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PS5 ‘backward compatibility’ – I pass!


In the ’90s there were 2 camps when you were talking about consoles. You either loved and had a (Super) NES or a PlayStation. My ex-girlfriend (gosh this really is a life-time ago) had a Super NES which I thought was okay-ish. After we broke up she took the thing with her and I purchased my very first PlayStation One and ever since I have been loyal to the PlayStation consoles (though I never bought them on day #1).

After MicroSoft introduced their XBOX consoles in 2001 I stuck with PlayStation because there were far more RPGs available for it. To me the XBOX was designed for the FPS player, which I never really was.

PlayStation Consoles I Currently Own

I think like many gamers, I still have my old PlayStation consoles lying about. Though the PS2 certainly doesn’t lie about, I am looking at it right now.

My monitor is an old 2010 SONY Bravia TV with build in PlayStation 2. I am using this one because of it’s superb picture quality. Not to mention the fact that it’s the ONLY non-PSOne console (or emulator) able to play the original PSOne Final Fantasy VIII disks 😉

Then I own a PS3 Slim. This one I picked up for only €65 a few years back and used to play quite a number of jRPGs. I enjoyed the ‘Tales of..’ series a lot (though I still have to play a couple of them) as well as the Legends of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel and a few other very good jRPG titles. Right now I mostly play Ragnarok Odyssey Ace on it.

I also own a PSTV (the screen of the PSVita is too small for my old eyes) and a PSP with a RGB cable for the TV (once again, my eyes are getting too old 😉)

Last but not least, I own a PS4 Pro. I play with this one most of the time, but the thing is starting to show it’s age. Aside from the ‘normal’ jet engine simulation, the Blu-Ray drive is starting to act up and doesn’t pick up the disk all the time and I need to eject & insert it a couple of times before it does 😔

PlayStation 5 Hype

When I heard in 2018 that SONY was developing their then unnamed next gen console (you guys REALLY didn’t figure out we would know it’d be the PlayStation 5? 🤔😜) I got hyped. Everyone was talking about the power it would hold with the Ryzon based chip set and that it would be backward compatible with previous PlayStation Consoles. Much like how XBOX consoles have been backward compatible with their predecessors.

Only for this reason I wanted to get a PlayStation 5 so I could clean up my desk and have just 1 console (2 if you count the Bravia TV 😉). A couple of months ago the Blu-Ray problem started, which was the 2nd reason to get myself a PS5.

Doubts About Compatibility

It is now a bit over a year ago that I started to seriously doubt the way SONY would use backward comparability for the PS5 because of two reasons. I vented these doubts on reddit for which I got flamed big-time.

The first reason was a patent SONY registered which allowed “Each asset such as a texture called for by legacy software such as a legacy computer game …. An artist  remasters the textures for presentation on a higher resolution display … The remastered asset is then inserted on the fly into the game presentation.“.

This basically is a real-time up-scaling and enhancing the quality of a game of both texture and models. The mentioned artist in this patent is not defined, but with computers becoming more and more powerful, it might as well be an algorithm acting as such.

While this patent is is one allowing backward comparability for the PS5, an other development on the PlayStation Network made me worry quite a lot.

We have all seen it: PlayStation Now. A great streaming platform for the PS4 launched 2015. When the above patent hit the news, I remembered a news item most people had forgotten about. In June 2018 during the E3 SONY announced that PSNow subscribers would be able to download the games to their console.

Lately SONY has added a lot of games (both legacy and PS4) to the PSNow library and has started to give it quite some attention as well. You might have seen that o-so annoying PSNow app in your game list a couple of months ago, as well as the constant ‘discount’ you get when you subscribe to PSNow popping up in the PSN Store.

Your Compatibility isn't SONY's

You see where I was going on reddit back then? With the known hardware the PS5  (Ryzon based chip set and the SSD storage) will have, my case will become more clear.

Real-time processing of (old) assets requires a lot of processor power, but also an extremely fast hard-drive – preferably a SSD drive. If you have ever played Star Citizen, you might know what I mean. This game streams the data directly from storage and anything less than a SSD or 10k rpm harddisk can make it quite laggy on a hardware level.

The patent SONY has registered, the download of PSNow games, the enlarged game library of it and the quite sudden attention for PSNow are what made my case a year ago. SONY will make the PS5 backward compatible with the so-called legacy consoles (anything before the PS4), but on THEIR terms. You can play these games, but not from the original media you already own (being physical or digital). Instead you need to get a PSNow subscription to play those titles you already bought in the past.

$600 & Hidden Costs

There is also the problem of the price tag that comes with the PS5. $599 is what it will cost in the US, which will most likely make it €599 in the EU (guys, please $1=/=€1). And that for a console which isn’t actually backward compatible (aside from PS4). The PS5 also comes with a hidden price tag of roughly €110 a year.

Yes, you’ve read it right, an additional €110 a year! Most likely you will have a PSPlus subscription and keep one when the PS5 launches – this is €60 a year. I am not really nagging about that, aside from the fact that it is mandatory to play online (even for MMOs like Elder Scrolls online you bought – without PSPlus YOU CAN NOT play it ❗😠).

It is the PSNow which bothers me so much. For the ‘backward compatibility’ of the PS5 you have to pay an other €50 a year. Yes, that is what PSNow costs at the moment and most likely it will be raised in the near future because ‘more titles have been added’. Remember when the PSPlus went up €10 and the PS3 / PSVita games were dropped at the same time? SONY told us it was for improvement of the PSNetwork? In reality all they did was enlarge the cloud storage from 1Gb to 100Gb (anyone uses that much storage?)

Final Thoughts

A already had written a whole paragraph about getting the XBOX Series X instead. Reading it back I realised that this was not the topic of the post and I removed it completely. But I will include it in a short version though 😉

I started with a life ago and my ex having a Super NES. Nintendo has dropped the ball over time and their consoles became more a niche than mainstream like PlayStation and XBOX are. I think SONY will drop the ball with the PlayStation 5 and their way of backward compatibility in favour of MicroSoft’s XBOX Series X.

Of course I will keep my eyes on the news concerning the PS5 and see what SONY might reveal on the topic of backward compatibility. If things go the way I fear I certainly will not pre-order the PS5 or might even choose to buy a XBOX Series X instead (which is backward compatible with it’s predecessors). And the Blu-Ray of the PS4? I can replace it for around €50.

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