Nostalgia is a powerful force that knows no equal. It is a hurricane of desire that sweeps through the hearts and minds of us all, without distinction and without mercy. Okay, so maybe it’s not that bad, but the fact of the matter is that all of us have that pang in our gut to relive the glory days. For gamers like myself, this is a constant battle of trying to finish Grand Theft Auto V, or squeezing in my tenth playthrough of Psychonauts. It’s rough, but I take my condition in stride.
With the PlayStation 4 coming out soon, the question of Backwards Compatibility comes up constantly in my day job where I work at a video game retailer. Backwards Compatibility simply means that a system is able to play games from a previous system or systems. Although nostalgia is a large part of this, the average consumer wants to be able to play all of their old games on the new system. If they can’t, they feel like the the old games are now unplayable since many people will trade or sell their old system to get the new one.
Let’s go ahead and address the elephant in the room. The PlayStation 4 is not compatible with PlayStation 3 games. Your old discs won’t work in the new system, and neither will your downloads.
Okay, relax. I know it seems frustrating at first, but there are reasons for this decision. Let’s look back on the PS3’s release. When the PS3 first came out, your choices of price were between five and six hundred dollars. The PS4 is only going to be four hundred. With the PS3, the systems were so expensive because they had to have extra hardware to support the previous games. As the price went down, this feature was removed. So, we’re avoiding a seven or eight hundred dollar price tag on the PS4 by leaving this feature out.
Second, the PlayStation 4 is vastly different than the PlayStation 3. The PS3 used a proprietary cell processor technology that was quite esoteric and nothing like traditional PC set ups. This made it hard to develop games on the old system. With the PS4, the system is structured like a traditional PC and it far more powerful than the PS3. This means that the games on the new system will be developed in a much different way than the old ones. It’s literally an entirely new system, which means that compatibility for older games isn’t possible.
So, while the initial answer my sting, there are reasons and benefits to not having this feature in the new system. Luckily, Sony is not leaving you in the dust. There are opportunities for you relive those glory days.
Okay, I’m listening. This had better be good.
It is. There are two possible avenues on the PlayStation 4 that will allow you to have those classics in the palm of your hand. The first possibility is Emulation. With Emulation, your system is able to play an older game through a separate program download that mimics the environment of the older system and allows you to play those games. This has already been integrated in the PlayStation 3 with the PS2 and PS1 downloads on the PlayStation store. This means that games like Grand Theft Auto and The Last of Us could be available as downloads and played using emulation software on the PlayStation 4.
More likely is the use of Gaikai’s cloud gaming service. Cloud gaming is essentially the same concept as Netflix’s streaming movies. With cloud gaming, you don’t download anything, instead you stream the game to your system from remote servers in some awesome underground base or something like that. Essentially you are given control of a game and you can play it instantly through the internet connection in your home. Sony has already announced a partnership with Gaikai to bring PS3, PS2, and PS1 games to the PlayStation 4 after it’s initial launch.
There is no word on how this service will work, but my hope is that it will be included with your PlayStation Plus membership, or perhaps Plus members will receive a discount. It would make more sense for the entire catalogue to be available for a flat rate rather than charge for each game, but we’ll have to wait and see. With this though, you will have access to all those old games instantly and anytime you want. You will even be able to stream these games to your PlayStation Vita wherever you are that has Wi-Fi.
Urge to kill fading, fading, gone
There you go. See, it’s not all bad. You may not be able to put in your PS3 discs into your PS4, but once the system is out and it has some legs to it, Sony is planning on bringing you an even better way to play your old games through emulation and cloud streaming. The future is bright, and you won’t have to leave your past behind as you cross into the next generation. Odds are for the first few months, you won’t even notice because you’ll be blinded by the light of the PlayStation 4’s glory.
How do you feel about the issue of Backwards Compatibility? Do you think you’ll be swept up in the nostalgia craze? Tell us what you think in the comments!
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert Date: 10/16/2013