"If you're backwards compatible, you're really backwards."
- Microsoft's Don Mattrick, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
We have known for a while that the successor to Microsoft's Xbox 360, revealed yesterday as the Xbox One, would not be compatible
with older generations of Xbox games. At least part of this is due to the significant technical challenges given the 360 and the One's different system architecture.
However, the quote above from Don Mattrick, expressed in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, reflects a larger business philosophy for the company.
"We created something that understands how to be performant for all scenarios and all combinations," says Mattrick. And because only a small percentage of customers play older games (5 percent, according to Mattrick), backwards compatibility is not a scenario worth Microsoft's investment and development costs.
Backwards compatibility as a concept for consoles only really came to the fore with the advent of the sixth console generation, when Sony's PlayStation 2 included the ability to play the game discs of its direct predecessor. During the seventh console generation, while Microsoft's Xbox 360 supported a considerable library of original Xbox titles, its competitor Sony phased out backwards compatibility throughout the shelf life of the PlayStation 3, opting instead to bolster its virtual console library -- a move Microsoft and Nintendo made as well.