Microsoft Exec: "If You're Backwards Compatible, You're Really Backwards"

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Microsoft Exec: "If You're Backwards Compatible, You're Really Backwards"

mattrick with the xbone

Microsoft's Don Mattrick reckons only five percent of customers play games from previous generations on their new consoles.

The Xbox One, or "Xbone" as it has now been dubbed by the public, won't be natively backwards compatible with 360 games, disc-based or otherwise. This is a great disappointment to some, especially given that yesterday's announcement event was light on anything even resembling an actual game, but Microsoft's Head of Interactive Entertainment Business, Don Mattrick (whose ruggedly handsome countenance can be seen to the right), isn't bothered.

"If you're backwards compatible, you're really backwards," he told the Wall Street Journal.

After dropping that incendiary comment, Mattrick got into the numbers. According to him, only five percent of customers play previous-generation games on new gaming systems. Since the Xbone uses a CPU fundamentally different from the one in the 360, backwards compatibility would require either software emulation (as with the later PS3 models), or a separate set of last-gen hardware in the Xbone box (as with the earlier PS3 models). Given that price is likely to be a huge factor in the coming race, it's easy to see why Microsoft elected to drop backwards compatibility. It's worth noting that Sony has apparently done the same with the upcoming PS4.

So, is backwards compatibility such a huge deal? From a raw, money-driven perspective, it doesn't seem to be. Social media research firm, Fizziology, claims its surveys of potential Xbone customers indicates only 12% would be put off by a lack of backwards compatibility. A greater concern is whether or not we'll be able to play current-gen games a decade or two down the line. The consoles of the 8-bit and 16-bit eras have survived to date mostly because they're solid slabs of circuitry. At consoles get more and more complex, their failure rates have gone up exponentially. The original 360 model is certainly proof of that.

Source: Wall Street Journal


According to him, only five percent of customers play previous-generation games on new gaming systems.

... That's because the current gen doesn't allow you to play many of them.

Yes, there are some that work, and yes there were some crappy HD remakes, but the vast majority of Xbox games didn't work on the 360, and the PS3 ironed out backwards compatibility in later versions.

If the entire Xbox library had been available on the 360, I am certain that the number would be more than 5%.

It's not about playing old games on the new consoles Microsoft. It's about adopting a new console when the library is rather limited. I'm personally not bothered one way or the other, I still have my original PS1 through PS3. I suspect I will keep the trend going until I run out of room in the house. if you want to encourage more early adopters, either get a larger amount of games ready to release or simply allow your audience to play the previous generation while they wait.

Oh christ, that was an incredibly dumb statement.

Personally, even though I don't particularly care about backwards compatibility, all you're doing with that statement is insulting anyone that would want it.

Well pretty soon Don is gunna wish he could take back-words

I imagine only 5 percent of the consumer base used the backwards compatibility on the Xbox 360 because the backwards compatibility on the 360 was next to useless and stopped being supported about two years on. It's endlessly ironic that Microsoft are touting backwards compatibility as 'backwards' while pimping the hell out of live TV.

I hope his CV's up to date!

I suspect that he won't be an executive for much longer. And when he's wondering why every hates him and wht he said and he's begging for his job, we'll only have this to say;


Excuse me? I play DS games on my 3DS like I have a vendetta. If the game is good, I will replay it and though it may not make a ton of money sense for them, there is such a thing as GOOD WILL toward your consumer or customer. Why do people like Valve so much, do they think?

Somehow I get the feeling that the Gremlins are gonna get loose at could argue they're part of the new batch.

Yet another wanker in a suit.

It makes me laugh, surely it wouldn't cost that much to put an emulator in there, then you have an entire back catalouge to fall back on if your launch line up is shakey (given the trends of the lastest gen machines it wouldn't surprise me). Why is the DS so much better then the PSP? It has a constant flow of new AND old titles.


wow ... they should really not let these people talk in public, they only make them selves and the company, look stupid. well, stupider, this is the same company that though the rest of the XBone was a good idea to ... though it does pretty much mean they won't be getting my money this gen, again.

Oh, Microsoft. You silly goose. Throwing your customers a bone is so 2001. Throwing them an Xbone, now - THAT'S the future!

I can't wait for sales numbers to start showing up.

Hoo boy...

Take the Wii. Now, it was a less than brilliant console with regards to its library (I was much happier with the Xbox 360's selection) but that seems to be Nintendo's running problem. However, it did backwards compatibility properly. I can play Eternal Darkness on it. I can play Second Sight on it. I can play Star Wars: Clone Wars on it. But I can also play Super Smash Bros Brawl and Metroid Prime Trilogy on it. And I still do play all of these games. The Wii's somewhat lacklustre library was bolstered by its predecessor, and I didn't have to worry about wanting for games when I first bought it.

