Editorial: My Backwards Compatibility Confession


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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  • Bobby Miller

    I have to disagree. Backwards compadability is needed. Most people do not have or can not afford a PS4. Also, the outcry for the Original Ps3 – (4 USB backwards comp) unit was the most wanted unit. People just don’t want to jump onto the next big thing and leave everything else behind. Look at NES or SNES people keep the units or want them because of their popularity and replay ability. Most games may never make the jump to Ps4. Do we abandon the things we most like to play that are only on the ps3? We don’t know much about Gaikai, but I know I have over 200 plus games on the psn and would like to have them on my ps4 as well. Not bashing the post but just giving the other sides opinion. 😉

  • brianc6234

    This is only an issue early on when the new console doesn’t have a lot of games. That’s why you keep the old console. Then you can play those games too. Early on the PS3 could play PS2 games but that feature added a lot to the cost of the PS3 so Sony dumped it. Everyone complains about the cost of new consoles so Sony didn’t want to make that mistake again. It was smart to dump the feature and use the money on more important things like that 8GB of GDDR5 RAM.

    • Kamille

      “PS3 could play PS2 games but that feature added a lot to the cost”

      Bullshit. The PS3 was expensive because of the non-needed blu-ray and the retarded R&D for the useless Cell. There’s an interview on IGN where Sony said that PS2 BC on PS3 wasn’t expensive at all but that they removed it because according to their surveys people didn’t care about it. But what Sony wanted was to shrink the motherboard at all cost by removing anything they could because they were desperate.

      • hesoyamdonMonster

        sony needed the bluray so they can get royalties for all the bluray movies that are sold , and games like uncharted 2-3, killzone 2-3, god of war 3, MGS4 was possible only because of the huge capacity of bluray. The creater of MGS4 Hideo Kojim quoted that “I’m sorry to say an Xbox 360 version isn’t being released, because an Xbox 360 version of MGS4 hasn’t gone on sale,” Kojima said. “To explain the situation, the amount of data in MGS4 is just too enormous.”Since 360 doesn’t use Blu-ray, MGS4 would take up seven DVDs.

        But i do agree that sony spent nearly billion on R&D for Cell processor , which actually was the main reason the ps3 was expensive. It did pay them for some game that used it, like uncharted 2-3 and killzone 2-3, GTA5,

    • hesoyamdonMonster

      Sony should release a separate console with backwards compatibility , which might increase the cost of the console but those who can afford it, will buy it. There are just some many great games like killzone 2, uncharted and GTA5, GT6, last of us, arent playable on ps4. ps4 would have been a my day one purchase if it had backwards compatibility , because most of the games i wanted is only playable on ps3 right now.

    • Mike Jones

      the cost is irrelevant….its estimated at anywhere between 50-100 bucks to make ps4 BC and that would be mostly or fully covered by trading in a ps3

  • Krakn3dfx

    Another option would be to offer Remote Play from a PS3 on your network to the PS4. In the absence of full BC, I think that would be a pretty good compromise for gamers.

  • SonyPuppetNoMo

    they took out BC because they knew they could milk all the nerds for the digital download version, and then milk you again for the HD remake version, then milk the nerds once again for the 3D version, all they really want is your money, and game developers are just as greedy especial now with digital downloads, they only have to make one digital copy compared to when they press millions of disc copies,they are saving bigtime when the nerds go digital download, i will only purchase one when it’s hackable so i can bumphuck them for a while 😉

    • hesoyamdonMonster

      yes, removing BC was pure profit motive. at least sony has some reason, but what does MS have ??? Sony does tries, they have cross buy purchase, selected ps3 can be re-bought on ps4 for just $10. what does MS have for their gamers ?

  • Keith Dunn

    Great post, John! Why people are having such a seriously flaming reaction to it is a mystery, though. “BAH! MILK OUR MONEY!” “BAH!! NEEDLESS TWADDLE!!” “BAH!! USELESS!!!” Calm down, y’all. I think someone(s) need some time away from the internet.