Sony should (but won’t) make the PS4 backwards compatible
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With the recent flurry of announcements from Sony about a special “future of Playstation” event due February 20th, most people in the industry—myself included—are betting that we’re about to get our first debut of the Playstation 4. This is an event that’s got me both excited and at the same time filled with a minor sense of dread.
The dread comes from the firm belief that for at least six months to a year after the debut of the PS4, I’ll have to keep my PS3 concurrently hooked up to my TV. This is because Sony is probably not going to make the PS4 compatible with the PS3, despite the fact that a lot of coveted games will finally be releasing in the next year or two.
as a hardcore gamer, I really benefited from the backwards compatibility the PS3 offered.
The part that makes me a little sad about all this is that this isn’t a problem I had at the start of this current generation. When I made the move from the PS2 to the PS3, I had—and still have, actually—one of the coveted 60GB models with near full backwards compatibility. That means that when games like God of War II and Persona 4 came out on the PS2, I was able to happily buy them and not have to drag out the PS2 from the depths of a closet in order to play them. That’s obviously not going to be the case this time around. The fact that the PS4 is not using the same Cell Processor architecture as the PS3 means that there’s little chance Sony is making the effort to make their latest console compatible with their previous one, not if they want to keep the cost from skyrocketing to $600 the way it did the last time.
What this means, at least until the year 2014, is that I’ll have to keep a separate HDMI cable and some shelf space open for the PS3 so it can be hooked up to my TV alongside the PS4. Sure, I could put it in the closet and only bring it out on those occasions when a coveted PS3 game comes out, but in my particular case, that’s not very practical as I’m also a regular player of Rock Band and until Rock Band 4 comes out on next generation systems, I’ll need to keep that older hardware on the shelf whenever I feel like shredding virtual guitar.
This is a shame because, as a hardcore gamer, I really benefited from the backwards compatibility the PS3 offered. I was able to take all my saves of precious JRPGs like Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne and even unfinished games like Final Fantasy XII and put them on my new machine, which gave me an incredibly convenient economy of space on the ol’ entertainment centre shelf. I was also looking at fewer high profile titles to worry about in the last generation.
for the hardcore there’s going to be awkward balancing act dancing from old hardware to new over the year
This generation is going to be considerably more complicated. The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Rockstar’s mythical The Agent all still lack release dates. It’s actually possible that these high profile titles might not be released in 2013 and may slip into 2014. Even games like Grand Theft Auto V have slipped into September, and Ubisoft’s Watchdogs has gotten a lot of interest but no one knows when it’s coming out. If all these games are slated to release for the current generation of consoles, it means that for the hardcore there’s going to be awkward balancing act dancing from old hardware to new over the year or so as we anxiously play with our new machines while finally getting to play long promised titles on the old one. It’s an unfortunate state of affairs; Sony presented us with an incredibly smooth transition from the six generation to the seventh, and is now setting us up for a clumsy, inconvenient transition to the eighth. Usually these things are supposed to get easier and more convenient as time goes by, but it looks like that’s not going to happen as we move onto the new hardware this time. Hopefully Sony will find a better alternative to encouraging people to keep multiple machines hooked up to their television, it’s hardly an ideal solution.