PS5 Only Backward Compatible with Top-100 PS4 Games at Launch: Older-Gen Support Uncertain

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Image: Sony

During today’s PlayStation 5 deep-dive, lead architect Mark Cerny confirmed that Sony’s next-gen console would offer backward compatibility with the PS4, but there’s a slight catch – only the most popular titles would be supported at launch. That’s because each game has to be tested/reworked to run correctly on the PS5, which has much higher performance.

“Running PS4 and PS4 titles at boosted frequencies has also added complexity,” Cerny said. “The boost is truly massive this time around and some game code just can’t handle it. Testing has to be done on a title by title basis. Results are excellent though. We recently took a look at the top 100 PlayStation 4 titles as ranked by playtime and we’re expecting almost all of them to be playable at launch on PlayStation 5.”

This sounds a little bit like what Microsoft has been doing to enable backward compatibility on the Xbox One – with emulation software – but Cerny suggests that it might go deeper than that, with parts of the PS5 being specifically designed to handle older titles.

“One way you can achieve backwards compatibility is to put the previous console’s chip set into the new console, like we did with some PlayStation 3s,” Cerny explains. “But that’s, of course, extremely expensive. A better way is to incorporate any differences in the previous console’s logic into the new console’s custom chip. Meaning that, even as the technology evolves, the logic and feature set that the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro titles rely on is still available in backwards compatibility mode. One advantage of this strategy is that, once backwards compatibility is in the console, it’s in. It’s not as if a cost down will remove backwards compatibility like it did on PlayStation 3.”

Unfortunately, Cerny’s comments appear to have debunked those rumors of native backward compatibility for PSX, PS2, and PS3 titles. The PS5 should be able to play all of the PS2 classics that are currently available on the PlayStation Store, however, as they were designed to run on the PS4.

Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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