Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick has some surprisingly pro-consumer things to say about backwards compatibility on Nintendo’s next console.
As covered by Video Games Chronicle, Strauss had this to say:
“I’m not sure. You need to give consumers what they want and optimize their experience, and you can’t not deliver a feature you’re able to deliver so as to maximize sales. That isn’t fulfilling your contract with consumers.
You have to do the very best you can for them. I suppose it’s possible the lack of backward compatibility could enhance your revenue for a period of time, but at what cost?
We’re not a hardware manufacturer so we don’t get to make those decisions. But I think if you can be compatible technically, then you want to be. However, in certain instances if the leap forward is great enough, that’s not a possibility.”
Zelnick is responding to the rumors surrounding the Nintendo Switch 2, that some third party developers discouraged Nintendo from adding backwards compatibility to their console.
Some gamers may not understand why backwards compatibility was an issue for those developers, but it’s a matter of the tech upgrade. As Zelnick explains, there may be a point where the new hardware will be so powerful that it would not be cost effective to maintain backwards compatibility.
While gamers in general prefer to keep backwards compatibility in their consoles, that varies in practice. For Nintendo themselves, few gamers were that upset that the Nintendo Switch dropped compatibility with the Wii U. The Wii U was not powerful enough to complete with its contemporaries, and the Switch proved that it had that power and then some.
This isn’t an issue unique to Nintendo either. Sony took a bit of a hit when they couldn’t add PlayStation 3 disc compatibility to either the PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5. If you read the fine print on that, the reason for this is the complexity of PlayStation 3 hardware, but it’s safe to assume Sony won out in spite of it.
In this case, since the next Nintendo console is expected to also be a portable, and it will also use an SOC supplied by Nvidia, gamers are expecting backwards compatibility of some kind.
Nividia’s Tegra chips once powered generations of smartphones and tablets, but now Nvidia is dedicated to making it for their Shield devices, as well as Nintendo’s platforms. This really isn’t an unreasonable expectation at all.
Nintendo certainly won’t have to defer to their old trick of bundling part of the old hardware as part of the new one. At the very least, on a digital level, Nvidia could supply Nintendo with the technology to have Switch games running on a successor console.
Ultimately, it is Nintendo’s call, but if a CEO of one of those third parties thinks Nintendo should prioritize their gamers, then why would Nintendo cater to those developers? Nintendo and Nvidia should be able to come up with a solution that keeps all parties happy, anyway,