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Don Mattrick Says "You're Really Backwards" If You Want Backwards Compatibility

I'm sure we'll all deal with it, Don.

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.

  1. blackredyellow
    Since: Mar 2009

    A valid point which has been worded very poorly.

    These Microsoft big cheeses sure need a lesson in how to address their public.

    Comment posted on 22/05/2013 at 19:03.
  2. Tom Pitcher
    Since: Jan 2009

    I love it on this site, and the news and opinions expressed here, however I do feel like this article is a bit sensationalised. I understand from a pr perspective why people in the business need to be careful with what they say, but this guy was clearly trying to make a little joke about the feature and imo was referring to the box being ‘backward’ since they’re about ‘moving forward’ with the technology. Just seems like a bit of an attention grabbing article. All your other stuff is top notch, I mean i come to the website approx 10 times a day!

    Comment posted on 22/05/2013 at 19:18.
    • E8_BALL_
      Since: Jul 2010

      You said it… “imo.”
      PR statements should leave no room for individual interpretation & assumptions. Clear & precise, is how it should be.
      Besides, backwards? “If you want backwards compatibllity, you really are backwards.” Does he mean have learning difficulties, but refers to that group as backwards?

      This is the same guy, who tweeted “deal with it,” re always on.

      Comment posted on 23/05/2013 at 00:47.
      • Peter Chapman
        Team TSA: Editor
        Since: Forever

        It’s not the same guy who tweeted the “deal with it” fiasco. His name was Adam Orth and he has since parted ways with Microsoft.

        @ Tom Pitcher – I’m sorry you feel like that. I agree with your assessment of the situation (about it being intended as a bit of a play on words) but I also think it is demonstrative of a mind set that shows some disregard for their customers and what they might want.
        I tried to balance this by pointing out that it’s potentially a fair comment, just expressed poorly but that obviously hasn’t resonated with you this time.

        Comment posted on 23/05/2013 at 00:52.
      • Tom Pitcher
        Since: Jan 2009

        I guess as a PR spokesperson for a company you’re speaking for the company, therefore it’s in their job responsibilities to say the right thing. I guess I just felt that since the xbox reveal (almost undisputedly) was a bit naff, any other bit of negative info is immediately a ‘look what else they’ve done!’
        But I do admit that I can see how it can be misunderstood what he was trying to say and that hasn’t been helped by MS lack of explanation of things.

        Comment posted on 23/05/2013 at 00:58.
      • E8_BALL_
        Since: Jul 2010

        My bad about the Orth mix up. I get he(mattric,) was attempting a play on words & I personally took no offence, but he really should have ran that one through his head a few times, prior to voicing it, given the sometimes, derogatory use of the word.
        As president of Microsoft Interactive Entertainment, he should be leading by example. At least that’s what I was taught. Coincidentally, when I read these & other statements, I think of the company/group, addressing the consumer/media, not the author.

        Comment posted on 23/05/2013 at 03:13.
  3. DividSmythe
    Since: May 2012

    I’m keeping my Ps3 so don’t about having B/C any way. Even when I stepped up to Ps3 from Ps2 I traded it in and not really cared about playing Ps2 games after. So I do understand what his saying but he just hasn’t said it correctly.

    Comment posted on 22/05/2013 at 19:24.
  4. xdarkmagician
    Since: May 2009

    I was kinda upset with Sony having BC at launch then removing it. My PS2 broke and I thought buying a new one was a waste of money since the PS3 had BC… but then my launch model PS3 broke and I couldn’t find a replacement with BC. Forcing my decision to forget about BC, luckily there was alot of good PS3 games starting to come out which made the choice to abandon the PS2 less painful, so I understand where Don is coming from with regards to his quote and I kinda agree as long as there are enough good games being released for the new systems to keep you busy.
    Still…. theres nothing stopping Sony or MS from releasing a different model that has BC and is priced accordingly. Especially since Sony and MS advertise their consoles as a all in one box option to entertainment. Whats the point of having everything in one box if you still need a PS2, PS3, and 360 still hooked up? I’m sure if they gave the option you’d see more than a 5% interest.

    Comment posted on 22/05/2013 at 20:06.
  5. tactical20
    Since: May 2010

    Maybe only 5% are interested in playing PS2/Xbox games on PS3/Xbox360, but that’s not the same as playing PS3/Xbox360 games on PS4/XboxOne.

    Comment posted on 22/05/2013 at 20:35.
  6. TSBonyman
    Since: Dec 2009

    I hate to play ‘angels advocate’ here but i’m reading it as ” If you’re backwards compatible (as a console platform), you’re backwards”, and i expect he’ll probably clarify the statement along those lines. I think that’s possibly what he meant but it was bad timing to make a gaff like that.

    As for backwards compatibility, i guess we were spoiled with ps2 and ps3(at first) and of course there was the patches for xbox games on 360 so you can’t really blame people for expecting that continuity – and i wonder how much of a dent backwards compatibility actually makes in potential new game sales – i would guess very little from my own gaming and purchasing habits. What i mean is having and making use of backwards compatibility has never quenched my own thirst for new games.
    Of course i can see why there are issues bringing BC to a completely new hardware architecture, and it undoubtedly makes better business sense for a platform holder not to include it in the long run – especially as we’ll no doubt see another wave of HD remakes next gen :/

    Comment posted on 22/05/2013 at 20:44.
  7. Kennykazey
    Since: Mar 2010

    And how many percent said they wanted TV functionality, Kinect and a block on used games?

    I’d rather have have BC than all of those combined.

    Comment posted on 22/05/2013 at 21:19.
    • AdmiringWorm
      Since: Feb 2010

      They probably didn’t even ask the consumer even.
      I’m with you, I rather have BC than TV functionality, Kinect and the block as well. Although I don’t really feel the need for BC neither.

      Comment posted on 22/05/2013 at 21:27.
  8. stueeeee
    Since: Jun 2009

    I think Microsoft are the Sony of 7 years ago. Arrogant and forceful of what they want us to think.
    I have tons of games yet to play this generation, therefore I wnt get a new console til I’m done with them. If the new console is BC then I would be more tempted as my current un completed games are easily acessable without having another box near the tv.
    I always remember the Sony arrogant quote, “the next generation doesn’t start until we say it does”. That really made me think they’d lost it, 360 was doing so well at the time. I think MS need to have a real look at their consumer base and see how many things about their new console people really liked….

    Comment posted on 22/05/2013 at 22:41.
  9. MadYetHatless
    Since: May 2013

    While I agree with the whole “backwards compatability isn’t necessary” thing, (I had the old PS3 with BC and only used it for PS2 games maybe twice at most), the way he’s worded this is plain bad. It seems to me that recently Xbox reps keep digging a deeper hole for themselves and leaving it to the company to try and fix it.

    Comment posted on 22/05/2013 at 22:46.
  10. ico
    Since: Aug 2010


    Comment posted on 22/05/2013 at 23:09.