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Listen, I love my PlayStation 5. I've had one since launch, and the past few months have seen me constantly blown away by what this next-gen console can do. Everything about it just feels so new.
From the ultra-fast loading times and enhanced visual quality of games to everything the DualSense can do, I'm impressed every single time I turn my PS5 on. I gawp in delight like a caveman discovering fire every single time the controller rasps to life in my hands when I boot up Demon's Souls. I tut in quiet disbelief like a Victorian gent who's just discovered aliens exist whenever I see Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered running at 60fps with real-time reflections in the skyscrapers and cars of New York City. The future is here, and it's better than I ever could have imagined.
Even so, there's one thing the PS5 doesn't do that feels like an incredible missed opportunity: backwards compatibility. Let me say right off the bat that I do firmly believe focusing on new games is the right path forward for any console, but that doesn't mean there's no room for a little retro love. Just look at Xbox! The Series X/S had four generations of software available on one console from day one. That's huge.
Sure, you can sit there and snigger about the fact that Xbox needs to rely on backwards compatibility if you want... but that's an incredibly tired joke at this point, and also completely overlooks the fact that Microsoft now owns the following massively popular franchises: The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, DOOM, Quake, and Wolfenstein. That's on top of a new Fable, a massive new Halo game, a potential Skyrim rival in Obsidian's Avowed, and whatever the hell else Xbox's massive family of studios is cooking up in secret.
I think it's very clear even at this very early stage of the new console generation that the Xbox Series X/S will not suffer from the same problems as the Xbox One did. So that leaves the Xbox Series X/S with some promising exclusives and a ridiculously massive library of games dating all the way back to 2001. The PS5 has some promising exclusives, and a small handful of PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 2 games. Simply put, Sony should be doing more with backwards compatibility.
I'm sure there are reasons it hasn't happened yet, and I've no doubt that more classic PlayStation and PlayStation 2 titles could still make their way to the PS5 somewhere down the line. At the time of writing, however, Sony has expressed zero interest in making this a reality, despite the cries of hundreds of thousands of fans.
Let's be honest, the PlayStation back catalogue absolutely slaps, and it's a damn crime that there's still no official way to play some of those classic titles on a modern PlayStation console. If I can play Fable on an Xbox Series X, why the hell can't I boot up Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater on my PS5? Better yet, let me dive into the likes of Ape Escape, Syphon Filter, Parasite Eve, and Rugrats: Search For Reptar.
It's worth noting that a good portion of classic PlayStation titles have been remade or re-released in some form and are available on PS4 and PS5, but what we want - what we need - is one place to choose from all these games in their original form. I love Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 Remastered, for example, but if you gave me a way to play the original versions on my PS5 I'd probably bite your hand off.
PlayStation Plus is already so much better than it was this time last year, but it'd certainly become a hell of a lot more popular if we got a PlayStation/PlayStation 2 game every month alongside the usual freebies, don't you think? And how much more popular do you think PlayStation Now would be if Sony suddenly dropped a ton of OG PlayStation titles? That'd make the currently only-okay streaming service something a lot closer to rivalling Xbox Game Pass.
I don't know if/when it'll happen, but I do know that finally supporting backwards compatibility for pre-PS4 titles would elevate an already fantastic console to new heights. For now I'm happy enough to look ahead to all the brand-new games on the way, but that retro itch isn't goin away. Sooner or later, Sony needs to scratch it.
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