EA: next-gen consoles unlikely to be backwards compatible

Electronic Arts chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen used a Q&A session at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco yesterday to discuss the publisher’s plans for next-generation consoles.

According to Gamasutra’s coverage of the event, the executive hinted at a Christmas launch for what the company’s calling "gen-four" consoles from Microsoft and Sony.

He also broached topics including the likelihood of backwards compatibility, connectivity with mobiles and tablets, and the possibility of new consoles introducing measures to combat the used games market.

"The reality is that fiscal year 2014 will still be a fairly large gen-three if there's a console business that comes in at the tail end of the year, mainly because a lot of our titles are built around sports calendars,” Jorgensen said. “And so a FIFA, a Madden, an NCAA, an NHL title, all come out aligned with the sports calendar. And if a next-gen console doesn't come out until next Christmas, most people won't wait. They'll want to be involved in getting those titles early, because their friends are all playing those titles, and because they're being played on a current generation's consoles.

"An important thing to remember is that next-gen consoles will most likely not be backwards compatible,” he added. “And if you [play] multiplayer on a game, you'll most likely not be able to play with someone on a different generation. And so if you're a FIFA player and, and the soccer season's starting in August, and all your friends are playing FIFA, you're going to want to be on the same box that they're on. So if they all go out and buy a gen-four box if it comes out at Christmas, then you'll most likely do it. If they all hold on and continue to play on third-generation, you'll probably not see that box purchase until after the soccer season's over.”

Jorgensen went on to say that, based on EA’s experience with next-gen consoles, he expects consumers “to be pretty excited” when the systems are finally exposed to the public. He also believes new console hardware will offer greater connectivity with mobile devices than we’ve seen in the current-gen.

"I do think once again without describing the new consoles... you're going to see a lot more integration between tablets, phones, and the consoles over time. You're going to see people playing on glass at the same time they're playing on the console. And there's going to be some exciting innovations around that. And I think it's going to be an extension of moving from what's in the living room to what's outside the house. Even though it might not be playing on the console, it's connected to the console in some way.”

Jorgensen also touched on recent rumours that next-gen consoles will introduce measures to block the used games market, noting: "I can't really comment on where the next generation boxes are going to be relative to used games. I will say that the trend in the business is to have that always-on connectivity and connect with a customer, and to the extent that the software identifies a certain customer is going to create some issues going down the road in the used game market. But I do believe that the consumer likes it, and it's been good for the retail channel."

Sony is expected to reveal PS4 at an event taking place on Wednesday February 20, which the company has teased will let gamers ”see the future". Check out our PlayStation 4 rumor roundup and Xbox 720 rumour roundup for all the latest leaks and speculation.



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  • dcobs123 - February 13, 2013 12:17 p.m.

    "I will say that the trend in the business is to have that always-on connectivity..." Just no.
  • NullG7 - February 13, 2013 11 a.m.

    So everyone believes EA now? When did that happen?
  • JAM3380 - February 13, 2013 10:43 a.m.

    One of the nice things about gaming on a pc is the fact that you don't have to purchase a whole new system in order to play new games. Sure, you may have to make the occasional upgrade, especially as hardware improves, and game developers utilize it, it's not nearly as expensive as purchasing a new console when it's released. If the next-gen consoles could find an efficient way to make them backwards compatible, you might find more people willing to purchase the consoles at the beginning, instead of waiting for the first big price drop. Regardless of whether or not the systems are made BC, a lot of people who have built up their game libraries will probably still use their current gen systems, at least occasionally, even if they have the next-gen console. As far as used games being eliminated, I think this was a mistake. I recently tried out Gamefly, and thought it was the perfect way to try out games before making the decision to purchase them. I have already purchased one game I tried through them, and will probably get at least two or three more of them. I have also purchased a few ps3 games through ebay, and one of those was used. I like the idea of being able to purchase a game I've been wanting for a while well after it's release, when you may not be able to purchase it in a store. Plus, it can be nice getting an older game for less than retail cost.
  • laurenhiya21 - February 13, 2013 10:10 a.m.

    I don't mind too much about whether it's backwards compatible or not. It just means that I won't be too interested in a PS4 for a while, since I don't have a PS3 yet (which has many exclusive games that I'm interested in). Of course, it might not even be true in the first place, in which case I would probably get one...
  • wingsdjy - February 13, 2013 10:05 a.m.

    I get why the PS4 won't be BC, but what's the reason behind the Xbox 720?
  • StrayGator - February 13, 2013 9:35 a.m.

    Fact: x86 processors can't run PowerArchitecture code. Much like you can't decipher Hungarian text with Samoan dictionary. Only way to ensure backwards compatibility is to include a PS3 CPU in the console, which is basically what they did with early ps3s (they had an "Emotion Engine" CPU besides the Cell) - and we know how well that went.
  • DragonLord23 - February 13, 2013 9:34 a.m.

    IDK. This may not even be true, but we will see.
  • ObliqueZombie - February 13, 2013 8:20 a.m.

    If this is true, no thanks. Thank God I built up my PC. The only console right now I'm interested in is the WiiU, especially seeing how this next generation may or may not turn out.
  • winner2 - February 13, 2013 6:45 a.m.

    If they're not backwards compatible I hope debs can make games to justify it. That's all I care about, I wouldn't buy a new console with backwards compatibility as the focus.

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