We know that the upcoming next-generation Xbox will support the three previous generations of Xbox games. If you buy the new Xbox Series X (or the cheaper machine, whose name we don’t know just yet), you’ll be able to play existing Xbox One games, backwards compatible Xbox 360 games, and even supported Xbox Original games.
It would be lovely if the impending PlayStation 5 could do the same. There are several rumours floating about suggesting that at the very least, the PlayStation 5 will be backwards compatible with PlayStation games. Given the proliferation of digital libraries this generation, not being able to carry those through to the next generation would seem a slap in the face. There are murmurs that the next PlayStation could even go further back in its support, allowing for PlayStation 1,2 and 3 games to be played. While I think getting PS1 and 2 games to work on the next console will be rudimentary, PlayStation 3 games might be bothersome thanks to the complicated nature of the PlayStation 3’s Cell architecture. Even now, PlayStation 3 emulation on PC is a little spotty.
That all said, Sony’s filed a patent for backwards compatibility through emulation in 2017, and that patent went live earlier this month (via The Game Post). Its focus is on downclocking hardware to allow for backwards compatibility.
“An application runs at a first operating frequency if the application is designed for a current version of a system and runs at a second operating frequency if the application is designed for a prior version of the system that operates at a lower frequency than the first operating frequency. The second operating frequency may be higher than the operating frequency of the prior version of the system to account for differences in latency, throughput or other processing characteristics between the two systems.
Software readable cycle counters are based on a spoof clock running at the operating frequency of the prior version of the system, rather than the true operating frequency. It is emphasized that this abstract is provided to comply with the rules requiring an abstract that will allow a searcher or other reader to quickly ascertain the subject matter of the technical disclosure. It is submitted with the understanding that it will not be used to interpret or limit the scope or meaning of the claims.”
You can read the full patent here. All the patent tells us is that Sony’s definitely thinking about backwards compatibility. While Sony hasn’t explicitly stated as much yet, it’s likely that full backwards compatibility is one of those features they still need to get talking about.
As for when that’ll happen? All signs point to a big reveal next month.
Last Updated: January 16, 2020