By Stephen Green

sgreen@itemonline.com

If you’d like to drown yourself in a deep pool of nostalgia, nothing cuts it quite as close as playing video games from your childhood.

Although many of the people older than me can remember a time without video games, that’s the world I’ve always known. There was nothing more fun than getting home from elementary school and rushing to my Nintendo and later on Super Nintendo. (“Donkey Kong” and “Zelda: A Link to the Past anyone?”)

But as those consoles faded, so did the opportunity to play those games once parts started to break. Newer consoles like Xbox One and PlayStation 4 won’t play their ancestors games either. The Nintendo Wii will but you have to buy and download them.

For these reasons I have always pushed for backwards compatibility – or the ability for any console to play the games on similar consoles before them (i.e. an Xbox One playing Xbox 360 and Xbox games). I’m not alone either. Whenever one of the major companies (Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo) announces plans for a new console release, the fervor for backwards compatibility is always lit anew.

However, it’s probably best that we hang up our hats.

The biggest reason is that it would be a disadvantage economically for the companies. In the case of the Wii and now the PS4, they want you to buy the games that you either once owned or still do. The only thing companies have to gain from giving customers backwards compatibility is brand loyalty and a superficially inflated profit from the rush of people flocking to buy the new console.

Like everything else in life, it’s all about the money.

It also would hurt both their quality of product and increase the price of each console.

In order for a machine to play the old games, the physical makeup of the machine would have to be lowered in quality to support the graphics in the games. Clearly with the insane desire for damn near real life quality graphics, that can’t happen. So the company would have to install extra components to support game play they aren’t going to make money on.

Retrofitting consoles would definitely help the used game industry and probably not only spike sales but also the price for each game. Right now, game consoles that are dinosaurs compared to today’s selection are just as hard to find as the popular games, so no one but collectors have a need to buy them. But if everyone can now play their old PlayStation 2 games on the newest PlayStation 4, you bet the demand would skyrocket with no increase in supply – leading to higher prices.

It’s similar to a situation where a child (that’s us who likes old games) approaches his parent (video game companies) for a favor.

Child: “Hey mom, can you make me a costume for my friend’s birthday party? Also while your at it...can you buy him a gift, drive me over there and pick me up when I’m ready to leave?”

Mom: “And what do I get in return.”

Child: “I’ll give you a kiss!”

Although realistically the mom would cave in to the child’s request because he doesn’t know what he’s really asking of her. These companies won’t.

The other reason is because when we don’t get our way, we’ll just forget about backwards compatibility until the next console – kind of like the child, no?

Child: “Hey mom, can you make me a costume for my friend’s birthday party? Also while your at it...can you buy him a gift, drive me over there and pick me up when I’m ready to leave?”

Mom: “No, honey. You already have a costume.”

Child: “But mom I don’t like that one.”

Mom: “I got some ice cream for you in the freezer.”

Child: “Ooh! What flavor”

Like the child, we’ll happily go for the next best thing and quietly munch on our ice cream cones mindlessly wandering away from our original petition.

We should keep the older consoles in case we’d like to play them later instead of trading them in when the time comes for a new console. It’ll put less money in your pocket, but when you get the urge to pull out Spyro the Magic Dragon for a couple of hours you’ll not regret it.

Eventually the consoles will break or a cord gets chewed in half by your dog (I’m not bitter), it’s much easier and less expensive to buy new parts than the whole system.

Everyone enjoys a nice helping of nostalgia, the question is how much are you willing to pay for it?