Enlarge /. Were you hoping to play classic PlayStation discs on the latest PlayStation 5 console later this year? If so, we have bad news.
The flood of PlayStation 5 news on Wednesday was mostly about brand new content that was released alongside the console on November 12th. An important detail was lost in the fight that an August leak on PS5 confirmed: the lack of extensive backward compatibility support.
In an interview on Wednesday, the Japanese game magazine Famitsu asked the head of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Jim Ryan, about the compatibility of the new console with PS1, PS2 and PS3 discs or downloads. Ryan stated that "PS5-specific engineering" meant the design team was mainly focused on "using high-speed SSDs and the new DualSense controller at the same time."
This prevented Sony from offering compatibility with older consoles, Ryan told Famitsu, despite making it clear that Sony wanted to support the "100 million gamers" of PlayStation 4 by developing compatibility with "99%" of PS4 games since "We thought that would be the case" also love 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 rolled over to PS5. There is also no mention of gamers being able to stream older generation games from the PlayStation Now cloud subscription service to PS4, or whether we should expect this functionality to roll over seamlessly to PS5 in November. SIE employees did not immediately answer our questions about these possible functions.
Ryan's current statement about the affection for PS4 backward compatibility is odd considering he previously derided affection for older generations of consoles. As he told Time Magazine in 2017:
If we've looked at backward compatibility, I can say that it's one of those features that is in high demand but not used much. That, and I went to a Gran Turismo event recently where they had PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 games, and the PS1 and PS2 games, they looked ancient. Why would anyone play this?
Ryan's stance on this older generation was likely not aided by poor PlayStation Classic sales in 2018 (though arguably they were less classic games than dubious execution).
As I wrote about the rumored back-compat news from PS5 in August:
PlayStation 4 was the company's first console to not have native backwards compatibility support for disc-based games, as well as incompatibility with download-only software introduced on PlayStation 3. That meant you had to stick with your old console to access disc-less games. This followed the PS3's major overhaul early in its life to remove support for PS2 discs (due to this Function performed on the PS2 "Emotion Engine" architecture built into early PS3s, issued to reduce costs).
By comparison, Microsoft has been aggressively courting fans of older games with a backward compatibility selling point on both Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles. This means that gamers in the Xbox ecosystem can expect native access to previous purchases (whether in disc or digital purchase) across multiple console generations, as well as game-to-game resolution and performance improvements. We're still waiting to hear if PS4 games struggling with performance issues could get PS5-specific upgrades, although the PS4 Pro's optional "Boost Mode" has already made it clear that for certain games (cough, cough , Bloodborne) special patches required are beneficial to newer hardware.
The PlayStation 5 News release on Wednesday did not elaborate on the additional enhancements for PS4 games played on the upcoming console. Instead, we learned that some key PlayStation 5 games, particularly Horizon: Forbidden West and Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, will be released on PS5 and PS4 at the same time. This seems to contradict some of Sony’s recent comments on maintaining "generations" rather than supporting an Xbox-style "forward-compatible" plan for its biggest games.