While it’s exciting to think about all of the brand-new games like Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales and Halo Infinite that will be on PS5 and Xbox Series X, backward compatibility will also be a major player in the early days of the next-generation discussion.
While it’s exciting to think about all of the brand-new games like Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales and Halo Infinite that will be on PS5 and Xbox Series X, backward compatibility will also be a major player in the early days of the next-generation discussion. That said, Sony and Microsoft are approaching the matter in different ways that even put them at odds. Backward compatibility will be very important for next-gen for a key reason, and one console does come out on top.
3. The last generation of consoles didn’t have it
When the PS4 and Xbox One first launched, neither had backward compatibility. This was different than the PS3 and Xbox 360, which did let people play games from previous consoles. As a result, the first years of each systems lifespan were filled with full-priced remasters. It was pretty frustrating to have to fully repay for games you already owned just to experience the uptick in resolution and frame rate on a new console.
Eventually, both console manufacturers learned their lesson and implemented some form of backward compatibility. For Sony, this came in the form of PlayStation Now, a rental and subscription cloud-based gaming service where players could stream PS3 games, and an initiative PS2 on PS4 re-releases that would allow players to buy retro games. Still, these services did not allow players to use the discs they already owned.
Meanwhile, Microsoft added backward compatibility for Xbox 360 in 2015 and the original Xbox in 2017. While not every game was compatible, supported games worked on their original discs and even sometimes had technical enhancements like a higher resolution and frame rate.
This is the model Microsoft and Sony intended on following with the next generation of titles, curating a large number of enhanced last generation games that play better on Xbox Series X and PS5. In the early days of the each console’s life, this will be pivotal in showing what the systems could do with improved loading, resolutions, and frame rates.