New Consoles 'Most Likely' Won't Be Backwards Compatible

The next generation of consoles are unlikely to accommodate older games with backwards compatibility, Electronic Arts' chief financial officers told an audience of investors in San Francisco today.

Blake Jorgensen, addressing how EA will manage when new consoles arrive later this year, as is widely expected, pointed to the company's sports catalogue and particularly their multiplayer offerings in explaining why they should sell strong up to the changeover.

"An important thing to remember is that next-gen consoles will most likely not be backwards compatible," he said at Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco, according to a transcript of remarks published by Gamasutra. "And if you [play] multiplayer on a game, you'll most likely not be able to play with someone on a different generation."

These sports gamers will not wait until the holidays for the next console generation, Jorgensen reasoned, if their favourite games are releasing between July and October. "I think that works for us positively in both ways. It helps us continue to sell gen-three products, and it will help us sell gen-four product as that cycle finally gets into place."

Sports also present a strong draw for what Jorgenseen foresees — again, doing so very broadly — as a distinguishing feature of the next console generation. "You're going to see people playing on glass at the same time they're playing on the console," Jorgensen said.

This has several applications in keeping gamers connected to EA Sports' lucrative Ultimate Team modes. Jorgensen imagined gamers playing their matches at night, then in the morning, continuing their experience during a commute — trading players, managing rosters, and more. "And all along the way, we're either doing microtransactions or just simply staying connected to the customer," Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen didn't revisit backwards compatibility and was careful to be vague about potential features for the next console generation, saying that EA, of course, has seen their capabilities internally. He largely avoided a question about what the next Xbox or PlayStation would mean for used games. "I can't really comment on where the next generation boxes are going to be relative to used games," he said. "I will say that the trend in the business is to have that always-on connectivity and connect with a customer, and to the extent that the software identifies a certain customer is going to create some issues going down the road in the used game market," he said.

"But I do believe that the consumer likes it, and it's been good for the retail channel."

EA's money man spills the beans on its next-gen plans [Gamasutra]


Comments

    I don't mind so much for disc games, I guess if I have a burning desire to play Halo 3 I can leave my 360 hooked up, but I'll be kind of annoyed if I can't migrate across my XBLA content. I don't see any reason why the Xbox v3.0 won't be able to handle my copy of Limbo or Peggle or whatever.

      This is pretty much my thoughts as well.
      If theres the option of keeping the same user IDs & transferring em to the next gen consoles, then surely the stuff purchased on Live Arcade / PSN Store should carry over & still be useable.

      ...I'll be a bit pissed off if it isnt to be honest. especially if they then release the same content on the new platform & expect us to buy it again.

      Microsoft and Sony put a lot of importance behind XBL and PSN accounts. If they don't carry over onto the next generation, purchases and all, there will be a lot of backlash from consumers.

      Backwards compatibility would be nice but after a fairly brief transition period, it doesn't seem that necessary for most people.

    With Sony moving away from Cell architecture (they need to), I can’t see how they could offer backwards compatibility.
    They will move to a more common CPU/GPU arrangement as per a PC or current xbox.
    Microsoft won’t have to have such a major change, so I can see them being able to carry games over far more easily.

      Both the Cell and the Xenon are POWER-based, and all the rumours point towards both next-gen replacements having x86-based CPUs, and if that's the case ports from either console will require recompiling for x86 (the Cell has a bunch of extra stuff which will make games more complex to port, but 360 titles will need to be ported too).

      It'll depend on the engine used as to whether that's an easy task or not. A game using an unmodified version of the Unreal Engine, for example, should be able to be ported almost instantly - however modifications to the engine that are Cell or Xenon-specific would need to be wound back.

      Any console owners annoyed at this should be blaming the manufacturers, since the longer a generation runs the more developers have to program bare metal to make technological advancements.

    If there isn't backwards compatibility, then the PSN is absolutely pointless. PSX and PS2 games released have been released for nothing. PSN, PS Mobile, PSP, PS Vita and PS Minis will all become useless and the backlog of games people have bought and the service PS+ has provided will become all for nothing.

    The same goes for XBLA. All those games.. Digital released of XBOX and 360 games.. all a waste of people's money and time.

    They had BETTER have backwards compatibility.. or I simply won't buy one.

    As much as backwards compatability seems like a great idea, it's just never that fun to play last gen's games. They looks disappointing.

    HD Remakes and digital downloads of anything older are better than full backwards compatability.

    That said, I'd prefer it if Nintendo would release official NES, SNES and N64 controllers too.

    And ditch the "pro" controller and just make it a GameCube controller while we're at it.

      I don't know. I've enjoyed playing a lot of the last gen games more than this gen's because they were actually fun and not focused so much on looking good at the expense of gameplay.

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