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The PS4 is an amazing gaming console, and it has some of the best graphics on the market. But it’s not backwards compatible, and that’s a problem.
Sony did not make the PS4 backwards compatible because they put their focus into developing their online streaming service, PlayStation Now. This service allows you to access their older games on your PS4, such as PS2 and PS3 games.
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Why Sony hates backwards compatibility.
Sony does not necessarily hate backwards compatibility. However, there is a story as to why Sony has not exerted their energy into developing this software, over other features, for their PlayStation devices.
Sony attempted backwards compatibility back in 2006 when they first released the PS3. When the PS3 was released, it was priced high. This was because of the system-on-a-chip software that Sony used to make the PS3 backwards compatible with PS2 games. This software was incredibly expensive.
Sony started to lose money on these gaming consoles. The PS3 originally retailed at around $600.00. Even at this price, Sony was losing money on every PS3 device sold. The option to lower the price, even more, was not possible without removing the PS2 system-on-a-chip during manufacturing. Therefore, Sony decided to stop this backwards compatibility feature with the PS3.
In 2009, the Slim model of the PS3 was released, which no longer had the PS2 system-on-a-chip. Sony sold in excess of one million units within the first three weeks of launch. This device retailed at $299.00.
In 2015, Shuhei Yoshida, who was the President of Sony Interactive Entertainment’s (SIE) WorldWide Studios said that backwards compatibility is hard and that if they can find a way to do it, then they will do it in the future. However, if it was an easy task, then they would have done it by now. Furthermore, Sony had plans to buy Gaikai technology to create the streaming platform that you know today as PlayStation Now.
This means that, with the efforts Sony would have needed to exert in order to make backwards compatibility actually work for their PlayStation devices, it was not worth their time and efforts. It would not have worked in accordance with their other plans to develop their online streaming service. The streaming service was their priority.
You can stream PS3 games on PlayStation Now, and so putting in the time, money, and resources to develop backwards compatibility simply was not worth it for Sony. This is not to say, however, that they will not develop backwards compatibility in the future.
Furthermore, Sony is looking to drive sales on their new games, as opposed to people continuing to buy their old ones. In 2017, the CEO of Sony, Jim Ryan, stated that he did not understand why people would want to play the older games as they were ancient and outdated.
Some people have speculated that Sony simply cannot figure out an efficient technology that allows them to make their devices backwards compatible at a reasonable price. This may be true for now.
CEO of Sony, Ryan, has also said that even though many people request this feature of backwards compatibility, it is rarely used by PlayStation gamers.
However, Sony does not disregard backwards compatibility as a feature, neither would it be safe for you to say that they hate it. They have just wanted to develop other technologies and features within their gaming devices, that took priority over backwards compatibility.
Why PS4 is not backwards compatible?
The PS4 is not technically backwards compatible. However, as mentioned above, Sony released a PlayStation Now streaming service which allows you to access their older games almost instantaneously.
Although this software is not seen as being properly backwards compatible because you must pay for a monthly subscription with the service, it is a step in the right direction for Sony. They were planning this software all the way back in 2007.
During the manufacturing process of the PS4, which was released in 2013, Sony decided to avoid backwards compatibility software, such as emulation, due to its complex and timely nature to develop. Furthermore, the PS3 console uses cell processing which made it particularly difficult to make games for. Meaning that emulation software in the PS4 may just be impossible for backwards compatibility to work with PS3 games anyway.
Therefore, it was not worth Sony incorporating this feature into their design. Either way, Sony decided to put their efforts into developing their online streaming service instead. Which does allow for the same features that backwards compatibility has, such as playing older games.
Their competitors at Microsoft also released the Xbox One in 2013. This device had software emulation which allowed it to play older Xbox games by mimicking the 360 software. Microsoft had been developing this software since 2007/2008. This was their direction, as opposed to the online streaming service, that was Sony’s focus instead.
Will PS4 ever be backwards compatible?
The PS4 will most probably never be released with backwards compatibility. In 2020, Sony released their newest console; the PS5. The PS5 has backwards compatibility software for PS4 games, but nothing before.
This means that the PS5 is not compatible with PS2 or PS3 games. You can still only access these on PS4 and PS5 with their online streaming service, PlayStation Now.
Sony has said that backwards compatibility is a hard feature to master. Even though Microsoft have managed to develop this using emulation, Sony has put their focus elsewhere. Furthermore, it is one of those features that many people request, but not many people actually use.
Therefore, if Sony spent the time in developing this for their newer consoles, there is no guarantee that their efforts will be worthwhile. Especially as they now have an online streaming service that allows you to access these older games, it begs the question of why they need to develop backwards compatibility in their newer consoles if they already have an alternative?
If they have found a way to create more efficient software that allows you to access their older games, without having to spend years of resources, then surely this is the better option for the company.
The direction of this will most probably be for Sony to perfect their online streaming service to ensure you can continue to access your old favorites and classic PS games. I am sure if, in the future, Sony can develop a way to make backwards compatibility an easy feature for them to include, that they will do this.
You will then be able to play all your older PlayStation games in one place. Which I know for many PS owners is a dream of theirs. People amongst the gaming community love classic games. Even if CEO Ryan does not understand why people want to play ancient games. They are classics.
Which PS4 models are backwards compatible?
All models of the PS4 can play and stream older games with PlayStation Now. However, none of the models are backwards compatible as you see with the Xbox 360 which has emulation software, allowing it to play older Xbox games.
There are three models of the PS4; original, slim, and pro. They all differ slightly in their appearance and their performances. When looking for the best PS4 for you, it is best to research the different models and see which is the best fit for your situation.
Some games will run more smoothly on different models of PS4, however, none of them are compatible with PS3 or PS2 games. You cannot play these disks on your PS4 device.
If you are interested in their online streaming service, then you can subscribe to this for only $7.99 per month. You can sign up for this from the US by logging into your PSN account and following the required steps.
This service is like a Netflix subscription, and you will be billed every month unless you cancel your subscription. This is the only way that you can access both PS2 and PS3 games on your PS4 device.
PS4 devices are not backwards compatible because Sony wanted to focus their attention on developing their online streaming service which is known today as PlayStation Now. With a subscription to this service, you can access some of their PS2 and PS3 games to play on your PS4.