Stop Complaining About Backwards Compatibility

The next-generation consoles haven’t even hit the market yet, but the Internet already has an endless list of complaints. Some of these worries, like DRM restrictions and always-online concerns, are genuinely valid, but many are just an excuse to complain.

Now, most of the time, I can just ignore people’s nitpicky concerns, but, for some reason, one complaint in particular is starting to grate on my nerves: backwards compatibility.

The thing is, backwards compatibility isn’t something that console developers have ever been concerned with. The SNES wasn't backwards compatible with the NES. The GameCube wasn't backwards compatible with the N64. The Genesis wasn't backwards compatible with the Master System. And the Saturn wasn't backwards compatible with the Genesis. You get the idea.

Sure, Sony and Microsoft were kind enough to give us access to our old gaming libraries when the PS2 and Xbox 360 came out, but that certainly wasn’t normal.


The fact is, backwards compatibility handcuffs console functionality and drives the per-unit price up. Just because the last generation of consoles was generous enough to allow you to play all of your favorite caveman games doesn't mean that we should expect it from future consoles. If you want developers to break new ground, you can't keep insisting that they're trying to screw you when they phase out the old technology. You can’t have it both ways.

Sure, maybe some games will be ported to next-gen consoles—we saw a lot of HD remakes in the last gen—but if it does happen, don't try to wag your all-knowing finger in the developer’s face and accuse them of stealing your hard earned money. First of all, your parents gave you that money, so try not to take credit for earning it. Second, the research and development that goes into porting a game deserves to be rewarded.


And if you still can't get behind the next generation's lack of backwards compatibility, just keep your current system(s) around. They'll still work just fine on all of your old games.

Can we all stop complaining now?

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