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PS5 Backwards Compatibility Will Support Popular PS4's Games, But How Many At Launch Not Set

When PlayStation 5 hits store shelves, you'll be able to play nearly 100 of PS4's most popular games on it via backwards compatibility.


Update: Sony has clarified its statement on backwards compatibility, noting that the 100 games mentioned were a sampling used for testing and that it has since tested even more, with thousands of others slated to be tested before launch. It expects most games will be compatible based on prior tests, but has not given an exact figure. In August, Ubisoft revealed that PS5's backwards compatibility won't include support for PS1, PS2, or PS3 games. Sony itself has not provided any further details on the system's support.

During The Road to PS5 livestream, PlayStation 5 lead system architect Mark Cerny went into detail about the inner-workings, features, and specs of Sony's upcoming next-gen console. When it came to backwards compatibility, Cerny shed a small amount of light on the company's approach, and it sounds as if not all PS4 games will be playable right on release day. Specifically, Cerny said that Sony expects nearly 100 of the most popular past-gen games to be playable on PS5 when it launches during the holiday 2020 season.

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"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."

In a subsequent post on the PlayStation Blog, Sony stated, "Lastly, we're excited to confirm that the backwards compatibility features are working well. We recently took a look at the top 100 PS4 titles as ranked by play time, and we're expecting almost all of them to be playable at launch on PS5. With more than 4000 games published on PS4, we will continue the testing process and expand backwards compatibility coverage over time."

We'll obviously have to wait until PS5 launches to see which of those 100 PS4 titles will be playable. There's no immediate way to check out what the full list of 100 games is ourselves--the PSN Store only organizes games by release date, alphabetical order, or price.

It's also worth pointing out, Cerny doesn't say that the full list of backwards compatibility titles at launch is solely being pulled from PS4's top 100 most played games. There could be less popular games in the full launch list, but players can be sure that at least most of the top 100 will be a part of that list.

During the livestream, Cerny also talked about methods of achieving backwards compatibility within a console. "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," he said. "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."

For those who don't remember, the original PS3 was backwards compatible with PS2 titles because the PS3 had a PS2 chip inside it. However, later iterations of the PS3 didn't have this chip so as to cheapen the cost of making the console so it could be sold at lower prices. So you could no longer play PS2 discs via the PS3--software emulation was offered, but only for some games. Cerny is basically saying that you don't have to worry about that happening again with PS5--if a new, cheaper version of Sony's next-gen console comes out, it will still feature backwards compatibility with PS4 discs.

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