Backward Compatibility Is “A Very Important Element” Says Nintendo President

By Ishaan . October 29, 2012 . 9:50am

Backward compatibility is an important feature to include when transitioning from an older game console to a newer one, Nintendo president, Satoru Iwata, believes. At a recent investor Q&A, Iwata provided his opinion on the subject.


“With regard to the backward compatibility with Wii, we think that product compatibility is a very important element during the transitional period from one platform to another,” Iwata told investors. “The software lineup for a new platform is not very rich during such a period and many consumers do not want to throw away the software they bought for the previous platform.”


Iwata believes that the amount of space taken up by videogame consoles plays an important role, too, when it comes to consumers settling on their purchases.


“As there is usually no space for many video game consoles on a TV stand, some even hate to buy a new one unless they can move the previous one to another location or store it in the closet,” Iwata shares. “Compatibility is of great significance in these respects.”


On the subject of the upcoming Wii U console being backward compatible with Wii software, Iwata adds: “There are many Wii software titles that are still enjoyable, and when you have never played a game, you can enjoy it as nothing but a newly released game. We would therefore like to take advantage of business opportunities to sell software for a previous console.”

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  • thaKingRocka

    I offer a very sincere thank you to Mr. Iwata for genuinely considering the people.

  • I’d like to know why they aren’t upscaling or smoothing out the image quality via AA considering how “next-gen” the WiiU supposedly is, they got room to spare with horsepower right? 1080p standard and all that jazz.

    Given how tech friendly the GC/Wii/WiiU architecture was you’d think this would be a no brainer, but hey man, we should be thankful that they’re speeding up the early adapter-rate before yanking it like they did at the end of the Wii’s lifespan with the new BCless SKU.

    • MrRobbyM

      Wait. Is 1080p still the standard for the WiiU? I thought I heard somewhere that it was scrapped in favor of a lower manufactoring cost.

      • Peace Legacy

         No, it is neither the standard, or was scrapped
        It is simply an option that is available for developer to decide whether they would want to use it or not (Just like the PS3 and the Xbox360, but since it is slightly stronger, so 1080p titles are more likely on Wii-U if the game was released multi-platform between the 3 consoles… granted if the developer actually care enough to invest the effort to use the Wii U extra power during the port)

        • MrRobbyM

          I see. Thank you for clearing that up.

          • Nemesis_Dawn

            Yeah, it’ll be capable of it, but not all games will be 1080p. Mass Effect 3, for example, has been confirmed at 720p.

  • Kibbitz

    That’s extremely thoughtful. Backward compatibility may not be a necessary feature, but it is surely a welcome one.

    • MrRobbyM

      I always enjoy nice backwards compatibility. There are many Wii games I have yet to play and I’d still like to play the ones I own so keeping one console instead of two out on my TV stand helps.

  • Spirit Macardi

    It’s stuff like this that makes me realize nostalgia isn’t the only reason I still love Nintendo.

    • Godmars

      Sorry but I’m confused.

      Isn’t backwards compatibility an expression of nostalgia? The ability to play older games on newer systems.

      • IsaacGravity

        Always took it as more of a convenience thing myself.

        EDIT: Still takes more than being able to run the previous wares stuff (which is extremely welcome btw) to make ya wanna up and get the new, pricier, shinier one.

      • It is also a way for new people to get introduced to the games the older consoles have to offer without going out of their way to buy said older console.

        …..well, unless they decide to release some “HD release”

  • If it’s so important why are they forcing people to buy digital versions of Gamecube games when the WiiU is basically an overclocked Wii, which itself is basically an overclocked GC? 

    • Grenalie

      They’re not forcing anyone to buy digital Gamecube games; keep your Gamecube around if you want to play them so badly, or use Dolphin, or wait until the Wii-U is inevitably hacked.

    • Herok♞

       The same reason Sony forces people to buy digital ps2, psx and psp games and Mircosoft forces people to buy digital xbox games.

