PS4 Backwards Compatibility Explained: Why Sony Ditched Offline BC and Why The Cloud is the Future

From GamesReviews:

"The big issue for the PlayStation 4 is its lack of offline backwards compatibility. It’s the most often repeated complaint, usually followed by some variation of the phrase “it’s not a deal breaker, but really Sony should have made more of an effort.” Moments later, a foil-hat equipped conspiracy theorist will explain in great detail about how this is just another way that Sony is trying to bleed money out of their fans, and then that horrible word will rear its ugly head: anti-consumerism.

"The truth is, there’s a very good reason that the PlayStation 4 doesn't have backwards compatibility. It’s not because Sony want to screw you over, although I know some of you would love for that to be true."


In response to a few more common misconceptions, we've updated this guide to contain sections on PCSX2 (and why it's not good enough for the PS4) and cloud issues.

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classic2001954d ago

Cloud is great but this play your game that is being downloading is pretty great.

Jaqen_Hghar1954d ago

a man agrees. A man will keep his PS3 until he has played the games on PS4's cloud and seen it work fine. A man enjoys going back and playing through R3, God of War saga, Infamous collection, ACiT, Uncharted Trilogy, and many more about once a year when nothing is coming out so he does not want to give up that ability unless he knows it will work fine.

reynod1954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )

"Cloud is great"

You'd really have to have Sony blinders on if you really think cloud is great.

Its been proven time and time again, cloud gaming has lot of latency issues. Its just not the same.

Guess why Onlive never took off? How will Sony pull this of any different?

Edit: Funny people were bashing cloud gaming all along, the tone changed just when Sony cracked a deal with Gaikai all of a sudden cloud gaming was the second coming. All the issues were all of a sudden fixed. The same people who now praise cloud gaming were previously bashing Gaikai and Onlive. Its hilarious how the tones change lol.

What will be even funnier when the people now praising the cloud will start gaming on it. Watch the Sony defence force run its course then.


You are giving an example of a developed country like the UK, its even possible there may be servers near your location.

From what i have read, cloud gameplay suffers from horrible lag even when played from 1 state away from the servers in the US.

Good luck with Sony cheating physics aka long distance or crappy connections.

zebramocha1954d ago

@reynod not really,John carmack has talked about the latency being a bit better that consoles.

matgrowcott1954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )


I've been praising OnLive since launch day in the UK. It was a fantastic service that failed to catch momentum, partly because of how long it took them to get games on the service.

Anybody who complains about visuals or latency has never played a cloud game.

Rather than complaining about Sony fanboys defending a useless service, why not celebrate that this technology is getting the sort of support that will push it to its very best? If there ARE issues there - and there really aren't - Sony will need to fix them.


Oh, you READ?! You read that?

I interviewed Steve Perlman, on UK launch day, at Eurogamer. He showed me real time stats of the thousands of people playing around the country, then loaded up From Dust on his iPad, which ran it like it was nothing.

I then traveled home, to the other side of the country, and it ran as perfectly - on Launch day, when the servers were stretched to capacity.

You keep reading. I'll stick with the facts, thanks.

Oschino19071954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )

@Reynod - It's far more then just Sony but I guess a blind hater is gonna just see what they want to see and ignore all the info to the contrary.

Oh and that article was from almost a year ago. Why so many assume that things won't improve by 2014 or that their internet speeds will never go up (if they aren't cheap about it) or that everyone else has their crap connection is beyond comprehension.

I guess this should be in the hands of N4G commenters and not industry leaders or the tech experts. SMH...


LOL sorry for adding more and more to this comment but it's never ending on this site. Very few forward thinking comments and tons of stuck in the here and now (or PAST) with an overly pessimistic view of how things will turn out.

decrypt1954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )


Console gamers.. don't care about latency / load times.

They already play at 200+ ping :P This is a non issue. Check COD the most played console game out there its a lag fest.

brich2331954d ago

Having to pay for your games again is not great. PCs have been backward compatible for about 20 years or more.

Its 2013 BC should be a must with these new consoles.

Have fun wasting your money on the cloud if you think its good.

nosferatuzodd1954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )

indeed but wait and see what Sony do at e3 first you'll never know what if they've included streaming games in with their new PS- world subscription
so you can stream ps1,2,3 games that would be good

rezzah1954d ago


Guess why Onlive never took off?

I have no clue.

How will Sony pull this of any different?

Was the first question a rhetorical question? Because no one can answer the second question unless they have the answer to the first.

pixelsword1954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )

I don't like cloud, I don't want to have to be online to play single player, it doesn't make sense at all because the multiplayer will be dead, virtually a non-factor, or non-existent.

