A console generation leap is always a tough move to make. Moving to a new console usually means leaving behind massive libraries of games, and having to make the decision to power on the old console if you want to finish up anything in your backlog. As we move to more and more digital libraries, watching old purchases become obsolete has become a point of concern for many gamers.
Numerous pieces of evidence are now coming together to suggest that the impending PlayStation 5 will have backwards compatibility when it launches, at least with the PS4 library. The first clue came from a patent discovered back in March that alludes to backwards compatibility in a very long and roundabout technical speak kind of way. It discusses needing hardware with faster timing than that of the “legacy” tech in order to not run into any issues. This week, we’ve seen two additional things come up that as good as guarantee we’ll be getting a PS5 backwards compatibility.
A line in the Sony IR Day 2018 report mentions the goal “to mitigate the impact of platform lifecycle compared to the past cycle.” Sony operates at a loss on the years that it releases new consoles, with growth coming later in the console life cycle. Some analysts are taking this line to mean that they also want to mitigate the impact of the life cycle on players. This section of the deck talks about player retention and the user experience as well, and offering a way for users to carry over their old libraries of games would make a PS5 a much easier purchase. decision. Wishful thinking, or is Sony planning to make the console transition an easier process for everyone?
The final bit of evidence comes in the form of the new AMD Ryzen tech that Sony seems to be working with. While not confirmed to be the CPU that Sony will use in their next generation console, if Sony is indeed working with it, it would mean that the PS4 and PS5 architecture are very similar. The PS4 currently uses a modified AMD Jaguar. One of the biggest things preventing the PS4 from backwards compatibility with PS3 games was the leap from the Cell architecture on the PS3, which was a vastly different hardware environment. If PS4 and PS5 are more similar (using the Jaguar and Ryzen CPUs respectively), it would be possible to allow users to carry over their PS4 libraries.
I’ve got a lot of games on my PS4, and even a ton I never finished on my PS3. If I had the ability to easily go back and play those PS3 games on my PS4, I would probably finish them up. As of right now? It’s been a number of years since I’ve even had my PS3 plugged in, let alone turned it on. With a massive library of both digital and physical games, I would love to be able to bring those to the PS5 when it releases.
With Microsoft offering increased backwards compatibility support on the Xbox One with Xbox 360 titles, Sony needs to make a strong play when it comes to their next hardware offering. Telling people to leave behind a library of games is not a good way to foster a user base, particularly in a day when we’re used to making digital purchases and always having those available to us. Of course, all of this is just a big rumor. The PlayStation 5 isn’t even confirmed to be real yet, so any supposition about PS5 backwards compatibility is just that: supposition.
Sony IR Day 2018 has been a revelation of new information as Sony communicates with investors, including hints that we won’t be seeing a possible PlayStation 5 until late 2020/early 2021. In an interview, PlayStation CEO John Kodera indicated that the PS4 was reaching the final phase of its life cycle, and the next three years would be spent preparing for the future.
What are the core features you want to see next generation? Is PS5 backwards compatibility a must-have? What other features do you think will allow us to make a big generational leap forward?