Sony hints at PS5 and PS4 cross-generation multiplayer

PlayStation executives talk up the importance of backwards compatibility

Sony has hinted that PS5 and PS4 players will be able to play online together thanks to the next-gen console’s backwards compatibility feature.

During an investor relations event on Tuesday, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan and deputy president John Kodera talked up the importance of being able to play PS4 games on the next-gen console.

“For me, the key point here is that backwards compatibility in a networked era becomes something that’s incredibly powerful because the gaming community is somewhat tribal in its nature”, said Ryan.

“Backwards compatibility gives us the opportunity to migrate that community from PlayStation 4 to next-gen using the ability to play the PS4 games that they have on their next-generation console — you know, groups of 10, 20 or 50 gamers, so we see this, given the size of the community that we’ve been able to accumulate over all these years, all this hard work on PlayStation 4, as a really critical success factor for us. We think it’s incredibly important.”

Kodera then spoke about backwards compatibility through a translator. While his comments were vague, he appeared to suggest cross-gen play would be a key feature in bridging the PS5 and PS4 communities.

“Engagement vantage point is important,” he said. “From that vantage point, having [backwards] compatibility is a positive thing, and not only for game titles [that] can be played on the next-generation console, not only that compatibility, cross-generation the community can enjoy the games together, so from that standpoint, for the engagement bridging, compatibility has a very important role to play.”

During its investor relations day, Ryan also outlined the critical role PS4 still has to play in the years to come. Sony said PS4 will continue to be PlayStation’s “engine of engagement and profitability for the next three years” and “provide the fertile early adopter gamer base critical for next gen success”.

Sony also showed a video comparing load times in PS4 title Marvel’s Spider-Man, running on both PS4 Pro and its next-gen PlayStation hardware. As described in the first PlayStation 5 details article, the next-gen PlayStation has dramatically reduced loading times compared to PS4 Pro, with the camera able to fast travel near-instantaneously and speed through the game’s city without pausing for asset loading.