People say it won't be a deal breaker, and it might not be.

I'm saying because of these Orwellian measures I'm not going to pre-order; but I will consider every option, from the Wii U, to the NextBox, to Valve's new console to going back to my PC before making my final decision.

Whatever will give me the most freedom when I play, or trade games, or do whatever I do (plus the graphics and gameplay) will win in the end.

It's actually a little sobering when I see people line up with a grin to exchange their current freedoms from this gen (less in the end than at the beginning, mind you) for something more oppressive and chastise those who see what this actually is.

(Last gen the PS3 was the frog in the pot with the cool, cool water; with just a little heat applied when Resistance 3 went DRM; and now they've just turned it up a little more, if you follow me).

PS-Analog1953d ago

Good article, people slating the service should wait until it actuallt releases. MS are working on their own cloud gaming service so there is a future for it because both major console companies are investing in it. Do you think they would be pumping money into it to fail?

NonApplicable1953d ago

A man has a choice. I chose... PlayStation

- Andrew Ryan

Joe9131953d ago

@reynod so you bash cloud gamming based off what you heard. Lol Well I know people that had a onlive account that said it worked great for him and I heard gaikai was a better service than onlive.

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Godmars2901954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )

Still have to wait and see how it works. Ignore the fact that people without online aren't going to have the basic, standard, advantages being promised.

Gaming_Guru1954d ago

They said the technology is so advanced that people will be able to play previous platform games on computers. So not using the PS4 because of no internet, a person could basically go to an online cafe or something. So anyone posting comments on here, most likely have Internet or using an Internet connection somewhere.

SlapHappyJesus1954d ago

The quality of someone's internet connection also plays a major role in this.
If Onlive is a good example of where the technology is at the moment, and I believe it is, then only those with great connections will be able to closely emulate the experience you would get if simply playing the game normally. Even then, at its best, the compression that comes with streaming will still hit the overall visual quality a bit.

RE_L_MAYER1954d ago

Thats the problem-can we even play games offline on playstation 4

Outside_ofthe_Box1954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )

So this article is basically saying what I've been saying all the time. The PS3 is just too hard to emulate and trying to do it by hardware will not only drive up the cost but could interfere with the PS4 hardware and cause heating issues and all other sorts of problems. Makes perfect sense to me.

What I didn't know was that you have to make a new PS1 emulator for each device which now that I think about it makes sense once again as the emulator has to be recreated to be compatible with that particular device.

I also didn't know that each PS2 game on the PS store has it's own personal PS2 emulator which again makes sense and explains why it took so long for games like GTA to come to the PS store because the developers where actually spending time making each game compatible with the PS3 hardware.

I'm kinda pissed off at this article though because it pretty much crushes my hopes for physical and digital BC not only for the PS4, but for systems after it.

I also don't consider Cloud/Gaikai the "solution/future" to BC as long as I will have to re-buy games that are already in my possession. BC means that the current system is backward compatible with all gaming discs from it's predecessors. Like someone brought up below, if they can somehow make it where you can insert your PS1, PS2, PS3 discs into the PS4 and the system is somehow able to detect what the particular game is and then stream the game with no additional purchase necessary then I would consider that to be a true solution.

matgrowcott1954d ago

I'm sorry I crushed your dreams, but if it helps, I'd be really surprised if the PS5 didn't play PS4 games!

You know, the more I think about it, the more I think Sony are going to push a subscription service that gives you X amount of games a month, or everything if you pay more. It might not be the perfect solution to not having access to your content immediately, but if I thought I could get everything - including all available PS1, PS2 and PS3 games and then an instant game collection of PS4 stuff - for $250 a year, I wouldn't complain too much.

Irishguy951954d ago

Yeah that feature is gonna be one of my favorites next Gen I think.

1953d ago
showtimefolks1953d ago

i am gonna keep my ps3 for a while after buying ps4. i have a ps3 that plays games from pd1-ps2 but i never did so IMO atleast BC is over rated

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nevin11954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )

I don't know. I think i remeber people saying PS2 was hard to emulate but people are reporting computer experts did it.

I won't be surprised to see PS3 games on PC.

matgrowcott1954d ago

You can emulate PS2 quite easily, but it varies from game to game. With that level of variation, Sony just can't trust the end user to play with things themselves.

On the PS3 thing though - it won't happen for a long, long time. That goes for the 360 as well.

Hicken1954d ago

PS2 emulation is essentially hit or miss. In order for it to work, there's lots of tweaking you have to do for EACH game. It's not as simple as PS1 or earlier systems.

