May 23, 2022

Backwards compatibility: Xbox beating PlayStation at its own game(s)

If you want to play PS2 games on a console released in 2020, there might an option for you after all.

With the recent console releases just behind us, much of the comparison between the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series is how they have dealt with backwards compatibility.

The PS5 has launched more like a “traditional” new console; a fresh start with a new set of exclusive games. Meanwhile Xbox has faced some criticism for lacking the novelty that a new machine release usually brings. Instead, the Series X and S look to be more iterative – running the same dashboard software, and playing all of the same games as their predecessor, the Xbox One.

Next generation, but just as we know it

There is a flip side to that coin. The PS5 is only able to play games released for it and the previous PlayStation 4. On the other hand, Phil Spencer and Xbox have continued the efforts begun during the previous generation with their backwards compatibility program. The result is a new console that can play a staggering number of titles from your old library of Xbox games, across their previous three generations, straight out of the box.

In an ironic twist, it now seems like the Xbox might also have the edge when it comes to running games from Sony’s past generations too.

YouTube channel and retro game enthusiasts Modern Vintage Gamer have cheekily released footage of several Playstation 2 era games running on the Xbox Series S.

YouTube player
MVG tested out a range of classic PS2 games on the new Series S

Using the system’s Developer Mode, and taking advantage of the Microsoft platform’s similarities with a PC, MVG had already explored using the new Xbox to run emulation software from various generations and consoles including the Nintendo Gamecube, N64 and Sega Saturn.

But it will surely be the sight of the Series S doing explicitly what the PS5 can’t, that being play games from the first 3 generations of its own history, that will raise the most eyebrows. The video, released on Monday, showed games including Jak and Daxter, TimeSplitters 2, Shadow of the Colossus and Metal Gear Solid 2, all running smoothly.

Although this certainly won’t have been a deliberate feature put in by Microsoft, it certainly does further highlight the different attitudes the two companies have to giving their players access to their old games.

Are Sony making the most of Playstation’s glittering history?

It will be interesting to see whether Sony’s approach changes as this generation progresses. The PlayStation Classic was a popular release in 2018, but considering PlayStation’s longer history and arguably stronger nostalgia factor, the 20 games available on it seem extremely restrictive, even when only compared to Xbox’s “official” features.


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