There’s no doubt that the PlayStation 4 is exciting for all sorts of reasons, but the next generation system’s lack of backward compatibility remains one of its biggest blemishes. While the manufacturer has promised to explore other methods of legacy support through Gaikai, the fact remains that your entire PlayStation 3 catalogue may never be supported by the impending machine. This, according to system architect Mark Cerny, was a subject that the entire company agonised over.
Chatting with Japanese publication AV Watch [via NeoGAF], Cerny explained that he spent an entire Thanksgiving weekend trying to solve the problem of backward compatibility. In the end, he decided that switching to the more developer-friendly X86 architecture would result in more advantages for the console than legacy support.
“We struggled with this point,” he said. “We decided to focus on the ‘positive aspects’ of switching to X86. If a different architecture had been selected, it probably would have been even more problematic. The X86 architecture is well known and development is relatively easy.”
Sony’s Masayasu Ito added that while backward compatibility is undoubtedly important, it would have required the company to include the PS3’s cumbersome CELL chip inside the next generation console, which could have led to manufacturing headaches down the line. “We can freely manufacture CELL if the decision is made that it’s needed,” he explained. “However, that’s not the case with supporting hardware. There are parts that will become difficult to obtain.”
Ito added that the company thought “long and hard” about the decision to not include backward compatibility, but ultimately opted to make a clean break. “Using this opportunity, we decided to stop going down this path, and, as Mark said, to focus our efforts on simplifying developer efforts,” he concluded. The advantages of such an approach are plentiful, as we observed in a recent feature on the site.
Are you happy to substitute backward compatibility for better performing games, or do you wish that Sony had found a means to support PS3 titles on the PS4? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.