Developers hoping to publish a PlayStation 4 game will have to ensure that their title also works on the upcoming PS5, according to Eurogamer. Documentation from Sony’s internal partner portal states that, as of July 13th, any software submitted for certification must run on both platforms, as well as offer the same experience on each. In other words, all game modes and options enabled on the PS4 must also be available on the PS5. This approach means that titles published during the twilight of the PS4’s lifecycle should be fully forward-compatible with the PS5, which is planned for a holiday 2020 release.
According to Eurogamer, Sony says that it will reach out to developers and instruct them on how to test their games for PS5 compatibility. Furthermore, any title submitted must stay compatible -- devs can’t revoke features after release. (PS3 owners may remember Sony removing certain features like Other OS and Folding@home via firmware updates, as well as reducing backward compatibility with PS3 hardware revisions.) This new requirement only applies to games submitted for review on or after July 13th -- that doesn’t mean that any game that comes out after that date will be forward compatible. Final or near-final builds of titles are sent to Sony for approval well before the discs are manufactured and the final touches are made. So games coming out in July or August may not necessarily work on PS5 without additional patches.
This news adds a bit of clarity around Sony’s approach to backward compatibility. The company has said that the "overwhelming majority" of PS4 games -- and “almost all of the top 100 PS4 games” -- would play on the PS5. Otherwise, Sony’s been rather vague about its strategy, at least in comparison to Microsoft’s work on making sure Xbox One games play on the upcoming Xbox Series X, as well as its Smart Delivery program. It’s not clear what goes into making a PS4 game run on the PS5, nor has Sony commented on if or how it will handle downloadable games from the PS4’s PSN marketplace on PS5.
Hopefully Sony will provide more details on its backward compatibility strategy next week. The company is hosting a PS5 showcase, which will include over an hour of gameplay footage.