Sony has developed a cloud system to allow PS5 backward compatibility also with PS3, PS2 and PS One games. Here's how it works
One of the main weaknesses of PlayStation consoles compared to Xboxes has always been backward compatibility: while the Xbox One (introduced in 2013) is backward compatible, by default, with Xbox 360 (2005) and original Xbox (2001) titles, the PS4 is not backward compatible even with the PS3. At most, you can play about 800 PS3 titles with a PS4 using the paid PS Now service.
Sony knows this is a big limitation and commercially a huge Achilles heel: people who spent hundreds on titles from one generation have to pay again to use them on the next generation console. On PS5 things will be slightly better: Sony's next-gen will be natively backwards compatible with PS4 and PlayStation VR games. But that's not all: a Sony patent has now surfaced that could change things even further and, should it become reality, could even bring the PS5 to be compatible with all previous games, up to those for PS1.
PS5: cloud backwards compatibility
The patent filed by Sony provides a system in the cloud and a virtual machine: the PlayStation 5, in practice, emulates on a virtual machine the operating system and hardware of previous consoles and receives from the cloud the games to run. In this way you can play on PS5 virtually all the titles already released in the past for PS3, PS2 and PlayStation original. Technically, the patent is credible, because the PS5 has enormous hardware capabilities and absolutely sufficient to handle such a system, while Sony already has a well-established cloud structure that could also use for this purpose.
Is it going to be like this?
As usual, one thing must be clarified: patent does not mean product, it is not at all said that Sony decides to put into practice this idea, but at the moment it is limited to patenting it to protect it from competitors. There is also to say that such a choice would have both pros and cons.
Between the pros, of course, there would be the possibility to play through PS5 a very high number of games, even in the initial launch period when there would be very few games for PS5. Among the cons, however, there is always the economic question: is it worth paying twice to play the same game? Surely more than one user would have some doubts about that.