What Sony’s history of backward compatibility tells us about PS5

So, the PS5 is on its way, and it’s going head-to-head with the equally next-gen Xbox Series X console. And while it’s tempting to look at the hefty PS4 sales figures as a sign that Sony’s dominance will continue, there is one area that the Xbox One clearly overtook, and that’s backward compatibility.

What’s that, you ask? Backward compatibility is the ability of a console to play games published on prior platforms. Given how many games are published these days, its a slightly more daunting task than it used to be, and it’s telling that Sony largely wiped its hands of that kind of functionality years ago – even as Microsoft ensured its Xbox One consoles were still capable of playing hundreds of Xbox 360 titles.

There’s a clear financial incentive to not supporting backward compatibility: if a gamer can’t use an old disc on a new console, they’re often likely to buy the game afresh, and often paying more than before for a remastered version that’s been optimized for superior hardware.

For those of us without oodles of cash to spend, though, it can feel mean-spirited. And the issue of backward compatibility has clearly struck a chord with Sony in some way, as we know the PS5 will feature a whole load of backward compatibility for PS4 games.

  • PS5 and Xbox Series X backward compatibility will be a lot better than we thought

That’s exciting, of course: it means you won’t be scrabbling around for PS5 games to play when you get the next-gen console into your home. Just stick in a disc or load a downloaded game from your PS4 library!

Sony’s history of backward compatibility, however, doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence that this trend is set to last – or that you’re getting quite what you might be hoping for.

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