When Mark Cerny mentioned the top 100 games being tested on the PlayStation 5, it created an immediate sense of confusion. The chief architect had just mentioned legacy PS4 and PS4 Pro modes inside the next generation console, and despite the thousands of games available on Xbox One, here Cerny was talking about “almost all” of the top 100 PS4 titles. So Sony has tried to stem some of the disappointment from that, issuing an update to a blog post clarifying that “we believe that the overwhelming majority” of the PS4’s catalogue “will be playable” on the PS5.
Cerny’s livestream was followed by a blogpost from Sony senior VP Hideaki Nishino, which said the company would “continue the testing process and expand backwards compatibility coverage over time”. Given that the post mentioned that the firm “recently took a look at the top 100 PS4 titles”, gamers took that to mean that Sony could only confirm that most of those top 100 games would definitely be playable when the PS5 launched.
PlayStation 5 will be backward compatible with PlayStation 4 games, but Sony said today to expect it to be a gradual rollout that needs to be tested on a per-game basis.Read more
The confusion was understandable: Cerny mentioned building in the core logic for older consoles into the PS5, but also said some games simply wouldn’t be able to handle the massive boost in frequency between the PS4 and the PS5. But the disconnect was probably better explained on Twitter by Aussie developer and Bloodborne/Souls hacker Lance McDonald:
Uhhhhhhh I’m pretty sure the PS5 runs all PS4 games in legacy mode. The “100 games” thing is just for the PS5 enhancement mode.
— Lance McDonald (@manfightdragon) March 19, 2020
Still, Sony eventually clarified the situation. “We’re expecting backward compatible titles will run at a boosted frequency on PS5 so that they can benefit from higher or more stable frame rates and potentially higher resolutions,” an update to Nishino’s post says. “We’re currently evaluating games on a title-by-title basis to spot any issues that need adjustment from the original software developers.”
“We believe that the overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 titles will be playable on PS5 … We have already tested hundreds of titles and are preparing to test thousands more as we move toward launch.”
Sony still needs to do case-by-case testing in the instance that a game doesn’t function at all, but that’s not likely – and never really was – to be the vast majority of games. There’s no logical reason something launched towards the end of the PS4’s generation using Unreal Engine 4, as a simple example, wouldn’t run on the PS5 when it was simultaneously shipped on the PC and Xbox One, machines that have also had jumps in core clocks and frequency over the years and generations.
The post also confirmed that HDMI 2.1 would be supported by the PS5, which means the console will have support for the various technologies inherent in the new standard: eARC support, 8K/60fps and 4K/120fps, as much as 48GBps bandwidth, 16-bit colour, BT.2020 support and variable refresh rate. You’ll need to upgrade your HDMI cables to get support for the higher refresh rates and resolutions, though.
That said, it’s hard to see Xbox not being happy with the situation here. At the end of the day, gamers just want to know if the things they bought will work on the next-generation console. “We believe” isn’t quite the same as “this will definitely run”. If I grab my God of War Collection disc or Last of Us Remastered disc and stick it into the PS5’s drive, will it run? Will it run at a higher frame rate? Or will it just run the same way it did on the PS4? Or PS4 Pro?
We’ll find out closer to launch, or when Sony or individual developers issue direct confirmation.