Xbox Series X & PS5 Backwards Compatibility: Why It’s Important

With new consoles on the horizon, the conversation surrounding both the Xbox Series X and PS5 is about backwards compatibility. Playing games from previous generations is an important feature for a lot of people and it's great that the major console manufacturers are taking notice.

Xbox Series X & PS5 Backwards Compatibility: Why It's Important

Earlier this week, gamers were having deep discussions on a multitude of possible features for the Xbox Series X and PS5, including backwards compatibility. Backwards compatibility is a feature that allows players to play games from older systems on newer hardware. This is important to a lot of payers because they want to keep playing the games that they love while moving on to the newest system. The idea of playing last-gen games on next-gen consoles has not slipped past Microsoft and Sony. Both console giants announced backwards compatibility in some form or other during their conferences.

What We Know So Far

Microsoft announced that any game that is playable on Xbox One, will also be playable on Xbox Series X. This also applies to the vast library of already playable Xbox 360 and original Xbox games that were made backwards compatible starting in 2015. In addition, Microsoft also announced that backwards compatible games are getting even more graphical enhancements than before, which will make older games run even better than they did on Xbox One.

Sony announced that some PS4 games will be playable on the PS5, but the announcement left some fans confused. Microsoft and Sony are rewarding players who’ve stuck with their consoles over the years by creating an ecosystem of games from multiple generations. Hopefully Sony is clearer about their plans for backwards compatibility, because I feel that some gamers have that on their priority list when deciding to shell out big money for a new console.

Mass Effect playing on Xbox One

Mass Effect, one of many games that is backwards compatible with the Xbox Series X

What’s the Big Deal?

But why is this important, I hear you ask? Because not only does this give people a way to save money by trading in their old systems for new ones, but it also gives players more games to play right out of the box. When I first got my Xbox One, the first game I played on it wasn’t Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, the game it came with, but the backwards compatible Just Cause 2. With the processing power that the new consoles have, older games will look and play so much better. For players this means graphics upgrades, consistent framerates and non-existent loading times.

Backwards compatibility also lets younger gamers experience games that might not have been re-released due to licensing issues, popularity, etc. That was how I experienced the fantastic Star Wars Battlefront 2 (2003), and other games that I missed during my childhood. In a historical sense, backwards compatibility is vital so more people can play older, overlooked games without having to break the bank buying another console. Backwards compatibility gives gamers the ability to experience games that they may have never been able to play if it wasn’t on newer hardware, which is great for gamers and consumers alike.

Battletoads Arcade RR

Rare Replay, an Xbox One gem that will be backwards compatible on the Xbox Series X.

Convenience Conquers All

Another reason that backwards compatibility is important is pure convenience. There is only so much living room space for systems, cable boxes and a TV. It simply makes it easier to be able to play most of your library without even using the remote to switch HDMI inputs, especially for older consoles with component cables. Composite input might become a thing of the past sooner or later, so backwards compatibility gives players an easier way to play the games they already have. Being able to play games you already own, plus graphical enhancements, make backwards compatibility a no-brainer for any console giant.

Nero's first boss fight from DMC5

Devil May Cry V, a phenomenal action game that would look even better on the PS5 and Xbox Series X


To many people, backwards compatibility is an important factor when thinking about picking up a new console. It’s important not only for game preservation, but also lets the younger generation experience games from the past. While it seems like gamers always find something to fight about when talking about new consoles, the one thing that we can all agree on is that backwards compatibility is a must for the next generation.

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