Stuck in the Past – Backwards Compatibility, HD Remakes, ‘Buying What We Already Own’ and Needing to Have it All

A New generation looms. Rumors are aplenty and one in particular is about backwards compatibility.

It turns out that people are quite keen to have backwards compatibility in their new consoles. This got me thinking.


The first truly backwards compatibile console was the GameBoy Color (not a spelling mistake. That’s what it was called). For a long time, GameBoy Color games were black cartridges that could be played on either the original GameBoy or the GameBoy Color. This kind of gave me the impression, even as an idiot 11 year old, that this console was just a slightly update GameBoy. Not a good way to launch the console.

Of course others thought this was crucial. People weren’t ready to stop playing Tetris and Dr. Mario, they wanted slightly colourised versions of their handheld favourites. This trend of the GameBoy carried on right until the DS Lite which could play GameBoy, Game Boy Color (both black and see-through cartridges), GameBoy Advance and DS games. Home consoles joined in on the trend with the PS2 leading the way. This meant the PS2 could claim to have ‘a library of 1000’s of games’ right from launch day. All for no extra cost you were buying a PS1 AND a PS2! Amazing.

This idea of not having to start from the very begining seemed to convince a few fans and now people now seem to expect backwards compatibility when buying a ‘new’ generation of machine. It’s probably no coincidence that ‘new’ generations start of with backwards compatibility, or at least start off promising it, and are then quite happy to drop it.

This dropping of services and breaking of promises is a risky business when dealing with ‘gamers’. You see, ‘gamers’ consist of a vocal minority known as ‘whiney, self entitled bitch bags‘. These people will more than  happily scream and shout when something they were promised, or used to have access to, is taken away from them. Just look at the storm created when the PS3 dropped its backwards compatibility. Look at what happened when the ability to use ‘other OS’ was removed. You remember, that really useful option you used all the time? No? Its removal managed to crate some news.

It’s this self entitlment which leads us to demand everything. If a game is released with more content on one platform than the other, people demand that content. Lock anything away from us and we demand access. Tell us we can’t have the original voice overs from an international release. You can’t tell us no! Content being hidden within special editions? This won’t do. WE WANT EVERYTHING!


So it seems to me that we don’t NEED backwards compatibility, but that we demand it. We have to have everything and we have to have it now, it would seem. Well, we can. For a price. For the sake of convinience and for the sake of fulfilling our demand to ‘have it all’, we’re happily buying the products we’ve already bought before.

It may be cynical of me to look at the following examples, but hey. I’m cynical. Sony stop selling PS3’s with backwards compatibility but then start selling their old games on the PSN along with ‘creating’ HD remakes of their classic PS2 titles. PS Vita has a convinient ‘passport’ system for their games. The Wii has a virtual console that sells us games we own. Where companies truly takes advantage of the fans need to ‘own everything’ is by selling us stuff that we couldn’t access before. ‘Import’ games sold via digital means are becoming evermore popular. Why? Because we demand access to everything. Even shitty, obscure games that weren’t worth releasing worldwide.

As long as we’re willing to pay for what we already own, companies will sell it to us and to be honest, who can blame them?


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