We haven’t seen much information released about the PlayStation 5, but a recently filed patent suggests we might see backward compatibility – allowing users to play PS4 games on the brand new console.
The recently discovered patent detailed changes to an earlier filing that was originally filed back in 2015, and gives the impression that Sony may be looking to ad backward compatibility to make PS4 games playable on the PlayStation 5.
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According to the patent that was updated on February 13, 2018, Sony is experimenting with “Backward compatibility testing of software in a mode that disrupts timing.” This is by no means a confirmation that we’ll see a backward compatible PlayStation 5, but it does seem to suggest that the company is experimenting with the feature at the very least.
Patents are never a guarantee that we’ll see the feature in a final release, as they simply serve as a way for companies to protect their research and prevent other companies from taking their ideas. However, Microsoft has proven with the Xbox One that a system with backward compatibility certainly pays off in the long run. By giving gamers the option to play their favorite Xbox 360 titles on the Xbox One, Microsoft managed to increase the longevity of their classic older titles, while PS3 games have largely fallen to the wayside outside of remasters or re-releases for the PS4. With the PlayStation 5 not expected for another couple of years at least, there will be a substantial library of PS4 games that Sony would be remiss if they didn’t capitalize on the vast amount of potential such an expansive amount of games offers.
With the release of the PS4 and the Xbox One, this marked the first generation where it didn’t really seem to matter which console you decided on. Outside of Nintendo consoles that tend to march to the beat of their own drum, both Sony and Microsoft offered systems that featured pretty much the exact same games with pretty similar specifications. With games available on both consoles, there’s less of a reason than before for customers to buy from both companies – a phenomenon that is great for consumers and not so good for the two companies. Sony was the more successful console this generation when considering worldwide sales, and they stand to further the gap between themselves and their hottest competitor if they are to add backward compatibility in the PlayStation 5.
Many gamers have been hoping we’ll receive a PlayStation 5 announcement during Sony’s E3 presentation in June, but the company has since warned fans that it may be a good while before we see an announcement. It’s definitely true that the PS4 has a good amount of life left in it – especially considering the recent release of the PS4 Pro. For those looking for better graphics, there are already some options up there that should serve to tide us over until the eventual release of the PlayStation 5. With analysts expecting a release date of 2020 or later, the PS4 will have had quite a long life and a large amount of time with which to build a huge library.
Not taking advantage of everything the PS4 has to offer in the form of backward compatibility with the PlayStation 5 is a definite mistake. If Sony can maintain their online store and continue to offer everyone’s favorite titles moving into the next generation, gamers will have access to an expansive number of titles at launch rather than the few games we normally see. With less reason to hold onto an older PS4, more and more people will make the jump to the new console which may give Sony the upper hand when it comes to this new generation of systems.
While the PS4 had the upper hand when it came to sales around the world, the Xbox One sold incredibly well in the United States and outpaced Sony’s console. If the PlayStation 5 is truly to be backward compatible, there could be even less of a reason to side with Microsoft. With fewer exclusives these days, the decision comes down to features rather than specific games. This next generation is shaping up to be stiffer competition than ever before as consoles pick up more and more of the same features, this new PlayStation 5 patent may be signs of a changing philosophy from Sony – perhaps one that will give it the upper hand moving into 2020 and beyond.
Sony executives have come out in the past and stated that backward compatibility is often requested but rarely utilized and didn’t believe that people actually wanted to play PlayStation 1 and 2 games. Perhaps they’ve started to change their tune due to the massive success of some of the recent remakes, but it remains to be seen whether this new tech will be implemented with the eventual release of the PlayStation 5.
Check out the patent filing here for more information.