It didn’t seem to dent the PlayStation 4’s chance at success but it’s looking likely that backward compatibility will be a top priority for Sony and the unannounced PS5.
Sony has just registered a new patent in Japan with systems architect Mark Cerny down as one of the creators. He was the lead architect on the PS4, introduced us to the utter magnificence of Knack, ahem, and it’s assumed he’ll also be heading up the creation of the PlayStation 5 as well.
The patent in question is called “Simulation of legacy bus operation for backward compatibility,” which sounds assuredly like some form of new back compat technology to us. We’re no experts but there are two big “backward compatibility” words that really stand out.
It’s the second of two patents filed by the Sony recently, including a method for impersonating CPUID. It looks as if Sony is trying to put together some form of software-based emulation which will allow the PlayStation 5 to play PS4 games. Potentially, this system could also incorporate PS3, PS2 and PSone.
Now, the actual patent is in Japanese, and my knowledge of the language basically extends as far as counting to 10.
The specifics aren’t important for the end user though, but it is definitely important that Sony is working on this. The very idea of not having backward compatibility feels archaic in this day and age. For PC players, it’s generally a non-issue, while Microsoft has made plenty of impressive strides with the tech on Xbox One that we assume will continue with its successor. If Sony rocks up without backward compatibility then that is an Achilles heel, particularly in this age of games as a service. No Apex Legends fans are going to want to pick up a new console if it doesn’t play their favourite game, likewise for any number of ongoing experiences.