Ask PSLS – Is Lack of Backwards Compatibility Still an Issue?

October 8, 2014 Written by Chandler Wood

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One of the biggest complaints about the new generation consoles was that they were devoid of any kind of backwards compatibility. With most of the PSLS staff having a PS4 since launch, we wanted to ask if they still felt that lack of playing older gen games was still an issue. Here’s what everyone had to say about backwards compatibility. 

Alex Co (@excaliburps)

I’m definitely OK with this. Not because I’m so friggin’ rich that I can buy every remaster and digital re-release, but mostly due to the fact that my backlog keeps on piling up so much that I don’t think I can finish every big game that comes out. Not to mention those indie games that are really, really interesting.

However, I do feel annoyed sometimes that I can’t play my old games on my newer console. Hopefully, the PlayStation 5 will be backwards compatible with the PS4…at least one can hope, right?

Cameron Teague (@Cameron_PSLS)

I remember this being such a big thing when I purchased my PS3, as I thought I would go back and play my PS2 games often. However, as time has gone by that hasn’t been the case and I have rarely gone back to play an old game, so backwards compatibility has become less of an issue for me.

Chandler Wood (@FinchStrife)

Nope. Not a problem at all, though I never thought it was in the first place. I have a PS3 for PS3 games. More than likely anyone that has a library of PS3 games still has a PS3.  I have never once had an issue where I wished that my games were playable on my PS4. I simply switch the TV input, grab the other controller, and I’m off playing on the PS3. Inconvenience? Sure slightly, but I’ll use that start up time to go grab another beer. So many games are getting HD remasters and cross-buy ports anyway, that even those without a PS3 are still getting a few of those great games on the PS4. We cling to the past so tightly, yet expect far more than is realistic from the future. 

D’yani Wood (@Dyani)

Well, as I have seen in my life I usually don’t go very far back on gaming systems to play old games if there are new games always coming out, as much as I tell myself I’m going to sometime. But right now, I have a whole lifetime supply of PS3 games that are very much worth my time since it’s still a relevant console. I really would have liked the PS4 to be backwards compatible. One huge reason is I live in a tiny house and can barely fit all the TV/gaming/audio/cable equipment in my entertainment cabinet thing. I really would like to have a smaller setup going on over there. If there was some feature introduced on the PS4 like PS3 game streaming WITH your previous save games applied somehow, I’d buy it. But, too bad for me.  

Dan Oravasaari (@FoolsJoker)

I think as we move forward there will also be an issue of being able to access dated material, and so the debate about backwards compatibility will continue to go on. But, I rarely find the time to look back at older titles, let alone all of the games that have come out in the last 6 month. So, as much as I think it would be nice to have a single device that could handle the majority of my PlayStation library, I still don’t, and never really have thought, that it was that significant of an issue.

Heath Hindman (@TheHeathHindman)

I’d have paid $1,000 for a PS4 that was all the way backward compatible. I know that for that price I could get a new PS4 plus a PS3, plus a PS2 (which plays PSOne games), but I’d rather not have that many boxes and crap sitting around the TV.

I’m not a now-now-now brand new stuff only kind of gamer. I could play a game from any generation and any time, depending on how I feel at the moment. Spontaneous urge for Future Cop for PSOne? This happens. Feel like playing Yakuza 5 (PS3), BioShock (PS3), Suikoden III (PS2), or Breath of Fire V (PS2)? Can’t use my PS4 for that. And no, I’d rather not re-buy a game I already own, thanks. The HD versions of Okami, Shadow of the Colossus, and others are nice, but graphics aren’t important enough to me to spend that money again.

I know that it’s supposedly really hard to put in the processors required for all this. I don’t really care. I offered two-and-a-half times the retail price. If it can’t be done within that range, then we’ll all carry on. My point is that I’d really, really like to have as much gaming as possible doable with one box.

