Editorial: Sony Abandons B/C...Why?
When the original 60GB PlayStation 3 launched, it had one feature above everything else that I valued: backwards compatibility. At the time, I had a PS2 library of about 50 games (it's now about 60) and a PS1 collection of about 40 games. I often go back to a lot of old classics to play them again, and I really didn't like the idea of keeping both a PS2 and a PS3 hooked up all the time. However, even though I still have that same 60GB machine, I know this PS3 won't last forever (I might even want that 160GB console that comes out this holiday season), and when I make the replacement, I'll also have to get another PS2. No big deal, considering it'll probably only cost about $100 when I have to do it, but why has Sony entirely abandoned the idea?
It's obvious that with every new PS3 over the past couple of years, b/c has been getting phased out. Now, the only PS3s that are available lack any PS2 compatibility at all - even though they can still play PS1 games - and I find this viewpoint somewhat irritating. Sony has gone on record several times, stating their dismissal of the feature as unnecessary and unimportant as this generation rolls on, but does that philosophy translate in the long run? Go with me on this- if the PS3 does indeed have a 10-year lifespan as Sony continually claims it will have, the system will have a gargantuan library; even larger than the PS2's, which features several thousand titles. And I simply refuse to believe that gamers won't have any interest in PS3 classics when the PS4 comes out. That goes against all logic. Have veteran gamers just tossed away their old systems and old games, saying to themselves, "eh, I'll never play that again?" Hell no. Some might, but many don't.
Now, it seems to me the graphics synthesizer chip, the thing that allowed for 99% PS2 b/c in the original 60GB PS3, was an overly expensive endeavor. Sony got rid of it immediately with the next PS3 iteration, and ever since, they've been using software emulation just like Microsoft. Therefore, perhaps it's more a question of cost. But looking down the road, this whole situation appears - to me, at least - like it could easily spiral out of control. Here I go, to get my PS4...have to keep my PS3 or buy another one if I want to play my PS3 games. ...need a place for my PS2, too. Than there's the PS5...what do I do now? Dedicate my entire entertainment center to four different PlayStation consoles? Of course, I am well aware that the further away we get from old systems, the less likely anyone will want to play those old games. But I don't know anyone who doesn't want to get a little nostalgic every now and again with the SNES, or even with older systems like the Atari 2600 or Colecovision.
We gotta keep those systems around, you know? But as time goes on, how are we going to keep everything around? I don't believe it to be impossible for backwards compatibility to exist on the PS3 or on future PlayStation consoles, and I think it's something Sony needs to reevaluate. The appeal would increase greatly, especially for those consumers who have been loyal to Sony and their products for many years. To all the gamers who really only play online, or who only have time to play the latest stuff, and who never bother to build an actual collection, this is a non-issue. I realize that. But when you combine the fact that Microsoft's consoles will apparently never be backwards compatible with Sony's new b/c aversion, you get a situation that vexes me. I'm already picturing a lot more time spent behind my TV, switching wires about on a daily basis...and I'm not liking that picture.
10/16/2008 Ben Dutka