Sony put itself in hot water this week with a misstatement that would make just about anyone facepalm in astonishment. Executive Jim Ryan went on record with Time to question why anybody would play old video games like Gran Turismo 1 or 2 when the modern games were so much better than the “ancient” options.
Yeah, it’s not the best idea to talk smack about your own legacy like that since you tend to make even your own fans upset. Retro gaming sites around the net retaliated, and not surprisingly, Microsoft pounced to get an early talking point heading into E3 2017.
Microsoft is, of course, now the leader in video game backwards compatibility, a fact that it was more than happy to highlight in this Twitter jab at Sony.
— Mike Nichols (@xboxenigma) June 5, 2017
Oooo, ouch. That’s a burn that won’t go away anytime soon. It’s also due to leave a scar since the game highlighted in the retweeted image is of Parasite Eve, one of those “ancient” ugly games that Jim Ryan can’t see anybody wanting to play anymore.
Oh yeah, it’s also a PlayStation game, and a personal favorite of mine. Glad I kept my PlayStation 3 because I certainly can’t play it on my PlayStation 4.
How popular are backwards compatible games?
In spite of his crass approach to classic games, Ryan definitely has a point. Backwards compatibility is often something that many people say they want but don’t always use. The statistics behind this have been hinted at in the past, but a recent study at Ars Technica suggests that the number of hours spent gaming with backwards compatibility is very minuscule compared to other uses.
In fact, it suggests that only 1.5 percent of the total hours sunk into Xbox Ones are used for Xbox 360 games.
It’s worth pointing out that the Xbox One only goes back one generation of games and doesn’t extend back into the 90s the way the PlayStation 3 could in the previous generation.
So while Ryan might be right, it’s not about how many people use the backwards compatibility, it’s about making sure that access to older games never dies out. If we’re to take gaming seriously as an entertainment medium, we need newer generations of gamers to have experience with these titles. For this to happen, they need the same simple access a music aficionado would have to The White Album or a film buff would have to Citizen Kane.
Shutting down retro gaming options entirely then turning around to complain about how nobody plays old games, well, that’s sort of your own fault, isn’t it?