Why You Shouldn't Worry About PS5 Backwards Compatibility

PushSquare: “Jim Ryan has been appointed the new President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, and PlayStation fans are worried.

Of course, some feel that Ryan’s promotion means that backwards compatibility will now be impossible for the PlayStation 5, but we reckon that’s an overreaction of the highest magnitude. In fact, we’ve noticed for a few months that there’s scepticism surrounding the oft-requested feature, and we’ve found it bemusing. Now obviously it hasn’t gone to the same lengths that Microsoft has in terms of bringing legacy software to the PS4, but we think it’s idiotic to assume it’ll have the same priorities next-gen. In fact, there’s more reason to believe the PS5 will be backwards compatible than won’t, so let’s look at the facts.”

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Eonjay593d ago

It's obvious at this point. The question is regarding PS3 titles and earlier.

ziggurcat593d ago

Unless they can figure out a system-side method that will work flawlessly, the difference in architectures sort of still means that it’s not likely to see native PS3 BC.

rainslacker593d ago

Not if the rumored clock speeds are true. Only thing holding back SPE implementation was how fast the process would execute, and if it's clocked the same as the CELL, then GPU compute would easily run the code that SPE's did. GPU compute of today is essentially what CELL was, and many modern GPU compute principals and algorithms originated on CELL. Sony was right....the tech would be the future of gaming. They just had an implementation that wasn't accepted by developers. After all the fuss about how hard it was to learn, they did so anyways.

AnthonyDavis593d ago (Edited 593d ago )

What about the people like me who don’t want BC? Should I be worried?

BC is no good, you’re adding cost to a finite total price of a system. So in other words, getting BC in the PS5 means your handicapping the PS5 hardware from taking full advantage of new PS5 games.

To put the hardware BC in the PS5 I estimate it is gonna be $50-$90. Watch the same people complain about the total price of the PS5. Well it could have been cheaper without the BC and be a stronger system.

ziggurcat593d ago

It wouldn’t be adding to the cost if it’s a software solution. Only reason it added to the cost on PS3 is because it was an extra bit of hardware.

AnthonyDavis593d ago

Yes it would add cost in any case. It’s called research and development. Especially the kind that most people want, which is they want a system where they can stick a PS4 disc in and it will automatically work.

Software would also require R/D. That would require even more because they need to do more updates and create the software.

They should make more PS5 exclusives not this feature that I’m not gonna even use.

ziggurcat593d ago

BC on Xbox One didn’t suddenly add to the cost of the console, so no...

AnthonyDavis593d ago

Okay so that’s software BC through updates. You want them to waste time and money on that instead of PS5 games or other current gen features?

ziggurcat593d ago

If they implement software BC in the OS, they wouldn't be wasting time or money as it would be already integrated into the system.

592d ago
UltraNova592d ago

I couldn't care less about BC unless the ps5 actively makes older games run better fps and rez. For everything else I have my older consoles ready for action.

I_am_Batman592d ago (Edited 592d ago )

@AnthonyDavis: "To put the hardware BC in the PS5 I estimate it is gonna be $50-$90."

What are you basing this estimate on? According to IHS technology's analysis Sony brought the price of the Cell + RSX combo down to ~$83 by 2010! I ran some numbers through a silicon cost calculator. The PS5 would only need the Cell as the RSX could probably be easily emulated on the Navi. If they produce the Cell on a 45nm node it'll cost them around $15-20 max. If they shrink the die to 22nm or even 14nm the cost will come out closer to $10/Cellprocessor. Another advantage of shrinking it down would be that it wouldn't need any active cooling and would probably be fine with a thermal pad. With all that being said I don't think that they'll go for native hardware bc as even a $10-20 BoM increase would still be a factor that they'll try to avoid if they can.

AnthonyDavis: "Yes it would add cost in any case. It’s called research and development. Especially the kind that most people want, which is they want a system where they can stick a PS4 disc in and it will automatically work."

The R&D for emulation would be negligible and definitely wouldn't have an impact on the price of the PS5. Small teams of hobby programmers without inside knowledge can get an emulator up and running for $3.000/month through patreon. Even if Sony gets 10 people with deep knowledge of PS3's and PS5's architecture to work on it for 2 years with a salary of $100k/year that's still only and investment of $2.000.000. That's extremely cheap if you consider that it buys them good publicity and gives them the ability to sell old games through the PSStore.

AnthonyDavis: "Okay so that’s software BC through updates. You want them to waste time and money on that instead of PS5 games or other current gen features?"

Well bc would be a current gen feature and like I demonstrated above the money spent on that is so insignificant that it's barely worth talking about. Not to mention that it's a feature that'll make them much more money in the long run.

rainslacker592d ago (Edited 592d ago )


R&D costs aren't typically added into the costs of the hardware. They're written off in the years leading up to the release of the console, and then after release, the R&D budget drops significantly. Sony will set a price point like they did with the PS4, and that price will be based on the cost of acquiring the hardware. That's how every console is made.

