Sony Confirms There Will Never Be True PS4 Backwards Compatibility

By James O Malley on at

Microsoft surprised gamers on Monday by announcing plans to make the Xbox One backwards compatible with "hundreds" of Xbox 360 games. The company has built a full 360 emulator for the Xbox One, which brilliantly still lets players use Xbox Live functionality to play 360 games online, as well as use some new Xbox One functionality, including the game recording function that Microsoft calls Game DVR. Brilliant, right?

So PlayStation fans can perhaps be forgiven for asking "Hey Sony, what about us?"

Unfortunately, it isn't good news as Playstation Europe boss Jim Ryan has confirmed to MCV that Sony won't be building similar functionality to make the PS4 play PS3 games, saying that:

We are just taking a different path. 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. We are placing our bets on things like SharePlay, on things like Play as you Download, and things like Suspend/Resume.

According to Ryan, though backwards compatibility is an often requested feature, it isn't used all that much. That is seemingly evidenced by the first PS3 model having built in support for PS2 games, which was apparently seldom used by fans.

In an amusingly defensive piece of anodyne corporate speak, he contrasted the difference between the Sony and Microsoft decisions:

We are just taking two different approaches. Unfortunately there are just not sufficient enough 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. Their choice is entirely legitimate, and I think 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.

...before sheepishly adding "we don’t wish to be defensive about it at all".

The good news for PlayStation gamers who want to play some older titles, at some point this year we'll hopefully finally see the launch of PlayStation Now, a game-streaming service that works a bit like Netflix: you pay a subscription fee to Sony and you'll be able to play from a selection of tonnes of PS3 games. Though if you've already got them on disc and want to play them from there, tough luck. [MCV]