Many have been concerned whether or not Sony and Microsoft’s next-gen consoles will be backwards compatible. It seems ever more likely that the still unannounced next Xbox and PS5 will feature backwards compatibility given how console makers have moved to more standardized internal hardware. Some developers seem to share this viewpoint.
According to Marc-André Jutras of Cradle Games, backwards compatibility is most likely going to happen. Jutras, an Activision and Ubisoft veteran, is technical director at Cradle Games, the team that is currently developing Hellpoint. In an interview with GamingBolt, he gave his thoughts on backwards compatibility.
“The PlayStation I think will do it,” he said. “I know, was it the Xbox 360 where they had a backward compatibility list with the original Xbox? They had to approve the game title by title? I think that was weird, and I hope it won’t be like that. I prefer to have an emulator that will run all the games a console has, maybe with small bugs and glitches, instead of saying I have 50 games in my library and I can only play four of them because the others aren’t approved yet.”
He preferred the approach Nintendo took with the Wii and then the Wii U, where every game from the previous console was playable right off the bat. This was largely because those consoles used a similar PowerPC architecture that made it easier to ensure proper compatibility.
The PS4 and Xbox One both use x86 computer architecture, and their follow-ups are suggested to be using that same architecture again. A report from earlier this year suggested that the PS5 will use AMD’s upcoming Zen CPU, which uses the x86 instruction set. The shared architecture will make it easier for Sony and Microsoft to ensure backwards compatiblity for their new systems.
PS5 backwards compatibility with PS4 would still be only half the battle for Sony, as fans continue to demand PS3 backwards compatibility. The problem there is that the complex Cell architecture of that console means emulation is difficult, and building hardware with the Cell processor is expensive.
Microsoft itself has been pushing for more backwards compatibility with some original Xbox games becoming playable on the Xbox One in recent years. Microsoft head Phil Spencer has said that the next Xbox consoles, codenamed “Scarlett,” will keep backwards compatibility as an important selling point. This lends more credence to the idea that the new console generation will feature backwards compatibility on a wider scale. Reports that Microsoft is building a streaming-only Xbox powered by custom AMD chips also made the rounds last week, which would make backwards compatibility easier to do.