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'If you're backwards compatible, you're really backwards.'
'If you're backwards compatible, you're really backwards.'
May 22, 2013 | By Kris Ligman




"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.


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Comments


Kujel s
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Backwards compatibility is a great way to transition to a new generation, Nintendo figured that out and that is why of the big three they will be the king among gamers, sure MS will grab the family crowd but games will not be the primary reason for the machine.

Jonathan Jennings
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I have to disagree with that Edge I see why console manufacturers stop supporting their older consoles and why developers give up on them because they are at some point canabalizing their own business . but why would being able to play your old games on a new platform be a deterrent ?

I loved hearing that the 360 would be backwards compatible with the xbox and the thought of being able to play K.O.T.O.R and Gears of War on the same machine was immensely exciting . I see how on the software side it could be difficult because if your newest entry wsn't a significant upgrade players could get there fix from an old entry in your series but from a hardware perspective i don't see how backwards compatibility would people not want to purchase your consoles .

I loved xbox games but I wanted an xbox 360 as well , being able to play both on the 360 makes it an upgrade I don't see how being able to play old games on a new console makes it a hard sell at all.

Jakub Klitenik
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Sorry Edge. I still have to drag out my PS2 to play all my old PS2 and 1 games. Plus in the living room I still have my original Wii set up to play GameCube games.
Also while on the train I'm still play DS games on my 3DS.
Nintendo really do show how it should be done by phasing out the old software and therefore hardware, instead of just abruptly stopping it all together.

Amir Barak
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Thing is, given that most games for at least the first year are going to be cross-platform (ie. available on both the Xbox360 and the Xbone) why would I upgrade to a machine that'll lose me all my library while giving me nothing new?

A W
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No backwards compatibility is one of the reasons I didn't buy and Xbox360 after adopting the Xbox brand with the first one. Backwards compatibility was the very reason I bought Wii on its launch day (yes I stood in a line, something I will never repeat again) and is the reason I was OK with buying a Wii U on launch.

I don't believe given the real world data that backwards compatibility is as selling point for buying a console, but it is a convenience for people who want to downsize the amount of cords and wires need to play console games on TV sets and for early adopters that haven't finished their old console games yet.

Eric McVinney
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Right, Edge, because everyone else has their old consoles, as well >:/

BC is a must for gamers. Mainly because, well, we like our games! From any generation, and to buy a console that will allow you to do so is a major bonus.

David Roberts
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"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."

Sorry... what? What definition of 'older games' is being used here if the new console hasn't actually been released yet? Is a game released a few months ago an 'older game'?

Mitchell Fujino
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They have stats from Xbox 360 owners playing Xbox games.

Patrick ODay
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Backwards compatibility is something people want but then never use. It's difficult for people to look at the previous generation's games and then put them in a closet when setting up the new console. There's a large emotional attachment to the memories of those games and having the backwards compat doesn't force people to choose between the new generation and the previous one.

Peter Christiansen
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That's not always true. For some time after its release, the most popular game on the Xbox 360 was Halo 2, an original Xbox game. I don't think any 360 games beat it until Gears of War was released. Sony had a similar problem with the PS3, though that had more to do with developers releasing new PS2 games after the PS3 came out than with people playing older PS2 games.

While I'm sure playing older games on a new system becomes much more rare later in the system's lifespan (It would be interesting to find our what the "5 percent" stat actually means), I think several people have brought up an important point. Until some major games are released for the system, there is less motivation to buy it. Backward compatibility can help with that transition, though it's much more appealing to new owners who don't already have a 360 (however, since Microsoft is billing the Xbox One as a big, friendly family console, that's the market they really should be trying to please).

Jarod Simpson
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Patrick, Your first sentence completely sums up this entire issue regarding compatiblity.

Jason Withrow
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I agree with Michael. I generally use backwards compatibility for years after the fact, and consider the NDS my favourite system not because it stands out on its own, but because the original system had compatibility with the GBA. Hell, I was playing a 25 year old GB game with a friend the other day and it was on the GameCube, through the magic of one backwards compatible system after another. The 3DS even supports backwards compatibility by giving you play coins.

