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Xbox One: “If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards,” says Mattrick

Wednesday, 22 May 2013 19:57 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Xbox One won’t be backwards compatible, and it’s not like anyone was expecting it to be, really; however, according to Microsoft’s Don Mattrick, such thinking is “backwards” anyway.

Speaking with the Wall Street Journal, Mattrick said only a “small percentage” of customers play older games, therefore, being backwards compatible isn’t fiscally prudent.

“We created something that understands how to be performant for all scenarios and all combinations,” says Mattrick. “If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards.”

Sony tried it when PS3 was first released, before eventually removing the hardware chips and culling software emulation with the 40 and 80GB re-releases, the 160GB, and the 2009 slim version. However, before then, the system was backwards compatible with PS2 games.

Compatibility was removed once more developers created games for PS3, and market stauration reached 80-90% by it’s third year on the market. PlayStation 2 even supported PSone titles, and Xbox 360 supported select original Xbox titles.

Most companies – Nintendo and Sony – have switched over to the digital market where gamers can purchase older titles revamped for current-gen consoles.

Now, with next-gen on the horizon, the digital versions of older games purchased won’t work on the newer consoles, which means in order to play them, the consumer will have to hang on to their older consoles. Because progress.

Thanks, Gamasutra.

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56 Comments

  1. AHA-Lambda

    I sense a presence I haven’t felt in…

    Is that you Sony circa 2006?

    #1 2 years ago
  2. ps3fanboy

    the only ones that are backwards here are mickey$oft and their xbone.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Erthazus

    Says a guy who works at Microsoft that makes WINDOWS products that are always backwards compatible.

    Jesus Christ. That shit is pretty shit.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. G1GAHURTZ

    I agree.

    I know people like playing old games on new consoles (for some reason), but I’m not one of them.

    If you have the games, play them on the old console, just like you used to.

    Problemo solved.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Bomba Luigi

    The PS360 had shit load of Digital Content like no other Generation before, so I thought BC would be more Important. Well, I guess I’m old Fashioned, but in the Age of Digital Content I would expect Digital Content can be moved. So at least the Arcade Stuff. But they all just don’t care, so I will leave PS3 and Xbox360 where they are. That means no Space down there under my TV for something new.

    Just no Space. So the New Ones have to be more Interesting then the old ones, and they are not.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. YoungZer0

    “We literally have nothing interesting to offer. Move along.”

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Rocketbilly

    PS2
    Wii
    GBA
    DS
    PC

    The best selling game systems of all-time* have one thing in common…

    Backwards compatibility.

    *Except the PS1, for obvious reasons.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Bloodyghost

    Im lost. Say if I like this Xbox One and I never wanted the 360 or could afford it and stayed with a PS3. Now when I get a One this early in the game with the release of new games for new gens but new games for current then I am alienated because they couldn’t add a simple feature?!

    Dumb. Assaulting to the brain.

    At this point in the game you NEED backwards Compatibility to give buyer assurance that there “something better” can do things the other could and more.

    Its really a needed feature and I’m lost at this idiotic statement.

    Oh well, when Sony (if they do) adds PS1-3 compatibility then things will start to mold shape a different way.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Cort

    It’s one thing defending the absence of BC – indeed many of us gamers think it is a sensible thing to do. But it is quite another thing to insult many of your loyal, product-buying and fee-paying customers by calling them backward.

    A wonderful example of corporate arrogance.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. monkeygourmet

    Okay…

    Give me one good reason why I can’t play: Trails HD, Fez, castle Crashers etc… On the Xbox ONE?

    The whole fucking point of TEH CLOUD was that purchases like these should transfer between products. Jesus, even Apple has this right.

    As @Bomba said, this gen is like no other, there is a huuuuuuge amount of digital content out there that sould be transferable. This goes for PS4 too..

    It’s a real cheap shot IMO. I always break out the XBLA games when I have friends over, this is a pain in the ass.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Beta

    @1 Exactly what I was about to comment. Eerily reminiscent of Sony’s arrogance before their PR disaster.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. dizzygear

    I’ll stick with my infinite backwards compatible PC than. Hell, unreal tournament 99 never looked this good this with all the graphical enhancements my modern GPU can provide.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. CycloneFox

    As #8 said, BC is the best way, to assure early adopters, that their product is the best-possible one. It’s ok for the Wii or the PS3 to remove BC after some years, when there is enough software base whatsoever. But when I buy a new system with only ~10 games, of which only 3, maybe 4 look appealing to me yet, I absolutely need the possibility to at least play the last gen on it too.

    Edit: And as #12 said, old games can look even better on newer hardware. I would love to play Xenoblade on a Wii U, if I didn’t live in the PAL area. <.<

    #13 2 years ago
  14. dizzygear

    @10 Even more insulting is that quite a few XBLA titles also have windows versions and thus already run on x86. You cant tell me they are unable to universal binaries for those like Apple did with the PPC to x86 transition.