Louis Edwards (@ftwrthtx)

Not being able to play PS3 games on a PS4, while not really an issue to me since I still own a PS3, is a turn off for some consumers. Several people I know have held off on purchasing one just for that reason. They are casual gamers and as long as they can buy a game for their PS3, next gen gaming can wait. Until they are forced to buy a PS4 to play a game, they will stay away.

Had I had the option to purchase a backward compatible PS4 for a few bucks more, I would have gladly paid the premium for that feature, as my PS3 library is over 200 games and counting. Entertainment center space is also an issue, so having one less console to store on it would have been great.

Mack Ashworth (@GamingWithMack)

The lack of backwards compatibility is something that really irks me about the PlayStation 4. There are many PS3 games that I’d love to play right now, but instead I’m forced to hope and wait for a “HD Remaster”.

I’m curious as to just how well-received these next-gen remakes would be if backwards compatibility was still supported. I’d like to see less of a focus on bringing old games up to next-gen standards, and more actual next-gen games being made.

The lack of backwards compatibility has, in my eyes, provided too easy an excuse for publishers to support less risky remastered editions, over funding new exciting IPs and sequels.

Last-gen, even with a new coat of paint, is still last-gen.

Paulmichael Contreras (@T3mpr1x)

I was actually just thinking about this the other day. Personally, I don’t actually have many PS1/2 games left, but I do have around 200 PS3 games, though we also have a PS3 to actually play them on. It’s not as if the console stopped working once its successor came out! The consumer part of me feels like something with a name like the PS4 should be able to play PS1/2/3 games, much like Windows 8 can play Windows XP/Vista/7 games, but the logical part of me knows that the PS3 shares a completely different architecture than the PS4, and so emulation would be costly, not only computationally on the hardware, but financially for Sony to develop. I think PlayStation Now has the right idea, but is priced too high. However, PlayStation 1 and 2 emulation should be easy for the PS4 to handle as it was for the PS3 – my laptop from 2010 can emulate the PS2 with little problem. I have little doubt that Sony is working on getting native emulation working on the PS4, so that gamers with extensive older collections can play their older games on the current PlayStation. It will also enable Sony to resell that huge library to people who still have not checked out certain classics.

Ryan (@Decimalator)

I think over the years the lack of backwards compatibility has become less of an issue for me. I still have my PS2 and my PS3. If I feel the need for some Star Wars Battlefront II, it’s only a PS2 away. It would sure be nice to be able to play everything in one box, but not so much so that I can’t live without it. I think where it becomes an issue is over time. Those older consoles are no longer being made. Eventually there is going to be a day where there is no longer a working PSOne on the planet. Luckily PSOne emulation isn’t an issue. But what about the PS2? How many years before there is physically no way to play PS2 games anymore? PS3 games? PS4 games?

The best way for Sony to make it a NON-issue is to allow free streaming of games you already own digitally. Backwards compatibility becomes a service and yet another reason to ditch physical media and go digital. Of course, it costs them money for you to stream (bandwidth, server costs, etc.) so this will likely never happen.

Zarmena Khan (@Zarmena)

This is a difficult one. I still have my PS3 so I’m not upset about the lack of backward compatibility. But I can’t deny that in the presence of my PS4, I seldom fire up the older console to play all those games sitting in my backlog. If the PS4 was able to play PS3 discs, that would be awesome for me as I’d be able to do something about my untouched games. I feel guilty looking at them because they were purchased brand new with hard-earned money that could have been put to other uses.

Additionally, there are exceptional cases where I feel like playing the same game again and probably would play them if I was able to pop the disc into my PS4. Heavy Rain is a prime example of this. I never got the chance to see more than one endings and would love to go back to that game in between new PS4 releases.

What are your thoughts on backwards compatibility? Is it a missing feature that you want to see in new consoles? Remember to send us questions for Ask PSLS on TwitterFacebookthe forums, and email. Be sure to check back next Wednesday to see what question the PSLS staff will be answering!