Backwards to go forwards

So the New Xbox One Experience was released yesterday and with it the 360 backwards compatibility feature that we are all so excited about. You will find plenty of articles on the web about the dash and the first games supported by backwards compatibility so I’m not going to go into them or the outrage that your favourite game didn’t make the initial list (for what it’s worth, mine didn’t either).

What I am going to dive into is why backwards compatibility (henceforth to be known as BC as I really can’t be bothered to keep typing it in full) seems to be such a big deal two years into the Xbox One’s life cycle.

If you are an Xbox One owner and you are excited by the ability to play your 360 games on it, I think it is safe to assume that you own an Xbox 360. If you are anything like yours truly, they are located next to each other on the same shelf, mere centimetres from each other. My 360 controllers and games are also located in the same place as their Xbox One counterparts. It would take the same amount of effort to fire it up one console as it would the other.

However, aside from playing Lego Star Wars/Batman/Marvel Superheroes with my son, I have not used the 360 since I purchased Microsoft’s latest shiny black behemoth of gaming awesomeness. So why is it that I can’t wait to play Mass Effect on Xbox One? It is a game I have completed at least three times, I have seen the different endings and scenarios throughout the game, it is not as if there is something new to learn or discover. If the BC update never came, Mass Effect would sit in the cupboard untouched for god knows how long. It’s not about the game (as brilliant though it is) so why does it being available to play via the techno voodoo of BC make it all of a sudden more desirable? Come to think of it had BC been included at launch would I have been as excited about playing Mass Effect when I first purchased my Xbox One?

No, I wouldn’t have and here is my long winded reason why:

Since the PlayStation 2 allowed us to play our original PlayStation games on it, we have expected BC to be standard with every new console from day one. For the manufacturers it made good business sense to do this, as it encouraged customers to upgrade to a new console that already had an established base of games whilst building up the new machine’s new gen catalogue.

For current Xbox One owners, the reason BC is such a big deal is because we are excited about something we all feel we should have had in the first place, not because we necessarily need it or want it, but because we expected it. They say you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, well not in this case. We knew what we didn’t have and we wanted it back.

Fair play to Microsoft they have gone back and rectified this, via a difficult and expensive process by the sounds of things. BC may have helped shift more consoles at launch, but two years down the line it is not going to be thing that gets the Xbox One the No.1 spot at Xmas, new games will do that not old ones. Especially when you consider that not all 360 games will be available to play straight away, being eventually released via a drip feed and relying on the original developers blessing. This is BC but not as we know it. Therefore why bother doing it at all? Well, call me a sentimental fan boy if you like, but this does feel like a bit of a labour of love from Microsoft, to give the fans something that they now recognise should have been there from the beginning.

So this weekend I will dust off Mass Effect and fire it up on my Xbox One. Not because I want to re-live Shepherd’s debut, but simply because I can.

Author: David Farley

Spurs fan, F1 nut, Gamer, part time geek, terrible golfer and rock n' roll star. In that order.

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