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Backward compatability is 'backwards' strategy, says Microsoft

by Steve Watts, shacknews.com, May 22, 2013 1:00PM PDT

Given that the PlayStation 4 won't run PlayStation 3 games natively, and the Xbox 360's rocky history with emulating Xbox games, it didn't come as much surprise that the Xbox One isn't backward compatible. You'll have to keep your 360 hooked up to play the last eight years of games. Don Mattrick, president of the interactive entertainment division at Microsoft, says the demand for the feature just isn't there.

Mattrick told the The Wall Street Journal that only about 5% of customers play older games on their new system, which makes the feature too costly and time-intensive to be worth it. This led him to coin the confounding turn of phrase, "If you're backwards compatible, you're really backwards."

The transition to new architecture does make it difficult to offer the functionality. A social media research firm said a survey of potential customers showed only 12% said they would be unhappy if it didn't have backward compatibility. That makes the decision somewhat understandable, but yesterday's presentation was followed quickly by some skepticism and mixed messages from Microsoft, so it might behoove executives to be careful with their statements.