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Thread: X-Box 2, not backwards compatible?

  1. #1
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    X-Box 2, not backwards compatible?

    Sources close to Microsoft's senior Xbox executives have confirmed that the company does not intend to make its next-generation console, which is set to be launched by late 2005, backwards compatible with existing Xbox software.

    Speculation about the backwards compatibility functionality has been rife since it emerged that Xbox 2 - codenamed Xenon - will have radically different hardware to the original system, with a non-x86 processor, no hard drive and an ATI, rather than NVIDIA, graphics chipset, all of which would make running Xbox titles on the platform very difficult.

    It was widely believed, however, that Microsoft had retained a team of hardware emulation experts to work on the problem - although concerns over the viability of such an endeavour were voiced by some experts, especially regarding the company's ability to emulate the functions of the graphics unit in the Xbox without violating NVIDIA's intellectual property rights.

    GamesIndustry.biz has now learned that Microsoft does not plan to provide any backwards compatibility in the next-generation Xenon platform - and indeed, that senior executives at the company don't believe backwards compatibility to be an important feature for consoles.

    According to a source close to the project, internal Microsoft figures suggest that only 10 per cent of PlayStation 2 purchasers were interested in the console's ability to play titles developed for the original PlayStation.

    Although this still represents some seven million consumers on a global basis - which is around half of Microsoft's entire installed base for Xbox - the company apparently believes that allowing consumers to play existing Xbox titles on the next-generation hardware would not be a significant deciding factor for Xenon purchasers.

    However, a report into the videogames industry published today by Wedbrush Morgan Securities senior vice president Michael Pachter disagrees with this conclusion - arguing that failing to provide backward compatibility could have the effect of alienating Microsoft's existing Xbox installed base.

    "In the event that Xbox Next is not backward compatible, we think that the device will be very slow to grow its footprint," the report warns, while elsewhere it suggests that such a move could damage the company's long-term prospects for the console.

    "We do expect Microsoft to launch its console first, perhaps as early as 2005," says Pachter. "Should it choose to do so without backward compatibility or significant third-party software support, we expect to see its first-mover advantage evaporate."
    This isnt going to do them any favours.

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    Sublime HEXUS.net
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    Oh ouch...

    I think people don't bother with psone games on the PS2 because there was so much of a jump in graphics, the gap's not going to be a big with the xbox and xbox next..

    I think they're going to be shooting themselves in the foot with that one.. possibly the same with the "no hdd" rumours too..
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    Even though I sold the PS1 after getting the PS2 I still kept a few classics, FFVII, FFVIII, FFIX which I played through again not that long ago on the PS2, Vagrant Story which I'm glad I did because it rocks and the creator is the same guy thats working on the Next FF XII which has got me even more excited about it, and finaly Wu-Tang: Taste the Pain which for some reason still makes me laugh.

    I'd be a bit gutted if the PS3 isn't backwards compatible with the PS2 because of several games that are cult that I have got on that, WipeOut, Final Fantasy, the whole Legacy of Kain series, Grand Theft Auto, etc.

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    Well this is all kicking off now:

    In a break from its usual refusal to comment on rumours, Microsoft has branded stories carried by this and other sites relating to the company's plans for Xbox 2 as "pulp fiction" - but has failed to deny the stories, or to back up its allegations.

    A statement apparently issued in response to our report earlier this week that Xbox 2 would not be backwards-compatible describes recent reports on Xbox 2 as "nothing more than pulp fiction" and says that "this media conjecture is irresponsible."

    It goes on to question the credibility of sites reporting on Xbox 2, saying that "the credibility of any publication willing to compromise fact in favour of a catchy headline must be questioned. Xbox fans are smart enough to distinguish truth from sensational reporting."

    However, at no point does the statement deny the accuracy of the story - saying only that "Microsoft hasn't made any announcements regarding the next generation, so it's far too early to speculate about specifics." In other words, if it's not an official Microsoft announcement, it's "irresponsible" to report it.

    GamesIndustry.biz absolutely stands by the accuracy of its reporting on the backwards compatibility of the Xbox 2. This story was not "speculation" - it was based on comments made by an extremely senior member of the Xbox division at Microsoft, which were conveyed to journalists working on this site by a well-placed source close to the company.

    At present, the technology to emulate Xbox hardware on the proposed Xbox 2 hardware simply does not exist - a fact which is acknowledged by a document released today which purports to be a leak of a white paper on the Xbox 2 ("Xenon") specification for developers.

    "Although the architecture of the two consoles is quite different, Xenon has the processing power to emulate Xbox," the document claims. "Whether Xenon is backward compatible involves a variety of factors, not least of which is the massive development and testing effort required to allow Xbox games to run on Xenon."

    This should come as no surprise, given that the Xenon hardware is based on the PowerPC G5 architecture. While Microsoft has successfully emulated the PC on previous PowerPC chips, albeit at a significant performance hit, it has not yet succeeded in doing so on the G5 - the first PowerPC chip to drop the x86-style "little endian" processing mode entirely, thus rendering the processing of x86 applications much more difficult.

    Another factor may be the change from using NVIDIA as a GPU supplier to using ATI - while this element of the story IS in the realms of speculation, it has been suggested that Microsoft would be unable to emulate NVIDIA's GPU functions on the ATI hardware without risking a lawsuit from NVIDIA.

    Given the disparaging remarks made by senior members of the Xbox team about the importance of backwards compatibility in consoles, it seems highly unlikely, then, that the next-generation system will include this feature - even regardless of the comments made to our source, which effectively rule out backwards compatibility entirely.

    Much will probably depend, however, on the consumer backlash to the company's current unofficial stance on the feature. Microsoft has previously demonstrated a willingness to change its mind over even huge issues such as its controller design when faced with enough criticism from consumers. A strong backlash now against the lack of backward compatibility in current plans for Xbox 2 could make a significant difference to the console giant's thinking, much as the strong response from consumers and developers alike to plans to axe the hard drive has led to this issue being considered afresh, with a decision on the future of the component in Xenon yet to be reached.

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    honestly, does it matter?

    oh dear my gamecube doesn't play nes games.

    boo hoo.

    part of the reason the playstation 2 is so poor is it is crippled by the use of nonsensical playstation 1 parts to do things, in order to allow the backward compatability.

    you own a stack of rarely played ps1 games... but no ps1? no! you own the ocnsole as well. you're barely gonna touch it in favour of the newer games, so on the rare occasions you want to play the old games, pull the old machine out of the cupboard.

    i STRONGLy hope the xbox next is not backward compatible, so it isn't kept stuck in the past with extrenuous wasteful parts

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