BCMIA (presumed KIA)

I’m a bit pissed off.

I was this > < close to picking up The Warriors and Panzer Dragoon Orta for the Xbox last week, especially Orta as it’s rapidly becoming a rare title. That was until I checked the Xbox 360 Backward Compatible game list

Neither game is supported, yet both are critically acclaimed. Panzer Dragoon in particular was a platform exclusive, which should make it even more valuable to Microsoft in terms of its Xbox platform gaming credentials. Moreover, in the the case of The Warriors, Microsoft has seen fit to expend time and effort in supporting the controversial – not to mention politically condemned – title Manhunt, but not in supporting a more widely regarded game running on the same engine. For the record I really enjoyed Manhunt, which is primarily what’s fueling my interest in playing The Warriors. But, for no apparent reason, it seems I can’t.

Why is this? I suspect it’s because MS really have no further interest in supporting their Backward Compatability programme now that the 360 is 18 months out the gate, and their AAA release schedule is almost at full tilt. Also, Microsoft themselves don’t instill me with any confidence of seeing future BC updates with this blurb from their FAQ:

We have a team of some of the best developers at Microsoft® dedicated to improving the compatibility of games already on the list and adding more games to the list. We’re not announcing any dates, because we honestly don’t know how long it’s going to take to support the next series of games.

Now, I’m not bemoaning the fact I can’t play cheap second-hand games on an expensive new piece of hardware per se. And I don’t have an original Xbox back catalogue of any great stature either. I’m pissed off because Microsoft have pretty much confirmed certain pundits suspicions: MS has in fact used backward compatability as a bait-and-switch tactic, purely for monetary purposes (i.e. to create artificial uptake of the 360) and not in the interests of gaming whatsoever.

More from Microsoft:

Our goal remains to get every game to be backward compatible. The only things influencing what games we’re working on are how popular the title is, and how easy it is to make backward compatible. Several original Xbox games on the list already have Xbox 360 counterparts.

To my mind, that translates as:

If it’s easy – and (more importantly) if the cost is minimal – then we’ll knock together a patch. However, if there’s a next-gen sequel – or even an approximate* gameplay equivalent – we’ve no intention of spending any money on making a particular title backward compatible whatsoever.

* Microsoft reserves the right to draw approximate gameplay parallels between any last-gen and current-gen title of their choosing.

Whilst I can somewhat empathise with the last point from a business point of view, it’s still frustrating that Microsoft insist on being vague about which further titles we’ll see supported–if any–going forward. I think many people were hoping that this generation of gaming consoles would preserve what has gone before, rather than just ditching it outright. You could even argue corporate spiel has deliberately fostered this idea amongst the gaming community. But it would appear we’ve been duped.


About this entry