Editorial: My Backwards Compatibility Confession

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Don’t you wish the PlayStation 4 was backwards compatible?

Honestly, I didn’t think I’d miss it.

With PlayStation 2, how much did you think about using it to play PlayStation One games? Back then it seemed like such a good idea to me, keeping that catalogue of great games available while the new console got on it’s feet. However, in practice I didn’t really use it. One exception was revisiting Final Fantasy 7 but this is something people are still doing to this day on PS3 and Vita, so on reflection perhaps it’s a game that transcends generations in a different way to other games – a topic for another time, perhaps.

Midgar - Final Fantasy 7

PlayStation 3’s inclusion of the Emotion Engine was a brilliant move I thought, even with the cost implications for a machine already toppling towards excess. I was glad the initial rumours of backwards compatibility being dropped were incorrect, but despite my relief ultimately – as with the previous generation – I think I only used it to replay old Final Fantasy games as I wandered down memory lane every once in a while. As we know Sony eventually removed the feature from later iterations of the console.

So when the PlayStation 4  was announced, and it was clear I wouldn’t be able to play last generation games on it, I wasn’t concerned. I knew it was unlikely, given my history, that I would go back and play PS3 games anyway (and even more unlikely that I would revisit any Final Fantasy games this time…) and even if I wanted to, I’d still own a PS3. It was a pragmatic choice by a once bitten, twice shy Sony. A choice I fully supported.

But now I wish they had included it.

Simple human nature? Wanting what you can’t have? Perhaps. All I really want is to be able to put Grand Theft Auto V into my PlayStation 4.

Currently I have both the third and fourth console iterations lodging next to each other on one shelf of the TV stand. This is neither aesthetically pleasing, nor particularly good for cable management and airflow. Perhaps I could remove the PlayStation 3 and resign myself to playing GTAV on a smaller TV in another room, but currently the PS4 doesn’t support 3D Blu-ray playback, so the PS3 is required for another reason.

This is just some of the logic I’ve used to convince myself that I want (or need) backwards compatibility (as well as 3D Blu-ray support). The real truth is that turning the PlayStation 3 on to play a game, or watch a Blu-ray while the half-glossy/half-matte parallelogram sits silently watching is tantamount to an admission that I didn’t really need a new console. If Sony had just made the PlayStation 4 backwards compatible I wouldn’t have to think about the fact that maybe the PlayStation 3 would have been just fine for a little while longer.

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