*spin-off* Importance of Backward Compatibility Discussion

Discussion in 'Console Industry' started by function, May 12, 2011.

  1. joker454

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    3,819
    Likes Received:
    139
    Location:
    So. Cal.
    I was also talking about ps3 vs ps3. The price drop did not show that consumers didn't want bc. It just showed that there is a limit to how much the average consumer will spend on a console.


    Because people keep coming up with ridiculous arguments like a stupidly priced ps3 not selling means no one cares for bc. That has nothing to do with anything. So I show one dumb argument to counter another dumb argument.


    But then you can say that about everything. If xb1 and ps4 shipped with no extra features at all and only booted and played games, they would probably still sell. That doesn't mean all the extra goodies the consoles offer aren't essential, but it just means that people have no choice and/or don't know any better since no competitor offers them. Something can only be seen as essential when one competitor offers it and another doesn't. Look at last gen where online play was far superior on the 360 vs the ps3. In the era before that online play wasn't seen as essential at all because no one had decent online play. But next gen once one competitor (the 360) offered it at a reasonable price and the other (ps3) didn't then it became essential almost overnight. Bc has never had that chance in the console world because it's either never offered, or in the rare case when it was it was on a console priced out of reach of just about everyone anyways so it was moot. With that recent poll listing bc as #2 tells us that it's clearly on the mind of console buyers and hence important as per the thread title, but so far it can't have any effect on sales because no one offers it. But once it is I'd wager anyone here that like online it becomes essential overnight, just like it's essential on most all other software platforms out there. I don't think anyone here would expect Windows, OSX, iOS, Android, etc to drop bc do they?
     
  2. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
    Moderator Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    43,482
    Likes Received:
    15,934
    Location:
    Under my bridge
    If you can't argue anything other than extremes, why do you continue to post? How many times does it have to be repeated that people do value BC, but on the scale between 'essential' and 'irrelevant', it doesn't occupy an 'essential' position? The question has always been about what degree of importance to afford BC, and what sacrifices, if any, should be made to supporting it.

    It's on the minds of 10% of the top 20 options (and given closeness of the latter options, chances are it's a fair bit lower than 10% in total) for which a lot of higher priority options weren't asked.

    So if XB1 had released with an inferior box than that currently released, or a more expensive one, with full BC, it'd be selling much better and all those PS4 buyers would have bought XB1 instead?
    And we're back to the cyclic arguments. The poll quoted does not support your view about BC. It supports the view that BC has a measured value like every other feature.
     
  3. joker454

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    3,819
    Likes Received:
    139
    Location:
    So. Cal.
    Because:

    1) The thread title is the importance of bc
    2) It was picked as #2 in a poll in importance
    3) Bc is standard and expected in every other software ecosystem on this planet and the next.

    Therefore it doesn't take much to determine that it's important. Simple as that. Whatever other tangents you guys want to spin off and/or obfuscations you want to add are largely irrelevant to the point. It should be patently obvious that in the software world preserving ones software investment is important. It is obvious already...in every software world except console, and now even a console poll reveals that it's also important. What a shocker.
     
  4. ThePissartist

    Veteran Regular

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2013
    Messages:
    1,559
    Likes Received:
    507
    What's happened to the PS1/PS2 emulation on the PS4? It seems to have disappeared off the radar.
     
  5. Cjail

    Cjail Fool
    Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2013
    Messages:
    2,027
    Likes Received:
    210
    @joker454
    There are degrees of importance.
    The price of BC it's clearly more important to players than BC itself.
     
  6. joker454

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    3,819
    Likes Received:
    139
    Location:
    So. Cal.
    I'd totally agree on that. But console makers, like makers of pc's phones and tablets, need to factor it into the hardware design to make it cost feasible. That doesn't mean a kludge solution like putting an entire ps2 on a ps3 motherboard, it means thinking the hardware design through for full forward compatibility. Ultimately if bc wasn't important then the likes of Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc would have dropped it from their various products ages ago. Of course they haven't because doing so would be suicide, but they solved bc with smart hardware design and software api's. The console makers now need to catch up to the rest of the software world. Perhaps the xb1 already allows for this, so maybe this entire discussion is moot anyways.
     
