Speculator: What will the next PlayStation be?

April 10, 2012

With the fourth PlayStation on the horizon, rumors are flying about backward compatibility, required digital releases and the end of used games. We try to sort it out.

PlayStation 4 will not have PS3 backward compatibility

Sony has shown over the past 7 years that they don’t really care about backward compatibility as much as they used to. And according to one of the rumors for the PS4, that isn’t likely to change anytime soon, as the PlayStation 4 will not have compatibility with any PlayStation 3 games.


I think backward compatibility is something that most people don’t even care about anymore, at least for physical releases. And I doubt Sony is going to go with similar hardware with the PS4 considering how much trouble it caused them with the PS3. There’s really no reason to include it.


I think it’s likely that Sony will continue their disdain for BC in their next console. I mean, they were incredibly blunt about their reasons when they removed it from the PS3. They feel it costs them money to do so, and that reason hasn’t changed. I’m not happy about it, but I expect it.


I wouldn’t be surprised if PS3 retail games don’t work with the next system. What I think we will see, though: support for PS1 Classics, PS2 Classics and PS Minis, as well as some PSN titles getting patched-in support. Those aren’t that hardware-intensive to emulate.


If Sony doesn’t want to shoot themselves in the foot again, they’ll know why the PS2 was so popular by adding backward compatibility for its new system, but knowing Sony, there’s a good chance that they won’t add it anyway.

All PS4 retail games available digitally on day one

Digital distribution is becoming more and more important to the game industry, as evidenced by the fact that all PS Vita games are available digitally on the same day that they release at retail. While that hasn’t happened yet with any consoles, rumors say that the PlayStation 4 will do just that when it is released.


It seems to be working for the Vita, so I could see it being a possibility. As long as they have the proper hard drive space available for launch systems, it could work. At the same time, downloadable retail games on handhelds seems a lot more likely to me than for consoles. It’ll be interesting to see how this turns out!


I think this will definitely happen. It’s worked great with the Vita, and is a great stepping stone toward what publishers consider the ideal environment: a digital future.


Will Sony abandon retail? Of course not. But with the rise of Steam and the increasing success of downloadable full games on current consoles, there’s no reason Sony wouldn’t want to keep the trend going and grab a larger cut of the profits.


Oh, definitely. Considering the fact we’re ushering ourselves into a digital age of gaming, it would be nice to give people that option to download all the games they want to purchase on Day 1 instead of fighting other people for physical copies in the stores.

PS4 to have an anti-used games feature in an “online pass”

Online passes are getting fairly common lately, but they are, as expected by the name, mostly relegated to online features. One of the new PlayStation 4 rumors is that the PS4 will adapt that idea into an anti-used game feature. When first purchased, all retail PS4 games would be registered to a PSN account. It would then only be usable by that account. If any other account wanted to play the game, they would be forced to pay for a new registration key.


I just don’t buy this. It’ll only hurt Sony, not help them, even if it’s something that a lot of publishers will go for. We’ll continue to see online passes and free day-one DLC for those who buy new, but that’s about it. Sony doesn’t need to shoot itself in the foot anymore than they already have with the PS3.


I can absolutely see Sony wanting to do this, but I just don’t see them following through on it. While I’m sure every publisher would clamor for something like this built in on an OS level, I just don’t think Sony would want to take the PR hit. I expect they’ll let the various publishers continue making their own passes and let them take the PR hits.


The reason we haven’t seen this so far isn’t desire, it’s logistics. The mechanism for enforcing this is online, so unless you require an always-on connection, you can’t restrict offline features. We probably won’t see it from Sony, since it’d hurt them in the console war. I think the first salvo will come from Activision or EA, with one of the franchises that are unassailable: Call of Duty and Madden.


My stance still stands from what I said about the new Xbox as well. The fact that you’re making people buy a full used game to begin with, and then charging them to make it playable on your account just sounds… stupid. If you’re gonna do online passes, keep it to online games. People might hate them, but if you want some money to go back to the developer, this might be the better way to do it instead of charging people two different fees for used games.

Current standings:



Chris Ingersoll April 10, 2012 at 7:27 am

I think you guys need to re-evaluate your scoring system here. It’s not really fair to Eric for there to only be one cumulative score over the lifetime of the column, since he joined the team so much later than the other three.

Graham Russell April 10, 2012 at 10:46 am

I’ve talked to Shawn about doing seasons, a thing that I generally approved of but that was never implemented. We may do that with the start of E3 predictions. The only problem is that there are predictions from the first few editions that have yet to be resolved, and defining when that should count is tough.

Also, since I haven’t devolved into smack talk yet, it would help if Eric was better at predicting things. Ooh! Burn.

Chris Ingersoll April 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Maybe an average? Points earned over resolved speculations?

Eric Albuen April 10, 2012 at 11:16 am

To be fair, this did happen back in March about the new XBOX talks.


It was also one of the rumors of my first Speculator with you guys. By some stretch, I should at least be out of the negatives. :x

Shawn Vermette April 13, 2012 at 1:27 am

They say that, but until E3 actually happens, I’m not going to call it official :)

corvak April 11, 2012 at 7:36 pm

You guys and your numbers.

Clearly Graham just doesn’t want to give up his lead.

Graham Russell April 11, 2012 at 10:16 pm

You’d have to come up with quite a weird system to have me not winning. Bring it on.