Backward compatibility has become a hot-button issue as of late, thanks to a comment from a Sony executive defending the decision to not bring backward compatibility to PlayStation 4. Soon after, the controversial stance—that no one actually cares about the feature—was seemingly confirmed by a recent study claiming that backward compatibility is a way less popular than you’d think among Xbox One owners.
Now Xbox vice president Mike Ybarra is weighing in on the topic, and he’s none too happy about what people are saying.
Ybarra recently tweeted in response to Sony’s global sales chief Jim Ryan’s aforementioned comments, saying that Xbox wants “gamers to play the best games of the past, current, and future. It’s what gamers have asked for.”
When another Twitter user responded with the results of the previously mentioned study, Ybarra shot them down.
Scraping some data off servers gives an inaccurate view of what people do.
— Mike Ybarra (@XboxQwik) June 6, 2017
This was followed by a spate of tweets from the likes of Xbox chief marketing officer Mike Nichols and head of Xbox Phil Spencer defending the program with some statistics of their own.
Some q’s today on back compat use. Roughly 50% of xbox one owners have played, over 508 million hrs of gaming enjoyed. #pastpresentfuture
— Mike Nichols (@xboxenigma) June 7, 2017
Usually one or two BC games in our daily top played games. Usage remains high. Quality games last and are worth playing.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) June 7, 2017
These figures don’t necessarily contradict the study, but they do offer a different viewpoint. If Nichols’ figures are correct, since backward compatibility went live in November 2015, Xbox One users have played backward-compatible games close to 1 million hours each day.
While that may sound like a huge number, the original Ars Technica study used data which suggested that the average Xbox One owner used their consoles for an average of 25 hours during a five-month period, meaning only five hours each month, which seems like a suspiciously low figure to us.
This all boils down to a simple question: Do the benefits of backward compatibility, i.e. having more people buy your console, outweigh the costs of introducing such a program in the first place?
But maybe the real question is: If Xbox wants to continue to support backward compatibility, how is that a bad thing for gamers?
While Xbox continues to look toward the future with Project Scorpio’s imminent reveal, it’ll be interesting to see whether this topic of games from the past is brought up during Xbox’s upcoming E3 2017 press conference, and whether Sony has a response (other than its long list of exclusive titles, like the new Spider-Man game).