PlayStation 5 may play thousands of PS4 games at launch

Sony clarifies PS5's backwards compatibility, affirms that nearly every major PS4 game will eventually be supported on PlayStation 5.

15 minutes & 34 seconds read time

As we predicted, Sony is making plans to aggressively accelerate PS4 backwards compatibility support on the PS5. Hundreds of games have already been tested, and thousands more are expected to be tested. All of them could be playable on the PS5 at launch.

PlayStation 5 may play thousands of PS4 games at launch 59

Sony today confirmed that it expects almost all of the PS4's expansive 4,000 games library to be playable on its next-gen PlayStation 5. But when? Possibly at launch or shortly after.

"A quick update on backward compatibility - With all of the amazing games in PS4's catalog, we've devoted significant efforts to enable our fans to play their favorites on PS5. 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. We will provide updates on backward compatibility, along with much more PS5 news, in the months ahead.

The big issue with backward compatibility is that the PlayStation 5 will boost some current-gen games way past their limits. Any backward compatible PS4 game put into the PS5 will be natively enhanced with upgraded performance ranging from boosted frame rates to higher resolutions. Microsoft is doing the same with older games played on the Xbox Series X.

The PlayStation 5's boost functionality is so powerful that some PS4 games simply can't handle it.

So developers have to step in and tweak the games to make them compatible with the PS5.

"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. We're currently evaluating games on a title-by-title basis to spot any issues that need adjustment from the original software developers," Sony said in today's update.

"Running PS4 and PS4 Pro titles at boosted frequencies has also added complexity. The boost is truly massive this time around and some game code just can't handle it. Testing has to be done on a title-by-title basis," PlayStation 5 architect Mark Cerny said in a recent presentation.

Read Also: Understanding the PS5's SSD: A deep dive into next-gen storage tech

The PlayStation 5 has two different legacy modes that enable backwards compatibility with older PS4 era games.

The way it works is the PS5's 10.3TFLOP Navi GPU and 3.5GHz Zen 2 CPU will emulate original PS4 and PS4 Pro performance by downscaling themselves to the original consoles' native values.

  • Native Mode - Fully unlocks the Navi GPU at 2.23GHz for next-gen games
  • PS4 Pro Legacy Mode - Downscales the GPU to 911MHz, 218GB/sec bandwidth, and 64 ROPs to emulate the PS4 Pro
  • PS4 Legacy Mode - Drops the GPU to 800MHz with 176GB/sec bandwidth and 32 ROPs to emulate the base PS4

Console architect Mark Cerny previously said that ~100 of the top PS4 games will be playable on the PS5 when it launches in Holiday 2020. But now Sony says it's testing thousands of games for compatibility and those games could be ready when the system releases.

If Sony makes even half of the most popular PS4 games available at launch, and is able to release the PlayStation 5 for $399, they will absolutely win the next-generation of console sales.

The console will release in Holiday 2020, and it may cost $499.

Check below for more info on everything we know about the PlayStation 5 so far:

PlayStation 5 may play thousands of PS4 games at launch 57

PlayStation 5 specs and details:

  • Custom SoC with second-gen Navi GPU, Zen 2 CPU
  • 8-Core, 16-thread Zen 2 CPU at 3.5GHz
  • Navi 2X GPU with 36 CUs on RDNA 2 at 2.23GHz
  • Ultra-fast 825GB SSD with up to 9GB/sec speeds
  • Support for 4K 120 Hz TVs
  • Ray-tracing enabled
  • 8K output support (for gaming)
  • Plays PS4 games, BC is on a title-to-title basis
  • Separate games that ship on BD-XL Blu-ray discs
  • New controller with extensive haptic and tactile feedback

PlayStation 5 Coverage:

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Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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