  7. Billy Idol

    Legend Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2009
    Messages:
    5,960
    Likes Received:
    793
    Location:
    Europe
    Why are you saying the X1? It is still quite exotic in design...compared to a PS4, right? If a console offers BC in future with no cost, it should be the PS5 I guess? I don't think that MS will put again ESRAM in their nextBox.
     
  8. Nesh

    Nesh Double Agent
    Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2005
    Messages:
    12,411
    Likes Received:
    2,715
    The BC does add a lot of value if it is considered in isolation. The problem is, since it is not something that can be done purely on software, it comes at an unnecessary price which removes value from somewhere else.

    Obviously BC is something many want a lot. But when we want to convert to the next generation we mainly think, how much is the cost of conversion to play the newer games?
    When a console carries the cost of BC, the customer doesnt make the association of BC value=higher price. So we automatically think only about the cost we have to pay to access the new games. And that cost will carry the cost of BC (if its there). We just wont think "oh it has BC thats why. Ok I ll buy it at a higher price". At the back of our heads having access to older games is something we expect to come at free cost.

    On the other hand if the company absorbs the costs of BC to keep the price lower, it is not good for breaking even and making profit.

    Then its the fact that there are people that didnt own the previous console and hence wont benefit from BC and the company wants to absorb newcomers that knows wont use BC

    So at the end the BC is removed not because it has no value, but because people dont consider the extra price they have to pay to get the value of BC, and the first consideration when purchasing a new console is associated mainly with the newest generation of games.

    BC is great but it needs to have insignificant additional costs in order to work for both the consumer and the company
     
  9. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
    Moderator Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    43,482
    Likes Received:
    15,934
    Location:
    Under my bridge
    Over 90% of poll respondents didn't care for BC - you're misunderstanding the poll. Not that that changes you're argument because your argument is correct in that BC is important. However, your argument stops at this binary conclusion and fails to factor in the costs of designing a forwards-compatible hardware, the software overheads of of BC, and the relative value comparing those costs to the actual benefits to the consumer.

    What you're probably trying to say, I hope, is that as the cost to introduce BC is decreasing, it should be raised in priority in the design of future boxes. That's an argument I can agree with, although one still not supported by this poll response. Presently 90% don't care for BC and that figure only decreases over the life of a console. I'd say it was worth supporting that 10% (likely has a higher value than the poll shows) as the cost to include BC is now very low. PS5 can be PS4 exactly in architecture and probably not suffer, unless there's a radical hardware shift by then (assuming there is a PS5 and everything doesn't go streamed).
     
  10. joker454

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    3,819
    Likes Received:
    139
    Location:
    So. Cal.
    Edram shouldn't matter since when they are ready for the xb2 there will be regular ram available that will be just as fast, so they could stub out all the various edram specific calls in the sdk to do nothing. The xb1 seems like on the software side is more setup for easier bc in the future compared to the ps4 which is why I mention it, and because they also have a more broad device list of laptops, tablets, etc so bc is more to their benefit compared to Sony.


    I don't agree on the first point simply because a new console owner will have a ton more great games to play right at launch rather than have to wait until 2015 for the good stuff to come out. For example they could have been playing GTA 5 last December on their shiny new console as well as the new Borderlands when it comes out later. Also there are lots of really good smaller live/psn games that a new comer to the platform could then enjoy like Limbo, etc...

