The Importance of Backwards Compatibility and Retro Gaming

Throughout the years of gaming, there has always been one feature that is always asked for with the newer consoles. This feature is backwards compatibility. Before the Xbox One and PS Now, Gamers suffered without the ability to play their older games on their newer generation consoles, but now they have it. Despite this, people are doubting its actual usage, but it is more important now than it has ever been

Around the time of E3, a lot of news came out about gaming in the past. Sony Head of Sales and Global Marketing Jim Ryan spoke to Time about the future of PlayStation and the conversation goes on to them talking about backwards compatibility. “When we dabbed in backwards compatibility, I can say that is one of those features that is much requested but not actually used,”  Ryan said. “That, and I was at the Gran Turismo event recently where they had PS1, PS2, PS3, and PS4 games, and the PS1 and PS2 games looked ancient. Like, why would anyone want to play this?”

Afterward, ARSTechnica released a report showing that Xbox One owners use the backwards compatibility feature the least. “Only about 1.5 percent of more than 1.65 billion minutes of Xbox usage we tracked was spent on the 300 plus backwards compatible Xbox 360 games in aggregate.” The site continues on to say that Call of Duty: Black Ops is the most played game even competing with new games for the amount play time, but the numbers drop steeply from there.

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Backwards compatibility, and retro gaming, in general, is very important to gaming despite what executives feel about and what the numbers say. I included retro gaming as well because many people feel like Jim Ryan when it comes to the older gaming library. Why go back to the old when the new offers so much more? To all that feel this way the answer is because video games are an art form. One of the biggest debates of whether video games are art solved by our old games.

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Gaming has evolved from something very small, just like any art form, to complex creations of stories and whole universes.  It went from small lines and dots of each other to traveling around new worlds. This could have only be achieved if the people who made it wanted the world to experience it. Gaming essentially revolutionized storytelling and evolved to where people could feel the same way they feel with any other art form. The difference is that gamers go through the experience with the actual characters.

So why does this make backwards compatibility and retro gaming important? When Xbox announced that they were adding this feature to the Xbox One they opened up a library full of games that have been played but more those that have not. This allows people to play games they missed out on. Go ask any adult who likes to play games what games they wish they could have played when they were younger. Chrono Trigger and Earthbound are still considered two of the best stories of all gaming history, and a lot of people have not even touched them. Backwards compatibility and retro gaming essentially give you access to all of the art form that gaming has become.

This is why Xbox announced at E3 2017 that they were going to add the Xbox Original library to backwards compatibility. This is why Nintendo has an NES mini and is creating a SNES mini. This why PC gamers use emulators, and the reason emulators even exist. Also, the community can not forget how for two years, gaming had almost nothing but remasters come out for Xbox and PlayStation, and some of the games were not even three years old.

People love playing games no matter how old the games are. This is why retro gaming has its own culture full of people who celebrate it every day, and for years people ask and continue to ask for remasters and backwards compatibility. The Crash N. Sane trilogy just released the other day and made news about how much harder it is now. People just want to relive their old stories and try new ones, and that is what makes this important.



5 Comments Add yours

  1. Backwards compatibility is a nice bonus, but not a big deal for me. I can’t keep up with new releases so I rarely revisit old games. People who demand backwards compatibility may be a vocal minority, which the stats you quoted seem to suggest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anthony Moss says:

      It seems that way now, with the introduction of a bigger indie market into the consoles. I thought about mentioning it before publishing it, but another article for another time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Although I’m not a frequenter of retro games, I do think it’s vital to preserve important pieces of software and bring them to modern audiences. I don’t necessarily see any downside to including a kind of backwards compatibility or emulator service for consoles, as there is certainly a market for these types of games.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Anthony Moss says:

      I agree and I hope these companies see the value of the market.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I mean, they do like making money, right?


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