'It's Highly Unlikely That PS4 Or The Next Xbox Will Be Backwards Compatible'

What's happened in the business of video games this past week ...

QUOTE | "It's highly unlikely that PS4 or the next Xbox will be backwards compatible." — Chris Morris, veteran game journalist, talking about what Sony needs to do to succeed with the PS4.

QUOTE | "EA: Best major publisher of 2012." — Metacritic's ranking of Electronic Arts versus all publishers who published more than 15 games in 2012; EA finished first with an average of 75.2 per cent.

QUOTE | "We are not ambitious to be the next THQ." — Klemens Kundratitz, CEO of Koch Media, explaining why Koch Media bought Volition Inc. and Metro: Last Light in the THQ bankruptcy sale.

STAT | $US4.86 billion — Amount of revenue Activision brought in for 2012;the company only expects to make $US4.09 billion in 2013.

QUOTE | "The characters are not interesting, sound design is boring, everything is average." — Rovio's senior VP of brand marketing, Ville Hejari, recalling the first feedback Rovio heard about Angry Birds.

STAT | 12 million — Number of physical and digital units of Assassin's Creed III Ubisoft sold in 2012; that's 70 per cent more than Assassin's Creed Revelations sold.

QUOTE | "We have the largest total audience, with 298 million monthly average players, and 72 million on mobile alone." — Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga, talking about the company's improved outlook following a better-than-expected fourth quarter.

STAT | 100 million — Total number of Skylanders figures that have been sold so far in the US, according to Activision; the company revealed in its earnings call that the franchise has brought in over $US1 billion in total revenue.

STAT | 70 million — Number of kids worldwide that have registered for online site Moshi Monsters; one out of every two kids in the UK has registered, and it's currently the #1 toy brand there.

STAT | 1.6 per cent — Amount of the UK software market in January that the Wii U represented; that was less than the 2.2 per cent captured by the PS Vita.

This Week in the Business courtesy of GamesIndustry International.

Image from Shutterstock


    It would be a very dick move to render a great deal of people's game collections obsolete yet again. I also wonder how they would reconcile the fact that a lot of people would still have games from the playstation network on their accounts, would they just have those games as unavailable for transfering or redownloading?

      Anyone who already has a large PS3 games library should also already have a PS3 to play it on, and modern TVs usually have quite a number of inputs so its not that hard to keep both a PS3 and PS4 connected. But why not throw in backwards compatibility anyway? Because it is very hard and very expensive to do so - its not like 'PS3-compatibility' setting is a simple on/off switch or something.

        And the architecture is vastly different to the PS3, so emulation would be a nightmare to implement. Hell, it may not even have enough horsepower to emulate it efficiently even if the coding is perfect.

        I'd only want BC if they could do it right this time. This generation of BC is about as useful as tits on a bull.

      Xbox will be I'm sure.

      If PS4 has really gone away from the cell processors then it may not support it.
      Of course the simple solution to that is to use their Onlive purchase to stream backwards game... although they could make that a PSplus exclusive feature.

        Microsoft have decided to change from power pc chip Architecture back to X86 chip Architecture so the Next-Box will be compatible with the original X-Box but not the 360.

        Now if they can make some decent emulation software than yes it will be backwards compatible but currently it's looking unlikely.

        Same with Sony they are changing chip Architecture again so backwards compatibility isn't likely.

          I really doubt there will be anywhere close to the performance leap required for emulation of the previous generation.

            I agree with you we probably won't see the emulation, but I don't know how powerful the machine is and what kind of optimizations they can do.

          AMD64 ;)

      It's not that they won't allow for it and more that they can't, PS3/PSN games are built for the Cell processors architecture (PowerPC?), the PS4 has what is basically a regular PC (x86) processor.

      Unless they jam a PS3 into each PS4 , similar to what they did with the EE and GS chips in the original 60GB PS3's (to allow PS2 BC), they would have to either develop emulation software for the PS4 to playback PS3 games or port each and every PS3 title to work on the x86 architecture (basically port them to PC).

