more hard-core gamer even bother trading their old console in? That depends solely on the user but one could argue that if the games are valuable to keep and play than so should be the console they are played on. Also, with the added caveat by Microsoft that not every title will work with the backwards compatibility system, whose to say that one niche title you love will even work? Without a guarantee that your favorite title will play and with no significant upgrades to the titles (such as improved graphics, frame-rate, or game modes) and them being simply a fancy pants emulator, does it really make sense to get excited about being able to play old titles?

So, what are the points against backwards compatibility?

  • No interest in spending money on a new console to play old games
  • Hardcore gamers don’t trade/sell their consoles and don’t see a need to have two consoles play the same games
  • Lack of complete compatibility (not all games will play)
  • No significant changes to the games functionality to justify playing on next gen (IE no upgraded graphics or increased frame-rate)

Once backwards compatibility drops on XBOX ONE this holiday, we will see if the value is there or not in being able to play more titles on this console! Until now…

I’m curious to know what you think! Let me know what side you choose in the comments section!