Of course, I've already been put off the Xbox One (What was wrong with Xbox Infinity? I know that's a minor complaint, but really?), so this hardly matters here. But Backwards Compatibility is definitely not a bad thing, and definitely not backwards.

It's really for the transition period. They will be singing a different tune when they are having an issue getting users to buy them because there isn't enough games out to justify whatever price tag they are asking. This man is an idiot.

"Only people who want to play games won't be interested in our new system, that is what? 99-100% of our total customer base. They don't count."

Since I have no console at all, I don't really get the fuzz about backwards compatibility.

First, even if there is some BC, it usually lasts for only one generation, maybe except some GameBoys. I dunno but if I talk about backwards compatibility, I'd care about going back much more. Like on the PC where I can play games from the 80's or at least from the PS1 era. If I can only play games from the last, say 10 years, well thanks but no thanks, I wouldn't pay extra for that possibility.

Second, I'm kinda thinking about getting a PS2, and maybe one of the current-gen consoles. If that would be the PS3, I'd still want to get the PS2 as well, even if it was backwards compatible. If the hardware changes a lot, compatibility is always more or less broken. Even the PS2 couldn't play some PS1 games properly or at all. Plus, why would I want to put wear and tear on the new console when I can just use the old one?

Third, I see that a x64 PC of today simply can't run programs for the PowerPC/Cell architecture. At best you could get something like the PC version of Saints Row 2 (which was apparently a 360 executable wrapped up for the PC) and it's the worst console port ever. If the next gen would play current gen games like this, it's better to hold on to the current console anyway.

Also, if we had to get a next gen already, then going with the x64 arch is a good decision.

Dear Mr Don "My head is so far up my ass, I can see my breakfast" Mattrick. Like legion said, if the 360 were backwards compatible, my XBOX library would be much larger. I would also have been much more inclined to buy the said 360 earlier than I did (I finally got one 2 years ago).

Excuse me? I play DS games on my 3DS like I have a vendetta. If the game is good, I will replay it and though it may not make a ton of money sense for them, there is such a thing as GOOD WILL toward your consumer or customer. Why do people like Valve so much, do they think?

This. It's why the 3DS is my current favourite console - such an amazing back catalogue, plus an excellent selection of games available in the marketplace (seriously, I must own nearly half the Zelda games made, or will do once the ORacle games are released, on one console and it's a total godsend). It's also one of the reasons I upgraded to the WiiU, as it's still happy to support Wii games. I even brough a PS3 with a smaller hard drive just so I could play PS2 games like Kingdom Hearts, FFX, the old Baldur's Gate games... all my favourites.

It's also why I'll be sticking with the PS3 and Xbox 360 for a while - give me a reason to upgrade from great games catalogues, and I might consider it. give me backwards compatibility, and you have increased my chance of buying your console at least 30%.

The only reason your numbers show this is because even the current systems don't LET you do it.

All my Gameboys were backwards compatible and I've always made extensive use of that.

Also, I was already put of by the 360 not being compatible with the original xbox.

I still got it though. (Found out about that after I got it.)

*Bangs his head on his desk*
Oh uh pardon me, I was just trying to get into the frame of mind this guy seems to be in where he can think making that statement won't come come back and bite him.

Only five percent of customers play previous-generation games on new gaming systems.

Okay, let's do some math. 77.2 million Xbox 360s sold worldwide. Even assuming a third of them are replacements or a household's second console, that still leaves 51.46 million users. That means Microsoft is pissing off a solid 2.57 million people. Just pause for a minute and think of how many of those people, knowing that whatever they get they won't be able to play their 360 games on it, will choose to buy a PS3 or Wii U instead. How much potential profit Is MS losing because of that? I can't say, but certainly enough not to ignore it.

Now, I understand why they're doing it. Much like with the PS4, the Xbox One uses a vastly different architecture than its predecessor; x86 instead of PPC. And you know what? That's actually a decent reason. But to publicly make a statement that backwards compatibility is boneheaded? That just makes them look even worse than they already do this week. This kind of excessively defensive publicity is the last thing they need.

P.S. Thanks

Calling someone backward is like calling some one retarded. So you are calling people retarded for wanting BC? Now i think BC is worthless and not a big deal, but i wouldnt say those that want it as dumb, i can understand why they want it. But MS thinks they are retarded for wanting it? Yeah, im a xbox fan, had both xbox and 360 and it seems i read more and more reasons to make me not worth buying the xboxone. insulting your fanbase your backward company. Why not just apologise and say you couldnt make BC happen, even if its a lie and you couldnt be bothered, thats fine. Just insulting your user base isnt the way to go.

