Sony clarifies PS5 backward compatibility confusion

March 20, 2020 2 min read

Sony ran into a communications snafu earlier this week when Mark Cerny's dulcet tones about hard drive seek reduction lulled everyone's eyes into glazing over. Everyone simultaneously snapped awake when Cerny mentioned that "nearly all" of the most popular PlayStation 4 games would be backward compatible on PS5.

It took a couple days, but Sony has finally clarified the extent of PS5's backward compatibility capabilities. In an update to the PS5 deep dive post, Sony says "We believe the overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 titles will be playable on PS5." As expected, there's no mention of any generation before PlayStation 4.

Cerny evidently called out the top 100 most popular PS4 games because that's where Sony started when evaluating backward compatibility on PS5. That led people to believe the PS5 backward compatibility library would be confined to those games. However, Sony claims it has already "tested hundreds of titles" and that it's going to "test thousands more" leading up to launch.

PS5 aims to run PS4 at a boosted frequency which allows for better frame rate stability and possible higher resolutions. It doesn't just automatically work, though. Sony needs to individually test every single game to make sure it's compatible. As Cerny said on Wednesday, "some game code just can't handle [the boosted frequency]."

So, Sony's prioritizing those 100 most popular games because they're the ones players have spent the most time with, and apparently moving outward from there. The result is a new console generation that is largely compatible -- but not fully compatible -- with the previous generation. That's a simple message that was communicated very poorly.

Unveiling New Details of PlayStation 5: Hardware Technical Specs (Updated) [PlayStation Blog]

Sony clarifies PS5 backward compatibility confusion  screenshot


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