PS4 may support existing digital purchases through cloud, 'We could do so if we choose to,' says Sony

PlayStation 4 will not natively support PlayStation 3 games, including downloadable PlayStation Network games, said Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony Worldwide Studios during a roundtable interview today. The absence of native compatibility means Sony will need to explore other alternatives for playing current-gen software.

"Unless, somehow, some games work on emulation," Yoshida acknowledged. "The easiest thing, technically, would be to make PS1 games work on PS4 with emulation, but we are not talking about our emulation plans as yet." PS1 games currently run through emulation on the PlayStation 3 as well as the PlayStation Vita while PlayStation 2 software has no such emulation available.

"So there are two ways, emulation or cloud services. But native support, no. Sorry," Yoshida said. "No backwards compatibility. You can quote me on that," he said, acknowledging the headline-worthiness of the quote.

When asked if the aforementioned "cloud services" could work with your existing PSN library, recognizing your previous purchases and making those experiences available on the otherwise-incompatible PS4, Yoshida said, "We could do so if we choose to. We know who purchased what as a record. But we are working on service plans and we haven't decided."

Retail PS3 games won't run natively on PS4, said Gaikai CEO David Perry during yesterday's unveiling of the new console, when he introduced its cloud gaming capabilities.

This is likely due to the significant differences in the design of the hardware between PS3 and PS4. The former featured a custom-built Cell processor with unique hardware architecture that was reportedly difficult for developers to grasp; the latter will include an x86 processor that is expected to bear a closer resemblance to current PC hardware, said lead architect Mark Cerny.

Perry did say that Sony wants to eventually make the PS4 backward-compatible with PS1, PS2 and PS3 games through Gaikai-based streaming, but implied that that functionality will not be available anytime soon.

Additional reporting by Samit Sarkar.

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