Posted by: seanmalstrom | June 17, 2015

Email: Backwards compatability on Xbox One

So I know you’re mostly focused on Nintendo’s E3 and honestly I’m not going to hold my breath.  I mean we’ll probably see a lot of Mario Maker and hopefully the new Starfox.  Some keep hoping for new Fzero or Metroid but that’s been going on for years now and I always go in with low standards because then if there’s a lot of great stuff then good and if it sucks, then I go away with the smug satisfaction of being smarter than a fanboy.
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But something that totally caught me off guard was this from Microsoft:
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Basically an update is going to allow the Xbox One to play 360 games.  I honestly didn’t see this coming.  Both Sony and MS claimed that having backwards compatibility was too expensive though many like myself were convinced that this was a ploy to get gamers to repurchase last gen games as “remakes.”  Hell I remember last gen the PS3 chopped out backwards compatibility to save money.  My guess is their repackaging of last gen games on next gen hardware didn’t do as well as they hoped as well as MS realized they needed something to give them an edge over the PS4 because well they’re still getting their ass handed to them in sales and now they actually have something that makes them different from Sony besides the optional Kinect and stupid TV crap.
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Now before people get too excited this doesn’t work like the WiiU playing all old Wii games. Basically if I read this right, there will be like 1000 360 games available and if you have one of these said discs, when you put it in your system, the system will check to see if it’s one of these said games then validate it on the console.  Basically it downloads the old 360 game for free.  So it’s not great and I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before we find out a lot of great 360 titles won’t be playable but I’m impressed given this was the same company that just a couple years ago was trying to force draconian DRM restrictions to keep used games off the system.  I also think MS realized that even people who hung on to their old 360s still run the risk of a RRoD.  A common fanboy argument against lack of BC was “just keep your old systems and stack em'” that’s bullshit because some folks don’t have the space in their home let alone enough ports to connect them all and not everyone wants a bunch of old consoles cluttering up their living room.
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But honestly I had no desire to get an Xbox One until I saw this because this means a that a whole bunch more games will be available to play now.  And also this….
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I was annoyed for years when Microsoft bought Rare from Nintendo for some obscene amount and barely did anything with it.  Fans waited years for new Banjo, Battletoads, etc.  And what did we get?  Garbage like Grabbed by the Ghoulies, a piñata farming sim, Perfect Dark turned into an online tumbling fest, Banjo copy/pasted into some car building game and Killer Instinct chopped up and sold in pieces instead of a proper full disc game and suddenly MS realized they have a great collection of old games that they’ve been just sitting on and while new ones would be nice, I’ll take this collection and they’ll never show up on the Nintendo Eshop.  I also think this comes about after seeing how popular the Yooka Laylee kickstarter was.  If you don’t know what that is.  Former Banjo creators started a kickstarter to make a “spiritual successor” to Banjo Kazooie. Same gameplay. Different characters.  The kickstarter met its goal in 45 min despite the industry telling us that “no one wants 3D collectathon platformers anymore.”  Clearly MS saw this and realized it was time to do something with the Rare library.
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Way to go Microsoft, you went from me despising you to me wanting an Xbox One.
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Now I’m curious to see if Sony follows suit.

 

It’s definitely a good move by Microsoft, but there are no assurances. We also know this wouldn’t have happened if PS4 wasn’t outselling XB1.

But this is also what the NX is all about.

Nintendo does provide backwards compatibility… through hardware. There is no real account system. Anything you buy digital might as well be gone. I was burned by the Wii Virtual Console. I will not buy anything for Nintendo systems anymore. There is no account system so anything digital is just farting away your money. The other reason is that Nintendo is deadset on a six year life cycle for a console. As soon as some games come out, Nintendo abandons the console.

People hate buying new hardware. You end up with an obsolete machine and the investment in controllers (necessary for Nintendo’s multiplayer games) can go into the hundreds of dollars.

Iwata has spoken about the ‘transition phase’ as the most dangerous time for a console. The only reason why there is backwards compatibility is because Nintendo believes it would help solve the transition phase problem. There was some evidence to back this up.

Nintendo’s handhelds have ALWAYS had backwards compatibility, and it remains market leader.

Nintendo’s home consoles never had backwards compatibility, and this weakened their hold on the market compared to competitors. Wii was the first Nintendo home console to have backwards compatibility. And we know how successful the Wii was.

But the 3DS and Wii U failures are really hurting this idea of hardware backwards compatibility.

I do know that third parties have complained about the lack of a digital account system (like iTunes). This is what the NX platform is. NX is to Nintendo as iTunes is to Apple. Your games will no longer be tied to a hardware console but to the account system. NX may allow buying software for one hardware and being able to play it on another. You buy Super Mario Brothers for 3DS and are still able to play it on Wii U. You buy the DLC for a game and still keep it even if the hardware blows up.

There will be new Nintendo hardware. But the NX is not the new Nintendo hardware. The NX is not the ‘revolution’. The NX is the solution to Nintendo’s online problems. The NX will tie all Nintendo hardware, and even some non-Nintendo hardware, all together. NX will also allow sharing of game assets.

I cannot invest in digital products, aside from GoG (and even Steam if I’m feeling like walking into the ghetto), because I do not feel secure in keeping such a collection. I got burned with the Wii Virtual Console.

What Microsoft is doing with backwards compatibility is good… but the NX is set to do all that and more. At least, I hope so.


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