While it’s debatable which firm was the most convincing in June 2015 at the E3, it’s an undeniable fact that Microsoft’s announcement of Backward Compatibility for the Xbox One was one of the biggest reveals of the event.
The arsenal of Xbox 360 backward compatible games available for the Xbox One have been short initially, but the list continues to be growing, and we expect it to contain the majority of the most successful titles within six months or so.
With the ever-present competition between Sony’s PlayStation series of consoles and Microsoft’s Xbox, there has been a general suggestion that Microsoft pulled this rabbit out of a hat in an attempt to counter the PlayStation Now cloud-based service being offered to customers who own various Sony products.
The comparison is attractive, and despite there being certain similarities and differences between the two schemes, let’s entertain the thought of them being relevant competing features.
The Xbox One backward compatibility system isn’t completely hardware-based – with every (currently available) backward compatible game you acquire, there’s a small-sized emulator of sorts – round about 450MB in size – that emulates the hardware of the Xbox 360 on the Xbox One.
Though some of the initial games were laggy affairs (as expected with a relatively fresh emulator), the system is being refined as more games are released, and the true value of this feature is that at a very cheap price, one has the privilege to be able to play older Xbox 360 games on their monster console.
The PlayStation Now is different. You have to purchase a subscription of sorts and have a DualShock 3 or 4 controller that would allow you to remotely play certain available games on Sony products that go beyond just the PlayStation 4.
This means the game you are playing is not running on the system it is being played on, but on a remote server.
There are positive and negative aspects to this; the obvious positive is that it’s very cool that you’d be able to play a PlayStation 3 or even PlayStation 4 game on certain PS Now compatible Sony Bravia TVs.
The negative though is that proximity from the server and internet speed would greatly affect your experience, even if you are playing a singleplayer game.
However, the biggest factors in these presented Microsoft and Sony features is not actually limited to technicality; price has a huge say in determining which one is the more reasonable proposal for playing older games on newer/different hardware.
The Xbox One Backward Compatibility allows users to play Xbox 360 games they owned for no additional cost whatsoever. Meanwhile, Sony offers two subscription packages for their PlayStation Now program: one month for $19.99, or a three-month package for $44.99 (about $15 per month).
Bear in mind that this is a mandatory fee, which means that even if you own a certain PlayStation 3 game and want to play it, you will still have to pay up.
This, for me and many others, is the killer decider between the two. Normally, it’s always left to the viewers to judge for themselves, but the prices and certain cons of the PlayStation Now feature make it unfeasible when compared to Xbox One Backward Compatibility.
One could argue that Microsoft’s feature has a far limited amount of games than the titles available for PlayStation Now, but it cannot be ignored that PS Now is a much older program, introduced in early 2014, while Xbox One Backward Compatibility was announced just two months ago.
Sony will need to add some form of compensation for those who already own titles they wish to play. However, the issue of responsiveness still remains at large even if pricing-based measurements are taken, and that is why I feel the Xbox One Backwards Compatibility feature will surpass PS Now as more games are added to it.
And I believe if Sony wants to do something about backward compatibility, they would need to make the service free as part of PS Plus membership. Although it seems highly unlikely, the news of recent increase in PS Plus prices in EU could mean something.
Anyhow, let us know about your views about these services and how you any of these services suit you better.