Are Playing Old Games Really That Important To You?

Are Playing Old Games Really That Important To You?

It’s time to stop worrying about backwards compatibility in consoles and put those resources into new ideas.

Gamers, like any consumer, love complaining. While I encourage criticism and consumer empowerment, there needs to be focus on long-term benefit. Backwards compatibility is a major thing that gamers ask for in new consoles, but it contradicts the forward direction in which the industry should be heading. Resources spent putting last generation’s titles on this generation’s consoles could be better spent developing new IPs for us to enjoy in the years to come.

Why is it so important to play a nine-year old Mass Effect with nine-year old gaming ideas when Mass Effect 4 is just around the corner? Uncharted, Halo, GTA, Deus Ex, Fallout, and almost every other successful game idea will see a current generation release. You will get your fix.

If it’s the original you’re after, you still have a few options. Popular titles are made into remasters, but many gamers ask, “Why am I paying twice?” The answer is easy: you’re not. You originally paid to play the game on its original console. If you want to play it now, just fire up that old system and have the time of your life. If you want to listen to a vinyl record, put it in a record player and don’t complain that your smartphone doesn’t support it. Sure, it’s incredibly convenient to have everything in one place, but that costs money, so pay up.

Older games can be an insane value when repackaged as a bundle, just look at the Mega Man Legacy Collection. You get every NES title faithfully restored (slowdown included) with a host of extra features for less than $20! This is a fantastic compromise of value for both sides.

It’s likely that every game will be digital within the next console generation or two. This makes it even easier for companies to preserve our beloved classics and offer a way to play them. Paying roughly $10 for a PSone Classic on PS3 felt fair. For popular titles like FF VII and Metal Gear Solid it’s far less than what you would pay buying a second-hand physical copy.

People are usually far more excited about the idea of a retro game than about actually playing it. Announcing fondly-remembered games from the past at conferences is an easy way to get a crowd on your side. It’s a shared experience reliving a shared memory. Sony took it to the max at E3 2015 with Shenmue, FF VII, and even The Last Guardian – a game that’s been in development so long it feels retro.

Are Playing Old Games Really That Important To You?

But as Nintendo discovered with Metroid, nostalgia doesn’t always translate into sales. The original NES and SNES Metroids are fondly remembered, and rightfully so. But it was the groundbreaking gameplay that sticks with gamers. To replicate such a revolutionary moment would be near impossible, since gaming has advanced a great deal in the meantime.

It comes down to money. Microsoft shocked the gaming industry when they magically made 360 backwards compatibility a reality simply by throwing money at it. Don’t think this was because they’re your best friend and want you to be happy. It was a calculated investment to repair the poor public perception they had during the Xbox One launch. It was a brilliant move that put huge pressure on Sony and makes PSNow look like a joke. Last generation, Microsoft also spent the GDP of a small country to fix their red-ring-of-death fiasco. To quote Admiral Ackbar, Sony “can’t repel firepower of that magnitude.” They’re stuck with PSNow for the time being.

If publishers and developers don’t make money, they won’t be able to make games. Spending resources to make sure games can be played for one more console generation is illogical. The original fat PS3 could play three consoles worth of games, and cost about as much as three consoles. The money has to come from somewhere.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to play the ‘remastered’ Super Mario 2 on my SNES.

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