Sony has a patchy history when it comes to backwards compatibility, ranging from embracing the concept to more recently dismissing it as an unused feature. We’ve now seen the first details for the PlayStation 5, and they include backwards compatibility with PS4.
Mark Cerny, who was lead system architect for the PS4, says the next-generation PlayStation (which is still not technically named “PlayStation 5”) uses a similar architecture to its predecessor, allowing for the feature. It will use physical discs as well, and Cerny expects some games to be released across both consoles.
However, the PS4 games will run a bit faster on PS5, thanks to the inclusion of a solid-state drive (SSD). As an example, Cerny compared the load times for fast travel in Spider-Man. The PS4 Pro load took roughly 15 seconds, but the same sequence took less than one second on the PS5 dev kit. So if you upgrade your hardware, you’ll probably have a nice smoother experience in some respects.
We still don’t know exactly how far away the next-generation PlayStation might be. Last year the head of PlayStation, John Kodera, suggested the new system was still three years away. That would mean it’s still two years away now, so either Sony is preparing a long ramp to launch or the timetable has been accelerated considerably.