Xbox One lack of backward compatibility is a non-issue insists Microsoft

May 23, 2013
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Don't expect your shiny new Xbox One to care about your current stack of Xbox 360 games any time soon; Microsoft isn't convinced that backward-compatibility with gamers' existing titles is something the majority of people even care about. In fact, Microsoft interactive entertainment chief Don Mattrick told the WSJ, spending time looking at old games generally means you miss what's coming up ahead. "If you're backwards compatible, you're really backwards," he argued.

The issue of backward compatibility of next-gen consoles is something that has been hotly discussed over the past few months, as gamers try to decide whether to consider brand loyalty when they upgrade from their existing console, or indeed if they should jump ship to more casual gaming, such as on a tablet. That's led to some interesting hoop-jumping, as companies attempt to deliver retro support while still push the envelope with new technology.

Sony, for instance, opted to go with a cloud gaming system for the PlayStation 4 which runs PS3 titles on remote servers and then delivers the content via the gamer's internet connection. The same technology will also funnel PS4 games to the PS Vita, as part of Sony's attempt to more tightly integrate the ecosystem.

That's not apparently something Mattrick thinks is particularly necessary, at least based on Microsoft's research into how many people play old games on new hardware. In fact, only around 5-percent of people do that, he claims, arguing that if Microsoft spent time and effort on building it into the Xbox One, it could potentially mean compromises in other areas which would in fact have more impact on a greater number of gamers.

What Microsoft will, in fact, use the cloud for is offloading some of the Xbox One's processing. Elements like background textures can be rendered remotely on the Xbox LIVE infrastructure and then delivered over the internet to the console, leaving its own 8-core processor and AMD graphics free to focus on more obvious visual glitz.

Instead, there'll be lingering support - and new titles, some at E3 2013 - for the Xbox 360, so it might be worth reconsidering trading in your old console for an Xbox One if there are some classics in your collection you can't do without. Exactly how much of a turn-off having to build a game library from scratch will be to Xbox One buyers remains to be seen.


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