I love the excuse that Sony removes backwards compatibility so they could make you buy your old games again. I mean, they certainly forced me to buy HD collections instead of using either of my two PS2s for Zone of the Enders, Ico, and Shadow of the Colossus. They MADE me buy all the PS1 Final Fantasies again.

Oh, wait.

PS2 emulation is far from at an acceptable level. What makes you think the PS3, which is even harder to develop for, will be emulated any time soon?

Dasteru1954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )

PCSX2 has a compatibility list of 2360 games currently and 78% of them are listed as fully playable.

I just recently played through FFXII on my 3 year old system at 1920x1080 with 32x AA and texture smothing and got a solid 60fps throughout the entire game.

No visual or audio problems and no slowdowns.
I have also recently played part of FFX, Okami,
SOTC and Dark cloud 2 all with the same settings and again solid 60fps but haven't completed them yet.

Edit: oh and btw, i haven't needed to do any tweeking between them. All are played under identical settings.

Ju1954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )

^^ PS3 is a different beast though.

I wouldn't say it's impossible to emulate, and I am almost tempted to thinker how a PS4 could achieve this - in pure SW this is.

Today's emulators do not "interpret" op-code any more, they usually translate whatever CPU you want to emulate into native code while a binary is loaded (so called JIT - just in time - compilation).

For example, PS1 and PS2 use MIPS cpus which is incompatible with the PowerPC in the PS3 (or x86). Yet, there are quite some PS1 and PS2 games available on the PS3 (yes, these PS2 classics use SW emulation on the PS3). This is fairly "easy" to do these days.

PS2 is a little bit harder because on a HW level it also uses two vector processors (VPU0 and VPU1, the later one closer to the "rasterizer" - the PS2 does not have a GPU as such, it can't do much but rasterizing graphics - the Graphics Synthesizer or GS) but it has a direct interconnect into the EE - Emotion Engine, PS2's cpu which gives us an enormous bandwidth for the time and a 2560bit DRAM bus (9GB/s texture fill rate and up to 38GB/s framebuffer bandwidth - quite an achievement. Those numbers are still high for today's standard).

Anyway, those raw numbers need to be emulated in some way; you can't just find this bandwidth somewhere or magically write some code to "emulate" it. Those games really move data with that speed. Today, GPUs are fast enough to emulate the framebuffer speed, and PCs are fast enough to emulate the RAM bandwidth. Op-code isn't a problem either, because it can be translated. And, well, those emulators probably kick in earlier and don't even emulate the GS on a "pixel level" but on a vertex level - basically do a translation of vertex data the same way they do it with op-code - and feed it into OpenGL or DirectX (which takes away the complexity to emulate the GS to the metal). That's also why they can run PS2 games in 1080p and they probably use texture filtering through the GPU to make it look nice. Sony's emulation is more a "raw" down to the metal approach, because they want to emulate more accurately.

Are you still with me? OK, now turn this up a notch.

PS3 has 7 SPUs and one PPU running at 3.2GHz! The PPU emulation is probably trivial. PowerPC JIT (Just-In-Time) compilers have existed for a while. But now, you'd need to run at least 6 SPUs, too. There is the first challenge. Those are highly vector processors. Well, sure, you could use SSE or shaders to emulate them. Shaders do not have enough branching operations do fully emulate SPUs, though, and SSE is probably not fast enough. Then there is the question, you got 6 of them. In the best case those can shuffle data at almost 200GB/s over the ringbus within the CELL.

If you look at the PS4, it could maybe dedicate one core to emulate the PPU, and 6 or so to emulate the SPUs (for games) - and because of the UMA design it could probably use some heterogeneous method (Jaguar's AVX instructions + the GPU's compute-shaders) to make this possible. So, actually the PS4 is quite a good candidate to make this thinkable because of it's hi bandwidth RAM and CPU-GPU integration.

GPUs can match SPUs internal bandwidth with a high end card (79x0/GT670+ - those are beyond the 200GB/s bandwidth or close) but GPGPUs cannot emulate all SPUs instructions because they lack some op-codes which shaders cannot emulate.

We'll see. I mean, PS2 classic games popped up int the PS3 store just in the last 1-2 years - that is 6-7 years in it's live cycle. Which tells us, Sony feels comfortable with the SW emu in the PS3 to throw more PS2 games at it. But it took them quite a while.

HardCover1953d ago

This opinion is outdated.

If you don't update your opinion on tech-related things like emulators, then don't go around saying that it's this-or-that in such a misleading fashion.

PS2 emulation has been at an "acceptable level" for a looooooong time now.

Hell, I bet you still think GTAIV is poorly optimized for PC. ROFL

Ju1953d ago (Edited 1953d ago )

Outdated, huh?

