The PlayStation 4 will probably never have backwards compatibility

2 min read


In just over two weeks, the Xbox One is getting a dash update that introduces backwards compatibility. The library of supported games is decidedly limited, with just over a hundred games getting support at launch. I’ve played a few backwards compatible games thanks to Rare replay, and I’m frankly astounded at how well it works. I’ve dabbled with emulation for years, and this software-driven solution is by far the most impressive I’ve ever seen.

For whatever reason, people are excited about the prospect of playing their old games on their new consoles and I get it, even if I personally have little interest in staying in the past. There are many clinging to the hope that the PlayStation 4 will introduce a similar system, and that we’ll soon be playing PlayStation 3 games on Sony’s newest system.

I’ve said before that it’ll never happen – the architectures are just too different, and when you get right down to it, the SPU-driven Cell CPU that powers the PlayStation 3 is technically superior to the CPU in the PS4. In a Twitter AMA, Sony Worldwide president Shuhei Yoshida has said much the same thing, shooting down hopes of backwards compatibility for good.

Asked whether it would happen, Yoshida didn’t beat around the bush; he answered with a straight and simple “no.”

In the past, he’s been a little more coy.

“PS3 is such a unique architecture, and some games made use of SPUs very well,” Yoshida said in the past. “It’s going to be super challenging to do so. I never say never, but we have no plans.”

Instead, you’ll have to make do with the myriad remakes and remasters that are gracing the new consoles. The cynical might say that’s a profit driven reason, but in truth, I just don’t believe it’s technically possible. Sure, some games might be able to work through some sort of black magic-driven emulation wrapper, but even that would require software engineering by wizards.

Last Updated: October 29, 2015

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