Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Backlogged Gaming: Why Backwards Compatibility DOES matter

There has been a lot of talk about next gen consoles as of late. We're had an event telling us many things about the Playstation 4 though it also left us asking many questions. But at the very least we know more about it then we do about the Next Box which currently has rumors flying about regarding it potentially being an always online video game console. But the always online issue has been talked to death by a ton of people more interesting then me already so I'm gonna focus on another topic... backwards compatibility.

We already know the Playstation 4 will not feature backwards compatibility. They made this big announcement about it offering backwards compatibility through a cloud streaming service. Now they haven't explained how this will work, what games it will have on it, if we will have to rebuy our existing games, or if it will possibly be subscription based. All of this however is in fact irrelevant to the main topic at hand.

Streaming the games from a cloud service IS NOT backwards compatibility. It is no more backwards compatibility then someone playing a SNES rom on their PC is backwards compatibility. Backwards compatibility allows us to use our existing games on the new system. Not potentially make us rebuy our games again, which some of us have already done on the PS3 in the form of PS2 classics or HD remasters. I also know for a fact there will be plenty of games unavailable on this service either cause the publisher/developer didn't care or they don't exist any longer or for licensing reasons. Sony has claimed they want the entire PS1-PS3 library available on this service, but they said the same thing about the PS1-PS2 classics line up on the PS3's PSN and we see how that went.

But for the main big reason backwards compatibility is important. Now there is the bonus of being able to trade in your old system and having a use for it during the system's launch days when new games are slow. But the reason it's important isn't really the feature itself. I am well aware of the technical reasons and the explanation that it would be too expensive. Here's the thing... customers don't care. They don't care about the technical reasons for something, that's why they buy consoles instead of playing games on PC. They don't want to be effected by the technical aspect of things.

All a customer hears when you tell them it's for technical reasons is "Blah blah blah, no you can't have the thing you want" and at the end of the day all a customer cares about it whether or not something does what they want it to. I've worked in retail for 13 years and believe me, you CAN NOT explain the reason for something a customer does not like to a customer. They do not care. They give zero fucks why something is the way it is.

A good example is Honeycrisp apples, these things are $4.49 a pound because they have a small harvest season, they've been expensive as hell for a good 2 or 3 years. Yet I hear complaints on a daily basis ranging from just random bitching about the price, to deciding not buy them because they're too expensive, to demanding we lower the price even though we have no control over that. Customers do not care about the reason behind things and if you don't give them what they want you will hurt your business.

This is honestly Sony's fault however, they're the ones who first introduced backwards compatibility with the PS2 which was one of many reasons the PS2 dominated the market the way it did. People had no trouble deciding to upgrade up to a PS2 since there was no drawback to the decision since it could play all their PS1 games. Many PS3 owners who are still on one of the older models seem oblivious to the fact that PS2 compatibility was taken out and Sony now intends to completely abandon one of the features that got it where it is now. If they had never introduced it, nobody would expect it.

I'm aware of the issues with the Cell Processor but that is Sony's fault and their problem. The customer does not and will not care about that. Sony has made bad decisions in regards to the future of their company and they're probably going to pay for it. Also you'll have a hard time convincing me or anyone else that it's completely impossible since a bunch of nobodies have gotten PS2 emulation working on the PC while Sony doesn't even offer it in their own PS3. Shouldn't Sony know more about their own product then a bunch of nobodies on the internet?

With the Next Box having rumors of no backwards compatibility that after all the trolling Sony and Microsoft fans have done over the Wii U not having Gamecube support, it's looking like the Wii U will be the only one with any backwards compatibility at all.

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