The R&D cost of something like that is usually appropriated from a different fund anyhow, and likely would be tied to the cost of developing and maintaining PSN.

In any case, the costs themselves would be seen as an investment, because having BC of older titles would enable them to sell games on PSN, which would actually bring in revenue, part of which could be allocated to building more games.

So, in a way, BC could actually improve resources for Sony to actually do more, and it doesn't require a large team to actually implement.


Near the end of the PS3's production line(or maybe around the start of the gen), It was estimated that the CELL chip was around $50 to produce. Sony stated that the CELL chip would increase in costs as time went on, which would mean the PS3 would likely be discontinued sooner than the PS2 was. the reason for the increase in costs was because fabrication plants to manufacture the chip would be retooled. While more chips could be made with a smaller footprint, which will reduce costs, the lowered availability of plants to make them would make the cost increase. If you consider the number of chips needed to include it in every PS5 would be in the tens of millions every year, that would put a strain on the fabrication plants still making CELL, thus driving up demand, without another retooling of another plant. Considering that Sony feels the hardware BC route because it's not a heavily used feature, they probably aren't going to go that route. But even at $15, when added in on top of the rest of the hardware it is a pretty significant cost when you factor in needed 10-20 million a year. They may make it back on software sales on PSN, but I'm pretty confident Sony knows the demand and willingness of people to spend money on old games.

That's why I think if the rumors are true, Sony may have deliberately chosen the clock speed of the new system to match the CELL, because the newer processor is capable of handling the PowerPC emulation, but the SPE stuff execute fast enough, and timing is absolutely crucial on SPE programming for games. But with GPU compute at the same clock speed, it should be able to operate as fast, or maybe faster since the pipelines are more refined. So, it's one rumor I hope is true.

AnthonyDavis592d ago

Still a waste for me since I do so little “last gen gaming”

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S2Killinit593d ago

I think even PS4 b/c isnt a sure thing. We just dont know yet.

SuperSonic91593d ago (Edited 593d ago )

For me not to worry I will just buy another extra PS4 then.

Easy Cure!

I still game on a 1080p 120HZ TV anyway.

And Dreams will probably my main game for the next 2 years or more.

S2Killinit593d ago

Im buying a PlayStation regardless. 4 generations have shown, without a PlayStation things are real boring.

ziggurcat593d ago

I have no doubt that PS4 BC will be on the next console, especially if the same architecture is used (and I see no reason why it wouldn’t be).

S2Killinit593d ago (Edited 593d ago )

It would be really nice if its there, but its not a feature that i must have. I just think it would be smart from a business perspective. For me, i just want those next gen games and PSVR2.

ziggurcat593d ago

It’s not a must-have for me, either, but it’s never a bad option for others who think it’s a must-have.

RosweeSon593d ago

It’s 99% a given Sony won’t drop all these games

gamer7804593d ago

Not 100% sure, but that would be really detrimental to playstation future to not have at the very least ps4 BC.

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Nu593d ago

As PlayStation fans would say " it's not important"

remixx116593d ago

It's not important but trust me I ain't complaining if it does fact I pray it happens

RosweeSon593d ago

As Xbox fans would say I’ll buy it anyway, what is it?! 🤦🏻‍♂️

Rude-ro593d ago

That’s because we know why they had sway away from it.
But 3 out 4 consoles have embraced it.. they more likely than not.
The game engines they are building are brand new and are future proof as well.
Not the same game engines at all.
Sony I had pretty much learnt their lesson with trying to rewrite how computing works. They lost that battle with the PS3.

AnthonyDavis593d ago

Haha don’t lump with those fans. I never needed BC and Xbox is wasting there time and money with BC. What’s most important is the current gen games, not last gen or last last gen game compatibility.

JackBNimble592d ago

It is important and I personally won't buy without it.

sprinterboy592d ago

To me it's not, I move with the generations personally, old classics always disappoint from what your memories recall, ps3 wise played all my ps3 games to death as for this gen again played them all to death although I would obviously like to replay hzd, rl, days gone, tlou pt2, uncharted and death stranding again in 4k nxt gen once I get a 4ktv.
Other than that I couldn't care less although I appreciate options are good for the small minority who do care about bc.

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Hardiman593d ago

There was a story on here a few days back that Sony filed for a patent for tech that would allow the CPU to play legacy software. Presumably for the PS5 and Cerney's name was on the report albeit misspelled.

StormSnooper593d ago

I’m pretty sure we already know PS3 and earlier won’t be possible, or needed.

Imalwaysright593d ago

PS1 and PS2 won't be possible? Why?