    Instead they will prolly try to resell you those titles under the guise of ENHANCED FOR XBOXWAN.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. polygem

    …i…cannot….believe…arrogance

    #15 2 years ago
  16. The_Red

    Dude, you can remove BC if you want. That’s ok but why do you have to say this? Why being salty about that? WHY!?

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Phoenixblight

    They’re really digging their finger in that wound aren’t they? :P

    #17 2 years ago
  18. reask

    In all fairness bc is not that big a deal really imo.
    Chances are the games will be downloadable in a year or less.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. laughing-gravy

    He’s not doing himself any favours is he?

    #19 2 years ago
  20. fihar

    This could only work when they have absolute faith that new content will flood the consoles during the launch period.
    If not, then you’re left with an overpriced and an overqualified set-top box.

    Hope you know what you’re doing Don.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. mkotechno

    Microsoft is the new Sony of 2005, arrogant as hell.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. fearmonkey

    Yet Xbox’s Halo 2 was the most popular game on 360 multiplayer wise after launch, and was played heavily till Halo 3.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. hitnrun

    @18: Yeah, but then you have to pay for them again, even though you own them.

    And meanwhile, you can only play your games for as long as you’re willing to have another piece of furniture and bundle of related accessories under your TV. “More clunky stuff:” not exactly forward.

    @22: To put a finer point on it, the 360 would have been a catastrophe without backward compatibility. I certainly wouldn’t have bought it – and I didn’t even own the first Xbox.

    In fact, the Sony “company barely stayed solvent through years-long fiasco” PS3 is the closest thing to a successful system, if you want to call it that, that didn’t have BWC (not counting the cartridge days).

    In closing, MS’s contempt for its customers is mind boggling, especially since they’re not 24 hours removed from a PR disaster that you think would have emails in all caps about messaging flying through the company.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. monkeygourmet

    @14

    Exactly, the could at least port the stuff that’s out on PC and let us re download…

    It’s actually made me stop wanting to buy games for XBLA on the 360, it feels like a dead system now and if the press the switch, all my digital shit disappears…

    It’s so ironic that I have games like ‘Radient Silvergun & Rez’ on XBLA to try and preserve some of the gaming past… Now that fucking machines obsolete too!!? ;)

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Cobra951

    @4: Problema resuelto. :D Spanish literacy aside, I agree. I don’t understand why people expect games from older systems to migrate painlessly to new ones. BC is a nice bonus when it happens, but I’ve never expected it. If I have to keep an older system connected to play my favorite games, that’s what I’ll do. Only buy TVs with a generous selection of inputs and input formats, and you’re golden.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Joe Musashi

    @10 “The whole fucking point of TEH CLOUD was that purchases like these should transfer between products”

    Says who? Certainly not by anybody in control of running and funding cloud services.

    Also: buying digitally is a method of acquisition. It is not a platform in and of itself.

    When you buy something via an online store you acquire it digitally. That has ZERO bearing on the platforms your acquisition is intended to run on. When you buy it in the digital store it says quite clearly what platform it will run on. You appear to have somehow decided it should run on platforms that were never mentioned.

    Barking on about how acquiring something digitally should mean it should effectively be platform agnostic is massively flawed thinking. If you or anyone has those expectations then you will always be disappointed.

    JM

    #26 2 years ago
  27. zinc

    ^ Fuck off Joe, some of us are enjoying the schadenfreude!

    :-P

    *Cheers YoungZeron

    :)

    #27 2 years ago
  28. rockman29

    Microsoft’s own Windows platform disputes this…

    #28 2 years ago
  29. DogmanSP

    Caring for the loyal customers who bought our previous products?

    That’s for suckers!

    #29 2 years ago
  30. YoungZer0

    @27: That’s Schadenfreude. No “n”.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. dizzygear

    @26 “Barking on about how acquiring something digitally should mean it should effectively be platform agnostic is massively flawed thinking.”

    Valve must a really flawed company for creating Steam Play than. If a game has a Windows/Mac/Linux version you only have to buy it once on STEAM and it will run on any of those platforms regardless of what platform you bought the game on.

    Sure MS has every right to pull this but it wont win many people over for their new machine. Certainly not with this attitude.

    #31 2 years ago
  32. monkeygourmet

    @26

    Sorry if I’m just used to that working on Apple products, Android, Steam etc…

    How many other Cloud services are out there that don’t offer at least some sharing of media?

    The logical Cloud Computing diagram is one of ‘sharing’ information over many devices. I’m not saying I’m surprised by this but it’s a stupid and greedy move by MS when this feature is available on so many other devices.

