Will the PS4 ever be backwards compatible? According to one journalist, and the vast selection of PlayStation 3’s game library, it should be.
Back when the PlayStation 4 was announced and began going head to head with the Xbox One even before the two consoles launched, the ability to play games from the previous generation consoles was a big deal. It was part of the reason for the Xbox One’s consistent failure to outsell Sony’s machine, as many gamers had a vast library of Xbox 360 titles and had no intention of buying them all again.
PR for the console’s launch threw shade at the very idea, calling it something akin to primitive. Many Xbox 360 owners probably decided that if they couldn’t play their current library amassed through nearly a decade, they would turn to the competitor. It wasn’t until the people behind the scenes had a personnel shuffle that they decided to work on making the Xbox One work with older games after all.
Sony has yet to buckle, likely due to the upgraded hardware they decided to use for the console. It is technologically impossible to run older consoles’ discs on the PS4 due to new standards. They found a way around, though, porting and remastering most of the games everybody loved on the PS3. The problem, of course, was the fact that you had to buy them all again. Of course, if you wait long enough, most games which don’t sell well end up subject to massive discounts on PSN.
Sadly, many of those ports failed to impress the gamers of today and taught them to hold on to their PS3 instead. If you already own the game, you can still play it the way you always did that way.
PlayStation has also hosted several re-released ports of classic favorites, though some like Marvel Ultimate Alliance suffered through the remastering transition. The game can be enjoyable, but the game glitches a lot and you may need to restart due to a boss battle not loading correctly.
There have been some successes among these ports, such as the much-loved Final Fantasy VII, ported with its original resolution and everything, but with the added bonus of being able to speed up the game, shaving hours off a completionist playthrough. This is helpful when you don’t want to play for weeks just to “master” your Knights of the Round materia.
The nostalgia of playing older games on the current console was a lot of what made gamers love their PlayStation 3, says Games Radar‘s David Roberts. It was capable of playing all of the original games on their original discs, with the exception of PS2 titles later on. This may have been what spurred Sony to introduce their “PS2 on PS4” catalog, a series of ports you could play digitally. So far a majority of those ports are Sony and Rockstar Games releases like Grand Theft Auto III, Manhunt, and Ape Escape 2.
Roberts says that what Sony has is a rich back-catalog of classics and exclusives, like Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill, which the PS4 isn’t likely to play. Of course, for those two titles, there is a problem with it all being up to Konami, since Hideo Kojima left them while working on the reboot to Silent Hill. The breaking of this partnership may have led to those classics being left in the past.
PlayStation Now offers a selection of these older titles digitally, but it requires a monthly subscription to access them. Even if the game is completely single player, if PSN goes down, you can’t play it.
With the looming release of Xbox One Scorpio and its radically upgraded hardware, it may be time for Sony to consider making a new version of the PS4 backwards compatible.
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