      • Nemesis_Dawn

        Sony don’t force you to buy digital PSX games. You can still use your Playstation 1 discs in your PS3. 

        Personally, if I had to get rid of one of the features of the PS3, I would have gotten rid of PS1 compatibility and kept PS2, but hey, I’m not in charge.Still, they aren’t forcing you to do anything when the PS1 is concerned.

        • DuskSharkEX

           You know that was sarcasm, right?

        • Herok♞

          I know they don’t, I used the wording in reply to the first comment. I agree with about rather having ps2 then psx games though the reason why it is that way now is because of the laser.

    • Peace Legacy

      “WiiU is basically an overclocked Wii, which itself is basically an overclocked GC”
      That statement couldn’t be more wrong and ignorant. Who the heck is giving you all that like?

    • Barzh

      “Wii is an overclocked GC”

      “Wii U is an overclocked Wii”

      Not at all. However, I refuse to buy digital versions of old games when I still have my own and still buy used physical copies of them.

    • …forcing?

  • idrawrobots

    Then why doesn’t the WiiU have a slots for my 64 games and controllers?

    • That’s why there’s the Virtual Console.
      If they had to make it compartible with every past gen console then the WiiU would look pretty ugly with so many controller slots and game slots everywhere lol.

  • On Pokemon games especially it’s a pretty cool feature!

  • Go2hell66

    yup BC is a huge selling point for a lot of consoles, but then again think of all the money sony is rolling in right now re-selling old ps2 games as hd collections

  • neo_firenze

    While this is a nice bit of corporate marketing fluff, Nintendo has some black marks on their record too.  For one, the unfortunate practice of phasing out backwards compatibility in their hardware over time.  Although the originals could, later model Wii systems can’t play Gamecube games.  Later model DS systems axed GBA/GBC support. 

    It looks like they do care about backward compatibility at the launch of
    a new system, which makes business sense for the reasons Iwata
    outlines.  But if they were really just doing it to be consumer-friendly, they wouldn’t remove the features once they felt the new system was well entrenched. 

    Just like with WiiU – it’s great that it plays Wii games (and uses the controllers so many people invested so much money in).  But there’s no real reason they couldn’t have also added Gamecube support to WiiU to support people who already bought those games and still have the discs.  Saying people can re-buy the games again on VC is cynical at best.  Using VC to give people who DON’T already own the discs a convenient way to buy and discover those games is great, it’s not so great to try to get people to buy the same game they already own again. 

    • Michael Synodis

       Well put! It’s nice that they are doing this, but it is blatantly a business move, with no real regard for those of us who have bought huge libraries of older games. At least this time it will be harder to make en excuse if they pull out Wii compatibility from newer versions of the Wii U.

    • Grenalie

      You say that like it’s hard to find a DS lite or a backwards compatible Wii, the new ones are just to cut costs.  Gamecube was 2 generations ago, it was going to get dropped eventually.

    • $29082171

       There is a reason, backwards compatibility costs money and adding two whole previous generations to the Wii-u would make it cost more than it should. Remember the initial price of the PS3 which had PS2 backwards compatibility? It still hurts Sony to this day.

      • neo_firenze

        The original PS3 required actual separate PS2 hardware inside to allow it to play PS2 games, which did cost real money.  That’s why I can at least understand Sony cutting costs by removing that hardware for future system revisions.  And remember they NEVER cut PS1 compatibility – any PS3 can play your original PS1 discs since it was done with software emulation (not requiring additional costly hardware in the machine). 

        The WiiU is based on the same architecture as the Wii, which in turn was based on the Gamecube architecture.  It should not require additional hardware in order to play Gamecube games. The original Wii did have Gamecube controller and memory card ports, a small cost, but a cost no less.  But it really doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that Nintendo could make Gamecube games playable with the WiiU Pro Controller, and save to virtual memory cards in the internal system memory.

