Here Are Your Responses to Our Backwards Compatibility Survey

Last week, we asked our readers a few questions to gauge their thoughts on backwards compatibility. It would seem that most people view BC with at least some importance, with few people being completely uninterested in it. However, certain aspects of it are more important to our readers than others, as you will see in the full breakdown below.

Question 1: How important is backwards compatibility in your decision to buy a console?

-Extremely important – 49%
-Somewhat important – 37%
-Not at all important – 13%

A whopping 86% of our readers say that they place at least some importance in BC when they are deciding what console to buy. Of course, given how strong sales have been so far on consoles with zero BC (PS4) and only partial BC (XB1) and how tepid Wii U sales have been in spite of full BC, it would seem that plenty of people have ultimately decided that a lack of BC isn’t quite important enough to forgo buying a console completely.

Question 2: Are you willing to pay extra for a premium version of a console with backwards compatibility that the “standard” edition doesn’t have?

-Maybe, but not much more – 44%
-Absolutely – 39%
-Not really. It’s not worth paying extra for that – 18%

The only console that’s ever really done this – had a more expensive variation that had more BC than cheaper models – is PlayStation 3. I really don’t predict any console manufacturer will be trying anything like that again. However, it isn’t necessarily impossible, and it would certainly be interesting if Sony were to come out with a special PS4 model that added disc-based BC for PS1 and/or PS2. So we wanted to see if people would be interested in something like that. It seems like a lot of people would…are you listening, Sony?

Question 3: If a console has backwards compatibility, how much does it matter to you if it improves the look/performance of the old games?

-I can take or leave it, I’m just happy when a console has backwards compatibility at all – 70%
-I prefer the old games look and play exactly as they would’ve on the old console – 21%
-It matters a lot. Otherwise what’s the point?  – 9%

There are a relatively small number of purists out there who don’t want their old games messed with in any way, and an even smaller number of people who demand that BC leads to improved visuals. The vast majority just want BC and they don’t care what that entails, so long as it’s there.

Question 4: If a new console offered absolutely flawless backwards compatibility and ran 100% of the old console’s library and accessories without exception, would you get rid of that old console?

-Depends on the console, I may or may not – 43%
-No way. Having the original console is still the best – 37%
-Of course. Why keep it? – 20%

In retrospect, I wish I would’ve been more specific with this question and asked if people would just pack it up and store it and not necessarily get rid of it. A lot less people just outright get rid of their old consoles than they used to, even if a new console has perfect BC. Then again, a surprisingly high number of people still said they’d be all too happy to give their old console the ax if they get a new console that effectively made it obsolete.

Question 5: Do you believe that all of the major console makers easily could have built full backwards compatibility into their systems, they just chose not to so they could re-sell us the old games digitally?

-Without a doubt. Their engineers could’ve done it if they really wanted them to – 60%
-I’m not sure. I guess they probably did try, just maybe not all THAT hard since they had digital storefront sales to fall back on – 24%
-No I don’t. If they truly felt they could’ve done it and without significantly raising the cost, they would have – 16%

Whenever people start complaining about a console’s lack of BC, a very vocal group always speaks up and defends the console manufacturer(s), saying how hard it is to implement BC and how it’s asking too much of them to expect them to pull off a nearly impossible feat. So I was curious if a lot of people felt this way, or if that vocal group was actually a vocal minority. Turns out they are, with 88% of people believing that console manufacturers could do it if they put their minds to it, they just don’t bother because there’s more money in re-selling us the old games.

Question 6: What sounds more appealing to you?

-The ability to play the physical copies of the games as-is of the old games I already own – 83%
-The ability to buy digital versions of the old games to play on newer consoles that may have added trophy/achievement/online support/higher resolution/etc – 17%

This is another question that was inspired in part by discussions that have been taking place online about BC, and specifically about Sony’s recent announcement that they won’t be bringing over any of the existing PS2 classics to PS4 but will instead be selling enhanced versions of PS2 games for $10-$15 each. Most people balked at this, but it seemed like a lot of people were happy to pay to have “better” versions of their old games instead of just being allowed to bring them over for free. Again, confirming my suspicions, the latter group was much smaller than their loudness would have you believe.