Now I haven't owned a PS3, but I actually have several games for the system, thanks to a roommate moving out and taking the system with him. I had been waiting for the PS4, figuring I'd save some money by buying the next generation, but lo and behold the system has no such support. Now I'm waiting for the PS4 to come out, so that used PS3s will drop in price. Sony has lost my support for years until they have a solid library to justify the upgrade, whereas they would have had me without a second thought if they had just supported the discs I millions of others have lying around.

This also opens up the possibility that, like the Wii U, I might later learn the system was not worth the money and might not buy it at all, where they otherwise would have had not just my money in hand, but the money I'd use to buy games on a system I'd have otherwise ignored! The deeper I go the more Peter's question above becomes relevant: what does the 5% stat actually mean? Because if that figure doesn't apply to transition and carry-over, then it's missing a giant blind spot.

John Maurer
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@Jason - I get you on that, but I also understand why Sony didn't make PS4 backwards compatible. Their new system has PC architecture. Previous Sony systems were Linux/Unix based, including backwards compatibility at this point would be a pretty large mountain to climb.

Karin E Skoog
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@Jason I'm in the same boat as you. There are a number of PS3 exclusive games I've been waiting to play. I was holding out to see whether the PS4 would be backwards compatible and decided that if it wasn't, I'd wait for the PS3 price drop after the release of the PS4. It's unfortunate it isn't more common to have a BC option as was available in the 60gig PS3 model.

From a business standpoint though, I suppose it makes sense to focus development efforts on other aspects of new consoles rather than developing features that aren't necessary and won't lead to a significant number of increased sales.

Simon Ludgate
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I wonder how successful Windows 9 will be when they forgo Windows 8 (and older) backwards compatibility?

But on a more serious note: I got a TON of use out of the PS3 backwards compatibility. Maybe half the games I got for my PS3 were PS2 games. Mainly because I never had a PS2, so the PS3 was my gateway into that generation too. Two generations of games for the cost of one console.

I didn't get an Xbox 360, but I guess the Xbox One won't be my gateway into two generations of games...

Amir Sharar
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I got a lot of use out of it as well. But I did pay $700 Cdn for my launch PS3. We all know how Sony struggled for a couple of years with that machine, cost being a big reason for that.

I have question for you, if you were to design the PS4, would you include PS3 hardware in it, jacking up the price by $50-75, for BC?

Would anyone reading this Gamasutra article do that? I think a minority (5% sounds about right :) would go for that option.

Amir Barak
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@Amir (woah that's weird)
Yes, I would if I wanted to encourage a higher conversion rate from the PS3 to the PS4. Given that trade-in of the older hardware could alleviate most of the added cost. Backwards compatibility would also mean that it'll be easier for new buyers to decide on a PS4 over a PS3 seeing as its a stronger investment. And, as we've already seen, the target audience for these machines are not going not to buy the product if it's 50 bucks more expensive...

Simon Ludgate
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If the cost to add backwards compatibility to the PS4 was less than the cost of a new PS3, I would add backwards compatibility as a SEPARATE OPTION. People who want it can pay more for it.

Considering my PS3 broke down a while back, I would TOTALLY pay $100 extra for backwards compatibility, rather than buying a PS4 and a $250 PS3.

Wylie Garvin
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@Simon:
"If the cost to add backwards compatibility to the PS4 was less than the cost of a new PS3, I would add backwards compatibility as a SEPARATE OPTION."

But the cost to add backward compatibility is extremely high, probably higher than most players realize. Completely different CPU, completely different GPU. Various special-purpose hardware registers and whatnot, all pretty different. Completely different firmware and operating system.

So adding backward compatibility (e.g. to play 360 games on the Xbox One, or PS3 games on the PS4) probably requires custom hardware AND a lot of custom software development.

Supposing it doubled the cost of your Xbox One or PS4, and also delayed its launch by 9 months, would you still be willing to buy the backward compatibility version? Alas, you'll never be faced with that choice because Microsoft and Sony both realized it wasn't worth the effort. As much as people still want to play the old games, they already own current-gen consoles that already do that. One year after they buy the next-gen console, almost all of those players will own several good games for the new one and will have stopped switching back to the old one.

