PS4 Backwards Compatibility: Paying the Price for Nostalgia

As the year of 2015 comes to a close, we cannot help but notice what has emerged at the end of the current gaming cycle. Backwards Capability had been the talk of the town for quite some time and the community can’t help but notice the price they are paying for nostalgia now that it has arrived. While Sony isn’t quite calling their newly-released feature “backward compatibility,” it is still classic games from systems past that are being put up for sale. Microsoft is selling off classic games on their market as well, but to much of a surprise, they have decided to take a more laid back approach to how gamers acquire the titles while Sony is taking a more profitable one. Does the past year explain the marketing actions of the two competitors?

When Xbox One first hit the block in 2013, it faced overwhelming odds. Microsoft’s plan for an always online system and DRM had single-handedly ruined its run out of the gates and gave PlayStation all the attention it needed to pick the scraps of broken-hearted Xbox fans. Despite everything the Xbox One had suffered through in its first few years, however, Phil Spencer refused to give up on the console. He devised a plan to turn the system around and give the Xbox One the best year it ever had. His plan required a lot of time and dedication in order to re-establish the platform. Spencer, however, did not stop there as he continued to create a line-up for games that would be worthy enough to call the “best lineup in Xbox history.”

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Not only was the combination of Xbox One and Windows 10 a defining moment in the platform’s history, but E3 2015 showed Xbox fans just what they have been doing in order to gain credibility and trust back to their players. With major games like Halo 5, Tomb Raider and Quantum Break along with hardware such as the widely popular Xbox Elite Controller, Microsoft had stepped back into the spotlight, but that wasn’t all they had to offer. When Microsoft announced that they had figured out how to make backwards compatibility possible, gamers went crazy and when they later announced that if you already owned the game you don’t have to pay to play it again, gamers went nuts. Xbox was officially back and better than it ever had been since the 360 era, but with the rise of a king, another most fall.

On the opposite side of the spectrum lays Sony, as they lick their 2015 wounds. Although there were not many of them, the few that they did suffer from at the end of the year had dealt them a critical blow. PlayStation fans have been waiting patiently for some of their favorite classic PS2 games to become available to play on the PS4, but it seems that the anticipation was nothing more than a major let down and is the polar opposite of the Xbox One’s approach to classic gaming. PS4 owners are now able to download and play a selection of PS2 games through the PlayStation store at an added price. Sony said this is because “PS2 Classics and PS2 formatted discs are incompatible with the PS4 system.”

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So what does that mean for PS4 owners? Well it basically means that they won’t be able to put the PS2 disc in the PS4 disc drive and enjoy a blast from the past. Instead, those who want to play that PS2 game collecting dust in your closest will have to re-purchase a PS4-compatible version of the game. Opposed to Xbox-One where they plan to make all 360 games available on the system and the games are also free to gamers who have already have purchased the title during the 360’s run instead of re-purchasing the game. On top of it, the prices for re-purchasing these games are ridiculous as the going rate is between $9.99 to $14.99. It is not acceptable to be charging players who have already bought these games on the PS3 or PS2 again. In any case, these games should be ten dollars at max unless they are a fully-ported HD remake. These PS2 classics are all going to have full trophy support, which is nice, but it does not warrant a higher price tag for its addition to these older titles. Overall, PS2 emulations on PS4 are not a good option when not only are players paying a subscription to replay PS3 games, but they are also paying to replay PS2 games. The question to PlayStation at this point would be: are we not already giving you enough of our money?

All in all, it was a big year for Xbox who made some major overhauls to its platforms, system and game lineups. To ignore how much progress the Xbox One has made over the past year alone would be ignorant at best. Although the PlayStation suffers from poor backwards compatibility (although Sony nor the community are really calling it that) and a lackluster game lineup, the system still had decent year. It might just be us, but the major turnaround of the Xbox and all of it previous issues might be the reason why PlayStation seems to be dropping the ball when really it’s just coasting its way into the new year.