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Counterpoint: Backwards compatibility is a privilege, not a right

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Posted by: Matt Liebl

Earlier this week, Sony revealed PlayStation Now, a new service that will allow PSOne, PS2, and PS3 games to be played on the PlayStation 4, Vita, and select internet connected devices (like the Sony Bravia television). With no backwards compatibility offered on the PS4, some viewed this as Sony's answer to the problem, despite Sony flat-out rejecting that notion. In an opinion piece I wrote earlier this week, I weighed in on the idea that despite Sony's claims, PlayStation Now isn't the answer, but it is a solution. More importantly, it's a solution we should be grateful, not demanding for. 

Sony doesn't, nor did they ever, owe us backwards compatibility. Anybody frustrated that they can't play their PlayStation 3 games on their PlayStation 4 is certainly well within their right to be upset, but it's unwarranted.

First off, Sony never said the PS4 would allow for such functionality beyond the promised cloud-based gaming service, now officially known as PlayStation Now. Beyond that, there was no real reason to expect your actual physical discs would work with the machine. After all, the precedent was set with the PlayStation 3. Aside from a select few models, the PS3 was largely unable to play older game discs.

Again, there may have been frustration, but why? This is evolution, folks. Out with the old technology and in with the new. When cars began being made with CD players instead of cassette players, did you cry that your car wasn't backwards compatible? What about the switch from VHS to DVD to Blu-ray? Even the film industry expects you to purchase your entire collection of movies again on Blu-ray, without any sort of discount. So why do we expect anything different with games?

You bought the PlayStation 4 with the knowledge (hopefully) that it wouldn't play your older games. If you didn't, you should've done your research; the information was out there. If you sold back your PlayStation 3 and held on to your games thinking you could play them, that's on you. If you're upset, I hate to be blunt, but too bad. Backwards compatibility isn't a "right." You can stomp and shout all you want. Go ahead and complain. We as gamers are used to getting our way lately (ahem, Microsoft). But Sony isn't budging on this one. They held up their end of the bargain; they created a game for the PS3 (or PS2) and you may have enjoyed that game on said system for years. They never promised that game could be played on future systems.

PlayStation Now is going to be the only way to play older classics. And be happy there at least is a way to do so. Sony could've just as easily not offered any solution, but there's money to be made with this and at the end of the day, video games are a business.  Like it or not, this is a great business decision.  If you so desperately want to play these classics again, you'll rent them or subscribe to this service. And in the end, it'll be good for Sony and for PlayStation in general as it'll hopefully provide an additional source of revenue.

Tags: PlayStation Now, PS2, PS3, PS4

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