StormSnooper593d ago

Won’t be likely. PS4 and PSVR games are more likely.

Imalwaysright593d ago

Sony has working PS1 and PS2 emulators. It would be extremely easy for them to make PS5 BC with the PS1 and PS2 through software emulation.

StormSnooper592d ago (Edited 592d ago )

Yeah but it might not be worth it considering the cost and infrastructure may be better spent elsewhere. I mean honestly, how many of you guys will be buying/playing games that old? I don’t even have time to play all the current generation games Sony keeps pumping out every gen.

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rainslacker593d ago

I kind of get a kick out of all the people who think that just because Ryan has been appointed that Sony will somehow just suddenly do anything and everything he wants, as if his personal public comments on the topic had any bearing on how things progress with Sony. Guy's had a lot of questionable PR moments, but he seems more cocky about expressing himself, rather than any kind of personal vandetta against things like cross play or BC. If Sony itself wants BC, and they have a solution....which they might given they have quite a few patents that involve BC....then he's not going to say no. He's a business man, and unless he can make a huge case for it being a money sink, then it's probably going to happen. There is money to be made with BC. There are thousands of digital titles that can be sold, all of which Sony gets a cut of the revenue from. Seems more business like to enable it, than try and prevent it because he may not personally care, or be against it.

nucky64593d ago

how many people who are thinking of buying a ps5 will end up not making that purchase because it won't play ps3, or earlier, games??? that is a non-issue.

Cobra951593d ago

I only care about PS4 compatibility, namely because I skipped it entirely, and the PS5 may be my way into its library.

I never cared very much about the PS3.

starchild592d ago

I'll still get a PS5, but it will definitely make it a much less attractive platform to me if it doesn't have backwards compatibility.

Full backwards compatibility with the promise to continue doing the same in the future would make me more willing to invest in it as my main platform. It would probably take one or two other things as well, but it would definitely contribute significantly to my decision. Otherwise I'll just keep gaming on PC as my main platform, where I know I'll have full backwards compatibility and my games will even run and look better each time I upgrade. And I'll just use my PS5 for the Sony exclusives I want to play.

RosweeSon593d ago

Majority of the quality PS3 titles are already on PS4 they’ve been getting ported all Gen this isn’t dig it’s a fact with ps2 classics all the really need is to allow the downloads of ps1 games from your vita on to PS4/5 ps5 will have BC from day1 not as an after thought mid Gen why? Because Sony went to a lot of effort getting this epic vast and excellent backcatlogue of games for PS4 new and even old ie PS3 ports like god of war 3 heavy rain beyond 2 souls uncharted collection last of us etc. They not gonna just ditch that quality and massive amount of games to go next Gen and cut off 100 million gamers and all their epic games. PS5 will be BC or it just won’t happen for another couple of years simple. Worse case I’ll keep my PS4 and won’t rush out for ps5 day one.

uth11592d ago

PS5 is possibly capable of emulating PS3, the question is if Sony is developing such an emulator

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FallenAngel1984593d ago

Still don’t see why PS4 couldn’t naturally have backwards compatibility with PS1 & PS2 games

RizBiz593d ago

It can, and it'd be REALLY easy. They're just jerks.

S2Killinit593d ago

Uha but what do you really think?

Eonjay593d ago

There is a PS2 emulator on the PS4 but there are some issues preventing it from working correctly on all games.

rainslacker593d ago

Naturally(or native) would require the actual processors from those systems. Plus the controller code(BIOS) to execute the commands. To run it natively, they basically have to have the core system in the hardware. Otherwise, it's emulation, and requires publisher approval because the original licensing of those games was platform specific.

That said, the PS4 could emulate PS1 and PS2 code through emulation. It is powerful enough, and Sony does have a PS2 emulator already. They just haven't released it for general use.

Cobra951593d ago

Yeah; it would be immensely more powerful than either of those systems, and it should emulate them with ease. The BIOS belongs to Sony, so using it is not an issue. Licensing is another matter. I don't know what deals Sony made in the first place, and whether they would already cover this situation. (Probably not.)

rainslacker593d ago

The licensing deals don't cover new hardware. They explicitely state which systems they can run on. If it says, PS1, or PS2, etc, then those are the only ones it can run on. On PS2 and PS3 launch consoles, Sony was able to do BC, because they included the actual processors and bios was replicated through the normal bios. The point of the BIOS code is so it runs natively by executing actual specific console code, on that system hardware. The only thing that actually defines a console in terms of legality, is the way it executes code. Like x86 is always x86. It's a PS4, because of the way the BIOS handles the commands to execute said code.