    I agree on the second point and that's where the current consoles have been failing. I don't know if any of you were gaming back in the early 80s, but remember when the "next gen" Colecovision and Atari 5200 came out? The buzz in every single print magazine back then (and I still have most of them) was how the Colecovision could play all Atari 2600 games whereas Atari's own 5200 couldn't. That helped Coleco come out of no where and take the lead from Atari. It did require a buying their Atari expansion module but that was totally accepted back then so it sold like crazy. Today the rules have been re-written since we have far better hardware and software available so bc has become an accepted freebie. Like there's no way Apple would be able to charge say $50 for "compatibility software", it's just one of those things that's expected free. You change device and everything still works, that's just how it is. So it does have to basically come at "no cost". I put that in quotes because there's always a cost of course as it affects hardware choices and takes software work, but in the end it needs to just "be free" on the consumers end. The way they have gone about building console made this impossible. Now I understand they had to go exotic with hardware and they had to have it last many years...but I think times have finally caught up with even the console world to where they don't have that excuse to fall back on anymore. I also do think hardware like phones and tablets are applying pressure to consoles as well to offer bc, I mean there were quite a few backlash articles on the consoles not offering bc complete with Picard facepalm pic. The gaming specific websites of course gloss over that sort of thing because they need to cheerlead the industry and feed the hype machine, but websites that weren't only about games really hit the console industry hard on not offering bc. The pressure is building...so I think we will finally see it happen.


    Yeah but I'd go even further than that and have cross device compatibility. I'm curious to see who will be the first to let you buy software and use it on any device in their platform be it computer, laptop, tablet or phone. I really believe that the hardware and software to do this exists to day, we just need someone to put the pieces together and make it happen, then in turn force everyone else's hand to do the same.

    It's like with internet speeds, how companies here like Comcast or Time Warner provide shitty speeds in some cities...right until Google Fiber rolls into that same town and then magically the cable companies then provide enhanced high speed packages. With the consoles given that there were typically just two competitors, bc always fell by the way side since either side new the other wouldn't bother. It was a silent collusion where neither side cared to design for it and preferred to have everyone have to rebuy everything. I think enough competitive pressure outside of the console world has built up to where consoles can't ignore bc anymore.

    I really do think we benefit from that anyways. Aside from being able to play our existing games and play games we may have previously missed it also means that game development should be both easier and more lucrative. No more all new platform to learn qand code for, and developers would be willing to take more chances if they knew they were selling to a much larger audience of xb2, xb1, pc, laptop, and tablet owners rather than just xb2 owners for example.
     
  11. TheAlSpark

    TheAlSpark Moderator
    Moderator Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2004
    Messages:
    21,578
    Likes Received:
    7,129
    Location:
    ಠ_ಠ
    Is this a scenario where there'd be no increase in resolution for older games? I was also wondering if QA might be an issue given access patterns & bus contention where equivalent theoretical bandwidth wouldn't actually be enough.


    edit: On another scenario, I'm not too clear on how they would handle a second form with a larger scratchpad (for example) as they mention it being "fully integrated into the page tables" & being able to do partial render targets/spill over into DDR3. Maybe it's easier than it seems? Everything sounds rather manually placed for fixed target.
     
  12. joker454

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    3,819
    Likes Received:
    139
    Location:
    So. Cal.
    Yeah I was thinking pure bc, so no resolution increase. The company could still issue a re-mastered and improved version if they wanted to.


    Yeah it does but I don't think it would matter really, so long as the xb2's memory+bus can deliver the data rate needed. Behind the scenes the os would just have to map edram to one chunk of the xb2's memory and ddr3 to another chunk, and memory access should be handled transparently to an xb1 app. Emulating one platforms memory layout on another has been done a fair amount over the years, with pc's flat ddr3 layout notably emulating just about every quirky console layout known to man so I think it wouldn't be that hard to duplicate.
     
  13. TheAlSpark

    TheAlSpark Moderator
    Moderator Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2004
    Messages:
    21,578
    Likes Received:
    7,129
    Location:
    ಠ_ಠ
    I see, thanks. :)
     
  14. Phil

    Phil wipEout bastard
    Veteran

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2002
    Messages:
    4,785
    Likes Received:
    377
    Location:
    127.0.0.1
    When arguing the merits of backwards-compatibility, I always see many posters here refer to older consoles and how backwards-compatibility back then wasn't a highly used feature in many personal experiences. That may be true.

