In an exclusive interview with PSU.com, U.K. developer Clever Beans has suggested that the likelihood of the PlayStation 4 being backwards-compatible with PS3 games is slim.
When questioned on the subject of backwards-compatibility on Sony’s next-generation console, Clever Bean’s directors Martin Turton and Andrew Newton said that they think “it is something that would be very difficult to achieve”, though they do go on to say that it could potentially be “handled using cloud-based streaming.”
With Sony acquiring the cloud-based streaming service Gaikai earlier this year, it’s extremely likely that it has plans to make use of the technology with the PlayStation 4, and though we still don’t know for sure exactly how it intends to implement streaming, it does look likely to be a viable solution to solve the backwards-compatibility dilemma.
With such a great range of titles available on PS3, users will certainly want to be able to play PS3 games on the next PlayStation console - and Sony will surely want to keep selling some of its triple-A titles to PS4 adopters. However, because of the radically different architecture of the new console, which is said to include the AMD x64 CPU and AMD Southern Islands GPU, a PS3 Blu-ray disc is rumoured to be unlikely to work and the option of making PS3 games available via PSN to download too expensive to emulate.
Streaming PS3 games would still be a huge task for Sony to get right; after all, the major problems with cloud-based streaming are latency and bandwidth issues, which we’ve experienced personally while gaming via streaming service OnLive. It’s an issue that Clever Beans also flags up:
“Internet bandwidth and latency across the world generally are still patchy at best, whilst the technology required for (non cloud-based) gaming is all the time becoming cheaper, more mobile and more ubiquitous. So there doesn’t seem to be a lot of point in streaming games from the cloud,” say the directors.
“It could be a good delivery mechanism for demos, which, as a lot of people have speculated, may be why Sony decided to invest in Gaikai.”
In 2009, Sony trademarked the name ‘PS Cloud’ and the filing revealed that the company was looking at “providing an online videogame that users may access through the internet". Streaming technology is still in development and there’s a long way to go before it performs competently worldwide, but PS Cloud and streaming technology definitely has potential with the PS4 for the likes of streaming music, magazines, demos and, quite possibly, the streaming of a back-catalogue of PS3 games. Of course, until Sony reveals its plans we can only speculate.