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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. ico
    Since: Aug 2010

    Also. I’d be more comfortable with lack of BC if they had more games at launch (and not sure I agree with this launch ‘window’ cobblers). Will be keeping my old 360 as long as it lasts and either not venturing into next gen or getting PS4.
    Also is it just me or does Don M seem really rather smarmy and a little but ‘eugrh’?

    Comment posted on 22/05/2013 at 23:12.
  2. a inferior race
    I'm special
    Since: Jul 2009

    Firstly Halo 2 was the most popular game on Xbox Live until Gears1 came out, so a lot of people were probably utilizing BC.
    Secondly, GTAV is current gen.

    Comment posted on 22/05/2013 at 23:29.
  3. Eldave0
    Since: Aug 2008

    In this one case I would have actually really liked to see the new XBox be backwards compatible. My Wife and I have a few games we play co-op across our two 360s (Borderlands 2, Resident Evil 5, 6 and Revelations) but I would ideally like to trade one of the consoles towards the X1. Not a huge deal given how little trade in I would get for a 250GB Slim but would have been nice to swap out the old with the new :-)

    Comment posted on 23/05/2013 at 00:27.
  4. brillerment
    Since: Sep 2009

    I think the only reason they don’t want to allow backward compatibility is because they can’t enforce their “no second hand games” rule on Xbox 360 game discs,

    Comment posted on 23/05/2013 at 05:28.
  5. HywelWJ
    Since: Feb 2013

    I care about BC in some respects, not especially about disk based PS3 games, but the games I’ve bought over the years on PSN for example. The likes of gunstar heroes, worms, the old streeftighters, etc. I don’t want to have to buy them again for the PS4 . Hopefully the streaming service will sort this though.

    Comment posted on 23/05/2013 at 07:28.
  6. Bilbo_bobbins
    Since: Jun 2009

    To be honest I agree with him. If you want to play your old games then play them on your old system. Yes some people will trade in their current console, but why would you want to play your old games anyway?

    There’s no point buying a new console with new games coming out for it and then playing your old ones. I’ve never understood it personally.

    Comment posted on 23/05/2013 at 08:30.
  7. XisTG
    Since: May 2010

    While we made his point through an awful choice of words, I’ll have to agree with him. With shareholders or not, if only 5-12% of your costumers want BC, you have to calculate how much you would need to invest VS the predicted return.
    And I bet it wouldn’t be enough to even break even.

    Comment posted on 23/05/2013 at 09:22.
  8. Torquemada
    Since: Oct 2008

    I wanted backwards capability Mr Mattrick. You can call me “backwards” & tell me to “deal with it”, but I wont be buying your console or games so kiss goodbye to my money.

    Youve managed to turn something that shouldve been an elated talked about event into a Microsoft hate fest. I was an Xbox fan boy, but Im not anymore.

    Over to you Sony. Stick two fingers up to the developers and sweep up all the Xbox fanboys into your arms by announcing that we can play 2nd hand games & share them as before, without any fees or always online DRM, on the PS4. Youve got the potential to clear the house here, and despite any developer protestations, you know theyll eventually fold & join you when noones buying the Xbox One. It must be so tempting for you Sony, because you can easily get the PS2 sales numbers with the PS4, now Microsoft have committed seboku & the Wii U is dying a very slow death.

    Comment posted on 23/05/2013 at 10:17.
    • Eldave0
      Since: Aug 2008

      Given most of these no-second-hand and always-online decisions will be heavily influenced by the developers/publishers (after all, they are the ones who predominantly benefit from these practices) I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony announce something similar over the coming months.
      You only have to look at the industry with its online passes, DLC, etc to see that is ultimately where it is going.

      Comment posted on 23/05/2013 at 10:33.
  9. The Lone Steven
    Never heard of him.
    Since: May 2010

    It is not worth investing in it if only a small percent of your target audience wants it but insulting them is very bad for PR. I’m begining to think MS are losing the plot. A few weeks ago, what’s his name pulled a similar stunt and was sacked. Now this. That said, this poll seems to have been restricted to America and not made aware off so it’s not to be trusted. I know i say that 90% of polls are not to be trusted and i stand by that.

    Comment posted on 23/05/2013 at 10:41.
  10. hazelam
    Since: Feb 2009

    a lot of the problem with the talk coming from ms is that it really seems to be dismissive of, or wilfully ignorant of the feelings of a large portion of their userbase.

    like that CVG interview with Phil Harrison.


    The exec said Microsoft “will always take a customer centric view” on the subject

    ms customer centric?
    in Bizarro world?

    “Our plans are very consistent with the way the world works today, which is if I buy a disc I can install it on my machine, I can play it and anyone associated with my machine can play it as well,”

    no phil, the way the world works today is i have the disc, i put it in the console, and i play the game.

    they’re just totally out of touch.

    Comment posted on 23/05/2013 at 11:47.