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PS5 will be backward-compatible with ‘almost all’ top 100 PS4 games at launch

Testing is going well, lead system architect Mark Cerny said

silhouetted people in front of a blue video board with the PlayStation logo Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Sony’s next-generation console, the PlayStation 5, will be backward-compatible with lots of PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro games, lead system architect Mark Cerny said during the “Road to PS5” presentation on Wednesday. Nearly all of the top PS4 titles, ranked by playtime, will be playable on PlayStation 5 when it launches in holiday 2020, he said.

Cerny said the internal logic of the PS4 and PS4 Pro consoles is present in the PlayStation 5, but that’s not without challenges; some game code “just can’t handle” the boosted frequencies of the PlayStation 5, he said. Cerny said that boost is “truly massive,” so games must be tested on a “title-by-title basis.” But, that testing is going well, Cerny said.

Players will also be able to save space on their consoles by “running your older games from standard external storage” and not the PlayStation 5’s new solid-state drive, according to Digital Foundry. “It won’t be as fast as booting from the internal SSD, but it’ll free up space for the next-gen titles that are going to need it,” Digital Foundry said.

Sony did not mention backward-compatibility with older-generation PlayStation games — only PS4 and PS4 Pro were confirmed. Microsoft, on the other hand, has been promising four generations of backward-compatibility with its next-generation console, the Xbox Series X. Likewise, Microsoft said last year that first-party games, like Halo Infinite, which is slated for release on Xbox One this year, will support cross-generation game saves.

Sony dropped a whole lot of information during its very technical presentation today, including the PS5’s hardware specifications. The next-generation console is expected to be released during the 2020 holiday season.