I'm actually a fan of backwards compatibility and old games in general (for example, I have a hobby interest in emulation of NES and SNES) but I don't go back to play PS2 or GameCube games very often even though I have the hardware for it sitting right in my living room. But occasionally when the mood strikes me and I feel like playing through Ratchet & Clank: UYA or the original Metroid Prime or something, it only takes 5 minutes of fiddling with cables and whatnot until I'm ready to go. So while backward compat would always be nice, I can accept that its just not worth the huge difficulty and expense to MS and Sony when it wouldn't really help them sell any extra consoles. Nintendo's strategy with the Wii was to build on their GameCube hardware design--same CPU architecture, etc.--and thats why they were able to provide very good backward compatibility with GameCube games. Neither MS or Sony had that luxury, either last-gen or with this next-gen, because of the sweeping changes to their hardware architecture.

Alex Boccia
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arrogance

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Amir Barak
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Backwards compatibility is like buying a new Ferrari and expect it drive on the same roads as your old Ferrari; obviously utterly silly!

Amir Barak
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Metaphors are like backwards compatibility, sometimes they let you play old games and some times they give you a Ferrari!

Daniel Balmert
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I can see the data, but I still hurts to be excluded. As a shrewd console adopter, I'm looking for replacements, not additions. I don't want a 6th, 7th, or 8th "box" plugged in under my TV just in case I wanna play the games I bought less than 5 years ago.

I use backwards compatibility where I can, but I'm a minority, I understand. It just sucks to hear it from Microsoft, whose software I can still run nearly 20 years later (in compatibility mode). They know how to do it better than most companies, but it's not "worth the investment"

Thomas Happ
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I'm one of the 5% :'(

Michael Brodeur
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I think Microsoft using a more widely-accepted CPU architecture is a step forward.

The assembly between x86 and PowerPC is fundamentally different, hence the issue with backwards compatibility. Since MS is using a different CPU architecture, they'd have to build an emulator to run 360-based games.

If the cost of this decision is a temporary delay in being able to play 360 games (MS could patch the system's OS with a "360 emulator" package at a later date), then why not? It also makes it easier for people to write games for the console as well, since a majority of computers run x86-based CPUs, making compilation a non-issue.

I think my biggest concern about the console is what business model MS has planned for it (i.e. "always-online", etc.). That's what will determine whether or not it gets my support.

Jonathan Jennings
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That's fair but unless MS has an extremely strong group of launch titles shipping than I think it's safe to expect the xbox one to have a weak launch. if i can't play my old 360 games or xbox games all you can play at launch will be early xbox one titles and I refuse to pay $300 and wait for good games to come out before I get real use out of my games console, hence why I am still waiting to purchase a wii-U

Kevin Patterson
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This is the first generation of consoles that have so much digital content purchased for it.
it's a shame to not be able to have access to that content while on the new console.

I am one of those gamers that did use the backward compatibility on the 360, especially in the first year or two of its life. Including the CPU ala PS3's PS2 compatibility would have been good.

Nick Harris
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The lack of backwards compatibility on the Xbox One is a fault. A minor fault, but a fault nonetheless. Sony's Gaikai streaming system may not work for everyone equally optimally without lag, it all depends on a cash strapped Zaibatsu investing in infrastructure in everyone's geographical locales. I am doubtful that it will work well outside of a few carefully controlled demos: "look at me playing on Vita as I walk abou E3!"

One wonders if the 8 cores could have been used in a similar way to Apple's Rosetta dynamic binary translation software that converted PowerPC to x86 on the fly:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosetta_(software)

Don't Microsoft want to start off with a strong back catalogue?

The other mildly acceptable alternative is to ensure the early release of enhanced HD remakes of popular 360 titles, so I can switch between Forza Horizon and Halo 3 without swapping discs. Give me the ability to make my own routes to race challengers on (as in Test Drive Unlimited). Make it so the Forge can handle a full variety phased objects on all historic maps in the Halo universe and maybe allow me to build my own campaigns by specifying the patrol zones that the Covenant occupy along with relocatable objectives and intermediate cover. Much easier to set a compiler to do a port to another platform than to bring out something weird like the Xbox mini.

Nathan Weyer
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Only in tech would someone take 'we have a feature that will increase the potential market share by 5% and has significant marquee value' and say 'nah, it just isn't important'.

