So far in the lifecycle of the PS4 and Xbox One, remasters have been a constant trend and we’ve seen them produced from nearly every publisher in the industry. Today though, Microsoft has sent out the update that will provide gamers with Xbox One Backwards Compatibility later this afternoon.
One of the biggest questions I’ve had on my mind since the announcement of Backwards Compatibility was whether or not this new feature will end the trend of remastered games on Xbox One. Microsoft has developed Rare Replay, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and Halo: The Master Chief Collection, all of which have brought old games onto the Xbox One platform, but will remasters die as a result of Backwards Compatibility?
“That’s a great question. The real answer depends on what you do with the remastering. It’s not a simple yes or no. If you’re just going to remaster Xbox 360 games and call it a collector’s edition and it’s just the same game, yes I would argue it kills that kind of remastering. However, if you’re actually creating something that is a better experience for the user, then I think remastering is a viable business. It depends on what you do with it is the answer,” Strategy Analytics’ Michael Goodman told atombash.com.
This brings up a great point by Goodman, as we have seen remasters that don’t really do much to enhance the experience for gamers. One such example is Prototype and Prototype 2, which was a bundle released by Activision this year, and those two games have been said to not have done a whole lot to enhance the previous game experiences.
It’s a long ways off to try and determine the effect Backwards Compatibility will have on remasters and publishers. What’s going to be most telling is how gamers take to the feature and their behavior with remasters that are released in the coming weeks and months.
“I don’t think backwards compatibility will kill re-mastered games as re-masters are partly about playing older games, but they are also about playing older games in a higher definition or sometimes with enhanced gameplay features. For example, sales of Halo CE: Anniversary edition were positive despite the fact that you could play the original Halo CE on the 360 through backwards compatibility,” NPD Analyst Liam Callahan told atombash.com.
Backwards Compatibility comes at a time when Microsoft has already brought three first party sets of games over to the Xbox One, and it remains to be seen if they’ll do the same with other franchises. Microsoft has released a remaster or collection the year before they’ve dropped a new installment in that same series. They did that with Halo and they’re going to do that with Gears of Wars.
Backwards Compatibility absolutely changes the way gamers will view the Xbox One, though it remains to be seen what impact it will have on Microsoft’s actual position in the marketplace. Goodman explained his stance on whether or not this will change the Xbox One’s position in the console marketplace.
“One of the big things I took away from the update Microsoft is doing, whether it’s UI or Backwards Compatibility, is they are trying to improve the value proposition of the Xbox One without having to lower the price point. Backwards Compatibility is a big step in that direction. There are still more people who haven’t bought an Xbox One or PS4 but plan to do so, than have bought one. We still have a long way to go in terms of the sales cycle in this generation of video game consoles.
“Adding Backwards Compatibility with no cost to consumers will be perceived as a significant value add to prospective buyers, even if they wind up never using it. There is a large number of people out there who have libraries of 360 titles, Backwards Compatibility makes the Xbox One more attractive to them. Some people may think that ‘hey I can buy a console, but now I don’t have to go out and buy a ton of Xbox One games right away’. It changes how, at least some consumers, are going to evaluate the respective consoles,” Goodman said.
Microsoft hands out a lot more freedom to gamers who are considering an investment in Xbox One, and it’s exactly for what Goodman said at the end of his statement that is profound. Backwards Compatibility enables people to take their time adjusting to the new-generation and what would be a starting library of one or two games can now be a library of 10 or 12, depending on how many backwards compatible Xbox 360 games that person has.
The move seems to be extremely positive PR for the Xbox One, at the very least, and it will be yet another comparison that can be made with the PS4. Backwards Compatibility is free on Xbox One, in essence, while gamers on PS4 have to pay for it. Callahan spoke about how this does or does not change Xbox One’s position in the marketplace.
“Backwards Compatibility will be another factor in consumers seeing value in Xbox One’s offering in contrast to PS4. I don’t believe this will be a primary motivator for consumers to upgrade to an Xbox One, as you buy new consoles to play new games, but it does help consumers feel good about retaining the value from their current 360 library,” Callahan said.