Shack Chat: Does backwards compatibility influence your purchase of a next-gen console?

The Shack Staff wants to know how much you value the moldy oldies in your collection.


Moms and pops did more than their fair share of harrumphing when, in the lead to Super Nintendo's release in North America, they learned that all those "Nintendo tapes" they'd bought for the kiddos would not play on the SNES. The PlayStation 2 made backwards compatibility a standard by reading PS1 discs and memory cards, but from there, compatibility was a crapshoot. The Wii ran GameCube discs and offered old games across a range of older platforms through its Virtual Console, but Nintendo's once-beloved digital service has been hit or miss ever since. Microsoft updated the Xbox 360 semi-regularly to run some Xbox discs. Some--but not all. Some versions of the PS3 ran PS2 discs, while others... you get the idea.

Now that Sony and Microsoft have (kinda-sorta mostly) clarified their stances on backwards compatibility for PS5 and Xbox Series X, the Shack staff discussed how much we value "past-proofing" in our new hardware. Now, we want to hear from you.

Question: Does backwards compatibility influence your purchase of a next-gen console?

Nope - Asif Khan, Has owned every console ever (maybe)

While I love to be able to play older games, I don’t really buy a console for legacy content. It is always the stuff like God of War on PS4 or Gears of War on Xbox 360 that have driven my console purchases. This generation it really seems like I will have to buy a PS5, but I am going to end up having to wait on Xbox Series X. The games coming to Series X are also coming to PC. I don’t think traditional backwards compatibility is always necessary for consoles. Nintendo had a lot of success selling games on virtual console for Wii, and they continue to do a decent job of providing users of Nintendo Switch with legacy content from SNES and NES. It doesn’t have to be one-for-one backwards compatibility for me to care about your console. I think Sony has shown some interesting first party games in their launch window, so that is really what will drive my desire for one console over the other. 

Also, it would help to know how much these consoles cost.

As a Wii U owner, yes - Ozzie Mejia

I'm somebody who owns Nintendo consoles. I'm tired of having to buy my Mario and Donkey Kong Country games for the hundredth time. And sure, I've paid for Super Mario RPG maybe four or five times in my life, but I'd also like to… you know… not do that.

So yes, I keep my Wii U around strictly for my Virtual Console library, just like I keep my 3DS around for my old DS library. One of my favorite features of the original DS was the little Game Boy Advance cartridge slot at the bottom. And yes, I'd like for my PS5 to be able to play discs from the previous PlayStation generations. I don't want to have to buy Tetris Effect again and if you're a PS4 owner, I don't think you do either. Please, Sony, let me retain access to my old library of games without having to keep a stack of old consoles around.

Yes and No - Blake Morse, Has too many old games

I have a pretty massive retro game collection and my PlayStation collection makes up a pretty hefty chunk of what I own. In particular, I own a large amount of PS1, PS2, and PS4 titles. Being able to play them all on one console definitely takes up a lot less space than having five generations of consoles plugged in at once. And swapping out consoles is a pain in the butt as well. One console to rule them all is something I wish for in each new generation. If I can buy a Retron to play all my old cartridge games, why can’t Sony get all their games to function on one platform? 

At the same time, I realize that my situation isn’t very common and most folks beyond the most hardcore gamers don’t hang on to their outdated tech as much as I do. I wish it was more in demand, but it just isn’t and I’m sure it would drive up the cost of the new hardware as well. And it’s not like I really have too much of a choice when it comes to whether or not I’m going to get the next-gen consoles. It’s part of my job, I need to have them. But even if I didn’t work in games it’s not like me holding out for backwards compatibility would affect Sony or Microsoft’s bottom line in any sort of way.

Somewhat - Chris Jarrard, Unconsolable

Backwards compatibility by itself would not swing a console purchasing decision for me, but if it did, it would be hard to argue against the Xbox Series X. Even if you tossed out all the BC progress made during the Xbox One era, the promises that Microsoft is making for Series X are rather grand. The one that caught my eye the most was the mention of using AI to allow HDR output to displays for catalog titles, even those that never offered the option in their original releases. There are loads of 360-era games that could use some help displaying shadow detail or gain benefit from brighter highlights. I’m not sure that this new feature would be enough to overcome the stale yellow/brown tint that a huge chunk of those games shipped with, but any attempt at improvement is better than nothing.

No - Sam Chandler, Mad at Sony

A console’s backward compatibility features play no role in my decisions on purchasing a console. However, I do think it’s ridiculous that in this age, the year of our Lord 2020, that a console would release with limited back compat functionality. 