    All your arguments stem from that kind of ‘they don’t owe you anything’ mentality… Of course they don’t, but they can easily gain goodwill by offering fair sharing and media across platforms you already own. If not, I have a choice to jump ship.

    I don’t know why you seem to enjoy telling people companies are allowed to shaft them?

    @31

    We were writing the same thing at the same time! ;)

    #32 2 years ago
  33. Clupula

    This reminds me of the bullshit said by Phil Harrison when the PS3 didn’t have rumble. Remember when he called it a last-gen technology? Then they got it, he looked stupid, and eventually he left Sony.

    I wonder whatever happened to that guy…

    #33 2 years ago
  34. Therecanbonly1

    @26

    Something else to keep in mind… When you shifted to XBOX 360 on Live; you were forced to switch your accout from the old XBOX to the 360. Esentially; unless they allow you to have both systems hooked up to the live account this time, you will not be able to link to the arcade. I have not downloaded THAT many games; but I do have a ton of points out there…so, If I use up my points to buy games, potenetially, I will be downloading stuff that I am BUYING and therefore OWN (I am not renting these) that I will have issues using even if I keep my old system. I could be wrong about this; but anytime my wireless has gone down; I have had trouble playing the downloaded games. So saying something like

    “When you buy it in the digital store it says quite clearly what platform it will run on.”

    I agree with; however if Microsoft does what they have done in the past; I will likely not have that option.

    #34 2 years ago
  35. monkeygourmet

    @33

    Lol, so true! :)

    #35 2 years ago
  36. Clupula

    How long before Microsoft attempts to take Japan by hiring Ken Kutaragi and appointing him VP of their Japanese divison?

    #36 2 years ago
  37. drewbles82

    I was hoping for backwards comp. Not all gamers play a game, complete it and sell it back to fund new games. I for like to go back to my old games, get those extra achievements i didnt get before or simply because I’m an adult and cant possibly play as much as the kids do who get through so many games in a week.
    I got a list of like 20 games i havent yet bought because im still finishing others off, which does help as they will be cheaper now.
    What happens if in 5years i still want to play my 360 games, but for some reason the console dont work and there are no new ones, just second hand.
    I have a collection of over 50 games as well, I’m not gonna get a new console til i stop playing those, i dont have the space for that huge box and the 360.
    Dont forget we still got games to come out yet, like GTA5, which is bound to be huge, we will still have our 360s out for some time to come.
    As for XBLA are you serious, I have so many games on that and I like to play a disc based game, then relax with something fun if it be Trials, rockband blitz, splosion man before i turn off.
    Oh and one of your biggest games played on live MINECRAFT, thats something people will be playing for years, if you allow people to play these on the new box, people will sell their 360, port everything over and buy the new box.
    I’m no rocket scientist but with this being the longest ever console gen, backwards comp is pretty damn important for sales

    #37 2 years ago
  38. salarta

    Microsoft is fucking up in all the right places, and it’s a hilarious train wreck to watch.

    #38 2 years ago
  39. Old MacDonald

    I kinda knew this, which is why I essentially stopped buying downloadable console titles. Disc based games will at least work as long as the actual consoles work, but how long until MS cut support for their “old” Xbox Live so you can no longer redownload?

    #39 2 years ago
  40. Joe Musashi

    “… sharing of media…”

    Sharing of media is very different from exchanging software licences or having very specialised code run on a platform other than the one it was specifically written for. Even then, media sharing is usually only permitted if you own the rights to the media you plan on sharing – that would exclude games. I think you’re mixing up terms, possibly deliberately. That’s not a good idea.

    @31 & 32 Exceptions that run on open platform architecture that stays the same over successive iterations should not be treated as the rule. Or, at the very least, you shouldn’t assume every platform, vendor and entity behave in the same way or have an obligation to – which is precisely what you’re doing.

    And, even overlooking that significant detail – it also does not change the fact that acquiring something digitally does NOT affect the platforms it will run on. They are two very separate and distinct things. Keep treating them as the same and your view will always be flawed.

    Seeing only the aspects you want to see at the expense of the full picture doesn’t make your bleating any less misguided. It merely suggests you want what you want regardless of the realities of the situation or considering all of what’s involved or that you might be comparing apples to oranges. Nobody promised you anything and nobody owes you anything. The terms of your digital purchases are very clear (if you ever bother to read them – and if you don’t agree to them then don’t proceed with the purchase).

    You made an assumption. A wrong one.

    #39 gets it.

    JM

    #40 2 years ago
  41. salarta

    @39: That’s been my worry throughout this whole downloadable titles craze, and why I prefer to buy games as physical copies most of the time. If the company providing the servers to reach these downloads goes under, or if they simply cut off service, most of these games will never see the light of day again. It’s like if the advent of DVDs meant every single VHS tape in the world would be instantly destroyed within 10 years, with no way to copy those VHS tapes over to DVD, and it’s tough shit if what you want to be able to watch again wasn’t popular enough to be re-released on DVD by the people that originally published those VHS tapes. We’re losing part of the culture of video games because of this system.

