Sony made some headlines earlier this week when in an interview with Time, Sony Head of Marketing Jim Ryan said that backwards compatibility is a feature oft requested, but not actually very popular. It sounded like a weird claim until Ars Technica published an independent report that found that backwards compatible Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One makes up just a tiny percentage of overall Xbox One use. It suggests that playing classic games on the newest consoles might not actually factor heavily into average game time.
Backwards Compatibility is one of those features that lifelong gamers tend to prioritize. After all, collectors have game discs that span across multiple console generations, but dusting off older consoles to play them is just a pain when the newest hardware is already set up as the primary gaming system. That's why having the ability to play old favorites on the newest consoles is such a convenience.
However, it seems that the regularity of revisiting old games is overestimated. According to Ars Technica, only 1.5 percent of the time spent on Xbox One- which currently offers backward compatibility on select Xbox 360 games- is spent on actually using said feature. It's literally the last thing people use an Xbox One for behind playing Xbox One games (54.7 percent), watching Netflix (16.6 percent), Non-Game Apps (14.1 percent), "TV" App (6.7 percent), and YouTube (6.6 percent).
Ars Technica used a third-party API to randomly sample usage data from a pool of almost one million active Xbox One Gamertags of a five month period starting last September. Of the more than 1.65 billion minutes of usage the website tracked, players spent an average of 23.9 minutes playing Xbox 360 games out of 1,526 average minutes of Xbox One usage.
This isn't to say that Backwards Compatibility should be a feature that should be eliminated however. Interest in Backwards Compatibility still exists even if the actual feature doesn't translate to that much in gameplay time.
It's also important to understand that not adding backwards compatibility creates certain problems for players with aging consoles. There's been a lot of talk about how companies like Sony, Apple, Microsoft, and more are lobbying against laws that will make it easier for gamers to make independent repairs. If successful, old consoles that break down over the course of time won't have a lot of options to get back into working order from companies outside of Sony or Microsoft, or others.
Home repairs often void console warranties, preventing users from getting these companies to repair their consoles for them. In this way, Backwards Compatibility in the newest consoles offer a solution for gamers who might be stuck with a library of old games, and no consoles to play them on.