So, to let me get this straight: Emulation of a machine from 2000 which ran @ 299MHz and had 32MB of RAM in 2013 is "acceptable" fast on machines which run at 2-4GHz and have 4-8GB RAM. Hm.

If you just take these physical facts and put those into relation to a PS3 emulation on the very same machine than you will understand what challenges you have ahead of you.

Nope, not outdated. Quite reasonable, in fact.

And listen, I did not say it's impossible. But tech will improve and SW will as well...over time. But right here and now, it's not possible.

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aquamala1954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )

Gaikai is coming to PC, so yes you'll be able to play ps3 games on pc ... Someday

pixelsword1954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )

True, but what this is also saying is that you don't need a PS4 to play PS 1-3 games if you don't want a PS4; with the long list of games people probably haven't even played yet, it makes the PS4 a back-burner console for those who want to play the games they've missed this gen (what I've been doing up to the PS3's 60Gb console.

Does anyone not see this as shooting the company in the foot?

porkChop1954d ago

I get the feeling that Sony will allow PS1 and PS2 streaming on any device, but that they'll lock PS3 streaming to the PS4 and the Vita.

Lucreto1954d ago

If I can put the PS3 disc in the PS4 and some how be able to detect it then stream the game for free through Gaikai I would be happy.

If you don't have the disc you have to pay.

GribbleGrunger1954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )

We'll have to wait and see what Sony's approach to the second hand market is before we can consider that solution. It's a viable solution but only if Sony allow people who buy second hand games to benefit too. The easiest solution would be for the PS4 to scan the disc for the Trophies and then reference that list (or some of it) with the content available on Gaikai. From there it's a simple matter of streaming the game that matches the Trophies.

Of course it would be an easy matter if every PS3 games disc had an identifying code, but we've only heard that this is something for the future and as far as we know it doesn't exist at this moment.

nitrogav1954d ago

That's exactly what I've been thinking how Sony would know what games you own . I've got a cupboard full of ps3 discs and would be really happy if I could put them in ps4 to stream over gaikai .

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Th4Freak1954d ago

These are valid points but what if my internet sucks or I have a high latency? Do I have to buy a PS3 or suck a d*ck? Probably answer is yes...

puamdefokejpn1954d ago

well the answer is yes to both :) kehehehe

Just keep your ps3,.. I'll get another one way into ps4, just for my old stuff (It is probably going to be cheep as hell by then)

T9001954d ago

Are you going to buy a PS2 as well? Or have been replacing the PS2s that went bad all this time?

So now will you constantly be replacing PS2, PS3 while owning a PS4? Looks like an expensive and cumbersome(having 3 or more console plugged to the same tv) solution.

puamdefokejpn1954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )

@T900 ,.. I still have original 60gig ps3 with bc,.. I only played ps2 games few times in entire 6-7 years on it ,.. one was Shadow of Colossus and the others were ZoE2, Sly, and GOW ,.. And they all came out(remakes) on PS3,.. looked amazing and games were cheep.

Yes I agree with you in a way,.. but I sure don't want to pay 700 dollars for ps4 for BC, because them putting chips in for a total different architecture. Cheaper it is, the more people get the thing, the cheaper ps3 gets,..The more likelihood that some cheap compilations come to ps4. I don't know,.. BC would be nice, but I just want more gamers get on board as soon as possible.

Also we will see how Gaikai develops,.. you don't pay 1/4 billion dollars for it, if they don't know what they are doing.

Th4Freak1954d ago

The thing is that I dont own a PS3, I've been a PC gamer my whole life but im done with it so im looking into consoles.

I was going to buy a PS3 earlier this year because im very hyped with The Last of Us, MGS and some other games but then the PS4 rumors started and I decided to wait but this cloud gaming thing kinda ruined it for me cause my internet its quite decent however my latency is high so it probably wont work for me (hope im wrong), so im just gonna have to forget about these amazing games T_T

Larry L1954d ago


Taking into consideration those factors you stated, the conclusion you came to is to just forget about all the great games?

That's some logic. The obvious conclusion I come to with those factors is to buy a PS3.

PS3 has one of the most amazing over-all libraries of games that can't be played on any other platform in the history of consoles and there are still many more to come. And since it makes sense that PS4 not have PS3 B/C so that we don't have another $600 launch fiasco, the only logical conclusion for the smart gamer would be to get a PS3 ASAP.

There's just no reason to ever get rid of PS3, and this is the very first console I've ever felt that way once new hardware is coming, and mind you, I've been a dedicated console gamer for just about as long as there's been consoles. As far as I'm concerned PS3 is an absolutely timeless console with some timeless gaming experiences (again, with more to come), and because of it's unique architecture nothing moving forward is going to be able to emulate it's least not for a LONG until people are nostalgic for PS3 games.

