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PS4 and Xbox 720 likely to lose backwards compatibility, according to EA

EA's chief financial officer has warned that the next generation of games consoles are unlikely to be backwards-compatible with existing titles.

With Sony expected to unveil the PS4 next week and Microsoft to follow close behind with its own Xbox 720, talk of the next generation of gaming platforms is strong - but according to Blake Jorgensen, chief financial officer at EA, the release of all-new hardware may not be all good news for consumers. For a start, it's likely to render their back-catalogues of games useless.

Current-generation consoles, including Sony's PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360, offer some level of backwards compatibility with previous-generation titles. In the case of the Xbox 360, this comes in the form of a software-based emulator that allows the system to play a selection of the most popular titles from the original Xbox console; the PlayStation 3, meanwhile, was originally launched with the ability to play some PlayStation 2 games but had this feature removed to reduce costs - but still retains the ability to play PlayStation One titles. Nintendo's Wii, by contrast, can play almost all GameCube games - unless the buyer has opted for the Wii Mini model, which cannot.

This lack of compatibility is likely to extend across the entire next-generation ecosystem, Jorgensen warned attendees at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference this week. "An important thing to remember is that next-gen consoles will most likely not be backwards compatible, and if you multiplayer on a game, you'll most likely not be able to play with someone on a different generation."

That the Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4 could lose backwards compatibility should come as no surprise: rumours point to both using a vastly different system architecture than their predecessors, based on AMD's accelerated processing unit (APU) platform. It has also been foreshadowed by Nintendo's Wii U launch, which loses the Wii's ability to play GameCube games - although, unlike the Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4, the Wii U can play last-generation Wii games without trouble.

Neither Sony nor Microsoft have commented on Jorgensen's claims, but with product unveilings expected in the very near future fans shouldn't have long to wait to see if they'll be needing to keep their last-generation console under the TV when they upgrade.

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