Has Sony abandoned backwards compatibility?

I have always been an advocate of Sony supporting backwards compatibility for their gaming platforms. As an owner of a large PSX library, I was happy that my PS2 supported my original PSX games. Not only did this save my space in my entertainment center (only one console needed), it also saved me money because I could maintain my library going forward. Same for the PS3 – it was nice to keep playing the oldies from my collection.

Has the age of backwards compatibility come to a close? According to PS3Informer, it indeed has ended.

After looking at the features list for the new PS3 Slim and PSP Go, just about everybody would agree that backwards compatibility is low on Sony’s list of priorities. With no software emulation equivalent, and no UMD trade-in program yet announced, why has Sony decided to abandon those of us with older games?

I for one love Back Catalogue games – I mean I have a horde of PS1 and PS2 games in mint condition with booklets etc and I love playing them. The main culprit of a title which is in there is Metal Gear Solid as I love them. Now I have been keeping a very tight grip on my LAUNCH PS3 as I love not having to rearrange my entertainment centre to switch from PS3 to PS2 when I would like a trip down memory lane. There must be loads of you out there lucky enough to own Subsistence and Substance, Devil May Cry 1 and 3, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Gran Turismo – I mean we could go on for ages.

It has become apparent that Sony is now looking to cash in on their massive back catalog of games for the PSX (and PS2). How can you fault Sony? They are in business of making money, and putting the older titles up on the PSN Store in digital format for the PS3 and PSP (and PSPGo) systems gives Sony access to a new revenue stream for a very small capital investment.

With no UMD trade-in policy in sight, Sony is expecting PSPGo adaptors to abandon their PSP UMDs in favor of “upgrades” to digital format. Sony is also probably starting to suspect that at some point longtime PlayStation fans are willing to sell their older collections for digital formats. Over the years I have sold some games, but most are not really worth the money.

The PS3 Slim is the main banner carrier of the PlayStation banner, and it does not include PS2 and PSX hardware backwards compatibility. When these features were originally removed from the post launch PS3 systems, I assumed that it was for cost savings reasons, and at the time that probably was the case. Now that Sony has seen the digital light, there is also another incentive: cold hard cash.

Sony’s new strategy allows for a digital revenue stream and a more tangible “game on the shelf PS2 remake with updated graphics” revenue stream. Long term this is probably good news for Sony, and in some respects PlayStation owners. Not only do their games get to live on in digital format (no more discs scratches), but graphics whores get to experience updated versions of fan favorites.

No, I do not begrudge Sony. At least not right now, but what happens when the inevitable PS4 is released and your digital game collection is not forward compatible on the newest Sony system?


2 thoughts on “Has Sony abandoned backwards compatibility?”

  1. Never used BC that much because I don’t keep around old games.

    They could probably play PSX and PS2 games through emulation alone at some point in the future.

    For PS4, they may use the Cell again or maybe use Intel Larrabee. Being in 3rd place, maybe BC with PS3 games won’t be that big of a deal.

  2. I agree with that last part – not going to see PS3 BC in the PS4, but I do not see Sony completely abandoning all their digital content on the PSN. That will an interesting development.

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