One of the major questions being asked around the web that’s a real concern for people who want to buy a PlayStation 4 is, Will the PS4 be backwards compatible? The answer is no, the PlayStation 4 will not have the ability to play PS3 games, physically.
There are logical reasons why the decision was made to leave out PS4 backwards compatibility and that will be discussed later in the post. The good news is that if you have a reliable internet connection and are already acquainted with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, there is a solution that Sony is working on in order to provide the PlayStation 4 console with the ability to have backwards compatibility that might seem familiar and fair.
PlayStation 4 and Gaikai technology
Back when Sony purchased Gaikai, Sony planned on the future PS4 system to be built around the concept of providing PlayStation 4 backwards compatibility to owners in a way that was efficient and easily accessible. Gaikai itself was a cloud-streaming service that provided users the ability to play games over the internet. There were no game discs required to play the games. You just needed a reliable internet connection and you could have video games streamed to you just like you would have videos streamed to you through services like Netflix. The core concept behind streaming is the same, but the architecture and technology behind Gaikai is more complex. And since most people don’t care or want to know how the sausage is made, they just want to eat it, we won’t go into how Gaikai works. But we do have a page devoted to how PlayStation 4 backwards compatibility will work.
Gaikai was bought by Sony in 2012 and since then, Sony has made Gaikai’s technology and ideas an imperative part of the PlayStation 4 system specs. The PlayStation 4 system was built with cloud technology in mind and Sony wants to make sure that features like remote play and backwards compatibility with all PlayStation games is a possibility in the future. If Sony has the capability to stream PlayStation 3 games on the PS4 system, then why not take it a step further and provide the entire PlayStation game library to PS4 owners? That’s the plan and Sony is committed to delivering on the promises they made to their customers.
PS4 backwards compatibility a must?
So why didn’t they make the PS4 backwards compatible in the first place instead of buying Gaikai and investing in cloud streaming technology? The PlayStation 4 utilizes a very different system architecture compared to the PS3. This is easy to understand as going from one generation to the next provides the added benefit of newer and better technology. In the past, Sony has implemented backwards compatibility in their consoles but what people have to realize is that in order to have this capability, you have to provide a hardware environment that is similar to the old technology. This means added costs which makes the PlayStation 4 console more expensive. Nobody wants that. Granted, there are some who are willing to pay more for a console that has backwards compatibility, but you’d only need to take a look at the PlayStation 4 specs and capabilities to understand that most would rather pay for next-gen hardware that provides greater console technology like a better CPU, GPU and higher quality RAM. This is exactly what happened and Sony also listened to what developers wanted and implemented this into the architecture to give developers more potential to play with and gamers a much more powerful machine as compared to the competition.
Let’s not forget also that people don’t buy a PS4 to play older games. They buy a PS4 to play PlayStation 4 games. How many people do you know that are saying they are going to buy a PS4 strictly to play older games? It’s true that backwards compatibility is an excellent feature to have in a new console because it provides convenience. But it’s not at the top of the list of must-have features for the majority of people who will by the PS4 system later this year.
The larger picture for cloud gaming
So couldn’t Sony have just taken the money that they used to buy Gaikai and invest in cloud gaming and put it into PS4 backwards compatibility? Well, they did. Now if you mean the ability to actually take PS3 discs and play them on the PS4 then you aren’t really seeing the big picture. For people who don’t have the ability to have internet access or don’t have internet access that is reliable, I can understand their concerns. But Sony is working on a long-term plan that could not only provide gamers with the ability to have the entire PlayStation 1, 2, and 3 library streamed to them, but this could also be a starting point for a PlayStation 5 system that is completely cloud based. This is forward-thinking on Sony’s part and you have to remember, people who don’t have any internet connection or a reliable one now doesn’t mean they won’t have one 4, 6, 8 years from now. The PlayStation 4 is a system that is built for longevity and Sony systems have 10 year life cycle support. Do you honestly think that the streaming service won’t progress over the next 10 years of the PlayStation 4’s life cycle? Do you think that you won’t have a reliable internet connection 10 years from now? Sony is betting that you will and that’s the future they are setting the stage for.