    Good example, if the Shadow Hearts games were download only, I wouldn’t be able to tell someone to try the game once servers that make it available are taken down. But because they’re on disc, I can get a PS2 or a compatible PS3 and play them, or even use software to rip the rom (though I’m sure this is illegal) from the disc if I can’t get the proper hardware.

    #41 2 years ago
  42. Cobra951

    @34: While I’m very disappointed about the XBO, I have to point out that you should not be having any problems with you XBLA games offline. XBLIG is another story. For those, you must be online, which is why I don’t buy them.

    If you can’t play your digital purchases (other than XBLIG) offline, then you need to transfer your licenses to the console you’re currently using. Hit up Google for details. (Searching for “Xbox 360 transfer licenses” will work nicely.)

    They’re not going to shut off your access to 360 digital games if you get an XBO. Not only would that generate a torrent of Microsoft hate, but it would more importantly hurt their bottom line. Not gonna happen.

    #42 2 years ago
  43. Old MacDonald

    40: Architecture is irrelevant. I don’t care what reasons are behind this. I don’t care how hard it is to make backwards compatibility work. Just like I don’t care how hard it is to make my TV work or how hard it was to make my car. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I would like my next console to be backwards compatible, because backwards compatibility is a good, valuable feature that I enjoy.

    It isn’t something that I demand, of course. It’s just about what I would prefer, as a potential customer. The problem is that, for me, the new Xbox does very few things the way I would prefer. The lack of backwards compatibility is just a single piece of the full picture.

    #43 2 years ago
  44. dizzygear

    @40 When Apple moved from the 68k architecture to PPC there were so called FAT binary applications that contained instructions for both architectures allowing them to run natively on both 68k and PPC.

    Apple did the same later with the transition from PPC to x86 with the so called Universal binary applications.

    MS should be more than capable go the same route given that fat binaries have around for decades.

    #44 2 years ago
  45. monkeygourmet

    @40

    You might have well said, read the small print instead of that long winded reply analysing people’s opinions regarding their reaction to this scenario.

    Are you the # deal with it guy?

    That would actually explain a lot.

    #45 2 years ago
  46. manamana

    @dizzy +1

    #46 2 years ago
  47. zinc

    In all fairness lack of BC will bite with the PS4.

    Got a few goodies off psn+, how long will Sony keep that running for the PS3 ?

    #47 2 years ago
  48. reask

    Ah cmon guys you play a game and if its really good you plat it then its over.
    Lets be real here I mean I never finished moh euro assult but never bought it on psn.

    #48 2 years ago
  49. monkeygourmet

    @48

    Multiplayer games like minecraft / Trails? XBLA and PSN are great for multiplayer games featuring 4 players on one console.

    #49 2 years ago
  50. Joe Musashi

    @45 Sorry, I’m not as blunt, dismissive or rude as some people and where such obvious blunders in understanding are made a terse “read the small print” doesn’t suffice. Though it might certainly help if people did.

    I’ve noticed that you’re not averse to making multiple lengthy comments, often consecutively, in countless articles and topics on this site yourself. It’s a little rich for you, of all people, to take others to task over such behaviour.

    JM

    #50 2 years ago
  51. SplatteredHouse

    Pay attention, @47! :) Gaikai could be the answer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiNGZMx2vhY&list=PLol_ykYs3OQ65y4avMdbMk_k96z3lMt6W&feature=player_detailpage#t=1895s (c&p link once logged in, since stream age-gated)

    #51 2 years ago
  52. Joe_Gamer

    Yeah, backwards compatibility is silly, of course I can still play dos games from the 80′s on my PC and I spend thousands of dollars a year on hardware and software for that PC so maybe there’s something to this backwards compatibility thing, something about long tail sales and making money for decades instead of just obsessing over a three month launch window? Meh, what do I know.

    #52 2 years ago
  53. stalepie

    Who would ever want to listen to music more than five years old, read a novel equally as old, or watch a movie that wasn’t released last year? Everyone, that’s who.

    #53 2 years ago
  54. Joe Musashi

    Whilst I don’t share Mattrick’s particular philosophy on BC, #53 is referring to things that don’t require anything in the context of “compatibility” at all. It’s not as simple as ‘oh, this is old so nobody will want it’.

    JM

    #54 2 years ago
  55. silkvg247

    So long as such idiotic decisions continue to be made, the PC will continue to be the choice for the gaming master race. ;)

    #55 2 years ago
  56. MCTJim

    I am pleased that they are moving forward with no backwards compatibility. I will have it right next to my other systems.

    #56 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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