PS5's backwards compatibility will go beyond letting you boot up your PS4 games and play them by yourself. In the same corporate strategy meeting where Sony technically debuted the first PS5 gameplay video (it was just Spider-Man PS4 loading really fast), two of the company's higher-ups gave more context to how PS5 backwards compatibility will work, including for multiplayer games, and why Sony views it as an essential feature for the new system.
"Backwards compatibility, in a networked era, becomes something that is incredibly powerful," PlayStation boss Jim Ryan explained. "Because the gaming community is somewhat tribal in its nature, backwards compatibility gives us the opportunity to migrate that community from PlayStation 4 to next gen using the ability to play the PS4 games they have on their next generation console - groups of 10, 20, 50 gamers. So we see this, given the size of the community that we've been able to accumulate over all these years and hard work on PlayStation 4 as a really critical success factor for us. We think it's incredibly important."
Deputy president John Kodera added that this will help Sony bridge engaged players from one generation to the next: "Cross-generation the community can enjoy the games together." Generational gaps are a common place for players to change platforms or get out of gaming entirely; if PS5 avoids that gap by letting friends play together across generations, I'd imagine people will be more likely to stick with PlayStation.
All the folks playing on PS5 will probably talk to their PS4 friends about how cool their new system is and make them more likely to buy it, too. With PS5 streaming emerging as a third pillar next to physical and download for the new generation, Sony's clearly looking to eliminate any reason for not wanting to play video games.
Start plotting out which games you want to revisit on PS5 with our list of the best PS4 games, or see what's hot in games and entertainment this week with our latest Release Radar video.