As I’m sure most of you who searched this post out have heard the backwards compatibility for PlayStation 4 is in question. While I don’t have any inside information I do have some observations based on my long time experience with technology. First is the fact that the PlayStation 4 is going to be x86 based. The PlayStation 3 is cell processor based so backwards compatibility must be impossible! To that I would say, sort of. One thing to keep in mind is that many of the 3rd party games were actually cross platform. That means despite there being a PS3 version there’s also an x86 PC version hanging out out there. This means it should be, mostly, trivial for developers to port their game back to the PS4 from their PC code. So it’s not likely we’ll see Sony first party games coming back on to the PS4 but we’ll almost certainly see third party titles coming back.
The other piece to the puzzle is that Sony now owns Gaikai. Certain podcasters and media have made comments to the effect that it’s impossible for Sony to run PS3 games over Gaikai citing things similar to the above processor difference but in order to support the Gaikai components that would be needed to make it happen. I’d like to remind those folks that Sony originally supported Linux on the PS3 and those PS3’s were used in things like super computer clusters. Much like the ones used on the back end of cloud services. I have a feeling part of the reason for that is that the PS3 is Linux based at it’s core and that it’s actually going to be quite easy for Sony to extend PlayStation 3 games into that sort of online cloud delivery environment.
I guess what I’m getting at is that even though you might not be able to play those PlayStation 3 games off your old disc’s on day one those games will come back around and make an appearance on the new console in some form.