      I personally don't see any of the above happening.

        Cell Processor is indeed a POWER-derived architecture (not PowerPC but uses the PPC instruction set). It's *possible* they might be able to emulate the Cell but I think for the really complex games that were using the cell in strange ways (eg the Uncharted games) it'd be pretty hard.

        The more interesting question is how the PSN / XBLA stuff transitions. I feel like the company that nails transitioning from one hardware platform to the next will be the winner early on.

          It takes roughly 7x the power to successfully emulate something, that's why the ps2 emulators run so bad, when u think of the raw power of your pc vs the ps2 7x is a lot, its also why engines like Cryengine 3 run so bad, cos instead of making a new engine they make the Cell emulate the Xbox cpu... That doesn't work properly cos... The cell isn't 7x as powerful, hence the lower frame rates and screen resolution... Just thought that those were some interesting facts to share.

            I dunno man, have you seen PCSX2 lately? That emulator runs near flawlessly on my PC (i5 2500, AMD 6950, 8GB RAM).

            The thing to remember with a Sony created emulator for the PS4 is that it's a single set of hardware, they can optimise the hell out of it and squeeze every last drop of performance from it, PC emulator's will always be lacking in some areas due to the issue of optimisation.

              Well our PCs are a lot more kick-ass these days.. my old Q6600 had a bit of trouble running games on PCSX2 without slow-down when there's a lot on screen.. but my new i5 3570 is very smooth. :)

                My i7 and 580 still struggles some times with more complex games that used up 100% of that old ps2, games like ratchet 3 and sly tend to slow down from 60 to about 35... But thats cos they truly used the ps2 in... Unique ways...

      As I've said a great many times:
      The speculation is that Sony are moving away from the Cell and onto a more regular chip,this basically means no backwards compatibility as the arcitecture is too different, and emulation would require more grunt that it is likely to have, the other option would be to include enough hardware to do it, but this would probably mean adding a cell and some audio hardware to the device (and maybe even video), and this would drive the price up to the point where the current aprox $400US price point that has been rumered would become more like $600US or better, so more or less prohibited by price.
      They could make it BC for PS1 games, and maybe PS2 (if they're feeling generous,but I'd doubt it.. they rather sell revamped versions in the PSN store).

      So logic dictates it will play PS1/PS2 games (if they bother, which is unlikely), they don't want you playing your old games, they want you to buy their new PS4 games, and maybe some rebuilt older games you can buy from the PSN.

    100M Skylanders figurines sold. Just in the U.S. Damn. I didn't know that game was so popular.

    PS3 BC is unlikely and frankly unnecessary. It'd add to the cost of the console which deters consumers, a lesson Sony learned the hard way last time around.

      Think of it this way... 5 or so 'classes' in the game, multiple characters for each? Over a year with his pocket money my boy bought over 55 from both games...

        I guess because I don't know many gamers in the age group that game/peripheral targets, I didn't appreciate how popular it really was. ᕙ(⇀‸↼‶)ᕗ

          My friend (30's) played it when he was in England this Christmas with Family he told me he can see why it's so popular. It's a good game, well designed and fun.

          The collectible character element doesn't hurt either.

            Indeed, it's surprisingly well designed. Think of it as Diablo Jr. Being able to change characters any time you want, without having to drop out of the game doesn't hurt either. With the new game, Swap Force, where you can mix and match Skylanders with themselves, adding a jump button to the mix, it looks like it's only going to get better too. I mean I understand the figures realistically are the worst kind of day 1 DLC (they literally ARE all on the disc), but, I have no issue with it, you get a kickass little mini figure. They look awesome all lined up on my sons cabinet :D

              It's a new kind of DLC, and I'm going to give it a pass because they do give you a character or two and you can complete the game with out buying them all or even any extra's. The game of course is more fun with multiples, and they are cross platform.