In pretty much any other industry, increasing sales by 5% is the type of thing you proudly put in yearly bullet points or pad your resume with. Except tech....

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

George Menhal III
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As a gamer for most of my life, I value backwards compatibility. That said, I don't place any special preference on that backward compatibility involving physical artifacts such as discs or cartridges. Those things remain important to me as a collector, but not as a gamer.

For instance, my favorite game of all time is Super Metroid, which was recently released as a Virtual Console title for Wii U. Merely having my hands on the game again for the first time in a while was just as sublime as ever, and being able to play the game on the GamePad breathes fresh life into old experiences.

As long as a company understands the needs of its install base and handles those needs accordingly, I consider them to be conducting good business.

Jakub Klitenik
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Well I won't be buying it on release. For a system that's meant to bring all the electronics in the room together from the PC to Satellite/Cable why wouldn't they want to also incorporate the previous system into it?
It's obvious that they don't realise that many people don't have the room to stack another console in their living room. Why is that so, because they are forcing every one to have Kinect. If I tried to pull off any of the moves that were shown in the reveal I'll hit the person sitting next to me in the face.
But I'm getting off point. What many people do when a new system comes out is trade in their old system. This not only makes space for the new it helps lower the cost. They may also trade in some old games. But not all of them mainly because of the amount of money it would take to replace the catalogue to a similar standard.
What will most likely happen is you'll get 2 groups of people buying the system.
Ones with the space and money to burn (I'm going to make up fake figures as well and say it's about 25% of the sales base) and the ones that will be savvy and wait a year or so, wait for all the kinks to get sorted and have a decent back catalogue to purchase from.

Bob Johnson
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BC is something everyone says they want and never use. I mean once you start playing a new game on a new console you don't want to go back and play your old games. What's the point?

At least that's what I have found.

The other fundamental problem is there just isn't enough time in the day to play the new games coming out and also bask in the glory of all your old games. There just isn't. Not to mention that nostalgia is often a cruel mistress. Let go and move on.

If you do have a few old favorites there is nothing wrong with that either. Keep your old console. But don't attempt to increase costs and limit tech for the sake of B/C for the rest of us.

To sum up: B/C is over-rated.

IF you are that in love with your old games then you already have the means to play those games. If you mostly want to play old games you aren't in the market for a new console.

John Flush
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I agree... that is why BC isn't for the existing customer, it is to steal customers to your platform by offering a huge library at release that they probably didn't have in the previous gen as they only bought one or two consoles instead of all of them.

Wylie Garvin
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I agree too. A lot of people talk about B/C as if it was some trivial thing to add, and MS/Sony just couldn't be bothered to add it. But the truth is not like that at all. _Of course_ they would add it if it were reasonably easy+cheap to do so, since it would be a great extra selling point. But they have both changed their hardware architectures radically, both last generation and again with this generation. Adding B/C would have been expensive and taken tons of time and effort.

David Konkol
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Guess I am one of the 5% as well. I did not buy an xbox 360 until I could play some of my favorite Xbox games on it and I probably will not get an Xbox One (at least for a few years) since I cannot play any of my older games on it.

Having a wife and kids and mortgage and the economy still in the toilet (no matter what the news tells us) means I need to be smarter with my gaming dollar. So why would I pay to have the bright shiny NEW thing... when the old thing works just as well?

To not have BC with so many people keeping their wallets closed doesn't seem like a smart move, but ah well, the world keeps spinning.

Jonathan Murphy
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Imagine Hollywood saying this garbage, "Good riddance Terminator 2. It's old. F it! Buy Terminator 4! You'll buy only new games and you will like it!"

Oh god the fallout. Oh right! Fallout on the 360! F that game! Who's his marketing team? Charles Manson? He wouldn't know that guy. He's too old!

Ian Fisch
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Imagine if you couldn't play your old Steam games when you get a new version of Windows. That's basically what he's saying here.

John Maurer
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Beyond backwards compatibility being a great feature, I would say that it is a strong selling point, motivating customers to purchase new product. The value of the console is augmented by a consumers previous investments, the more a person has invested in a particular brand (PlayStation, Wii, Xbox) the greater the drive to go out and get the next iteration.

To me this is yet another of many articles communicating the elitest mentality of this industries leadership, the disconnect within content makers between themselves, their consumer base, and their products, and most importantly the immaturity of this business at large.

