A new patent filed by Sony could suggest that the PlayStation 5 will have backward compatibility. Before the release of the current generation of consoles, backward compatibility was fairly common as newer consoles could play older games. However, Sony abandoned the idea by the time it released the PlayStation 4. The Xbox One didn't have backward compatibility at launch either.
Microsoft eventually realized the importance of backward compatibility, though. Xbox initially rolled out the feature in 2015 that made many Xbox and Xbox 360 games playable on the newer Xbox One. Although this feature went over well with gamers, Sony never got around to doing the same on the PlayStation 4. As it stands, games cannot play PlayStation 3 titles on the PS4. Instead, Sony began offering PlayStation Now as a subscription service that lets players stream specific older titles on the PS4 and PC, although players can also download specific PS2 and PS4 titles directly to their PS4 consoles. With rumors suggesting the PlayStation 5 will be announced in 2019, with a launch in 2020, most analysts believe that the new console absolutely must have backward compatibility.
Sony recently filed a new patent that could mean the PS5 will have backward compatibility. According to Twinfinite, the patent outlines a way for a device to check to see if an application is meant for an older device. If so, the device's processor then adjusts itself accordingly so that it can run the older application, basically giving the device backward compatibility. What's most interesting about the patent, though, is it lists Mark Cerny, the lead architect of the PS4, as its inventor. Cerny's name attached to the patent suggests it is relevant to the PS5.
Although a patent application is hardly confirmation the PS5 will have backward compatibility, it is a sign that Sony is possibly considering it for something. The company has recently filed other patents, too, that could point to PlayStation 5 features. One patent outlines a new VR controller, while another defines a touchscreen controller design.
Sony still has a year or two to figure out what features the PS5 will have. In the meantime, developers have quietly started developing games for the new console. The PS4 just celebrated its fifth anniversary, which means that it's winding down toward the end of its life cycle. Although it still has a lot of exclusive titles set for release in 2019, the future of PlayStation is right around the corner with the PlayStation 5.