New rumor claims PS5 backwards compatibility will support all PS4 games, not just select titles

(Image credit: Sony PlayStation)

A new rumor claims that all PS4 games will be supported on PS5 without needing to be tested, despite Sony previously stating that PS5 backwards compatibility will be slightly limited as it tests PS4 games for the platform.

As PSU spotted, Lance McDonald – who you may know as the mad lad that dissects and mods FromSoftware games to hell and back – recently tweeted that, "The PlayStation 5 can run all PlayStation 4 games without per-game whitelisting. Sony [will] continue to test titles but the system will not prevent you from launching untested games." 

McDonald swiftly deleted this tweet, and in a follow-up tweet (which has also been deleted), he explained that he removed it "out of respect for the platform holder." He didn't elaborate beyond that, nor did he point to any sort of source. 

McDonald knows his way around a PlayStation, and he certainly knows his way around a Souls game, but I'm hesitant to believe this particular rumor. It directly conflicts with Sony's messaging around PS5 backwards compatibility, all the way back to system architect Mark Cerny's March seminar. 

"Running PS4 and PS4 Pro titles at boosted frequencies has also added complexity," Cerny said in March. "The boost is truly massive this time around and some game code can't handle it. Testing has to be done on a title-by-title basis. Results are excellent, though. We recently took a look at the top 100 PlayStation 4 titles as ranked by playtime, and we're expecting almost all of them to be playable at launch on PlayStation 5."

Cerny explicitly said that some PS4 games will not run on PS5, at least not in an acceptable state, without testing and optimization. He also specified that "almost all" of the top 100 PS4 games will be playable on PS5 at launch, meaning some of them will not be playable. 

(Image credit: Sony)

Senior PlayStation VP Hideaki Nishino echoed Cerny in a follow-up blog post on backwards compatibility. 

"We believe that the overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 titles will be playable on PS5," he wrote. "We’re expecting backward compatible titles will run at a boosted frequency on PS5 so that they can benefit from higher or more stable frame rates and potentially higher resolutions. We’re currently evaluating games on a title-by-title basis to spot any issues that need adjustment from the original software developers." 

Relatedly, a now-deleted PlayStation Iceland support page suggested that PS5 users will be able to play "a catalog of supported PS4 games with [a] system update." This explanation was always a bit tenuous, both because it was removed and because the translation was rough, but it did largely line up with Sony's message that most PS4 games will be supported on PS5, but some or many of them will require some fine-tuning.

Meanwhile, McDonald has suggested that all PS4 games will run on PS5 out of the box, which doesn't really fit. It may be that the PS5 has the ability to run any PS4 game on paper, but if a PS4 game were to run poorly on PS5 for whatever reason, I'd imagine Sony would require it to be updated first, if only for quality control reasons. Otherwise, that game could damage the perception and reputation of PS5 backwards compatibility. Again, this follows Nishino's comments about "issues that need adjustment." And even if you can play untested PS4 games on PS5, that doesn't mean those games will run at a playable standard. 

I don't think McDonald would just invent a claim like this, but neither do I think this is the final verdict on PS5 backwards compatibility. If nothing else, it does confirm that Sony still has some questions to answer regarding which PS4 games will be supported, and when they'll be playable. 

For comparison, here's what we know about Xbox Series X backwards compatibility

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a staff writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature.