Sony Clarifies PS5 Backwards Compatibility, Says ‘We Believe’ Most PS4 Games ‘Will Be Playable’

Sony Clarifies PS5 Backwards Compatibility, Says ‘We Believe’ Most PS4 Games ‘Will Be Playable’
Mark Cerny talking about the architecture of the PlayStation 5.

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.

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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:

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.


  • Sonys announcements and details of the ps5 reminds me of the last xbox release. Slowly digging their own grave.

    • Maybe. It’s a lot more powerful than the PS4 though, and I’m regularly in awe of the gfx I see in PS4 games. Have you seen God of War? Horizon Zero Dawn? Fucking jaw dropping man. And this is from someone who owns a strong computer. Yes my PC is much better, but for a console, the PS4 is really, really good.

      Just because the xbox is more powerful doesn’t mean I want to jump out of the sony ecosystem and start seeing ads on my dash.

      So I’m gonna wait and see. If I can still play TLOU 1 on the PS5 and all of the exclusives, but I also get vastly stronger next gen games too…. unless something is really weird, I think I’ll be happy. I mean I’m also stoked with my Switch and that’s basically a powerful phone, but the games are amazing.

      Anyway. We’ll see. I’m not writing them off yet.

      • yeah see, thats exactly what xbox had a problem with. The more powerful console in this era has a HUGE advantage. Sony is even pushing the PS5 numbers higher than they actually are. If you want to be specific. the 10.28 tflops is in turbo mode, it will run at approx 9 tflops in normal use. The Xbox actual tflop count is actually 12.12 i believe. They dont add the decimal measurement for xbox because its honestly going to be that much better they don’t care.

        Now when talking about games, yes sony has killer third party games and thats a great advantage. Did you know third content makes up a very small portion of the market share in games? its like 10 to 15% max. Most people play cross platform games like COD. I know, crap game but hey, millions of people play it. So everyone who wants the best performance for those games does even have a choice to make, its clearly the xbox.

        Add in Sony’s crap online subscription and that only some games are backwards compatible compared to xboxs full game library backwards compatibility (like every freaking game) and superior game pass subscription…. Sony gotta make a lot of changes and quick. THEY are now lazy

        • Sorry, you’re spreading false news.

          Sony have never mentioned anything about a turbo mode. The console will run at full frequency, unless the CPU is doing something extraordinary, like running 128 bit instructions, in which case the frequency of the GPU will drop slightly. Nobody has said that it will drop to approx 9tflops. You just made that up.

          There is no clear best performance for this upcoming console generation. Only what people think will be best performance. Reality does not always match what people think.

          • Actually, you’ve got it the wrong way around. It’ll drop frequency if it’s hitting its heat threshold.

            Let me quote from Mark, so you know the source of information is from the person who actually developed the hardware:

            “When that worst case game arrives, it will run at a lower clock speed. But not too much lower, to reduce power by 10 per cent it only takes a couple of percent reduction in frequency, so I’d expect any downclocking to be pretty minor”

            Basically, in the _worst case_ scenario, they’ll drop the frequency by a few percent, which will help rein in the thermals. A few percent. That’s all.

            There is no turbo mode. There is only a downclock mode, in case the system has hit its thermal threshold.

          • not false news, I got it relatively right. Just wait for the tests, I bet it’s much lower than wgat they claim.

            Either way, all my point are still valid. For the average gamer, which is most people, the next xbox is offering a better experience on most levels. Heck, the power of the thing would currently cost thousands if you were to build a PC of the same power.

          • Bet on! I’d put more trust in what the designer of the hardware says. Someone that has real world game programming experience. Compared to some random internet commenter.

          • Not necessarily load speeds will be substantially better quicker and the 3D audio can create quite an experience. I think it was Alex Walker that said that he’s tried it in the past when it was in testing and it was a real treat.

            Take for account optimisation as well coming from the UI and how it affects the console as a whole.

            No one is really ahead until we learn more about the PS5.

          • You’re too focused on tflops, and not seeing the system as a whole.

            The XSX is a great system. It’ll be a brilliant little performer. You just don’t realise that the PS5 has ironed out system bottlenecks a bit better, which will make it perform better than the XSX in some cases. The XSX will perform better in other cases. The real-world performance levels will be a lot closer than you think. Don’t write off the PS5 performance. It may surprise you.

          • Come on guys, the marketing, the lack of information, the lack of backwards compatibility, the poor subscription service…they are out on so many levels AND the console is less powerful. Just admit they are currently stuffing this up

          • Marketing. Yep, Sony have been pretty poor with this so far. It’ll be interesting to see what they do as the release date approaches. Memory is fleeting.

            Lack of information. That will certainly be rectified over time.

            Lack of backwards compatibility. Not for PS4 games. Though yes, previous generations won’t be backward compatible. It doesn’t worry me too much. I’m not planning on playing many PS3 games.

            Poor subscription service? You mean the lack of a service like Game Pass? That, too, will be rectified in time.

            The PS5 is also more powerful that the XSX, in many ways. Whether that balances out the edge that the XSX has with the GPU, only real world data can tell you that. If the devs can’t keep the XSX graphics queue populated, then those 52 CUs will be wasted. There’s more to game performance than just raw computing power. But you’d really need to be a dev to properly understand that.

    • I was thinking the same. Ignoring facts, my perception of Sony’s next gen proposition right now is….. messy. Whereas Microsoft have, in my opinion, absolutely crushed it, with one massive exception – the insanely stupid naming convention.

      • True. Sony really could have marketed the PS5 a bit better so far. Leading with a technical presentation isn’t the best way to introduce your console to the masses.

        In any case, we really need to wait until we have some hard figures, based on tests of actual software, before we can start concluding anything. Otherwise, it’s just speculation.

        • Yeah – the digital foundry articles over at Eurogamer are pretty good. It’s pretty clear that Microsoft have the power advantage, but Cerny is a magician and Sony still have all the exclusives. Tough choice as always.

  • Apart from this whole backward compatibility thing which will hopefully clarified soon, what I find actually disappointing from Sony is that their TVs don’t support all of the HDMI features that the console is going to support. The lack of VBR in particular is disappointing.

    Sony seem to be biffing the messaging right now and there are parallels to be made between Sony’s custom internals vs XBox having the bigger number and the previous generation with the XBox Kinect vs Sony having the bigger number. If a third-party game doesn’t use the specialized hardware – or maybe even if it does – XBox is going to have the better performance and that still counts for something when all other things are even even, even if they’d only see the difference in a comparison video.

    The PS5 is still a must-purchase for me because of the exclusives which leaves the XBox as the one that needs to justify the outlay. They’re doing a pretty good job of it so far and would probably be doing better if I hadn’t recently shelled out for a new PC. Still, time will tell.

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