Microsoft, you're not really helping yourself here. Coming out and telling part of your consumer base, even if it is as small as you say it is, that they're basically wrong for wanting something is only going to alienate that part of your base. And seeing as your consumer base at the moment is already on shaky ground, why would you want to rattle the cage even more? I'm really interested in the Xbox One now because I want to see what happens to it. It truly is shaping up to be at train heading for a cliff, and comments like this one are simply adding fuel to the engine.

Yet another wanker in a suit.

It makes me laugh, surely it wouldn't cost that much to put an emulator in there, then you have an entire back catalouge to fall back on if your launch line up is shakey (given the trends of the lastest gen machines it wouldn't surprise me). Why is the DS so much better then the PSP? It has a constant flow of new AND old titles.

Actually it would be very easy to put an emulator in there. Has the whole system of the Xbone is based on an Hyper-V architecture. Basically there is a Hyper-V controller OS, a VM with an OS for more general task and a static configuration VM for gaming (that way they can change the actual hardware or update the general task and controller OS, while the development hardware always stay the same), they could easily have added a VM that virtualized the Xbox and Xbox 360 hardware, if they really wanted.

Did I just see another "Deal with it" a-hole from Microsoft? They really really must want lose their customer base.

Somehow I can't wait for the triple A publishers to have a major crash....

I always think that it is funny when people like this man pull such statements out of their ass. I mean, why even comment on it if it isn't a big deal?

Also, I would bet everything I own that those figures have been manipulated to the point that they are practically lies.

Plus, they were quite stupid in how they announced this. At least Sony had the good sense to sound sorry that they could not include the feature. Microsoft's tone is basically "backwards compatibility is stupid any you are stupid for wanting it."

Backwards comparability is why I went out of my way to get an older version PS3 rather than the newer ones. I simply don't have the room to have multiple game systems connected to a tv. No backwards comparability means I'm sitting this generation out. I'll stick with Steam, and, yes, even Origins.


Congratulations Mr. Mattrick, you just kicked up a hornet's nest.

This should be an interesting show.

Yeah because every 360 on earth is totally gonna last 10 or more years right? Tell me how backwards I am when I'm out $2000+ worth of games and see how far you can run after I've entered blood-rage.

While I kind of disagree in the way the exec said it, I certainly fall into the large majority mentioned. Once I get a shiny, new toy, my old toys seem less shiny. I had a backwards compatible PS3. You know how many PS2 games I played on it? Zero.

Is backwards compatibility a neat feature? Sure, but it's far from a deal-breaker for me if the system is without it.

Great job Don! Your dumb ass statements is ALL that MS needs right now and we will laugh when your pay takes a cut or are demoted and if MS back you up then fuck you ill miss halo and gears (can not see how you can make a sequel after 3's ending) but if this console is this bad and your execs become dumber and more vitrol than EA then take a hike and dont comeback till you shape up.

My offer of the shovel from the other thread still stands, Microsoft.

just another reason for me to make the switch to the ps4

I think they are looking at this from the completely wrong angle. Who cares if only 5% of the customers actually play their old games? It surely means something to more than that if the question is brought up so often. It is also about retaining their current player base. People might be less inclined to switch to the PS4 if they'd be able to play their massive games library on the new console.
Especially with the 360 being such a fragile POS so notorious to break. Oh your old 360 broke? Buy a new 360 or upgrade directly a Xbone instead for a little more? Even if you can't afford any games with it (as compared to buying a 360), you can still play your old games until you got the money to buy new Xbone ones.

It'd also make the system much more interesting for people switching from the other consoles or even getting fresh into the whole console gaming thing. Take the WiiU for example and the mess it is currently in... backwards compatibility would have made the library problems much less severe. It'd allow customers to get instantly into franchises that might release a new game in 3 months, especially xbox exclusive ones.

And I'm calling BS on the emulation thing. The whole machine is more powerful and the only problem is that their processor has another architecture?
They got access to every single thing making both consoles work, how could writing a perfect emulator be such a problem? It can't possibly be a problem to emulate the old hardware on their new hardware when they have complete access and control to stuff like the OS and drivers/hardware.
It is not like they are trying to write an emulator for a multitude of pc specs while reverse engineering the whole thing.

Not really angry or anything, not getting any of the consoles either way... but I really doubt that making the thing backwards-compatible wouldn't make the thing much more desirable and thus increase their profits.

God damn it, "Xbone", really? Not only is that phonetically a disasterpiece, it's just nasty to say and really just makes me uncomfortable, no matter how appropriately brosome it is.

I'm sticking to "X1", sounds a lot more classy, which - sure, it's quite possibly the least classy console ever made, at least since the Milton-Bradley Vectrex, but even the most cripple-minded deserve respect enough to not be nicknamed the fucking Xbone.

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