Is Ex-Sony Man Right About Xbox One and PS4 Backwards Compatibility? We’re Not Convinced

Shahid Kamal Ahmad, now there’s a pessimistic sourpuss. He’s the ex-Sony fella who reckons that backwards compatibility is a niche that prevents consoles from having their own vibe. But is he right? Gamespulp investigates.

And in an interview with Gamespot, Ahmad was pretty firm about his views on backwards compatibility, saying…

I’m not a great believer in backwards compatibility. I think that each device should have its own repertoire, its own “vibe”…I can dig out my old consoles, or my CD player, or my DVD player, but do I really want to? It becomes more and more of a niche. An important niche, no doubt, but we are enjoying the benefits of technology and that means we often need to move with the times.

Ok, so Ahmad isn’t a Sony executive any more, but he was with them for more than a decade. If you cut him, he bleeds Playstation. So it’s no surprise that he took the opportunity to take a shot at Xbox’s BC program.

Still, tribal bias aside, is he right?

Unless your brain cells have been lost to a heavy marijuana haze, the one thing you couldn’t describe backwards compatibility as is a fad. It’s never been a flash-in-the-pan like Pogs and Tazos and loom bands that we need to cast off in favour of new tech.

Backwards compatibility has been a feature of gaming for years. The Atari 7200 could play games from the Atari 2600; Nintendo almost always includes it when they release a new console or handheld. You could play original Playstation games on the PS2. Did that console lack its own vibe?

Pretty obviously, then, Ahmad is way off base. Sort of.

The former director of strategic content is right, consoles do need their own vibe – even when that vibe is a dudebro console, a mainstream games system replete with grey and brown shooters. That vibe is what defines each generation; it’s a console’s perceived personality.

And he’s right, too, when he suggests we need to move with the times. Download and streaming-only consoles will probably step onto the scene at some point. 128-player Battlefield will one day become a reality. Although if embracing changing times means more draconian DRM, then we’ll rebel and burn buildings (Or write angry comments online, whichever’s easiest).

Ace Attorney Objection Gamer Comments

These are valid points Ahmad’s making, sure, but the fella’s off his head if he thinks backwards compatibility is an ‘important niche’ and nothing more.

Studios get season pass and DLC sales for games that would otherwise be dead in the water (Literally, when Red Dead Redemption lands on Xbox), and gamers can keep enjoying treasured games without forking out for those they already own. Remind us again about Sony’s backwards compatible offerings…

The old and the new shouldn’t be separated every few years, forcing us to buy the same games over and over. Old technology doesn’t equal bad, the same way black-and-white movies still hold up as cinematic masterpieces today.

Backwards compatibility is good for gaming, it’s good for devs, it’s good for gamers. If that’s a niche interest, it’s one we should all get behind.

…Also, who even says ‘vibe’ any more?

Do you agree with Ahmad? Or are you a big fan of backwards compatibility? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook.

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4 thoughts on “Is Ex-Sony Man Right About Xbox One and PS4 Backwards Compatibility? We’re Not Convinced

  1. What a load of crock. Not suprised by another Sony idiot. If BC was a niche why did Sony see it fit to rehash and so called upgrade all those PS3 games to PS4?

    Like

    • Errrmmmm money?

      Also if BC was so important why is the PS4 selling more than the Wii U and the X1 who both have BC.

      It’s a nice feature nothing more.

      Also he is ex Sony.. HTH..

      Like

    • I agree with this guy but not for the reasons he suggests. Sony’s PS3 was their first truly connected device (PS2 had an upgrade but no PSN).

      Sony knew exactly how many people were using Backwards Compatibility, which is why the feature eventually got cut from the PS4 all together. It was an expensive feature to support at the hardware level and it the software emulation wasn’t as robust and likely required more resources to support.

      Had Backwards Compatibility been a widely used feature Sony would have included it in the PS4 or at least offered an alternate PS4 + PS3 BC SKU. There is just too much competition in this industry to not respond to the actual needs of your audience.

      I think backwards compatibility is something people want, but at the end of the day largely doesn’t get used. No one is saying you have to buy PS3, PS2 games on PS4. If you have those systems around you can still play them.

      Now going forward if Sony sticks with the x86 architecture and they do not have backwards compatibility in the future, that would be a major A-Hole move.

      Like

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