Sony’s recent backwards compatibility announcement has divided the internet once more.

18:00, 21 Sep 2020

With the release of the next generation of consoles just around the corner, both Microsoft and Sony have been releasing more concrete details on their upcoming consoles. The internet is abuzz with hype for both of the next generation's newest additions to the console library.

Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X are expected to launch this November, with pre-orders coming soon. However, many gamers seem extremely divided over which console to choose. This boils down to more than just the price differences between the two, extending to what offerings are available upon launch as well.

PS5 Backwards Compatibility

Many gamers want a chance to explore this generation's newest exclusives titles, while also being able to discover older classics. Backwards compatibility is more in-demand nowadays than it ever was, as more gamers desire an all-inclusive console that plays all of their favourites- and then some. Many cite storage as a major reason for this desire, while others enjoy the convenience a one-size-fits-all console would provide.

Whatever reasons gamers have for desiring backwards compatibility might vary, but what remains constant is the demand for such a feature. Backwards compatibility has been the hottest topic (besides price point) in the console wars of 2020, making it a talking point that both Microsoft and Sony executives have honed in on.

PS5 Backwards Compatibility

Microsoft promised that the Xbox Series X would play all Xbox One games at launch, save the few that require Kinect. Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, wrote in a July Xbox Wire blog post that the Xbox Series X would have the largest launch line up for any new console ever, with thousands of games to play."

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Xbox recently added to this claim, stating that the backwards compatibility will extend to Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles as well. Jason Ronald updated an Xbox news post on September 14, explaining to the gaming public how this would be possible. He states that "Xbox Series X delivers a new, innovative HDR reconstruction technique which enables the platform to automatically add HDR support to games." This means that old titles will be able to run seamlessly on the new console, allowing users to "pick up where they left off" years ago.

Sony, on the other hand, have handled the situation almost opposite of Microsoft, keeping the number of backwards compatible titles largely unknown to consumers. At first, the company started out by stating that "hundreds" of PS4 titles would be playable on the PS5. Now that figure is in the "thousands" according to Sony Entertainment president and CEO Jim Riyah. He stated that a figure of "99%" of the vast library of PS4 games would work on the PS5.

PS5 Backwards Compatibility

Despite the true number of PS4 titles available on launch being uncertain to gamers, one thing is absolutely clear- the PS5 will not be backwards compatible with PS1, PS2, or PS3 games. Unless the PS1, PS2, or PS3 game in question has a PS4 port or re-release, it will be unplayable by a new generation of gamers.

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Jim Ryan also added that the PS4's lifespan would continue for another "three or four years," giving players time to transition to the new system. This, along with Sony's unwillingness to bring older games to the new console, has generated a lot of controversy amongst the gaming community. Many preservationists and old school gamers feel that Sony is deeming their games obsolete, forcing them to adapt or be left in the dust.

Sony has tried to quell over these emotions by offering a PS Plus exclusive set of games, dubbed the Plus Collection. This gives subscribers with a PS5 access to the "generation-defining" games of the PS4, such as Bloodborne, God of War, Persona 5, Final Fantasy XV, and more.

Fans appreciated this generous bundle of games, however, the debate over backwards compatibility still stands.

Many are left hoping that Sony will take the Xbox One approach to the matter, not releasing the PS5 as a backwards-compatible machine, but adding it in as a software update later down the line. It is funny to think that Microsoft, a company which seemed to stand against backwards compatibility when the Xbox One came out years ago, has won the public's favour by promoting this feature in its newest console.

Whether or not Sony decides to implement backwards compatibility later down the line is a mystery to the gaming public. One thing is certain, however, many are choosing their favourite console as pre-order dates approach. A quick look at Twitter proves this- many are up in arms about whether they are picking the PS5 or XBox Series X this holiday season.

As time goes on, gamers will see if both Microsoft and Sony's claims hold any water. Launch day will prove just how backwards compatible both systems truly are. Until then, fans will wait in anticipation for the conclusion of this year's console wars.

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Images via Sony

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