One of the more disappointing aspects to the upcoming next-gen consoles from Microsoft and Sony is that current generation games — both physical and digital — are not compatible with the new hardware. Sony has already confirmed their plans to launch a backwards compatibility solution for the PS4 next year with their Gaikai streaming service, and now it looks the Xbox One might one day do something similar via the power of “the cloud.”
Speaking to Gamespot this past week, Microsoft Senior Director Albert Penello mentioned that Xbox One backwards compatibility is theoretically possible using the Azure cloud service, and it could be something that the company looks at in the future.
“That’s one of the things that makes [the cloud] at the same time both totally interesting and hard to describe to people. Because what the cloud can do is sort of hard to pin. When you say to the customer, we want the box to be connected, we want developers to know that the cloud is there. We’re really not trying to make up some phony thing. But there are so many things that the servers can do. Using our Azure cloud servers, sometimes it’s things like voice processing. It could be more complicated things like rendering full games like a Gaikai and delivering it to the box. We just have to figure out how, over time, how much does that cost to deliver, how good is the experience.”
Obviously, Penello’s statement is far from a confirmation that Microsoft has a cloud-based backwards compatibility solution in the works for the Xbox One, but at least it is a start.
If nothing else, it would be a nice gesture to fans if Microsoft could someday figure out a way to allow users to bring their library of digital Xbox 360 titles to the Xbox One. It would be even better if the theoretical streaming service let you play games you have already purchased for free, but that is probably asking too much.