If they include those chips, then it's native. If they don't, but still runs them, then it's emulation. Emulation requires publisher approval, and isn't true BC. Chances are, they aren't going to include the actual hardware, CELL especially as it actually costs more now than it did when they discontinued the PS3 because they retooled manufacturing plants. The PS1 chip is pretty cheap, and still readily available because it's used in many things, but since it can easily be run on an x86, and uses many of the same commands anyways, emulation is simpler for design. The PS2 chip was a custom chip, but still easily manufactured if they decided to do it, but probably wouldn't be done because again, emulation would be pretty easy.

Godmars290593d ago

They have the software emulators, but then again, they're likely only SD.

GGEZ593d ago

it's kinda funny that weaker PC's than a PS4 can easily play PS1 and PS2 games with higher than their original resolution.

littletad593d ago

It was most likely a business decision to get people to buy current games and/or also resell old games. In hindsight it makes business sense, but I also believe it's an anti-consumer move. Microsoft did a lot of crap wrong, but their forward compatibilty mindset is pretty great. And steam has been doing this for years on PC. But if I could buy a ps5 and also pop in my copy of Shinobi, i'd be in gamer heaven, and still looking forward to getting new games. I hope they adopt the mentality to allow all past games playable on their next stystem.

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Leeroyw593d ago

How nice of a games journalist to point out that playstation customers are 'idiotic' to be worrying that all their digital purchases might be rendered useless if backwards compatibility isn't a feature. Real nice. Thank God for games journos to tell us how to think and what to be outraged about.

RizBiz593d ago

Calling people who write about video games "journalists" is giving them way more credit than they deserve.

593d ago
KwietStorm593d ago

Didn't say the customers are idiotic. Said the mentality is idiotic to think the same rules apply from generation to generation. And people are idiotic, regardless of who's saying it.

Leeroyw593d ago

I think they will have the same priorities as next gen. Doesn't make me an idiot.

KwietStorm593d ago

"I think they will have the same priorities as next gen. Doesn't make me an idiot."

Again, didn't call you an idiot. The statement is referring to the mentality being idiotic. You can swap out adjective due whatever you want. You her the point. But if you think they'll have the same priorities moving forward, you're saying that they won't have backward compatibility, and that they won't put a new emphasis on network strength and capabilities, which they've already spoken on. Is that how you feel?

wwinterj592d ago

Games are not useless just because a new console comes out though. Being digital has no relevance. Keep your old consoles.

dumahim592d ago

The digital content won't be worthless. It'll still work on the console they were sold for.

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DillyDilly593d ago (Edited 593d ago )

They promoted the moron Jim Ryan ? Well future PR relations will be interesting for Sony. You would think any Company would want likeable people at the top but what do I know

S2Killinit593d ago (Edited 593d ago )

Or maybe they arent looking for a mouthpiece and they rather have someone with merit? Look at Marc Cerny, not you typical extroverted popular social butterfly is he?

DillyDilly593d ago

Its not hard having both & Sony has had that before. Sony has become more unlikeable since the California change

S2Killinit593d ago (Edited 593d ago )

Whats moving to California got to do with anything? MS is also there btw. Are they “unlikelable” too?

Razzer593d ago

Sony doesn't put people in charge because they are great at PR. That much is certain. Ryan has been around a long time and has seen a lot of success. It isn't like Sony promoted the equivalent of Aaron Greenberg. lol

rainslacker593d ago

Spencer is likeable. That's probably why he got the job, because they needed someone likable. I'd rather have someone capable, and until the promotion, Ryan ran PS most successful region.

I agree with you that he could offer up some "interesting" PR moments in the future though. Guy sometimes comes off the wrong way.

Wulfer593d ago (Edited 593d ago )

I don't know, Sony's Software can't protect the children in cross-play. I don't have high hopes for BC in the PS5.

S2Killinit593d ago (Edited 593d ago )

We dont want obnoxious xbots to cross play with, we just want games. And if having a closed system allows PlayStation to make great games then we dont wanna play with xbox, hell we cant even handle them on these forums, imagine having to listen to them in your headphone while you game.

KwietStorm593d ago

Funny because I don't want obnoxious PlayStation gamers in my games either. I just want level headed regular people, and I couldn't care less what platform they're playing on.

RauLeCreuset593d ago

I prefer to think of the "protect children" excuse as veiled acknowledgement that some will lack the maturity to understand that part of PS4's business model relys on attracting customers to a closed ecosystem. Telling them a for profit endeavor is trying to protect its profits is liable to send them into an unhealthy fit of tantrums.

rainslacker593d ago

You know who Sony is protecting them from? Players on other consoles. Other consoles where they don't have moderation or control over those users. Something which would always be important. People only look at the comment at a surface level, and that's why they just don't get what Sony requires to have cross play be a thing. Ryan didn't relate it well, but the meaning is obvious if you actually get past the "Sony is evil" mentality.