        TL;DR version: Costs for Nintendo to allow Gamecube backwards compatibility are negligible at best, but they’re not doing it. If they were really in this for the consumer, they’d have GC support. But they’d rather not give up the possibility that they can re-sell the same games on Virtual Console.

        • $29082171

          ”The WiiU is based on the same architecture as the Wii”.

          Excuse me but do you have a source of this statement? Because it wouldn’t make sense that developers are reporting so many difficulties developing for Wii-u since you claim it’s based on a familiar architecture.

          You also shouldn’t compare the PS1 to the GC, the latter is a gen ahead and is much more of a hassle to emulate and requires more powerful hardware. As well as the fact that the Wii-u obviously has a different architecture, it would need additional hardware to emulate it natively just like the PS3 does with the PS2, hence why it cost $599 at launch and why it got such a huge price drop later on.

          Did you also forget why the Wii later got a ”family edition” that removed GC compatibility? They were made to reduce development costs, and I’m sure that the cost wouldn’t be neglible as you said if they went through the whole trouble of designing a new batch of Wiis, it’s not like GC games were even selling anymore.

        • Kevin Tan

          I don’t think either the Wii or GC had a GPGPU, which is what the Wii U has.  We don’t even know if the tri-core Out of Order CPU is comprised of Broadway cores which were used in the Wii and GC.  These do matter with software compatibility, so there’s no certainty that GC games can run on Wii U hardware natively at all.

    • ronin4life

      Ds never had GBC support. The GBA support was removed… because the hardware involved was removed… just like the you said of the PS3. In fact, it was removed to add new functionality.

      Furthermore the Wii and ds lost BC late in their lives… unlike the PS3, Which ditched BC less than a year later to cut costs for sony and the Vita which has none, something that is damaging them in Japan.

      The “sell them back” comment would be even more true of Sony, since they are asking psp owners to buy back their library and ditched ps2 BC early on… just to upress and repackage their games later what could often be called a respective premium.

  • Brimfyre

    At least someone gets it, despite not really having any of their previous systems other than Wii (for a little bit at least) and the handhelds, be backwards compatible.

  • KingGunblader

    So with GameCube support on the way out, can we expect to see GameCube games on the Virtual Console, or maybe some HD versions? I would love to play Wind Waker and Tales of Symphonia again, and I can’t find those games ANYWHERE.

    • CirnoLakes

      I would certainly hope so. Though I don’t have my hopes too terribly high.

      And HD versions? This isn’t the PC. They’ll get away with anything they can. There isn’t HD versions of PSOne Classics on the PlayStation Network. And there haven’t been any graphical updates to games on the Nintendo Store, either. It’s unlikely that they would do something so gracious at to give a graphics update to Gamecube games. In fact we’ll be lucky if we get them at all.

      If you want to play Gamecube games in 1080p. I’m afraid that’s not something you’ll be able to do officially anytime soon. If ever. What you want and have to use is Dolphin. Probably forever.

      In fact the best you can probably hope for is some HD versions of well selling first party Nintendo games for the Wii U inflated to the original price as a way of squeezing more money out of them. Similar to what Nintendo did with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

      I love Nintendo as a software company, they have an amazing energy and ability to pump out solid games with an enjoyable, candy coloured aesthetic and they’re not afraid to do that, even if an age of ugly, brown and gritty. But it’s unrealistic to expect a console company to be releasing incredibly competent emulators. Else they would have done it a long time ago.

      • Kevin Tan

        The Wii U might be decent enough to run an optimized built-from-the-ground-up emulator (unlike Dolphin which, as a PC program, is not optimized for the very machines it runs on), but no one knows for sure.  In any case, the Wii U specs wouldn’t make that impossible, IMO.

        • CirnoLakes

          True, but no console company has been interesting in making decent, full featured emulator. Official console emulators still have almost no features or options whatsoever.

          The PlayStation PSOne Classics Emulator, or essentially the PlayStation 3’s version of ePSXe. Has one, incredibly bare bones and pathetic smoother. Almost no options or features whatsoever. And that itself is much better than the Nintendo Store emulator which has exactly zero options except for the ability to press home as a save state of sorts. So it seems very unlikely a console company, after all of these years, would release a good emulator, much less Nintendo. They’ve long had the ability to make good emulators, there have been good emulators out there since the early 90s. But they haven’t done it, and there’s no reason to assume that will change anytime soon.

          Official console emulators are a great place if you want to support and give money to the games you love. But a terrible place if you want good, fully functional emulators. Console companies realize they’re not PC companies and thus are not interested in giving PC luxuries to console gamers.

      • KingGunblader

        Well when I said “HD versions” I was referring to the HD re-releases that have become popular as of late. I know some people hate them, but I would gladly pony up the cash for the two games I mentioned in high-def.

        I’m well aware of Dolphin, but I just don’t have a strong enough computer to run GC games at even the lowest resolution. Trust me, if I could find a way, I’d be all over it.

  • DragonSix

    Tell that to Sony.

    But then again, Sony supports the PS1, while nintendo is dropping the GC for no good reason…

    • Herok♞

       Yeah but it ignores the PS2 which comes right before the PS3 and the Vita ignores PSP so as a whole nintendo is better with BC even if they are dropping the gamecube heck I don’t even think it is easy to find gamecube games anymore so it really isn’t a problem.

      • SLick123456789111


      • Barzh

        What do you guys do with your old consoles? Do you throw them out as soon as the new ones come out?

        This backwards compatibility biz isn’t vital.

        • Herok♞

           I don’t ever get rid of my old consoles, I still have my GBC,GBAsp, N64, Dreamcast, etc.

        •  I save them. Tried to hook up my PStwo today to play some nice old PS2 titles like I used to do. But for some odd reason my shiny LCD TV isn´t accepting the signal.

          It does however accept the signal from my PS3. And since I live in a small room and don´t just want a single line into my room I don´t want to have 3 different consoles standing next to eachother. Espacially not since I love to play games and have loads of consoles. The amount of cords and space all my consoles need is to freaking much.

          A PS3 can play all 3 generations of PS games is way better than having to have 3 different consoles taking up space.

      • Kefkiroth

        They’re not ignoring the PS2… The old PS3 models had PS2 hardware built-in so you could play PS2 discs… plus software emulation on the newer PS3s wouldn’t be feasible because of how hard it is to emulate the PS2. I think it’s fair game on that end; plus PS2 classics are being made (the game has to be tweaked though to work; it isn’t full software emulation).

        The Vita doesn’t ignore PSP either. The Vita can play PSP games from the PSN, but it needs the passport program like in Japan to get them at a reduced price… Also, no UMDs, but the tray would make it too big I guess.

        •  Then why remove the ability to play PS2 titles on every PS3? “the customers doesn´t want it” was what Sony said. The reason I imported my PS3 was 2 things. 1: I had mainly NTSC games. 2: I got a hold of a BC PS3.

          Adding certain games onto a PS2 library for download which I have to pay for again if I like the game and want to play it on my PS3 or as it should be: I simply insert the disc into the machine and press “play game”. Everything in the oldest version of the PS3 were able to do from the get go. Why remove such a feature from the console?

          • Kefkiroth

            “Then why remove the ability to play PS2 titles on every PS3?”
            Not every PS3, just the newer models. Probably to cut costs, I’d imagine, and to be able to slim down the console.
            Just to clarify, I was just replying to Herok’s comment that they ignored the PS2 and PSP completely, as they didn’t completely, just partly.

          • ronin4life

            BC was cut from the PS3 a few months after release, from what I can remember. The Vita us completely incompatible with a psp owners library and not all psp software is on the psn.

            Because of the advent of online and hd updates along with complications replicating the PS3 hardware the ps4 will most likely *completely* ditch BC as well.

          •  BC was cut a couple of months after they first released the PS3. So it was only the earliest models that had BC. If you bought one from Japan or US, when they released the PS3 in Europe and the rest of the world the BC was already gone.

            I know you replied on Herok´s comment. I commented on your reply :)

        • Herok♞

           I have a newer model PS3 that can’t play PS2 games, if there was a game I already owned and that was available I would have to rebuy it and yes in a sense Vita does ignore psp if you prefer phyiscal games and it the shop doesn’t have every psp game KH:BBB and FF7:CC being the most notable offenders.

          • Kefkiroth

            Again, I wouldn’t say completely ignoring PSP. Putting a UMD tray would waste a lot a space as I said, but it is true that they really need to get KH:BBB and FF7:CC on the store (I ended up putting CFW on the Vita just to be able to play those particular games, because my PSP-1000 just couldn’t run them well enough after a while).

          • Herok♞

             I agree that they don’t completely ignore psp but for most users, Vita is literally psp free since most people bought physical copies of everything.

          • Elvick

            I love b/c, but the Vita dropping UMD was a smart decision in the long run for the Vita. UMD wasn’t good.

  • Peace Legacy

    “very important element during the transitional period from one platform to another…The software lineup for a new platform is not very rich during such a period and many consumers do not want to throw away the software they bought for the previous platform.””

    So THAT’S why those pesky console revisions always try and get rid of the backward compatibility first thing first, once the titles library for that console have become a bit richer, and can support itself

    *Frown at the GBA Micro, DSi, Wii revision, PS3 slim*

    • psycho_bandaid

      I think he was just referring to the transition period when a system is first coming out.  Late in the generation backwards compatibility becomes less of a selling point.  Granted the PS3 jettisoned backwards compatibility almost immediately which was pretty irritating, but the other revisions you mention came out after the console had been out for quite a while.

  • Awesome! I’m glad they realize how important BC can be when you’re trying to sell a new product. I wish Sony would have done the same for the Vita, but I’m also aware of the complications and costs that would probably be associated with that decision, so I understand why they didn’t make the Vita BC.

    Well, it plays PSP games, but the whole having to rebuy the games to play them on the vita thingamajig. You all know what I mean anyway.

  • l777l


  • Yay. Nice to see that Nintendo understand that BC is important. Sony needs to learn this as well. A PS4 with the ability to play PS1-4 games would be godlike. With PS3/PS4 games being region free as well.

    • If the PS4 can play PS1-4 I definitely getting one if it is BC and has good too boot

    • revenent hell

      This would be awesome but I doubt it will happen…….:(

      • One can always dream and hope. But I imagine that it will be impossible yes.

        • Kevin Tan

          It’d have to be software emulation at best, as the architectures between PS2 and PS3 and PS4 would be monstrously different.

          • Syn

            Actually is more a matter of including the chips for said generations, if I recall correctly the original ps3 simply had a chip that could emulate the emotion engine of the ps2 but was expensive to include during production hence the reason it was scrapped. Am no genius, but IF…i say again IF thats all it takes, then its a possibility  with how cheap the production of tech from 7 years ago has become, though it probably wont happen because it would incur a pricetag on the console most gamers would bash as too much because of the economy, current expected console costs etc.

    • Mystena

      I respectfully disagree. I’d much rather region free than backwards compatibility if it were a choice between one or the other.

      I own all of the current 7th gen consoles. XBox360, Wii, PS3. Previously I was virtually Nintendo exclusive with the SNES, N64, GC, GB, GBA, DS. So believe me when I say I have a considerable library of games. With the GC titles being compatible with the Wii, that was a nice bonus but totally useless for me since I imported to get around the island tax I get for my country, hence I couldn’t play half my library on the Wii. For me, swapping to a console that has been archived is a matter of walking 40cm, opening a drawer, pulling out all the stuff and 3 minutes later I’m up and running. Backwards compatibility to me is pointless. I don’t pawn my games off after I’m done with them, hence I don’t do the same with my consoles.