              Your also getting a physical item with it. My Borderlands 2 Marcus Bobble head adds nothing to the game but I love it.

                Exactly, the figures are cool. My little boy loves playing with them and I think they look awesome as collectables :D

        8 Classes (Life, Death, Air, Water, Earth, Fire, Magic, Tech). There are optional areas that require you to have one of the classes to enter, so to actually get everywhere, you must have 1 of each class, minimum. You also need a Giant, but it's class isn't relevant, and you could pick up one of those with the Giants game.

        It's also kinda hard once you're into it to stick with just 8 characters, and many of the figures come in packs of three which are about the price of two, ... so it seems like a good deal to get a 3 pack so long as the other 2 in the pack seem alright.
        And then you have like, 3 water, and only 1 tech, and you're all like "well, I *HAVE* to even that out, so you go get another tech, but in another pack of three. And oh my god is that a rare variant skin?, I'll get that one while I'm here.

        And you can see how this progresses from there.

        It's an entertaining game, and really plays on the collector in you.

    I really want my existing XBLA collection (ie: not physical discs but the downloadable games) to be B/C so I can continue to enjoy them on the new console.

    While it would be a hassle to not have the console backwards compatible, but I personally don't get rid of my old consoles/games so If I wanted to go back and play something I'd just go and play it. I don't get the big deal with backwards compatibility we haven't had it completely for both consoles so why does it matter if we don't get it now.

      Then you face the problem I have right now, which is replacing the console after it dies. The PS2 is ridiculously expensive now they have stopped making them and the second hand ones are a shot in the dark as to how long they will last. That is why they should make them backwardly compatible.

    What people said about Angry Birds a few years ago: "The characters are not interesting, sound design is boring, everything is average"

    What people say about Angry Birds nowadays: "The characters are not interesting, sound design is boring, everything is average and we're sick of Rovio pretending to be a developer because they copied an idea"

      For 99c... everything is forgiveable I guess.

      Last edited 10/02/13 9:06 pm

    Easy way to fix the lack of backwards compatibility; keep your old consoles. I've still got my PS2, and I'll be keeping my PS3 and 360 when I upgrade to the next gen.
    Of course, that doesn't really help people if they want to sell their old consoles in order to get enough money together to buy the new ones...

    I hope that PSN downloads will at least transfer over and can be emulated - or updated and re-released (maybe they can port the Xbox Live versions! It might be quicker...)

    Backwards compatibility is either expensive like the original PS3 or limits the growth of new tech like nintendo did with the WiiU, which uses an expanded Wii cpu which in turn was a beefed up Gamecube cpu, so unless you want your new console to be expensive or be reliant on 10+ year legacy tech, there's no way to do it.

      "limits growth of new tech"

      Desktop computers seem to be going strong technology-wise, even though they are derived from an architecture that is currently over 30 years old (the original IMB PC).

        Actually desktop computers are massively limited by their legacy architecture.

        Such wonderful mistakes as Conventional Memory, who'd ever need more than 640k of it? Anyone remember playing games under DOS? Looking for Drivers small enough so you can get that 630k of Conventional memory. This kind of crap is practically forgotten now, but it still exists I can run DOS 5.0 on a brand new I7 chip, and have the fun of playing with EMS, XMS, the sudden desire to not be alive any more.

        Your modern X86 chip has many paths and functions a modern computer doesn't use, but they still exist and slow things down. That being said I don't see why changing architecture every generation is necessary.

    Consoles don't last forever, especially the newer ones. Emulation of later consoles is likely a long way off too, if ever. I think the lack of backwards compatibility is a shocker and I'm amazed that so many people were happy to run out and buy the same game again with higher-res graphics on the PS3 once they removed BC.
    I have now decided to never buy another console, because I don't want to invest what will end up being thousands of dollars on games that will be no better than coasters in a few years time.

    ps1,ps2,ps3 games will be available on ps4 through cloud

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