    But I also think that backwards compatibility will increase in importance for the sole reason that graphics are reaching some form of dimishing returns. I think the largest jump from any generation (well post 3d) was going from PS2 to PS3. It ment that we finally went to HD resolutions, relatively good image-quality, some form of anti-aliasing standard in many games so that we can look back on relatively clean graphics. It also means that to this date, PS3 (and X360) games still stack up rather well, even to newer games running on PS4/Xbox One.

    Lets look at two examples:

    The progression Metal Gear Solid went through, from 1998 on PS1 to its latest this year in form of Ground Zeroes:
    [​IMG]

    Then, another example; showing Gran Turismo back on PS1 until DriveClub (unfortunately no GT shown yet, so DriveClub will have to work as a comparison):

    [​IMG]

    Now, the comparison might be slightly unfair to some extend because as you will undoubtedly notice, I downscaled all screenshots to roughly PS1 vertical resolution. It's not all that bad though, since being console gamers, most of us play with reasonable distances and the average TV screen size has probably only marginally increased over the past 10 years, slightly more over the last 20 years. In fact, I think I remember playing back on a 32 inch TV back on PS1, and now days, I would think the average TV size in most livingrooms would be around 42-46 inch. Adding in the factor of average viewing distance (we're not PC gamers after all) and some of that detail we obsess about on here is lost anyway.

    So what my point is? My point is that PS3 -> PS4 - there's a difference, but I'd argue that difference is quite a bit smaller than PS2 -> PS3. That IMO has a lot to do with resolution and the huge increase in image-quality. We also went from interlaced output to fully progressive frames.

    In other words; there's probably a lot more reason, as PS4 (or XBox One) owners to go back and play some of last generation finest games than there was on the PS3 to go back playing shimmering and aliased PS2 games.

    You can also note the relative small gap we're seeing in indy-type or PSN games; where for example Super StarDust HD still holds up very well (running at 1080p60 on the PS3) to Resogun (also running at 1080p60 on the PS4).


    I'm also in full agreement with Joker; pretty much all other hardware outthere offers some form of backwards-compatibilty. Just look at the eco-system on iPhone, WindowsMobile and Android. Buy one software and use it on pretty much any device, from older smartphones to newer ones, from phones to tablets.

    I'm well aware that backwards compatibility isn't something that comes lightly and for free - it's huge headache (unless you add the costs of including legacy hardware), but I'm fairly confident looking into the future that backwards-compatibility will increase its importance and will be at some point be demanded by the market. Also, Sony and Microsoft can't afford to start at Zero going into every new generation. They need reasons for their existing userbase to continue on their platform. And adding backwards-compatibility immediately adds a lot of value for existing customers.
     
  15. Rurouni

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
    Messages:
    975
    Likes Received:
    263
    It isn't important enough if it would affect the price greatly. But I still think it's important enough that they should be thinking about making an add on for BC. Those who had previous console might be tempted to buy the add on just for streamlining the shelf. Those that don't can have an option to experience previous gen without the expense of a full console. How much cheaper a PS3 can be if they remove the BD, i/o ports and probably the internal PSU? Of course they can't do it easily, not unless it was being prepared for that (because the need of a special connector). But I wish they would think about it next time (although probably for next gen software emulation should be enough, assuming they stay with the same or similar architecture).
     
  16. DSoup

    DSoup meh
    Legend Veteran Subscriber

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    Messages:
    12,472
    Likes Received:
    7,719
    Location:
    London, UK
    I think the mobile OS analogy is a bad one for consoles but if you're going to use it then I think you should be looking at the support and backwards compatibility offered on the hardware that was around when the last gen consoles (360/PS3/Wii) launched.

    The iPhone didn't appear until summer 2007 and Android in 2008. Around the time day, WindowsMobile was fairly big. How's compatibility for that? Not great, because Microsoft reset everything in early 2010.

    While I can see the appeal of backwards compatibility for some (not me, personally), equally I can understand the engineering challenge in ensuring backwards compatibility, whether at software and/or hardware level, and can see the advantages of not having to limit your hardware choices if backwards compatibility isn't a consumer expectation.
     
