With Sony's next system expected to move to AMD chips and abandon the architecture that defined PS3, hopes for backwards compatibility were lost. During the transition from PS2 to PS3, Sony had to include expensive legacy components to enable playback of last-gen games. Backwards compatibility was eventually removed from redesigned models, designed to be cheaper.
Although PS4 (codenamed Orbis) will be a radically different system, it will be able to offer backwards compatibility through Gaikai streaming tech--a theory we offered after Sony's acquisition of the company last summer.
According to the Wall Street Journal (via Polygon), the streaming service will enable playback of PS3 games. According to the paper's sources, this feature should be announced alongside the new console reveal on Wednesday. "How Sony plans to charge for streamed games remains unclear," WSJ notes, pointing out the significant cost of offering game streaming services. Could PlayStation Plus come into play?
Obviously, we have a lot of questions surrounding the implementation of this streaming tech. Will players be able to stream games they already own on Blu-ray? How about PlayStation Network titles?