Backwards compatibility could be coming to PS5 and PS4, patent suggests

We may finally be able to access more previous-gen PlayStation games than ever before.

Image via Sony

Sony has filed a patent that observers take to suggest that backwards compatibility may finally be coming to PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4. It’s known that the PS5 already runs PS4 games effortlessly, but the wording of patent implies that both consoles may be able to run PS3, PS2, and PS1.

Sony filed the patent, first spotted by GamingBible, on January 6, although it’s credited to Mark Cerny and Patrick Simpson, veteran video game developers and collaborators with the company. In scientific terms, the patent was filed “for backward compatibility through use of spoof clock and fine grain frequency control,” which will determine “whether an application loaded on a current version of a system is for the current version of the system or a less powerful version of the system.”

Put simply, should this method of backwards compatibility be applied to the PS5 and the PS4, both consoles will be able to read whether a game being loaded is for any of those systems or the PS1 through PS3, which weren’t comparatively powerful in the first place. If the games being loaded into the PS5 or PS4 were originally designed for their predecessors, then they’ll run those games “at a second clock frequency when the application is designed for a different version of the system, wherein the different version of the system is characterized by a different standard clock frequency.”

To give an example, the PS5 is natively set to run games at 60 FPS per second, be it games designed for that system or the PS4. As it stands, we can’t pop a PS3 or PS2 disc into any of those consoles because the hardware they were designed for cuts the framerate in half, and the PS5 and PS4 won’t sync them properly, giving rise to errors and glitches that may potentially damage the consoles beyond repair. However, if the method of backwards compatibility described in the patent is implemented into the PS5, then it’ll emulate the entire back catalog of PlayStation games without issues so long as they’re running at a lower speed than the console is used to.

PlayStation Now already has a limited number of PS3 and PS2 games in its library, such as Final Fantasy X and X-2, the Grand Theft Auto trilogy, and Sonic Unleashed. But the streaming service doesn’t emulate them as well as Xbox Game Pass does with games made for Xbox 360 and Xbox due to connection lag. Once this backwards compatibility method rolls out — if it does — the PS4 and PS5 will be able to run those same games and more without problems.