PS5 CMOS battery fix being looked into by Sony after game preservation group draws attention to the problem

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Update: A PS5 CMOS battery fix could be on the way.

Some users who contacted Sony to report their displeasure with the CMOS issue have reportedly received responses saying that the company is looking into the issue. 

Does it Play posted an update to the situation on Twitter stating that it has heard of responses from several people, and that it has also heard from internal sources that Sony wants to fix the issue.

At this stage, we’re not sure if Sony will be looking into fixing the CMOS issue for all of its consoles or just the PS5. The issue has previously been reported to be even worse on the PS4, as it will essentially brick the entire console if the CMOS battery dies. It’s also a known issue with the PS3 and PS Vita.

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This update from Does It Play was posted in response to a comment from a well-known games industry leaker called Tidux, who posted that they had heard PlayStation was working hard to fix the CMOS issue. We haven’t had an official public response on this issue, but it's encouraging to hear that Sony has been responding to fans.

Original: The PS5 will still be able to play some disc-based games when its internal clock dies, but digital purchases will be inaccessible.

According to a study by game preservation team Does it Play, the PS5 won’t suffer as badly as older Sony consoles when its internal battery dies. In testing it was found that a PS5 with its internal battery disabled could still play a variety of PS4 discs in offline modes, along with some PS5 discs, but results were inconsistent. Spider-Man: Miles Morales apparently played without issue, but Mortal Kombat 11 could not finish installation. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War would start up, but the user couldn’t actually play the game due to its reliance on online connectivity which is impossible without the internal battery,

The issue is that all Sony consoles, including the PS5 and PS4, have an internal battery called a CMOS which helps the console keep track of the time when it’s powered down. Consoles rely on the accuracy of this internal clock in order to verify your access to digital content. In the case of the PS4, the winding down of this clock actually prevented you playing disc-based games too, but the battery's death only affects some PS5 discs.

So, what does this mean for PS5 owners? Well not much for the time being, but there are huge implications when it comes to both game preservation and long-term game ownership. If you’re planning on hanging onto your PS5 for many years to come, you may reach the point where your console’s internal battery dies and you’re left with a severely hampered machine. Sure, it will still play some disc games, but you’ll lose access to all your digital games. 

CMOS batteries have a variable lifespan, but it typically lies somewhere between 5-10 years, which isn’t great for anyone planning to hang on to their consoles in the long term. On PC, it’s a two minute job to replace the CMOS battery when it goes, but given the nature of games consoles, it’s not such a simple repair job.

There is some improvement here when compared with previous Sony consoles though. The PS3, PS Vita, and PSP are essentially paperweights once their internal batteries die, so the PS5 working at all is progress. Does It Play isn’t happy though, and is calling for Sony to release a firmware update that removes the requirement for the CMOS battery to connect to Sony servers for games and DLC to function. If you want to support Does It Play’s call to Sony, you can use the template they provide to contact Sony and voice your concerns.

Sony is already in the game preservation bad books after announcing that it was shutting down the PS3 and PS Vita PlayStation store, meaning you won’t be able to buy games from the store (though you can still redownload games you already own). This was followed by PS3 users reporting that they could no longer download certain game patches for PS3 games, which will render many games unplayable over time.

Well, if our PS5s are ticking time bombs then join us in blasting through the best PS5 exclusives while we can.

Ian Stokes is an experienced writer and journalist. You'll see his words on GamesRadar+ from time to time, but Ian spends the majority of his time working on other Future Plc publications. He has served as the Reviews Editor for Top Ten Reviews and is currently leading the tech and entertainment sections of LiveScience and as the Tech and Entertainment Editor.