Microsoft made quite a few announcements to whet gamers' appetites at this week's E3 gaming expo, including a new 'hardcore' Xbox One controller, a redesigned user experience for the console, and the first preview of game streaming from the Xbox One to a Windows 10 PC.
Perhaps its most unexpected announcement was that the company is introducing free backward compatibility to its latest console, allowing owners to play their older Xbox 360 games on it - Microsoft even managed to raise some eyebrows over at Sony with that.
"It was surprising," Shuhei Yoshida, head of Sony Worldwide Studios, said to Eurogamer. "I didn't think it was possible. There must be lots of engineering effort. They talked about 100 games, but what kind of games will be included? Is it smaller games or big games? We don't know."
In fact, we do know that 22 Xbox 360 games are already available for those on the Xbox One Preview program to try out right now, and Microsoft is encouraging gamers to vote for the next titles that will get backward compatibility support on the newer console.
But if you were eagerly anticipating that Sony would follow in Microsoft's footsteps by adding PS3 emulation to its PlayStation 4, don't get your hopes up.
"PS3 is such a unique architecture," Yoshiba said, "and some games made use of SPUs very well. It's going to be super-challenging to do so. I never say never, but we have no plans." Unfortunately, then, it seems that the PS3's complex Cell processor architecture would make emulating its games on the PS4 an engineering nightmare.
Sony's PlayStation Now service will allow PS4 owners to play games from its predecessor through game streaming - but while Microsoft's backward compatibility will be free, PlayStation gamers will have to pay for the service. Sony set recent UK beta pricing for renting PS3 games on PlayStation Now as high as £4.99 GBP (roughly $7.90 USD) per game for just two days, or £9.99 ($15.80) for a month.
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