Next Generation Consoles Likely Not Compatible

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 16, 2013 - 02:08 AM |
Tagged: consoles, consolitis, pc gaming

If you really enjoy an Xbox or Playstation game, better hope your console does not die: it is likely that nothing else will play it. This news comes from a statement made by Blake Jorgensen, CFO of Electronic Arts. Clearly EA is a trusted partner of all console developers and not just an anonymous tipster.

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You mean, Devil May Stop Crying?

I tend to rant about this point quite often. For a market so devoted to the opinion that video games are art, the market certainly does not care about its preservation as art. There is always room for consumable and even disposable entertainment, but the difference with art is that it cannot be substituted with another piece of content.

There would be a difference if someone magically replaced every copy of Schindler’s List, including the vaulted masters, with The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I could safely assume that the vast majority of the audience for either film was not just browsing the Holocaust movie genre. I would expect the viewer was seeking out the one or the other for a specific reason.

This is incompatible with the console ecosystem by its design. The point of the platform is to be disposable and its content is along for the ride while it lasts. They often deliver the console for less than their parts and labor fees: research, development, and marketing costs regardless. The business model is to eliminate as many big fees as possible and then jack up the price of everything else ten bucks here and there. Over time you will not be given a bargain, over time you will give them more than they made you think you saved. They then spend this extra money keeping content exclusively under their control, not yours. Also, profits... give or take.

Again, there is always room for consumable entertainment. The consoles are designed to be very convenient, but not cheap and not suitable for timeless art. Really, the only unfortunate element is how these impairments are viewed as assets and all the while examples such as this one dance around the background largely shrugged off without being pieced together.

As for your favorite game? Who knows, maybe you will get lucky and it will be remade on some other platform for you to purchase again. You might be lucky, it might even be available on the PC.

Source: Ars Technica

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February 16, 2013 | 07:12 AM - Posted by Venus Loon (not verified)

My two and a half year old PS3 died recently, due, I believe, to poor quality components. As a result I have upgraded my PC's graphics card and registered with Steam. All the games I play from now on will be with me for as long as I choose.

I have also downloaded a PS2 emulator allowing me to play all my PS2 games again, something I haven't been able to do for 2 years despite Sony's initial promises of backward compatibility for the PS3.

The greed of console manufacturers will cost them dear in the long term.

February 17, 2013 | 01:56 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

the PS3 WAS backwards compatible... for many many many MANY years. Sony finally bailed on the tech to make the system cheaper. If you missed out, that's not Sony's fault.

If you're going to whine about something, make it your inability to foster a modicum of common sense.

February 18, 2013 | 12:34 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The PS3 was compatible for a year or two, not many years as you claim. I got one in 2007/8 I believe, and it wasn't backwards compatible

February 16, 2013 | 10:27 AM - Posted by the_grommet (not verified)

It could be that technology is just changing. Backwards compatibility is part of why the PS3 was so expensive at launch. So it would appear that they are working on non-hardware back-compat systems. In fact, if this is the route they go, they can support any previously released game on any upcoming hardware- not exactly the worst solution.

February 16, 2013 | 02:30 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

This goes back to my initial problem with OnLive: When it's gone it's gone.

You have no recourse when they decide to pull the content from the service because they go bankrupt or lose the license or whatever. Well, no option outside of Grand Theft Supercomputer.

It is impossible for a museum or someone to preserve the art, because the platform is nebulus itself. Same with these proprietary consoles, especially ones which wrap the game disks in DRM. Even if you could emulate it after the patents or even copyrights expire, it's still a felony because you needed to break the encryption.

Especially when you consider Sony -- it will only do: less than it did.

February 16, 2013 | 11:33 AM - Posted by derz

It will be curious to see how the upcoming Steam box and kickstarter-financed Ouya consoles fare against the established names. If they do well enough maybe they will force a change in attitude in the industry.

February 17, 2013 | 02:38 AM - Posted by allen (not verified)

Did anyone really think there would be backward compatibility when changing from the cell processor to x86_64? Could luck to sony emulating that 7 cell processors.

February 17, 2013 | 06:59 AM - Posted by praack

i find myself looking at my very first console- the PS3, and all of a sudden wondering- what will happen when the new one opens?

the ps3 is the centerpiece of my home theatre experience- if they shut PSN down to move to the new console- well i am back to square one again.

will i move to the ps4- highly unlikely

Gaming was nice on the ps3 but it was only one aspect of it, the blu ray, the music hook, movies etc- all of it did work. but for it to be throwaway item? not sure if i am used to that yet.

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February 18, 2013 | 04:49 PM - Posted by ezjohny

This is bad for business, there is not going to be a high volume of next generation console sales if there not compatible, I think.

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February 20, 2013 | 10:41 PM - Posted by Dres (not verified)

Backwards compatibility is a nice feature to have. Unfortunately it has a tendency to be incredibly expensive and flaky as well.

Part of the reason the PS3 was so expensive at launch was because they had basically stuffed a whole PS2 inside it. The 360 is only marginally compatible with original Xbox titles and many of them have glitches that totally wreck the gameplay.

I'd look at the move to AMD64 as a good thing for consoles. It means less headaches for cross-platform development because the architectures are the same. Because they will share a lot in common with PCs, hopefully this means PC gamers will stop getting half-assed console ports. But I won't hold my breath just yet.

Long story short, I don't think the lack of backwards compatibility will significantly hurt their sales because consoles are all about games and as long as they keep producing good, new games people will buy them.

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