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Share Play Vs. Backwards Compatibility: Which Is The Best Post Console Release Feature?

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Share Play and Backwards Compatibility, both are pretty revolutionary advancements for consoles and they’re definitely not becoming old news. Share Play is one – if not the biggest – of Sony’s most popular features allowing users to seamlessly interact with friends and family meanwhile Backwards Compatibility a is feature most people would’ve expected from both Sony and Microsoft pre-release, however not only is this feature another fine addition to the Xbox One, it is potentially one of the greatest selling points, giving fans of the console more to talk about and play with. Both features were however post-release, which begs the question ‘Why weren’t these features implemented from the beginning?’.

Do PS4 and Xbox One offer backwards compatibility?

In short, yes, both consoles have incredible current and upcoming features giving their users the opportunity to play games from previous generations at affordable prices.

Back in E3, 2015, Microsoft ever so slightly teased at backward compatibility in the form of Xbox 360 emulation before finally announcing what we’d all been waiting for, complete backwards compatibility for Xbox One. With an ever growing list of around 150 compatible games, Microsoft made it possible to simply insert an Xbox 360 disc into your Xbox One to play it. As well as this, any game you previously bought digitally (on the Xbox marketplace) is also available to download and play on the basis that it is compatible. Doesn’t this sound incredible? Well, not only can you do all of that, but you can also keep all of your Xbox 360 saves, add-ons, achievements, Gamerscore and to top it all off you can play with your friends online regardless of which console they’re using.

Meanwhile, Sony offers a service somewhat similar with a wide variety of more than 100 PS3 games, ready to stream straight to your PS4 – all playable with no downloads, patches or installs… but there’s a catch. Not only is PlayStation Plus required for $60 per year (around £40), but so is a subscription to PlayStation Now for a fee of $100 per year (around £70). Is it really worth the cost, when you could just get out your old console and boot it up for free? Unlike the Xbox One, Sony have confirmed that due to the x86 architecture of the PS4, there would be no native support for just popping in a disc or re-downloading a digitally bought game. However, Sony recently unveiled their new emulation for PS2 games on the PS4, Shuhei Yoshida mentioned how “PlayStation 2 holds a special place in the hearts of many gamers”, and he is definitely not wrong.

With a current growing list of arguably the 28 most loved PS2 games, it does bring back that nostalgic feeling of rushing home after a long day to boot up your much beloved console. But of course, these aren’t remasters – they are being emulated and up-scaled for a more high-definition viewing. But does this put Sony back at the top with Microsoft?

Some gamers might say no, and personally, I’m one of them. I own a PS4 and I play it constantly, but I wouldn’t dream of spending so much money to stream a game that I could easily just pick up from my shelf and play on my PS3. The feature Microsoft brought forward is ingenious, brilliant and definitely a selling point for the Xbox One, especially for those who previously owned an Xbox 360. I find no faults with the backwards compatibility Microsoft offers, but the way Sony are trying to bleed their customers dry of money is wrong and although PlayStation Now has it’s great selection of games, with more PS2 and PS1 games to come in the future and giving users no concerns about storage, it doesn’t argue with the fact that it is pricey and you need a constant internet connection, not to mention there are a lot of games missing that I would’ve expected to see on their list… but what about Share Play?

Share Play

Share Play is a feature for PlayStation Plus users. In October of 2014, Sony released a Firmware update named ‘Masamune’ rolling out more features, one of which was Share Play. This is a feature within PlayStation 4 that gives its users the opportunity to allow their friends to take control of their games, watch them playing it and even dish out invites to play co-operatively or competitively – best thing is, only one of you needs the game. Simply pressing the Share button on your controller prompts you to choose from a couple of options including Share Play. Through this you can even offer the invitee your controller, giving them full access to your game because maybe you can’t beat that level boss but your friend knows all the hints and tricks.

Scott McCarthy, director of product planning and software innovation at Sony Computer Entertainment America, mentioned that Share Play works like a “virtual couch.”

“With this first-of-its-kind feature, you’ll be able to play games with a friend just as if you were together in the same room.”

Of course a steady, stable internet connection is required and the time limit for each session is capped at an hour, the resolution that the invitee plays on will be limited to 720p and any trophies or achievements you and your friend get while playing will be linked to the hosting profile, giving no benefit to the invited player(s).

According to Sony, the aim of Share Play was to push their player base to purchase more games and I can fully understand that. Perhaps you wanted to test a game before you bought it but your friend already owns a copy. Instead of spending money on a game you potentially won’t enjoy, ask your friend to hand over their controller to you through Share Play and get gaming.

But does this, again, put Sony back at the top with Microsoft, fighting for the best console out there? Both Share Play and backwards compatibility have their positives but I’ve yet to find a negative in regards to Microsoft’s feature apart from the fact that some games might not be supported, and may not ever be. Although Share Play is incredible, and a feature I always use to play with friends and family it just doesn’t give me the satisfaction I could have playing the games I loved back before this generation of gaming and at the end of the day, isn’t that what we’re all here for? To enjoy playing games? I certainly think so.

In my eyes, Microsoft are definitely a winner here. Imagine wanting to play your favourite last generation console games, but you either have to pay a pretty high price to stream them on the PlayStation 4, while just beyond the horizon Xbox One users are playing their old 360 games by disc and digital download. This is certainly a huge advancement and would be something Microsoft have pushed to their dedicated fans. That being said, the fact that not all games are supported is a bit disheartening and some mightn’t even make it onto the list which is a positive for Sony. Not only do Sony stream the game directly to you system, you don’t need to download it or worry about the current generation console’s architecture stopping you from playing your favourites giving Sony the potential to add the games Microsoft couldn’t, expanding their ever growing list.

What do you think? Do you have a different point of view on the two features, and are there any additional features you think both consoles could offer to their player bases, and are there any childhood games that you want to see being added? Let us know down in the comments below!

Luke