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Here's why you likely won't see PS4 games at 120fps on PS5

One of the purported advantages of the next generation of gaming has been the fact that games can run in up to 120 frames per second. Many new games take advantage of the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5's support of high frame rates, but existing games should also be able to take advantage of the smoother, responsive gameplay through backwards compatibility. However, it has now become clear that more Xbox One games will be able to run in 120fps than Playstation 4 games. 

One example of this trend is Rocket League, the Psyonix vehicular soccer game from 2015. It will get an update later this year that allows 120fps play on the Xbox Series X, but not the Playstation. The developer explained that there were a few reasons for the disparity, including the fact that its main focus this year has been its free-to-play transition and updates to major features such as the game's Tournaments system. That meant it had to decide what to prioritize. A Psyonix spokesperson told Eurogamer, "Enabling 120hz on Xbox Series X|S is a minor patch, but enabling it on PS5 requires a full native port due to how backwards compatibility is implemented on the console, and unfortunately wasn't possible due to our focus elsewhere."

Similar announcements regarding PS5 compatibility have been made for other games, although without the clarity Psyonix provided. When announcing its next-gen upgrades, EA said that, for Star Wars Squadrons on the Xbox Series X|S, players will be able to choose either better visuals (up to 1440p at 60fps for the Xbox Series S and 2160p at 60fps for the Xbox Series X) or better performance (up to 1440p at 120fps or 2160p at 120fps, respectively). However, "Star Wars: Squadrons on the PlayStation 5 will run with improved lighting, at the same resolution and framerate as on the PlayStation 4 Pro," EA said. The PlayStation 4 Pro maxes out at 60 fps.

Eurogamer reported that Infinity Ward has quietly added 120fps support to Call of Duty: Warzone, Meanwhile, Warzone's Microsoft listing, as well as the listing for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, now mention 120fps.

Eurogamer's Digital Foundry chief, Richard Leadbetter, explained that 120Hz support has existed in the Xbox for years now, as part of Microsoft's strategy to implement such features ahead of time so that "foundations would be in place for next-gen games," Leadbetter noted. This might explain why the Xbox Series X boasted more 120fps games right out of the gate than Sony. 

Meanwhile, Sony limits 120Hz support to Playstation 5 games only, and there's been no indication from Sony that it's interested in implementing this type of backwards compatibility.

"Theoretically it should be possible for Sony to adjust this (PSVR games can run at 1080p resolution at up to 120Hz) but it will require a fair degree of work," Leadbetter said. "I guess the question is whether engineering resources focused on PS5 could be redirected to PS4 instead. It really does seem like the ball is in Sony's court on this one." 

This lack in the PlayStation 5 may not matter to some, since most households don't yet have the right TVs to take full advantage of the next-generation systems' graphical upgrades anyway. However, it's a nice bonus for Xbox Series X players who might get to see some of their current favorite titles in all their 120fps glory much sooner.