We are into 8th generation of video game consoles and it’s been almost a year since Microsoft and Sony unleashed next generation of consoles in the form Xbox One and PS4 respectively.
With the new generation, everyone was hoping that it will take gaming experience to a whole new level but that didn’t happen.
Although it will not be wrong to say that we have experienced things already that wouldn’t have been possible on the last generation of consoles and it will keep on getting better with time.
But is it really how everyone imagined next-gen to be?
Although both the consoles bring a hefty amount of useful features, one important option is still lacking and that is backwards compatibility. Many might ask why last-gen consoles were backwards compatible and Xbox One and PS4 aren’t?
Considering the expert opinions and architecture of modern hardware, it’s not feasible to bring PS3 and Xbox 360 games to PS4 and Xbox One respectively.
If we look at the hardware, PS3 and Xbox 360 used the hardware that could render the games of older consoles, but when it comes to Xbox One and PS4, rendering those games will require considerable amount of resources which might not be economically feasible.
One may think emulation can make it possible but that’s out of the question considering the CPU capacity required to run an emulator. One could also argue that when Wii U can do it why Xbox One and PS4 can’t?
Although Wii U lags behind both Xbox One and PS4 when it comes to hardware capabilities, one thing the console got it right is the backwards compatibility and ability to run old console games.
That support though comes at a cost. Wii U’s limited hardware capabilities have really forced developers into prioritizing their efforts hence the delayed third-party games on the console.
It’s plausible to think if Wii U had similar hardware as Xbox One and PS4, full backwards compatibility could not have been possible on the platform either.
If backwards compatibility isn’t a feasible option, what other choices do we have as there are still gamers out there who missed out on either Xbox 360 or PS3 but own Xbox One or PS4?
Companies are using two approaches in that regard. One approach is bringing HD remakes and sell them as individual titles on the newer console.
In most of the cases, players who own the old game do not get a free upgrade and they have to pay again if they want to play that game on the new console.
Furthermore, not all games get to have a remake, right? A good alternative but whether it’s good enough to replace backwards compatibility? I will let you to be the judge of that.
A more relevant approach for companies is to use the cloud technology and let consumers stream games on consoles. Sony already has PS Now in beta and the service has shown some promising results.
The only concern is its pricing. A monthly subscription will be a more viable option for users than buying few hours to play the game. Whether it will be feasible for Sony economically or not still remains to be seen.
Microsoft, on the other hand, although hasn’t announced anything officially, plans to use cloud services to enable backwards compatibility on Xbox One.
Again, a close alternative but I ask the question again, will these streaming services be good enough to replace disc-based backwards compatibility?
Or you would rather prefer a console (even if it’s expensive) that can natively support the old games?