Back when the eight generation of consoles launched, both Sony and Microsoft couldn't provide backward compatibility for a myriad of reasons. Many excuses were given with some pointing to the incompatibility of the seventh generation architecture with x86-based machines. Sony then announced PlayStation Now, a service that allowed gamers on PlayStation 4 to stream games from the previous generations onto their system through the internet. The service immediately drew criticism from gamers for its price gouging, and inability to detect whether or not a customer had the game already.
Microsoft on the other hand, in a brilliant move, announced full backward compatibility for approved Xbox 360 games on Xbox One. The feature, which was provided for free to all gamers, allowed them to download or insert any Xbox 360 game onto their system and play without having to pay an additional fee.
With Sony cutting back support for the service in the past week, only relegating it to PlayStation 4 and PC, one can only assume that the service has been slowly dying over the course of the past few years. While Xbox One backward compatibility has been making headlines every time Microsoft announces a new game, Sony has slowly lost support for their service, now only used by the fringe who can avoid the latency.
Sony also cut support for the service on televisions, further solidifying the fact that outside a small fringe of users on PlayStation 4 and PC, the service hasn't made a massive impact. GameFly also offers a streaming service on PC and, from what I understand, it's struggling too.
Xbox One backward compatibility on the other hand has become a boon for game publishers looking to double dip on older games without having to release remastered games. With the latest release of Grand Theft Auto 4 on backward compatibility, the game skyrocketed in sales charts, in some cases garnering an 8000% increase in sales.
Phil Spencer recently said that backward compatibility was used by half of all Xbox One owners. That's a good fifteen million people. Sony has neglected to announce any user figures for their service, much like how they haven't announced PlayStation 4 Pro figures. The media, conveniently forgetting about the service offered by Sony, would rather attack Microsoft on backward compatibility by declaring games that release on the service disappointing or criticizing it when a game doesn’t magically perform better than it did on Xbox 360.
It’s clear who won the backward compatibility war between the two camps. Sony might as well—and probably will—shutter the service in favor of giving gamers backward compatibility. I'm sure they can work it out eventually. It's clear that customers don't want to get nickel and dimed for old games by paying the same as a cellphone or cable paln each month. That's why even Sony decided it wasn't worth it to continue improving PlayStation Now on a ton of devices.
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