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Sony: No PS4 backwards compatibility is “nice” point of difference


Sony PS4

Earlier this week Microsoft announced it would be bringing backwards compatibility to the Xbox One, but Sony won’t be following suit with the PlayStation 4.

The feature, which allows gamers to play titles from the previous generation console on current-gen systems, simply isn’t a priority for the Japan-based electronics giant.

Speaking to MCV UK about Microsoft’s announcement, PlayStation Europe boss Jim Ryan said: “It was quite a complicated announcement and I’m not sure I fully understand it yet. And I suspect there might be a few twists in that particular tale. But we will see.”

He continued: “It is an entirely legitimate approach, and if you are seeking to upgrade 360 owners to Xbox One, it is a very logical approach to take.”

According to Ryan, Sony decided not to include the feature as it wanted to focus on other software improvements for the PlayStation 4 platform.

Backwards compatibility is a clear point of differentiation, which is good for consumers. To the extent that you are investing in software technology – which is what this is, it’s delivered through software not through hardware – we are trying to commit our resources and put our emphasis on delivering on the promises we made right at the start of this whole PS4 thing, to be the forward-looking, socially-connected console.”

The PlayStation lead described has Sony is “placing [its] bets” on “SharePlay, on things like Play as you Download, and things like Suspend/Resume.”

Ryan claims that backwards compatibility is a clear point of differentiation, which is good for consumers as it improves choice.

“We are just taking two different approaches. Unfortunately, there are just not sufficient software engineers in the world for everyone to do everything. Each platform holder has to make their choices, we made one and they made another,” he explained.

Ryan added: “Their choice is entirely legitimate, and our choice is legitimate, too. In some ways it is quite nice to have points of difference between the two platforms, and people will decide which approach suits them best.”

Related: PS4 vs Xbox One

Backwards compatibility has long been requested as a feature for both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One.

Ryan, however, believes that although gamers are vocal about wanting the feature, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be used enough to warrant development efforts.

“We have experience of backwards compatibility. The earliest PS3 model was backwards compatible with PS2, and it is a much requested feature... but actually it’s not so greatly used,” he revealed.

The Sony boss concluded: “On balance, we are happy with our approach and we don’t wish to be defensive about it at all. As I say, both approaches are legitimate.”

If you’re still struggling to choose between the PS4 and the Xbox One, our video review might be able to help:


June 17, 2015, 12:38 pm

The only backwards compatibility they have offered was when the PS3 actually included the chips for the PS2. As a 360 and XO owner, I am really happy that some games I never got chance to finish can eventually (publisher dependent) be transferred to play on my XO. I for one, am happy they made the effort.


June 17, 2015, 12:40 pm

I think it's a smart move from Microsoft.. For me it's not just about been able to play your old games, but been able to play games with friends who are still on the 360. eg. Our young lad loves playing minecraft and he used to play with his friends online, unfortunately since upgrading to the One he's now not able too,. Of course I could have the 360 and the One both plugged in, but I have enough cables as it is.


June 17, 2015, 12:59 pm

Its a very smart move by MS and it will certainly bring some much needed user love that they lost with the whole Kinect saga and the fact its constantly being beaten by the PS4 with regards to picture quality.

For me this, the Windows 10 streaming support and the fact its being positioned as a media center (which is something I would like to set up at home) means the Xbox is now a better option for me than the PS4


June 17, 2015, 1:18 pm

thats not true sony removed the chip and used software emulation on the uk release.i think only usa had the hardware chip.

Stephen Middlehurst

June 17, 2015, 1:19 pm

A wee bit disingenuous this, Sony have plenty of software engineers but chose to use them for developing streaming tech. That certainly makes sense from a business point of view - £4.99 for two dats, £9.99 for 30 of access to a single PS3 title for example - but isn't necessarily the best option for the customer. Then again this is the same platform that refused to allow EA Access on the grounds that it wasn't "good value" (despite, oh say, the aforementioned PS Now prices being far worse) so maybe we shouldn't be surprised.

Frankly I think MS has been very smart here. The 360 library has a slew of great titles available, some of them exclusive. While BC certainly benefits existing 360 owners it's got to be tempting to those who have never owned that console too, especially as it means getting those titles at 'old game prices' rather than paying for a shiny remaster. Looking at what's been said I suspect they've borrowed some App-V tech for this, certainly sounds very much like every game is getting wrapped up with a virtual 360 and delivered as a package. Would also explain how they can keep multiplayer, the original guides etc in place. It'd certainly make sense and if it works getting games on the service should be fairly straightforward.


June 17, 2015, 2:35 pm

Although I stuck with the Playstation from 1 to 3, this announcement from MS makes the XBox a much better proposition for me, because there will be many 360 Games at knockdown prices. No exclusive game on the PS4 has come close to enticing me.


June 17, 2015, 3:19 pm

I stand corrected, regardless I think the effort probably wasn't worth last time round as the difference in graphical quality was significant between those 2 generations, whereas at present its not that different.

Alex Mason

June 17, 2015, 3:51 pm

Great move by MS. But one has to suspect that making old XBOX/XBOX360 games work on XBOne is a damn sight easier than getting PS2/PS3 games to emulate on a x86 processor. Microsoft's machines have never been particularly far away from their PC counterparts when it comes to hardware architecture. Xbox was a Pentium 3 + a GeForce 3 level GPU in a fancy box. Xbox360 used IBM PowerPC processors and a custom GPU.

Sony have had custom silicon from the PS1 to the PS3 and each machine seems to have been wildly different in architecture. That game plan has stuffed them in this respect. The Cell processor in the PS3 was hard enough to code for on its own, trying to get it emulated on a x86 processor with decent performance is probably many times harder than it sounds! I suspect trying to stream games from dedicated servers is easier than getting the PS4 to emulate older hardware.

I mean you need a fairly stout PC with dedicated graphics to run PS2 emulation and even then its not faultless and some games don't work at all.

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