The deluge of PlayStation 5 news on Wednesday revolved mainly around brand new content launching alongside the console on November 12. Lost in battle was a key detail confirmed by an August leak about PS5: the lack of sweeping backwards compatibility support.
In a Wednesday interview, Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu asked Sony Interactive Entertainment chief Jim Ryan about the new console’s compatibility with PS1, PS2, and PS3 discs or downloads. Ryan explained that “PS5-specific engineering” meant the design team focused primarily on “the simultaneous use of fast SSDs and the new DualSense controller”.
This prevented Sony from providing compatibility with older consoles, Ryan told Famitsu, though he made it clear that Sony wanted to support PlayStation 4’s “100 million players” by developing compatibility with “99%” of PS4 games, because ” We thought they also like to play PS4 titles on the PS5.”
“Why would anyone play this?”
This announcement does not clarify whether PS1 games purchased for use on PS4 will be ported to PS5. It also doesn’t mention the existing ability for players to stream older-generation games to PS4 from the PlayStation Now cloud subscription service or whether we should expect that functionality to port seamlessly to PS5 in November. SIE representatives did not immediately respond to our questions about those potential features.
Ryan’s current statement about affection for PS4 backwards compatibility is curious, as he previously mocked affection for older console generations. As he told Time magazine in 2017:
Having dabbled with backwards compatibility, I can say it’s one of those features that are in demand but not really used much. That, and I was on a Gran Turismo event where they recently had PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 games, and the PS1 and PS2 games, they looked old like why would anyone play this?
Ryan’s take on that older generation probably wasn’t helped by the lackluster PlayStation Classic sales in 2018 (although those were arguably less about classic games and more about questionable execution).
As I wrote about the rumored back-compat news from PS5 back in August:
PlayStation 4 was the company’s first console that didn’t ship with native backwards compatibility support for disc-based games, along with incompatibility with download-only software that debuted on PlayStation 3. That meant holding your old console in order to access them. those games. discless games. This followed the PS3 which received a major overhaul early in its life to remove support for PS2 discs (due to this feature running on PS2 “Emotion Engine” architecture built into early PS3s, which was ditched to cut costs) .
By comparison, Microsoft has aggressively courted fans of older games with a sales pitch about backwards compatibility on both Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles. That means gamers in the Xbox ecosystem can expect native access to past purchases (in disc or digital purchase) across multiple console generations. and resolution and performance upgrades per game. We’re still waiting to hear if PS4 games that struggled with performance issues could receive PS5-specific upgrades, though the PS4 Pro’s optional “boost mode” already made it clear that certain games (cough, cough, bloodborne) would require special patches to take advantage of newer hardware.
The PlayStation 5 news deposit on Wednesday did not go into further detail about additional boosts for PS4 games as played on the upcoming console. Instead, we found out that some major PlayStation 5 games, most notably Horizon: Forbidden West and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, launches simultaneously on PS5 and PS4. This seems somewhat contradictory to Sony’s recent comments about preserving “generations” rather than supporting an Xbox-style “forward compatible” plan for its biggest games.