Guess the customer just needs to deal with it, right?

Jonathan Jennings
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Exactly John my 360 library isn't the largest ever but i easily have about 50 -60 game titles and in one fell swoop microsoft says thanks for the memories lol ! It's fine but as you mention I am going to have to abandon the investments i already made and start all over with the xbox one and since launches have not been exactly strong for the past few consoles I doubt the xbox one will succeed any more ESPECIALLY if its postured as a multimedia device. then it doesn't have to wait for games because games are a small portion of the overall experience.


so as a videogame fan yeah it is a hard sell for at least the first 3 months because initially my 360 will have nearly everything the one will and my collection of 50 - 60 games on top of it .

Ozzie Smith
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I didn't use BC that often, only a few times a year, but I'm really glad that the 360 and PS3 had it. There are a few gems that you just will really want to re-visit once or twice a year for the rest of your life, you know? And personally I am much more likely to do that when I just have to put the disc in and not have to dig an old console out of a closet first. I'm actually more concerned with digital games: I feel like down the road my consoles are more likely to break than a disc will (my 360 has already broke once). How long after the Xbox One and PS4 are released will older-gen digital stores still be open? If my 360 breaks in 2016 will I be able to re-download my XBLA library on another system, or are those games lost forever?

Michael Pianta
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Lost forever, I'm sure. Which could be a problem for the XBOne's entire library. If the game discs are useless without a license and the only way to get a license is from XBox live then if they ever take the sever down the entire library of the system is suddenly locked to the machines currently on the market. It may become impossible to collect, protect or preserve the software.

Mario Kummer
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Is 5% their number from Xbox360 gamers? I used it more on PS3 then 360 but i thought that more people would use it. This will make the transition harder. I have for example already a huge backlog of games. I think I will at least finish all 360 games before switching to XboxOne just to not have 4 consoles in front of the TV.

Some people here said its something that people want but don't use. I wonder how this impacts the sales? If 80% want it and only 5% use it it might still impact the buying decision. And it will be a bullet point in console comparison.

Michael Joseph
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not being backwards compatible is one of the things that makes parents angry especially if the kid has been asking for a new xbox to replace their broken one.... the kid still wants to play it's massive collection of old games AND now it also wants the new system.

some parents will choose not to buy the new one and re-buy an old one. too many damn boxes sitting around the big screen. The 5% figure is just completely invented too. "backwards compat is backwards" is just PR jedi not the xbox you're looking for mind games.

wonder if there will ever be an emulator for 360.

Amir Sharar
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It's seems to be an argument where you have an emotional side and a rational side.

The emotional side of me sees a long 9 year generation completely gone when I disconnect the console from my TV. With limited inputs and space, there will be a time when 8 years of investments (both disc and digital) will be inaccessible. The emotional side of me longs for that convenience where I can play my XBLA and 360 titles, and move on to next gen titles seamlessly. Where I don't have to switch inputs when GTA V is released this Fall, right beside 2 brand new consoles.

Including BC could have enticed gamers to simply "migrate" from the previous generation to the next generation, with the same product line. There is little holding a 360 owner back from migrating to the PS4, for example. So I'm not saying this emotional argument isn't persuasive.

But when you begin to think rationally about this issue, it makes less and less sense. In a mere 2 years, BC will be drastically less important than it is now (and I agree, there is importance in it). BC adds to the cost of the hardware and so when we all want to see these machines push technology further and yet remain affordable, it is the first thing on any of our chopping blocks (put yourself in Sony/MS's shoes). We're dealing with products with 8 year life cycles, persisting technology that old makes little sense.

Yes, both consoles could have been designed with BC in mind (mitigating BC costs), it that still could have held these consoles back from the potential the makers see in them, the cost would still exist.

Going forward though, I think Sony and MS have realized that with digital distribution, things have to change. I think more important than Xbox One having BC, is the idea that the Xbox One will begin a chain of hardware that is inherently BC to it. Ensuring compatibility with this forward thinking will make this dream much more practical to implement, because really, that's what it boils down to, BC being at the moment, an impracticality to hardware makers.

Sony ditched Cell, and at the same time ditched BC. But it's a practical decision I'm grateful for.

