PS5 backwards compatibility: Likely PS Now patent invigorates debate on whether Cerny's PlayStation 5 BC graphic was deliberately incomplete
One of the hottest subjects about the PS5 at the moment, along with the price and pre-orders, is backwards compatibility. While it’s common knowledge that thousands of PS4 games have been tested to see if they will operate on the next-gen console, there are many fans who would love to play beloved titles from the older console generations. A recently discovered and shared patent generated considerable interest in the BC theme as it seemed to indicate Sony was going to utilize a virtual machine system to allow future PS5 owners to play PS1, PS2, and PS3 games as well as the PS4 titles.
The recently published patent, which is in Japanese (English option available), clearly depicts a handful of different PlayStation consoles being connected to a virtual machine that would function as the specific operating system for each device. This way, someone owning a different console, such as the PS5, could enjoy playing these older titles. It would be full backwards compatibility, which many PS5 fans have been crying out for. Unfortunately, there has been a virtual spanner thrown into this virtual machine…
A detective over at Reddit called u/poklane has pointed out that not only does the patent date back to 2012 but also one of the original authors has since left Sony and now works elsewhere. Scouring the patent documents reveals that it is not too difficult to find a priority date of December 21, 2012, and further down there is mention of co-inventor David Perry, who left Sony (Gaikai) in 2017. The final nail in the coffin for this patent in regard to possibly pertaining to the next-gen console is provided by separate research of Gaikai, a company that created the technology that powers the PS Now service. This “PS5 BC patent” is obviously a patent connected to the PS Now service.
However, the now rapidly solved mystery has sparked the debate again about PS5 backwards compatibility, and there is still one remaining clue that may or may not be a deliberate signpost to full BC, and this one comes from PS5 lead designer Mark Cerny. During his system architecture deep dive talk in The Road to PS5, Cerny revealed a graphic detailing the backwards compatibility of the PS5. There was room for the PS4 Pro and PS4 but oddly an egregious space was left blank at the bottom. Many fans believe this space was left deliberately empty to indicate eventual PS3, PS2, and PS1 BC inclusion, which may even be one of the surprises Sony still has left in store to reveal to its enraptured audience.
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