Although information is gathering at some pace about Sony’s next console, it seems that PlayStation is not forgetting about its past offerings.
Sony has already confirmed that the PlayStation 5 will feature backwards compatibility. The ability to play older console’s games on a newer device was something the PlayStation 2 and, to a limited extent, PlayStation 3 both included. However it fell by the wayside with PlayStation 4, and while some studios remastered fan favorites, you’d need to keep your old devices for most titles.
However, it looks like PS5 will have one further ace up its backwards compatibility sleeve. PS5 players won’t just be able to play PS4 games, they’ll be able to play them against PS4 players too.
Speaking at Sony’s Investor Relations Day, Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan, and vice-presidents John Kodera and Kazuhiko Takeda, spoke about the PS5’s cross-generational play capabilities.
“Backwards compatibility in a networked era is something that’s incredibly powerful. The gaming community is somewhat tribal in its nature, backwards compatibility gives us the opportunity to migrate that community from PlayStation 4 to next-gen, using the ability to play the PS4 games that they have on their next-generation console [with] groups of 10, 20, 50 gamers. We see this, given the size of the community that we’ve been able to accumulate over all these years on PS4, as a really critical success factor for us – we think it’s really important.”
“Having compatibility is a positive thing. Not only can a game be played on the next-generation console, cross-generation the community can enjoy the games together… bridging that compatibility has a very important role to play.”
You can listen to the entire presentation here (Q&A begins roughly 21 minutes in).
It stands to be a crucial feature for PlayStation. Sony’s figures for PlayStation 4 put it close to the 100m mark, and it’s due to overtake the original console in the next few weeks. The presentation also revealed that 90% of all PS4 consoles that have ever connected to PlayStation Network have done so within the last 12 months. Consumers spend around $20bn annually on the PS4, not including the console itself.
That’s an enormous playerbase to just wave goodbye to. Instead, by allowing the PS5 access to the PS4 online community, those who adopt the new console earlier will still be able to play with those who don’t. Consumers who’d previously held off on a new console until there were enough people to play with may take the plunge earlier this time round.
For racing fans in particular this could be a huge boon. Way back in 2013, Gran Turismo producer Kazunori Yamauchi hinted that a PS4 version of the then-upcoming GT6 might release after the PS3 edition. That turned out not to be the case, with the very different GT Sport launching four years later. If the recent rumors of a Gran Turismo PS5 launch title are true, but they’re instead about a next-gen version of Sport, the player base wouldn’t be split, giving the game a longer life cycle before the eventual GT7.