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Why The PlayStation 4 Isn't Backwards Compatible

Ever since the days of recess roughhousing over the merits of Sonic versus Mario, console wars have been an inherent part of gaming. With each generation of systems, a new battle is joined, and most of the time, there’s a clear winner by the end of it all.

While Nintendo largely does their own damn thing, the "PS4 vs Xbox One" argument continues. You can squabble over exclusives and the like as much as you want, but when it comes to mainstream popularity and sales, Sony are clearly ahead in this race. With that said, though, there’s one area in which PS4 is sorely lacking: backwards compatibility.

When the two systems were newly released, they both offered slim to bupkuss in that regard. Since then, Microsoft have worked on making selected games available to play as part of their whole ‘Xbox One is the best place to play Xbox 360 games’ initiative. As for PS4, though, there’s really nothing. Speaking about the future of PlayStation earlier this week, Sony have finally given us some insight into why that is.

As TIME reports, the console has achieved sales (to players at home, that is, not just shipped to stores) close to 60 million units worldwide. Last year’s triple-whammy of the PlayStation 4 Slim, PlayStation 4 Pro and PlayStation VR was a grueling and super ambitious plan (“Probably won’t do that again,” Sony global game development boss Shawn Layden joked to TIME), but it’s paid dividends. All three have done well, and the PlayStation brand seems to be riding the wave on its way to E3 2017.

Via: apollo2.dl.playstation.net

So, what of backwards compatibility? "Why would we bother looking to the past," seems to be Sony’s mentality on this one. Layden states that he was at a recent event for Gran Turismo, which showcased the PS1, PS2 and PS3 titles alongside the new. “They looked ancient,” he concluded, “like, why would anybody play this?” With that sort of mindset, it’s clear that backwards compatibility isn’t a priority in any sort of way.

Beyond that, Layden comments, it’s about the players’ attitudes towards the functionality as well. “We’ve dabbled with backwards compatibility… it is one of those features that is much requested, but not actually used much.”

With all of these factors in mind, it’s plain to see why PlayStation haven’t been pushing this aspect of their latest console. They have tentatively been adding selected PS2 titles to PS4 via PSN, but that’s a very limited selection. The online service’s roster of PS1 Classics were never made available for the platform, and it seems quite clear that there’s no intention for them to be.

Sure, Sony, the future’s looking bright, but let’s not forget that the past was pretty damn sweet as well.

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