Why Backwards Compatibility is Important

Backwards compatibility is not important to me.  This might be a surprising statement coming hot on the heels of Microsoft’s E3 press briefing.  In short, Microsoft knocked it out of the park (although too be fair Sony’s press conference also exceed my expectations).  While an endless stream of sizzle reel for the next round of games, Microsoft continued to wow the world by announcing backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One.  This is no small feat, as Microsoft has previously stated that backwards compatibility would be impossible on the Xbox One.  Well, congratulations Microsoft! you have done the impossible.

Forbes recently wrote a pair of competing articles on why backwards compatibility is the right and wrong move for Microsoft’s Xbox One.  Clearly, Forbes is trying to show both sides of the argument, which is fine, but for our sake I am going to argue that backwards compatibility is actually a good thing.

First, backwards compatibility is instantly applauded by anyone playing on the Xbox One.  No one is going to complain about backwards compatibility.  If you don’t want it, don’t use it.  If you do want it, you win big.  The biggest downside is that backwards compatibility will work in a similar way that it worked on the Xbox 360.  We have to wait for Microsoft to patch in updates that allow games to work on the system, with the possibility that some games may never work at all.

Secondly, backwards compatibility instantly increases the library of the Xbox One.  I can already play Mass Effect on my Xbox One, which saves me from buying any sort of remastered HD collection.  Even Kotaku says that 360 games work better on the Xbox One.  This is great news for anyone like myself who wants to play some of the older great classics that are still around and are now very cheap.

Finally,  backwards compatibility actually increases the population of Xbox One players.  Consumers who were previously unlikely to move on to the Xbox One are now more likely than ever because of this expanded library.  Microsoft knew that backwards compatibility was something that people wanted, not necessarily something that people needed, but something that could be used as a marketing ploy.  Bravo.

I will not regularly use backwards compatibility on the Xbox One.  I might go back and play Mass Effect just to see if it works, but if I really want to play Xbox 360 titles I will just wait for the urge to pass and resume playing all the great titles already available on Xbox One.  See once people start playing new and better games, the old games just start to become bland and boring.  I would much rather keep the old games in my memory as being the greatest games of all time, than replay them and be reminded of all the bad decision choices and outdated graphics.

Dig in,

Jake

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