      I’ll give you three guesses, though you probably only need one with the slant I’m putting; on which 7th gen console I have the biggest library for amongst the three consoles. If I want it, I’ll go on Play-Asia or Amazon and buy a copy. Doesn’t matter where it’s from, I’ll be able to play it so long as the price is right.

      No backwards compatibility? A minor inconvenience of about 5 minutes tops. If the console is already deployed? 10 seconds to swap the connections over.

      Region locked? Deal breaker. I buy across three regional zones: US, Japan, Europe/Aus. US for the titles that I know will take 6 months to reach the EU market, or simply because they’re 50% of the price to get it locally, EU/Aus for the bargain bin impulse buys and Japan for all the weird and wonderful stuff you cannot get otherwise. The PS3 by itself has raked in more money from me than I have spent on video games and consoles in the previous four generations from the NES and Sega Master System era and this is from someone who collects all the boxes and manuals and buys original peripherals. I have imported more games from Japan alone for the PS3 than I have purchased outright for the GC and Wii.

      The $40 you get for trading in an old console isn’t worth all the pain and anguish over worrying if an interesting game leaves Japan, or getting your knickers in a knot over the 3 month delay between US and EU releases.

      • Elvick

        I’d rather have region free consoles too, but I don’t think the two are related.

        It’s not like you can’t have both. And I would prefer both.

    • Elvick

      That would be my perfect console. Four generations of games, region free… hawt.

      Honestly, I think if the PS3 didn’t lose PS2 b/c it would have done better in the long run.

  • Yuriangels

     Yes I do agree with them that backward Compatibility is important but it should  not stop people from buying said consoles if does not have that software with it.

  • Anthony Black

    And yet they removed the GameCube support on newer Wii models and the WiiU… gg Nintendo.

    I can understand not wanting to waste space with GameCube support on the WiiU, but at least GC Controller support would have been nice, especially with all the Wii games that support them.

    • revenent hell

      This is the main reason I have zero intention of buying a Wii U untill I have to. I actually just bought the Wii system and let me tell you it was hard enough to find one that played gamecube games but there where so few Wii games I actually wanted that I kind of had to buy the GC games to validate purchasing the Wii…..
      Space is not an issue for me as far as consoles go but unless a game comes out I cant wait but to play I dont forsee a purchase of this anytime soon in my future.

      • Kevin Tan

        There’s a lot of Wii games worth playing (see: Xenoblade, Zelda, Last Story, Muramasa), but they’re not as well known as some of the series that appeared on the HD consoles.  I’m sure you’ll find something worth your while.

    • Tails the Foxhound

      I love the GCN and it’s controllers as much as anyone else, but did you really think they’d be supported forever? Every game that supports Classic Controllers and all games that support Classic Controllers will read Wii U Pros as  Classics. I think it’s time to move on.

  • CirnoLakes

    It’s a nice thought. It would certainly be a bad move to not allow the Wii U to play Wii games.

    Though I’ll likely still be keeping my Wii around my main gaming TV until I can get all of my Nintendo Store games on my Wii U and I can buy all of my favourite Gamecube games from the Nintendo Store.

    Oh how I wish the Nintendo Store and PlayStation Network were as simple, easy to use, and friendly as Steam. With Steam I don’t have to worry about struggling to put old Digitally Distributed games from old to new hardware and I don’t have to worry about how many pieces of hardware my games are on.

  • Hinataharem

    And this is why I keep my old systems. 

  • Backwards Compatibility… nice.

    *looks at slim PS3*


    • specht057

      thats a sweet avatar..
      Darker than Black is where its at.

      • Hell yeah… I took a render and then used the purple from the bolt on the forehead for the background.

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