The PS4 won’t play PS3 games, period. This was the only downer from yesterday’s PlayStation Meeting. But all hope isn’t lost – the PS4 will be able to play old games through Gaikai. Problem solved, right? Wrong, here’s why cloud gaming is no match for true backwards compatibility.
The PS4 won’t support Gaikai out of the gate. It sounds like they aren’t even 100% sure about their streaming plans. They didn’t make any real commitments. This will allow them to backpedal if things don’t go as planned. But even if they do implement the feature – the game selection will be limited.
Sure, first party PS3 games will work, but what about third-party ones? Sony will have to work with publishers and some of them won’t allow their games on the service. This puts Gaikai at a major disadvantage already. Only a fraction of PS1, PS2, and PS3 games will be available. Some seem to think that every PS3 game will work on the service. This isn’t going to happen, trust me.
Then there’s the matter of cost. How much will something like this cost? Will it be included in PlayStation Plus or a separate fee? Even if it’s free – this has the potential to make your Internet bill go through the roof. But even if you have unlimited everything – how will these games perform? Lag and poor image quality are two potential problems. Also how will DLC and game saves work? See, there are already too many unknowns.
None of this would be a problem if the PS4 could play PS3 games. Just pop the disc in and start playing. No fuss, no extra fees, no waiting for your favorite game to get cloud support — now that’s simple.
You may say, “If you want to play PS3 games keep your PS3!” But what if you have limited space? I already have the Wii U and I’m going to buy the Next Xbox, I don’t want to keep my PS3 (or Xbox 360) plugged in. The same will be true for most gamers. They’ll just stick with the PS3 for a few more years or get rid of it when the PS4 comes out. It’s all or nothing baby.
This puts upcoming PS3 games in a weird spot. Will gamers buy The Last of Us for the PS3 or wait for the inevitable PS4 version? It would be a no brainer if it worked on the PS4, but since it doesn’t we’ll have to make a tough choice. Buy now or go for a wait and see approach?
I love new hardware. So the lack of backwards compatibility isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s still disappointing. It also gives Microsoft a potential advantage. If they nail BC the Next Xbox will be the console of choice for gamers who have a hard time saying goodbye.