Just go buy a PS3. I'm sure there's a nice price drop coming very soon as well. That will be the time to jump.

DragonKnight1954d ago

I love the argument "are you going to buy a PS2 then?"

As if it's such a huge ordeal to have multiple consoles. People forget that backwards compatibility is still relatively new and yet they think it's some kind of standard and a travesty if it doesn't exist because, *gasp* no one wants to keep their old consoles.

And those people call themselves gamers.

Th4Freak1954d ago

@Larry L You're totally right the PS3 library its totally outstanding, after taking a look at it I was like OMG! why i've been wasting my money in a PC all these years?

Anyway im moving next year and I wont be able to buy a new console in a looong time so I have to play the right cards. If the PS3 get a price drop i'll definitely buy it.

Ju1954d ago

I wouldn't hold my breath that we could see any (full) streaming games any time soon - this includes both PS4 and PS3 games. What they do with the preview etc is not the same thing. And I don't know why people think, PS3 streaming will be possible any time soon. If Sony is real about "building the fastest gaming network" they have quite a task at hand. Running PS3 games can't be the priority - they will need Cell based servers and server farms to make this possible. This costs a fortune. Won't happen anytime soon.

I'd think the PS3 will drop to $199 sooner than later and will probably be available for the next couple of years. Library is extensive and market will probably be alive for a while - besides the PS4.

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matgrowcott1954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )

The alternative to using the cloud is nothing, but it's not an either-or situation. We have Gaikai and make do or we don't have any BC at all.

I think you'll be surprised what they manage to do with poor connections though, especially when it comes to lower resolution stuff like PS1 games.


I'm going to guess you didn't read the article?


Latency isn't even an issue. You're really talking out your ass.

reynod1954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )

Nothing they can do about Latency even if the stuff is low resolution. Latency is how fast your Machine can talk to their servers, nothing they can do can speed things up if your connection is too far or crappy. The latency will always be there.

"we don't have any BC at all"

Its Console only gamers who are crying about this and its due to choices they made. Want BC then PC is the only real option out there.

puamdefokejpn1954d ago

Latency is not and issue,.. Basically from what we know,.. about shere performance and power,.. PS4 is basically durango+wiiU taped together,.. lololololo

Th4Freak1954d ago

@reynod that's not true, they can use high speed proxys to reduce the route of the packages which results in lower latency, however these services cost a lot of money.

Nitrox1954d ago

With all this talk about latency being a non-issue, no one seems to be bringing up the point that if you want to enjoy cloud gaming anywhere near lag free you basically need a wired connection (Or a top tier internet subscription and high end wireless router). I'm sure there's a lot of people, myself included, with wifi connected consoles who will still have noticeable lag regardless of server-side speed boosts.

I speak from experience that playing OnLive between my laptop and main pc is like night and day when it comes to input lag...

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Darrius Cole1954d ago

Errr...Half the people who have consoles don't connect them to the internet. I know it's hard to imagine that there are young people who don't use the internet, but they do exist.

Here is my point. THE PS4 IS STILL BEING DESIGNED. There is no way Sony didn't consider whether or not to implement BC into the PS4. Sony will implement BC with the PS3 into the PS4 if it makes dollars and sense for them to do so. This guy is talking as though all the PS4 specs are set in stone and they are not. There are lots of details that have yet to be revealed.

A LOT OF THAT WILL DEPEND ON WHAT MICROSOFT DOES WITH THE 360. If you think Sony is not prepared to change directions on this in reactions to what the MS does with the Xbox: (insert name here) then you may as well keep on smoking crack because your brain is already too far gone to come back. MS may announce that the 720 is BC with both 360 and original Xbox games. You don't think that a development like this would influence Sony's decision on BC? I do.

Bottom line is Sony may not put PS3 BC into the PS4; Microsoft may not put 360 BC into the 720. But to think that Sony didn't even play for the contingency when the chips were being designed, to the point that PS3 BC is impossible, is to not give Sony much credit at all.

wishingW3L1954d ago (Edited 1954d ago )

PS4 specs are finalized and is gonna enter production in August. But before that they have to do many reliability tests and stuff so they can't go on changing parts of the console near the end because then the testing phase will take longer and they might miss their starting production date.

Or even worse... They could pull off a M$ and release a broken console just to be on time.

cjflora1953d ago

If you have PS3 games...don't you already have a PS3? Are do you mean for those who don't have a PS3 wanting to go back and play the PS3 catalog?

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