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All PlayStation 4 games submitted for certification from 13 July 2020 onwards must also be playable on PlayStation 5, according to a document released by Sony.
So if you buy a game on PS4 in August or September of this year, ahead of the release of the PlayStation 5, the game should, theoretically, be forward-compatible on the next-gen console system, too.
According to a report from Eurogamer, developer documentation shared via Sony's PlayStation Internal Partner website says developers are responsible for ensuring that games submitted for certification after 13 July need to ensure it's compatible to run on PS5, which they can each do via Sony's PS4 software developer kit. Sony will reportedly contact developers individually "with details on how to test PS5 compatibility", "in the order of their various projects' release".
As reported by Eurogamer, "a game will be deemed compatible with PlayStation 5 only if its submission code runs without issues on Sony's next-gen machine, and provides the same features on PS5 as it does on PS4". This means if, for example, a game ships with an online multiplayer mode and an offline singleplayer campaign, the game would have to offer the same modes on PS5, too, or it won't pass certification.
As for games that have already been submitted for certification or will be certified before the July deadline? In those cases, patches and/or remasters will reportedly not be required to be forward-compatible, but Sony "strongly recommend[s]" developers try to make it work, and any future patch or remaster would be mandatory. Oh, and once a game is made PS5 compatible, it has to stay that way, too.
Eurogamer adds that while Sony first-party games like Ghost of Tsushima and The Last of Us 2 have already entered the certification process ahead of the 13 July deadline, they will both be forward-compatible for PlayStation 5.
In related news, while we don't yet know the precise release date of Sony's next hardware generation - all we currently have is a vague "holiday" launch window - a recent job listing in Japan intimated the system is scheduled to release in October 2020.
A report last month claimed that higher-than-expected manufacturing costs - coupled with the economic impact of the current global crisis - could drive the price of the next-gen console up to anywhere between $499 to $549. As we explained at the time, that's £400 to £440, although it's worth noting that changes in currency values mean that the final UK price would almost certainly be more than a straight conversion of the US price.
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