Backwards compatibility is one of those things you love or you simply can live without. Unlike a lot of things out there online, it's hard to find people that hate it. Most will take a little extra something as long as it doesn't cost them more money or take the place of other features on their precious game console. When current PS3s stopped including backwards compatibility a few years ago, there was a faint murmur to be heard in the community. A lot of people still liked to play the old Grand Theft Auto and Metal Gear Solid games, after all. All in all, though, most people did not miss it.
Now we are faced with the release of the PS4 and history looks to be repeating itself, as the PS4 will not have native backwards compatibility with any past PlayStation system. However, there are other compatibility options being discussed by Sony, so let's take a look at what PS3 games may look like when they finally do hit the PS4 via other means.
The Two Camps
The first group of people talking about backwards compatibility seems to make the most sense to most people. We know the PlayStation 4 cannot play PlayStation 3 games via disc, but Sony will be adding in backwards compatibility via streaming services such as Gaikai further on down the line. PS3 games look great, everybody knows it, so you might as well let people continue to play them on their new Playstation 4s. Hopefully, these games will have visual enhancements that make them look even better on the PS4. Many of those gamers will sell their PS3 and its games because, eventually, they can play them on the PlayStation 4.
The other camp of people say, "Always look ahead." In other words, keep your PS3 games on your PS3 - if you play them at all. These people like progress for the sake of it and want to be at the crest of the technological wave. This is an understandable position (well, kind of), but most folks simply don't have the money to simply ditch their old game console every time a new one comes out and there simply aren't enough launch titles available at most console launches to keep the hardcore gamer occupied for very long. So they hold on to their old consoles. This camp of people also agree that the games work and play best on their original system; after all a handful of PlayStation 2 games did not work on the launch PlayStation 3 units.
But How Will They Look?
The eventual phase-out of backwards compatibility on the PS3 was pretty understandable; as the years went by, more and more people were abandoning their PS2s for new, flashy PS3s. It was progress. Concurrently, many gamers were noticing that their PS2 games didn't look much better on the PS3, if they looked better at all. In fact, many complained that their PS2 games looked WORSE on the PS3. People complained about jagged graphics, graphic flashes, lag, and other issues. Some PS2 games wouldn't play at all on backwards-compatible-enabled PS3s. Many that wanted to still play their old PS2 games just kept their PS2s around for such occasions.
So can we do better this time? Of course. Time and technology marches on and we should all expect to see a whole different animal this time. The issues with the PS3 backwards compatibility resulted from whether it was using hardware or software to run PS2 games, among other things, and we'll see these issues resolved this time around. Sony will have no doubt learned its lesson and will make adjustments.
But will they actually look better?
As you all probably know, the onus is on the actual game. No console is going to take a game that looks like crud and make it look like L.A. Noire (or whatever game you favor for its graphics). Game designers put everything they presumably can into the graphics on their game and ship it off. There's not much to be done after that. That being said, there IS room for improvement. Just as some saw some decline in graphics when playing a PS2 game on a PS3, we can see an improvement in graphics when playing a PS3 game on the PS4. Other consoles have done it. How much of an improvement, however, is anyone's guess. We're all keeping our fingers crossed that Sony will pull a rabbit out of a hat with this new console, so who knows?
Additionally, we may see backwards compatibility come in the shape of re-releasing PlayStation 3 games on PlayStation 4 discs with updated graphics, similar to the releases of the past generation. With this method, we can see PlayStation 3 games rebuilt to take full advantage of the PlayStation 4's many features, which some gamers may prefer to just straight ports via streaming.
What are your thoughts?
Article by - Brett Huffman
Update by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 7/24/2013