Why are we not seeing backward compatibility in consoles?

Mar 15, 2019 1:45 PM ET

Throughout the video games industry, gamers have always dreamed of backward compatibility. The compatibility of video games has never been an issue for PC, but the question has always been there for consoles. The older generation of consoles does have the ability of backward compatibility but the new generation of console lack this ability. However, with the release of Xbox one’s latest update in the year 2015 backward compatibility became an option for Xbox one owners. Even this new update of Xbox did not give complete compatibility to all the video games, and only particular games can be played with this backward compatibility mode of the Xbox One. Now the question arises “What is stopping Sony from making PlayStation a backward compatible console?” They have done it in the past so why not do it again? What is preventing all the consoles from being completely backward compatible? Let us answer these questions for you.

Why is Xbox backward compatible?

Sony and Microsoft both want to make their console backward compatible, but it is easier said than done. When it comes to backward compatibility, Sony is at a massive disadvantage due to the different architecture of the hardware for each of the consoles. Xbox is based on somewhat similar coding as Microsoft Windows which makes it easier for them to make the games backward compatible due to the flexibility that it offers. The original Xbox was identical to a PC in many ways even the inside system shared looks with a PC. Since Xbox share similarities with PC make it more flexible compared to PlayStation because each PlayStation is based on a different architecture. This flexibility plays an essential part when it comes to making emulators.

Why is PlayStation not backward compatible?

If PlayStations have different architectures, then how come PlayStation 2 was able to run the PlayStation classic games? The answer to that question is that PlayStation 2 had two CPUs. The main CPU was the PlayStation 2’s power CPU while the CPU of PlayStation 1 was also used in it as a sound processing unit which enabled it to run the games of PlayStation 1 on PlayStation 2. Now you might be thinking how some PS3 consoles can run the games of PS2 while some can’t? The answer is again similar. The versions that run PS2 games have the CPU of both PS2 and PS3, but they removed it from the later versions which also strip them of backward compatibility.

Why is backward compatibility no priority?

Now you will be wondering if it is that simple then why can’t they do it with every PlayStation? The answer to that question is cost. The incorporation of both CPU’s in a single console increases the cost of a console. To cut that cost they have to resort to the emulator which makes a virtual system of a console for backward compatibility. The emulator can only work effectively if the CPU’s of both generations have a similar architecture which is not the case with PlayStation. It is highly probable that PlayStation 5 will have backward compatibility because it will have similar architecture. Console maker does not give priority to backward compatibility because only less than 1% of gamers use this ability. They would not want to waste resources on something so trivial. We can expect that the next generation of consoles will have backward compatibility.

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