The fact that I need to schlep out my PS3 whenever I want to play Demon’s Souls is stupid. Similarly, it’s going to be outrageous if I need to keep my PS4 connected just to play Bloodborne instead of popping either disc in my PS5.

Those who claim that there are plenty of new games to play and why would you want to play old games are just kidding themselves. There are plenty of new movies and TV shows to watch, why rewatch an old one?

Furthermore, if my OG Xbox games look and play better on my new console, then Sony should be more than capable of doing the same for their legacy titles. Let me play Driver on my PS5. Let me do the same for Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne. Give those that want it the option to do it.

Not really - Donovan Erskine, retired Xbox fanboy

Backwards compatibility is important. Game preservation is a problem with the medium that gets trickier and tricker as the years go on. That being said, I’ve never refused to, or waited to buy a new console because of the lack of backwards compatibility. Of course, I wish I could just slide a Dragonball Z Budokai Tenkaichi PS2 disc into my PS5 and just play, but I can’t. While a bummer for sure, that won’t stop me from getting a PS5 to play games like Miles Morales and Horizon Forbidden West.

No - Bill Lavoy, Captain Hawthorn

I can appreciate the backwards compatibility with the Xbox platform in general, but it has never made me want an Xbox. I’m a guy who buys a console only because it has new games that I can’t get anywhere else that I want to play. PlayStation has rolled out smash hits over the years that I’m just not willing to miss. If one doesn’t make you pull the trigger, another one eventually will. PlayStation could announce that the PS5 will be compatible with every game from every generation and it wouldn’t make a difference to me. I can’t even find the time to play all the new games coming out, and I’m too old to pretend that I’ll make time for games of the past. If you want me to play your game from the PS1 or PS2, remake it like Capcom did with the Resident Evil series.

Nah - Josh Hawkins, Guides Guy

Much like Asif, I usually buy a console based on the current set of games coming to it. I don’t usually care too much about the legacy content, as the games that I really care about playing, I will usually find a way to get my hands on the stuff I need to play them if I care about them that much. I also usually just hold onto my older consoles when I upgrade, so I can always revisit past titles if I get to feeling the call of nostalgia. Also, usually they just remaster new games every couple generations anyway, so…. /shrug.

It’d be nice, but no - TJ Denzer, Nostalgia-resistant News Editor

I like old things… They’re fine and dandy, but I’m not going out of my way for them and I don’t really care all that much if new equipment doesn’t make a definite effort to include them. I have never needed a PS4 to play old PlayStation games. Would I if it could? Yes, I still have a bunch of gems from PS1 and PS2 sitting in my game shelves, but I also have a PS2 I can hook up if I really feel like it. And I’m not tossing my PS4 simply because I have to do that. Likewise, there’s a lot of new PS5 games coming in the near and far future. It’s great that the system will be able to play PS4 games, but I’d be lying if I said I needed it to do that. What I need it to do is be a good platform for playing things like Bugsnax and Guilty Gear Strive. If it plays the upcoming stuff well, that’s the important part. Not what it does with things that came before. Everything else on top of that will be supplementary and varying levels of cool beans.

No, and that’s a first for me- David L. Craddock, long reads editor

Every generation before this one, I weighed my decision on the new console I would buy first (I usually purchase all of them, but not until each has at least one must-have game) heavily on backwards compatibility. I’m a gaming historian and enjoy revisiting games old and not-as-old, so I liked the assurance that I could play some or all of my favorite games on new hardware.

That’s not the case this time, but not because I no longer care about BC. Initiatives like Game Pass have redefined how we play past games. I subscribe to Game Pass, so I can play most of my favorite titles from this and the previous generations on Xbox One, and many on my PC. Obviously Game Pass doesn’t guarantee all games will be available forever, but I applaud Microsoft for coming up with a forward-thinking method of preserving games.

As for PS5, this generation made me give up on Sony focusing on BC. Most PS4 games will run on PS4, but what does “most” mean? All first-party games? Some first-party games? All or some first-party with a smattering of third-party? By staying mum on clarifications for this issue (and myriad others, namely price and release date), Sony is telling players it doesn’t care about BC whether it intends to communicate that message or not.

All this is to say that how much backwards compatibility plays a role in your purchase of a next-gen console, if at all, will depend on what games you want to play when those new consoles arrive. I’m buying a PS5 for Demon’s Souls--the remake, not the original. I’ve still got a PS3 and my Demon’s Souls disc for that, but I understand that most consumers probably don’t hold on to all their electronics, especially for one game.

