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What is Backwards Compatibility?

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Backwards compatibility, also known as backward-compatible or backwards compatible, refers to a system used by hardware or software of a gaming device, in this case, which allows it to utilise interfaces and other data from earlier versions of a console or device or with different systems.  Backwards compatibility is possible if the older versions were designed with forwards compatibility or if extensible.  These versions would need to have been designed with features like hooks or plug-ins or makes use of application programme interface which will allow features to be added.

Backwards compatible also describes hardware or software that has been developed without the intention of it being compatible with earlier versions of the device, with the result that the two versions combat each other.  In a case like this, the versions will not be able to share the data easily and this could result in errors or crashes if they are installed on one device.  The device will be confused, as it will not know which version to use.  If a version is removed it can sometimes cause problems when trying to run the newer version.

Advantages of Backward Compatibility

The benefits of backward compatibility is that it will appeal to users who are currently using a certain device, and allows for inexpensive upgrades, as games can be used on both versions.  For example, games from the PlayStation 2 (PS2) are compatible with the earlier version PlayStation (PSX or PSOne).  Even though the PS2 games selection was small the console itself sold well mainly because of the all the PSOne games that had been created with the very first PlayStation.  This meant that the PS2 was able to grow and developers began creating new PS2 games.

Disadvantages of Backward Compatibility

When looking at anything in the gaming industry, cost always plays an important role.  The costs that are associated with making a system like this is more expensive, and the device itself will probably have to be more complex to handle backwards compatibility.  This may result in it taking longer to be released and other technological obstacles and possibly the slowing down of production of new and innovative products.  Users may also expect all of the new releases to be backwards compatible.

The PlayStation 3 (PS3) was an expensive console to develop because it included the Emotion Engine which was also in the PlayStation 2 (PS2) so that the PS3 could run PS2 games.  The PS3 design was so different from the PS2 that later versions of the PS3 have not included the Emotion Engine.  This meant cost saving in production, but PS2 games were no longer compatible.  The Xbox 360 on the other hand used a different strategy and made use of software emulation to make earlier Xbox games compatible, instead of including legacy hardware from the first Xbox.

The main disadvantage of backwards compatibility is that players will lose access to great games which may disappear.  This will mostly affect collectors and fans, but then the answer is for them to hold on to their old consoles or to switch to the action found at betting sites instead.  Saving money is another factor, but it can be argued that this will apply to any device such as Kindle or DVD’s that are purchased digitally for Blu-ray.

This debate continues as gamers differ in opinion when it comes to this issue.  Each gamer will have their own preference.

The author is an expert on occupational training and a prolific writer who writes extensively on Business, technology, and education. He can be contacted for professional advice in matters related with occupation and training on his blog Communal Business and Your Business Magazine.

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