I saw a thread like this on NeoGAF, and it got me thinking:
This generation is winding up, and the next one is almost here. More than ever before, the question of backwards compatibility becomes of paramount importance. Why, you ask? Because of all the digital purchases we made this generation. All those XBLA games, all those PSN games, those WiiWare and Virtual Console games, all of that money will have been spent in vain if you can't play your games on the next generation systems. And you won't be able to unless they are fully backwards compatible.
Nintendo is set as far as backwards compatibility is concerned: the Wii U is fully backwards compatible with all Wii games, controllers, and accessories, along with WiiWare and Wii Virtual Console games, which will not only be continued to be sold on the eShop, but also be fully transferrable to the Wii U from your Wii.
Microsoft looks pretty good in this regard. Although we have nothing to go by but rumors, speculation indicates that Microsoft is using an evolution of their current system architecture in their next system, which means that they will probably be able to run all existing Xbox 360, XBLA, and Games on Demand games on their next system natively. Support for the first generation Xbox may either be dropped entirely, or be brought over from the Xbox 360 as it is- i.e., partial support via emulation.
Sony looks to be in a world of hurt. The PS4 is rumored to not be using the Cell architecture, and be using something much easier to program for. That sounds good, right? It is. But the problem is, unless all Cell components are included in the PS4 (which would be prohobitively expensive, and after this generation, Sony definitely doesn't want that), the PS4 won't be able to run PS3 retail or PSN games at all; Cell emulation is technically infeasible. Whereas full support for PS1 and PS2 is almost definitely certain, no support for PS3 titles means that customers from PS3 who upgrade to PS4 will almost certainly be locked out of their PS3 purchases (PSOne and PS2 CIassics, however, will almost certainly work).
That's just what I think, however. What do you all think? What are the odds that the next generation systems will be backwards compatible?