  17. Phil

    Phil wipEout bastard
    Veteran

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2002
    Messages:
    4,785
    Likes Received:
    377
    Location:
    127.0.0.1
    It wasn't ment as an analogy, but more as example to point out that as consumers, we are used to having cross compatibility. We were used to it in the PC space, when we upgraded from Windows 95 to 98, to XP, 7 etc in that most of our software that we purchased still worked in some form or another on new and upgraded hardware and OS.

    Now days, smartphones and tablets have become central to most livingrooms and people more so than ever, are aware of the cross compatibility you get with these devices. The gaming business is booming too on those devices.

    I think looking into the future, at some point, backwards-compatibility will become an even more important factor. Arguably, back on the newly launched PS2, many decided against playing old PS1 games because the new games were a milestone better than what we were playing previously. Then on PS3, the same happened - we went from Analog CRTs to HD-ready LCD TVs and most of us weren't that interested in revisiting old games because most of them don't hold up too well. This IMO has largely to do with image quality. PS3 to PS4 roughly offers the same resolution (give or take) and better IQ across the board (but not the kind of improvement we saw 7 years ago).

    If the difference between gameplay and visuals is decreasing from generation to generation, so will the reason to upgrade on day 1. Then there's also the arguement that we are buying more and more games digital. Since the digital property is linked to a login/username, being cross compatible is the way forward.
     
  18. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
    Moderator Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    43,482
    Likes Received:
    15,934
    Location:
    Under my bridge
    I'd argue with disposable games that no-one would mind if they lost access to them. Are people really going to be firing up Flappy Bird and Cookie Crap Pro and Bejewelled 2014 edition in three years time? And as has been mentioned already apps get broken by new OSes all the time and if they don't get an update they're dead. BC isn't 100%

    I don't think there's much analogy between PC/mobile and consoles. Consoles are a dedicated box where owners are used to leaving the old behind. And let's not also forget the BC doesn't fully exist in mobile. Buy a new handset and all your old handset peripheral like the dock and car jack and such stop working because the connector has been changed. People are having to buy new stuff to support their upgrades all the time.

    Note that I'm saying BC should exist in the next consoles if there are any. I'm just unconvinced by the analogies saying BC is ubiquitous and people will be up in arms if it's missing.
     
  19. Nesh

    Nesh Double Agent
    Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2005
    Messages:
    12,411
    Likes Received:
    2,715
    I think if we had access to the digital sales of PS1 and PS2 games on PS3's store we would know better.

    Personally I did purchase a few old classic PS1 games and replayed to finish.

    Some games leave history. They are classics. I am pretty sure BC is saught out mainly to play those old masterpieces like FF7 not clone games that everyone plays and forgets they even existed a few years later
     
  20. bkilian

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2006
    Messages:
    1,539
    Likes Received:
    3
    Aah, you appear to be under the impression that the console manufacturer has infinite resources and can just easily absorb all the design, manufacturing and test cost for adding a new sku with what would have to be significant hardware differences and huge software differences. I too would like to live in your world, unfortunately, I live in the real world, where the xbox team didn't have enough resources for even the stuff they _did_ want to ship on one sku.

    Cost/Benefit. Out of the top 10 options in that poll, #2 is _by far_ the highest cost. On the 360, BC testing for every new hardware or dashboard release cost literally millions of dollars, even with all of the mitigations in place to reduce the total cost, and that's with the limited Xbox library, imagine the cost with the 360 library, it would be ridiculous.

    Going forward, they're in a better position, due to VM design and a more generic architecture, but it will still be a choice between cost and benefit when they make the decision next time. Hopefully the cost will be significantly reduced.
     
Loading...

Share This Page

  • About Us

    Beyond3D has been around for over a decade and prides itself on being the best place on the web for in-depth, technically-driven discussion and analysis of 3D graphics hardware. If you love pixels and transistors, you've come to the right place!

    Beyond3D is proudly published by GPU Tools Ltd.
Loading...