Sony is making huge progress with PS5's backwards compatibility, and now confirms that 99% of PS4 games are playable.
Back in March, Sony claimed the PS5 would play thousands of PS4 games by launch. Now it's official. Sony confirms the next-gen PS5 will natively support 99% of the PS4's games library. How many games is that? According to Wikipedia, there's about 2,870 PS4 games on the market. 99% of that value is 2,841, which means roughly 29 games won't be playable.
The news was confirmed in a recent Washington Post interview with Sony's Jim Ryan. In another interview with Japanese magazine Famitsu, Ryan confirmed the PS5 won't play legacy PS1, PS2, and PS3 games. The next-gen PlayStation is only backwards compatible with PS4 titles.
Similar to the Xbox Series X/S, a good portion (or all) of these games should be natively boosted by the PlayStation 5's higher-end tech. That means games will run, look, and feel better on PS5 without developers having to issue any kinds of extra patches or optimizations. Native boosts include faster loading times, tighter frame rates, and reduced anti-aliasing.
Developers have confirmed the PS5 can natively boost games without any optimizations, and Mark Cerny also confirmed the PS5's boost capabilities were so powerful that some games simply couldn't handle it. These games had to be adjusted to align with the PS5's raw power.
"Without any optimization work, the loading and streaming of Marvel's Avengers improved by an order of magnitude on PS5," Crystal Dynamics' chief technology officer Gary Snethen said.
"When optimization is complete, loading content will be nearly instant, allowing players to seamlessly jump into missions anywhere in the game world."
Devs can also upgrade existing PS4 games to run better on PS5 via specific upgrade patches.
Here's how it works:
The PlayStation 5 has three GPU modes, and two of them are for native backwards compatibility support. The PS5 will downscale its built-in 10.3 Navi RDNA 2.0 GPU to emulate a PS4 or PS4 Pro's GPU to play older games that aren't optimized.
- 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
The games that are optimized can be played in the PS5's Native Mode, which unlocks the full GPU for massively improved performance. A lot of developers are re-selling these upgraded games instead of offering free patches and upgrades, though, but publishers like Ubisoft, EA, and CD Projekt RED are among those who support free cross-gen transitions.
Also remember the PlayStation 5 emulates the PS4 and PS4 Pro on a logic level, not a hardware level. You won't find an extra PS4 chip in the console. The PS4's x86 architecture is the main throughway to making this happen and alleviates the need to physically include chips of older generations for backwards compatibility.
The PlayStation 5 will be available November 12, 2020 priced at $399 for the digital version and $499 for the physical disc-based version.
Check below for a side-by-side comparison of the full 9th generation of consoles: