You might read the title of this blog and automatically think I am referring to video games, the transition from one generation to the next and whether backwards compatibility is incorporated or not. In a way, I suppose I am, but this blog isn't exclusively about video games. It actually came about over some hardware compatibility issues.

I recently moved from the East Coast to the West Coast and in the process I shifted my Internet service from DSL (Verizon) to Cable (Comcast). Honestly, I couldn't tell you which is bigger, better, badder - I've heard fans of each swear by what they use. Personally, I prefer seems far more stable and faster. Anyway, the new wireless cable modem / router I have installed uses WPA2 (Wireless Protected Access) encryption. My old DSL modem used WEP. I didn't have any issues connecting the various devices to my new home network until I got to the Xbox 360. I could NOT get it to connect. After some very basic troubleshooting I realized it was because the wireless adapter I was using didn't support WPA2. I thought (or maybe hoped) I could update the driver or maybe flash the firmware and fix the problem, but after reading a few different Google articles, I discovered this particular device was no longer supported by Microsoft.

Sure, at first I was a little annoyed, but then I realized this device was old. We're talking maybe 10 years old. I got this adapter after the original Xbox was released, if that tells you how old it was. I had a few choices. Apparently somebody figured out how to hack the firmware from a similar product that did support WPA2. I could try that, maybe. Uh no thank you, especially after reading all the horror stories about stability problems. I could change my network to WEP. Well, I could...but I'd prefer using WPA2 since it is more secure and since I already had a bunch of items connected to the network. OR...I could buy a new device. For about $50 bucks, I decided to just buy a four port Wi-Fi range extender (it was even 802.11n) and hardwired my Xbox 360 to it...

Everything is running like a well-oiled machine now.

Should the manufacture still have supported this 10+ year old device? Is that a realistic expectation?

This certainly isn't the only time I've ran into this problem. I have a racing wheel for the PC that is fairly old too. Over 10 years old. The original operating system was Windows XP which came out in 2001 and hung around until around...what, 2008 or 2009? The wheel still works with most racing games...but only using a generic driver. The original company that produced the wheel - Thrustmaster, hasn't released an updated driver or configuration panel for it in quite some time. So, yes...the wheel works, but not all of the functions like it used to. It's unfortunate was an awesome wheel.

Should the manufacture still have supported this 10+ year old device? Is that a realistic expectation?

Now, some of you might be thinking...well, that's the price of being a PC gamer. And who knows, maybe it is. But how many of you have collections of old video games (I know I do)...maybe NES or SNES...Sega or Dreamcast. Heck, even your original Playstation or Xbox games. Unless you have the console to go along with it, can you still play those games? No, probably not (although there has been somewhat of a resurgence in NES and SNES games ever since some aftermarket devices have been made to play the original games). And if that console happens to fail and you can't find a replacement, then what? No product support, that's what. And of those old games, how many have/had an online component, or how many were online only even and now no longer supported?

Some manufactures are more compassionate when it comes to backwards compatibility and include it in their follow on systems; others aren't as concerned about it.  Sometimes I wonder how important it really is and if I even care whether my new console is backwards compatible or not. Sometimes figuring out you have to upgrade decades old technology or need to retire old games and replace them with new can be a good thing.

Now, maybe I've missed the big backwards compatibility discussion regarding the Xbox One and Playstation 4. I don't recall anybody really talking about it which is a bit odd since it's usually the big issue anytime a new console is released. From what I've read, neither system is really offering this feature. Have we finally got to a point where gamers aren't as concerned about it, or do gamers plan on hanging on to their old systems to play their old games (hah, I say old and the new isn't even here yet).

So if that's the case - no backwards compatibility in the PS4 or long should Sony and Microsoft support PS3 and Xbox 360 games? Obviously there is no right or wrong answer...there are probably many answers or thoughts about it.

How long should a company support its product?

Obviously, most of us would probably choose forever, even though we know that's not realistic.

Even ten years seems like a stretch to me. The technology industry evolves at such quick pace, ten years is practically a lifetime. Well, half that would be five years...which seems far too short. Or maybe I'm looking at it all wrong. Obviously if there is still an interest and it is profitable, the company is going to continue supporting it.

World of Warcraft has been around since 2004 and still has a few million paying players at last count. Of course Blizzard is going to continue supporting the game as long as it has players paying to play it. But what about a game like SimCity that bombed shortly after its release due to technical difficulties. I'm not quite sure where the game stands now...if it's playable or not...or if it even has a sustainable audience. If not, how long will Electronic Arts support it? SimCity isn't the Lone Ranger. Look at Diablo III or The Old Republic - they didn't quite take the industry by storm like the publishers had should they cut their losses and shut it down or support the handful of people playing the games for x number of years?

Are longevity and backwards compatibility a concern to you? Do you have old pieces and parts and games lying around that are no longer supported. Do you care?