No - Greg Burke, Head of Video

It really doesn’t. I mean it use too many years ago during the early PS2 days, But with how many options are available to play older games digitally. I also really do enjoy Remasters or older games, even if it's a basic 4k upgrade. I really don’t have a lot of Physical games anymore. I think it’s smart for developers to not try to compact really old games to be compatible with current gen hardware, it will just end up making them more expensive.

Nope- Steve Tyminski, Contributing Editor

Does a console having backwards compatibility play into my decision to buy a next generation console. My answer is no, it doesn’t. Growing up consoles rarely had the option to play the games from the previous console lifetime. That being said there were a few exceptions like the Game Boy Color being able to play regular Game Boy games. Being able to play the last consoles set of games never plays into my decision to buy said console. If the games are good or if it’s from a company that I’ve trusted for years( like Nintendo) I’m probably going to buy it. If the console can play classic games, like the Wii being able to play GameCube games and Virtual Console, that’s an added bonus.

Shack Staff stories are a collective effort with multiple staff members contributing. Many of our lists often involve entires from several editors, and our weekly Shack Chat is something we all contribute to as a group. 

From The Chatty
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      September 4, 2020 2:03 PM

      It makes it a hell of a lot more tidy for my entertainment center. Easier to replace the older console with a new one and my AVR only has so many HDMI ports. Fewer for those who only connect to their TVs.

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        September 4, 2020 2:12 PM

        I do this as well. The more old hardware I can pack away while still keeping the games in play, the better.

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      September 4, 2020 2:07 PM

      Absolutely. That and GamePass are keeping me on Xbox.

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        September 5, 2020 7:20 AM

        At this point, backwards-comparability is practically the only reason I’m thinking about buying another Xbox at all.

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      September 4, 2020 2:13 PM


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      September 4, 2020 2:18 PM

      Not at all. There's so much new stuff to play why would I want to waste time playing the old stuff that still looks like shit even on new hardware? I've probably played old stuff on backwards compatible consoles less than a handful of times ever.

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      September 4, 2020 2:20 PM

      Definitely, I hate having multiple consoles around and this has actually caused me to skip console generations because I’ll just pc game instead since it’s easier.

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      September 4, 2020 2:22 PM

      I would buy them anyway, but it's definitely a feature I appreciate.

      I played through a lot of my old 360 games once BC support was introduced on the XB1, and I really like knowing that all of my digital purchases will carry over. Makes me much more inclined to buy digital instead of physical, which is something I think both MS and Sony prefer.

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      September 4, 2020 2:40 PM

      I try to keep old hardware. Even when a game is remade I like playing the game as it was first introduced to the world.

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      September 4, 2020 2:43 PM

      I would pay stupid money for the ps5 if it played PS3 Games in higher def

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      September 4, 2020 2:49 PM

      Hell it affects my purchase of a PC.

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      September 4, 2020 3:05 PM


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      September 4, 2020 3:06 PM

      Possibly, I know I'm not buying either at launch so I do have a little more time to wait this out.

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      September 4, 2020 3:06 PM

      It's not a deal breaker, but it definitely helps the decision. That and GamePass.

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      September 4, 2020 3:22 PM

      It's not a deal breaker, but god damn did I want full backwards compatibility with at least all ps4 titles. The fact that they've kept walking back their initial promises has left a bitter taste in my mouth.

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      September 4, 2020 3:27 PM

      Zero percent, it's extremely rare for me to go back and want to replay old games from last gen.

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      September 4, 2020 3:34 PM

      No. I want new experiences! Some degree of back compat is useful during transition, but that’s all I want.

      I actually think Sony might have too much back compatibility. They have quite a bit of effort and hardware invested in it, and I think that’s held them back somewhat. I’d have preferred a clean slate for ps5.

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      September 4, 2020 3:35 PM


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      September 4, 2020 3:39 PM

      Having backwards compatibility with the prev-gen would be nice, but I don't really expect something like the PS5 to play PS1 games. But I would still buy the console either way.

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      September 4, 2020 4:10 PM

      Not at all. In fact I won't be buying one until I see a game I want to play. A game that is worth spending $500+ to me. I won't hold my breath, but stranger things have happened

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      September 4, 2020 4:12 PM


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      September 4, 2020 4:15 PM

      Ultimately not really but it sure would be a nice bullet point to add to your console.