Michael Joseph
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"It's seems to be an argument where you have an emotional side and a rational side."

A bit condescending.

"But when you begin to think rationally about this issue..."

There are many rational reasons to have backwards compatibility. This includes business reasons if you care about customer loyalty, customer satisfaction, delivering a better value, out competing in the market place, dispelling perception that you're in the business of making disposable products, establishing the vibes that the ONE is a committed to the goal of being a long term fixture/hub in the living room, etc.

So if you're really being rationally critical about this entire business, then putting yourself in MS or Sony's shoes has to be more than adopting their PR and any short term practical fears that lead them to do less than they could.

That said, I think much of what MS is doing with the ONE will be ubiquitous in 20 years... whether it's the xbox line or some other manufacturers devices & software (eg. steam box) remains to be seen.

Matt Coohill
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The way I see it, BC is important in 2 ways:
carrying games I paid for and cherish to a new platform,
and proving that purchases on your new platform are an investment.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...

I felt strongly in investing in XBLA titles. I enjoyed them, and there's no excuse that something like Pac-Man:Championship Edition can't be backwardly compatible.

If playing old games isn't of any interest, why does SONY spend so much time porting old games to their new platform (God of War, Ratchet & Clank, Sly Cooper, Ico/Shadow...)? Is there money to be made by saying "you have an old license, here's a copy of the game AS IT WAS... pay $X to upgrade it to the new graphical wonderness. Oh, you don't own it. Pay full price"?

I feel a compromise to the situation is to let any developer/publisher offer free BC to their titles. MS will handle the transaction of confirming that you have a legit copy and granting you a Steam-esque license for that title. No fee to either party (consumer/pub-dev). Sure, not many will do it, but it keeps the option open and puts the pressure on the publisher/developer to provide the port... not the hardware manufacturer.

David Finch
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The 5% statistic seems fishy to me. I don't personally know any gamers who don't play all kinds of games from all kinds of consoles/platforms. How would they even get this statistic? I'm playing the original Wizardry in DosBox right now, right alongside Dark Souls on PS3. I just beat a PS2 game last month (on my PS2), and the month before that a PS1 game (which I already own but had to re-buy on PSN -- thank god for digital re-releases). I also just bought a bunch of games from GOG. If Sony's tracking my usage through PSN, they're barely seeing a fraction of the older games I'm actually playing.

My gaming habits are the norm where I come from. I find it hard to believe that everyone I know (my brothers, my friends, people I meet online) just happen to be part of that 5% that plays old games, though I suppose I could have randomly stumbled into some sort of gaming elite. I might believe that only 5% of the games being played *right now* are from previous console generations, but I bet if you looked at the music people were listening to, the movies they were watching, and the books they were reading, you'd find similar statistics. The fact that older works in any medium only make up 5% of current consumption doesn't mean they're irrelevant to consumers. If 100% of consumers spend 5% of their time on old products, that's still a selling point for 100% of your customers.

I get that there's an expense involved, but somehow, miraculously, it hasn't prevented random hackers from creating every sort of emulator imaginable. (Clearly they should be hiring these people.) Is BC really technically and commercially prohibitive, or is it a convenient excuse to keep people buying new products?

Michael Joseph
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"The 5% statistic seems fishy to me."

it does reek of the type of PR that seeks to mask protectionist practices...

John Flush
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I'm baffled. BC isn't for the people that already own your console, it is for those that don't. Maybe the assumption is everyone owns one of everything these days? or maybe the thought is brand loyalty is very high, so why try?

Honestly, I never had a PS3. I have a Wii, X360 and a PC. If the PS4 had BC I would be a day one purchaser because I know I missed out on stuff with the PS3 I skipped. I want that library available to me. That was the reason the Wii was my first console during that gen. I didn't have a GC, and I wanted to play the games that were amazing that I missed.

If you are the leader for that cycle, chances are you should skip it. If not, you should find a way to put it in. Really what better way to convince the crowd that didn't buy in last gen to the next gen by saying the catalog already has 100's of games waiting for you? Don't want people to have to find used, make sure you offer them at reasonable prices digitally (note Nintendo, you are doing it wrong as the prices are not right on your services - $8 when one could buy a new game for $1 on today's other hardware. jezz.)

