The new Xbox One won’t, like the PlayStation 4, play its predecessor’s games off the bat. And whilst Sony are apparently working with Gaikai on some kind of streaming middle ground, Microsoft are flat out refusing to dabble in getting Xbox 360 games to run on its next-gen console.
Why? Well Microsoft’s Don Mattrick has today explained that he doesn’t see backwards compatibility as a big deal.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, he said that only 5% of customers questionned play older games on a new console, and so didn’t see much point in spending time and money to develop the technology to make it happen.
“If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards,” he said, in a quote that’s set to resonate around the internet tonight.
According to research surveys carried out by Fizziology, 12% of potential customers said they’d be “unhappy if there wasn’t backwards compatibility” – obviously the survey was carried out before last night’s big reveal.
That’s a bit of a shocking quote from Mattrick but it’s related to an interesting point: If only 5% of your fan base cares (according to their own research) then at what point does the expense of developing and manufacturing that capability become prohibitive for the potential gains the company could make?
If it’s likely to cost more than it makes, Microsoft has a duty to its shareholders to shun the idea. That’s how public companies work. Also, as an analyst from Piper Jaffray puts it, this might lead to more potential for profit “as gamers rebuild their entire library for a new console.”
But where does that leave the Xbox “brand” and its duty to its fans? We’re sure there’ll be a big fuss over the language in use here, and the apparent disregard for a set of fans, even if the majority doesn’t want the particular feature being discussed.