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      September 4, 2020 4:16 PM


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      September 4, 2020 4:31 PM

      I’ve always considered BC a nice to have feature, not a must have.

      My old console doesn’t suddenly stop working because I got a new one. It’s more convenient to only have one console hooked up, sure.

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      September 4, 2020 4:34 PM

      Yes it does

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      September 4, 2020 4:36 PM

      No, I already played those games.

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      September 4, 2020 7:57 PM

      You bet your sweet bippy it does.

      I've spent more money on games this gen than any other, with the confidence that with the next gen I won't lose my game library.

      Sure, some games I won't revisit, but many I do. And it allows us to incrementally upgrade in the house. We'll ditch the original xbox one for a series X, and the X1X becomes the secondary. We'll still play together and that makes it a near no brainer barring price.

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      September 4, 2020 8:40 PM

      It didn't until the promise to enhance old games w/o any modification. Just drop in the old disc and play with AI scaled rez and maybe texture, bonus if it can add HDR too (although not sure how well that works if the games wasn't designed for it). But, like it's not why I would decide to buy a console vs not. Does it make me eye the Xbox more than PS? Yes. But, not as much as system exclusives. MS really need to up its game.

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      September 4, 2020 10:32 PM

      I always like the idea of replaying an old game more than actually replaying an old game. I've bought many titles again after selling them the first time and not once have I ever played through the entirety. Nostalgia I guess

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      September 4, 2020 10:54 PM

      If it was my first console: it definitely would.

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      September 4, 2020 11:04 PM


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      September 4, 2020 11:11 PM

      Not really. Its a nice feature, but I think it's more important at the start of a console launch, as we move further into the generation everyone is else concerned with old games. I never buy consoles on launch anymore, so by the time I finally get round to it, I guarantee it won't be a topic anyone is talking about anymore.

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      September 5, 2020 1:21 AM


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      September 5, 2020 1:27 AM

      It’s the only thing tempting me to get an Xbox Series, but still not a big enough draw to get it day one at the most expensive it will ever be.

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      September 5, 2020 1:51 AM

      Yes, more importantly the updating older titles with things like HDR and 4k automatically.

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      September 5, 2020 3:24 AM

      Imagine you can revisit 20 year old savegames (cloudsaved) on your favorite games in a genre that went into hibernation, or the game is a standout title that was the peak of its mechanics (let's say third strike, complex system, God tier animation/pixel art and music/score of its time). Going back and being able to play radiant silvergun or ninja gaiden black/2 enhanced to 4k is great. Not only for people who have that 3system spanning library but for kids who have now the option to explore and discover some of the greatest games/genres, titles that could not get made in today's circumstances. I never really played sotn, ngb/2, radiant silvergun at release.

      I love my pc and I still revisit old games that's why I love,emulation and the preservation aspect of it.

      Imagine you didn't have to jump through hoops to revisit and play the original vision of demon's souls.

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        September 5, 2020 3:49 AM

        The original DS would still look like crap at 4K, but I guess you could enjoy better fps

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          September 5, 2020 4:57 AM

          Looks much better at 4k@60 or 120fps

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            September 5, 2020 5:02 AM

            Direct comparison some tech direction of that era scale well. Ninja gaiden 2 from team ninja on the xbonex is such an example, the 4k makes the game look like current gen double A instead of 12 years old last gen game.

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            September 5, 2020 5:11 AM

            fps increase is nice but the game looks like a turd as usual

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      September 5, 2020 4:48 AM

      I would have bought a PS5 on Day 1 had PS3 compatibility been the case.

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        September 5, 2020 5:14 AM

        This right here. Right here. I don't care for PS2 stuff but a small handful of PS3 Games are still very very good and furthermore it's where stuff came of age (we haven't really added any Buttons since then for example)

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      September 5, 2020 5:07 AM


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      September 5, 2020 5:08 AM

      Long answer: no

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      September 5, 2020 5:22 AM

      Console/exclusives first, BC second. When the stars align and both are available, like the Wii or the first gen PS3, it’s great, but the fact is, the few Xbox games I care about the most have never been BC anyways, so it hasn’t mattered much.

      Otogi or bust!

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      September 5, 2020 5:26 AM

      Yea since I’ll probably trade in my PS4 pro

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      September 5, 2020 6:41 AM

      Fwiw I like this article for encouraging chatty contribution.

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      September 5, 2020 7:00 AM

      Not at all. I still have the last gen console.

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      September 5, 2020 8:17 AM

      Only backwards compatible game I've ever played was skyward sword on wii u. Really does not affect me.

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