As hardcore fans of Japanese action games go through the paces with the Devil May Cry HD Collection, I can’t help but look to the future with a little trepidation. Rumors of next generation consoles are everywhere, and the Wii-U is a confirmed, incoming reality. The end is in sight for the current generation of hardware and a lot of people are already looking to the future. When it comes, what’s going to happen to the games we’re playing now?
It’s 2012, but thanks to compilations like Devil May Cry and Silent Hill, we’re playing games that came out in 2001 or 2005 on today’s hardware. Similar efforts, such as PSone Classics, go further back, giving us access to titles like the original Final Fantasy VII and other beloved, but less well known franchises like Suikoden. The question I can’t help but ask is, will this same notion of “carrying forward” games from a past generation still be an option on the Playstation 4 and Next Xbox? Would there even be an interest in it?
Up until the Playstation 2, there had always been an assumption among console gamers that your games on older hardware were stuck there. If you wanted to play the original Super Mario Bros. you needed to drag out your old NES, if you still had it kicking around, that cartridge was simply NOT going to slot into your SNES. Since the PS2 was backwards compatible with the PS1 thanks to similar optical disc technology, it’s become possible for those older formats to move onto new hardware, a transition made even more friendly thanks to the ability to go entirely digital and forgo a physical storage medium entirely. That backwards compatibility however, is conditional on the publishers and developers being willing to put in the effort for emulation. In the case of Sony at the start of the PS3’s lifecycle, they were more than happy to do so, even bullet pointing the feature as a major selling point. Later, when it became more important to bring the cost of the hardware down, they phased it out of future versions and it the onus for emulation fell upon developers themselves, which companies such as Capcom, Konami and Ubisoft have happily addressed.
This brings up questions of what we, as gamers, have to anticipate for the next generation of consoles. Will Microsoft allow 360 owners to continue play their current games on new hardware? If Sony—as the rumors claim—is ditching the cell processor architecture entirely, how likely is it that PS3 games will still play on the PS4? Or in more practical terms, if your all-time, favorite game of this generation is Bioshock, Halo 3 or Uncharted 2, will you keep your old console around? Perhaps more pressing, is there a need to do next generation what’s happened this generation? Will Sony need to release an inFamous collection, that brings the series up to 1080p? Should Microsoft release a Halo collection with sharper textures that finally goes beyond the 640p that some called out Halo 3 for when it first shipped? Do we even want these collections?
It’s too early to tell right now, since the current generation still hasn’t played out, and it’s easy, with all your boxes still sitting on your shelf, to think, “Nah, I don’t really need to play these again in a few years.” But we thought the same thing during the PS2/Xbox era, and the thing about the good games, the great games, is that even if the graphics become dated, the gameplay holds up. The next generation of consoles may finally bring with them the fabled 1080p game as a standard instead of a rarity. Would you be willing to play the entire Assassin’s Creed collection again if Ubisoft put the games out at this newer, higher technical level? If Activision went back and tweaked all the Modern Warfare games and put them on one Blu-Ray disc, would the fond memories and higher performance bring you back?
Do you want to see PS3 and Xbox 360 collections next generation similar to the ones that we are buying and enjoying today?