Why Sony's List of 'Unplayable' PS4 Games Is Worth Celebrating

The list is impressively short

Key Takeaways

  • The backward compatibility of the PS5 is an impressive feat, say experts.
  • Between streaming and the PS5’s ability to run PS4 discs, the PS5 offers enough access to older titles to satisfy most players.
  • Out of the PS4 games that aren’t compatible with the PS5, updates are in the works for at least two that will make them PS5-friendly.
The PlayStation 5's Dual Sense controller in white
Sony

While some might worry about a recently released list of PS4 games Sony admits won’t work on its upcoming PS5, the fact that it’s such a small number of titles is a good thing, experts say.

In a recent blog post, Sony announced that when the PS5 drops in November, the vast majority of PS4 games, as well as Playstation VR games, will be available to play. Thanks to the extensive catalogs of PS Now and PS Plus, digital versions of PS4 games will be available for streaming, and physical discs can still be played on the PS5’s Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive.

Playing PS4 games on the new PS5 also promises to be a heightened experience for gamers; Sony has promised faster loading times and better visuals via the Game Boost feature.

"With PS5 to PS4, Sony has only listed 10 games out of over 4,000 games that don't work, so that is pretty impressive," David Cole, founder and CEO of DFC Intelligence, a research firm focused on video game and entertainment analysis, explained in an email.

Why Some Games Aren’t Available

The recently released list names every PS4 game that won’t be supported on the PS5, and while Sony has not stated if there are more titles to come, it’s a noteworthy upgrade for a company that has historically been behind the pack in terms of backwards compatibility.

"It is a big engineering feat because every game has different code that must be emulated."

Playing older titles on newer consoles is a more difficult feat than it may seem to the average consumer, Cole explained. When older games don't have the software needed to run on new consoles, developers might not see the appeal in putting in the effort to update games that may have long since waned in popularity.

"The challenge with emulation software is it is trying to get old code to run on a hardware system the game was not designed for. It is a big engineering feat because every game has different code that must be emulated," Cole said. "I am not an engineer, but my understanding is that a game with certain unique code simply may not run or may take too much re-coding for it to be worth the effort to run."

An Improvement From Previous Releases

While it looks as if the PS5 will be unable to play any titles older than the PS4—unlike the upcoming Xbox Series X, which boasts backwards compatibility with all previous generations—it is still a welcome sign of progress for fans of the platform.

PS5 games banner image featuring spider-man
Sony

When the PS4 was released in 2013, some were baffled at Sony's decision not to make older titles playable on the new system, but it's a position that global sales chief Jim Ryan doubled down on during a 2017 interview.

"When we’ve dabbled with backwards compatibility, I can say it is one of those features that is much requested, but not actually used much," Ryan told TIME. "That, and I was at a Gran Turismo event recently where they had PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 games, and the PS1 and the PS2 games, they looked ancient, like why would anybody play this?"

Now with more than 4,000 titles that will be available on the PS5, it's clear that the folks at Sony have heard the criticism and have taken action—whether they agree that there's appeal in having access to older games or not.

The List of Unsupported Games May Get Shorter

It's unclear if more games could be added to the ‘unplayable’ list in the future, but there’s proof that the list may shrink. Numerous developers have confirmed that they're already working on fixes to bring their titles into the future.

"Sony has only listed 10 games out of over 4,000 games that don't work, so that is pretty impressive."

A developer behind DWVR, one of the ‘unplayable’ titles, said on Reddit last week that a patch is currently in the works, which they hope will be ready in time for the PS5 release. Similarly, Hama Doucouré, PR and communication specialist at Nacon, told Push Square that the KT Racing team is currently hard at work on an update that will make TT Isle of Man - Ride on the Edge 2, another game that’s not yet compatible with the new console, "100% functional" on the PS5. 

Between the combined efforts of Sony and developers, it’s clear that gamers will have more than enough options to keep them busy, come November.