Backwards Compatibility and Xbox 360: The Feature You Don't Need

This week, Microsoft's Vice President of their video game division Peter Moore made a statement that sent video game fans, specifically Xbox 360 owners, into a frenzy. He stated the company was done with backwards compatibility for the Xbox 360 as there was no interest in it. While the emulation team designated to develop the software to run Xbox games on the new hardware stated they were still working on this aspect of the system, it's time to step back and realize Peter Moore is right.

There is one, and only one, reason for backwards compatibility between hardware generations: convenience. It's not needed, it's not a system seller, it doesn't make your old games obsolete, and in the case of the Xbox 360, wastes countless dollars for a feature few will use. Emulation is a tricky process, but to emulate Xbox titles is an agonizingly slow process. They have 200 titles ready to go after originally stating "the best selling titles" would be playable. For the most part, they've delivered on that promise.

It's easy to say that "Panzeer Dragoon doesn't work, but Barbie does!" Why? Does it matter? Are you really that excited to play the same exact game you can already play on your Xbox on new hardware? Do you want to start over from scratch, because your game saves are not making the trip?

In other words, who does want/need backwards compatibility? No one. A surprising number of arguments are out there, yet it's easy to debunk nearly all of them.

"But I have (X) games for the my Xbox! How will I play them?"

Gee, I don't know. How about using the Xbox system you played them on before?

"But I sold it!"

Then you're out of luck. Microsoft said they would have liked all the games to work, but it's a long shot. Selling your old systems will only come back to haunt you in the end.

"But I don't have the space or the inputs on my TV!"

If you want to play those games, make the space. It's not hard to shove something else under a TV on an entertainment center. Yes, actual physical labor may be needed, though you'd be surprised by the results.

If the TV itself is the problem with a lack of needed inputs, head down to any mass retailer and buy a switchbox for about $10.

"Ok, I never bought an Xbox. However, it has a lot of games I want to play. If I buy a 360, I can't play those games I missed."

If you haven't bought an Xbox by now, waiting a little longer for a reasonable price drop shouldn't be a problem. Enjoy the 360 for the games it has, not the games that are not intended for it.

There's also a business perspective to consider. With the cost involved, does it make sense to continually support a small market? How many people regularly play PS One games on their PS2? It was something we all tried when we brought the system home and then put it to rest later when we realized how much new software needed our time.

To sum it up, backwards compatibility is a marketing term, nothing more. No one refused to buy a Super Nintendo because it didn't play NES titles. We were all too excited to play Super Mario World to stick around Mario 3 any longer. When we got the urge for a Mario 3 run, we played it on the NES. The convenience is there for those rare sessions. The rest of the time you should be enjoying the things you bought the system for.

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