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Sony patent points to backward compatibility on PlayStation 5

It looks like the PlayStation 5 might have backward compatibility, after all. According to Push Square, Sony has filed a patent for a mechanism to run legacy software — which could point to the PS5 being able to run past PlayStation titles.

We don't profess to be technical geniuses. With that said, the patent itself is pretty easy to understand. It appears Sony's backward compatibility system would rely on spoofing — or faking, if you prefer — a console's processor ID if a game is not a native title. If the game is a PlayStation 3 game, for instance, the system outlined in the patent would return that processor ID back to the game in question. From there, the console would presumably run the software through an emulator of some kind.

If the game is not an older title, the flowchart dictates that the actual console's processor ID would be returned to the software, allowing it to run natively.

The big question we have — the one we'd ask Sony if they ever dared to confirm this — is if such a system would emulate a PlayStation 4, or if PlayStation 4 games could run natively on future hardware, sort of the way software can operate on both the original PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 4 Pro.

To bring Microsoft into the discussion for a moment, that company seems determined to create a Windows-like ecosystem where hardware improves but the platform largely stays compatible with past and present games and apps. If Sony were to adopt that same mentality, you could see PlayStation 4 games running natively on a PlayStation 5, and older PS4 systems that could feasibly run newer PS5 games — though without all the perks of newer hardware.

That would at least free Sony from having to create a PlayStation 4 emulator. As far as older systems go, those are likely in the bag. We'd be surprised if Sony hadn't figured out a way to emulate the PlayStation 3 by now. And the company's been emulating the original PlayStation and PlayStation 2 for years.

But we'll have to wait and see. This could be a patent, like so many, that never sees the light of day. Or it could point to a next-gen PlayStation console that plays a whole lot of games. We'll find out sometime in the next few years.