I understand it was a lot harder going into the next gen to do it, but what frustrates me is how dumb the industry is thinking BC is to woo your current customers. That is completely missing the boat. You might be able to make that pitch for a convenience stance, but really BC is to convince people to abandon brand loyalty and get a bigger library on the console right out of the gate.

Daniel Boy
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"5% of 360 users" surely translates to 90+% of early adopters and 0.01% of Oprah's viewers. Who is more important to MS at the moment?

Jorge Ramos
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Well, backward compatibility is the reason I bought into all three of the current generation. It's why I hunted down the CECHA PS3 I have, why I was able to easily pick up the Wii when I did, and why I was more willing to pick up a 360 instead of an Original Xbox to start up a library of said games that might not have otherwise played.

As it is with this upcoming generation, The WiiU is the only one that seems to have a logical, sensible manner to handling BC. It can play the Wii games, WiiWare and VC titles I downloaded fine. It can't do gamecube, but considering how good the original Wii is at handling (most) GameCube stuff (anything needing some of the peripherals notwithstanding), I've no reason to unplug my Wii, because believe it or not I do go back and play GameCube games on it.

Same with the PS2 and PS3... I may play current games sure, but that doesn't mean I don't want to fire up some of the classics I invested in, and certainly those games that the console makers would otherwise ignore because they didn't sell that well when they were new.

There also wouldn't be a market for those classic and retro systems at entertainment shops if people didn't want to play them anymore.

As another put it, having that backward compatibility made it very easy to become an early adopter, and helped offset a lot of the cost of going to the next generation. And it is not fun to think about what will happen if an old system dies and the manufacturer won't even take it in for service or repairs.

Space is also a premium in my home, as well as inputs on the TV. Even if I wanted to have all the consoles at all times, there are simply not enough inputs on your typical TV, not enough room for switches, and certainly not enough room for all the power strips and connectors, creating a literal rat's nest of cables behind that entertainment furniture.

Considering the hardware jump(s), no reason that Microsoft and Sony can't invest in at least a software emulator for these new platforms to handle downloaded games and DLC for people. And the laws of manufacturing refinement also dictate it can't cost them nearly as much to simply implement a hardware (and/or software) solution to provide proper compatibility. Microsoft has been doing it for years with Windows and DirectX respectively.

I can't speak for the Xbox side, but I can state that PS1 and PS2 on x86 is very much possible. PS1 emulation is just about spot on even on my fairly old PC, and while not perfect, PS2 emulation is much farther along on the same hardware as well. And considering that Microsoft is going back to an x86-based chip, there's even less reason why Original Xbox games can't work on the Xbox One.

William Barnes
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Not every gamer dumps a game as fast as they finish it. That said, some hang on to them because they feel they might go back and revisit it at a later time. Some actually continue to play the older games they found fun and entertaining. My speculation is, perhaps they found a game entertaining and fun, but not so much as to see any replay value at all OR it isn't their "style."

Hardware differences aside, emulation is a fact of life. Some manufacturers hate it (3rd party apps) and do their best to kill it when they see it.

Sony, started the PS3 off with PS2 hardware on-board with the 60GB models, they later cut costs and went to software emulation on the 80GB models. (I got the last model that had software emulation. Not perfect, but worked for the most part.) Then they cut it altogether. PC emulators exist for the PSX/PS1 that have had plenty of time to mature. PS2 emulators are still maturing, and improving. Will we see a PS3 emulator on PC? Perhaps once the hardware is better figured out. PS4 emulator on PC? More doable with a similar hardware setup/base.

XBox started as a specialized PC, running a stripped down version of Windows. They jumped ship with the 360 with RISC architecture, but still had room for emulation. With the XBox One being at its base, PC hardware again, XBox emulation should be a snap. 360 Emulation? Well that may take some time. How much? Depends on Microsoft's opinion. IF there is any 360 emulation on PC style hardware though, it looks as if it will have no choice but to be 3rd party as MS has said no to it. Obviously they have adapted what amounts to a "Give us our lost profit margin" on used games by mandating a code, but that is a different conversation.

Please note when I say PC "base" hardware on the two new consoles, I don't mean that they are identical, just the base components are shared, although configured very differently.


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