Although it was already confirmed that the next generation PlayStation (which we will simply call PlayStation 5 until it’s officially announced and named…) will support PlayStation 4 titles in order to make the change to the next-gen easier (which we discussed before), we have more details about this functionality.
Sony has recently updated a patent that details how PlayStation 4 titles will run on the PlayStation 5. First, Sony will run the game on the old (legacy) hardware to get performance characteristics. Then, it’s moved over to the new hardware to see how both data points „converge.” With these tests, Sony fine-tunes the „operating parameters” of the PlayStation 5 to make the games run on it just as well as on a PlayStation 4. If the test concludes by seeing the old game run just as well as if it was running on legacy hardware, then Sony starts to optimize performance to see if the program can benefit from the stronger hardware. This process happens until the game gives up, as it means Sony has found the ceiling for the game and the performance upgrade as well.
So, Sony is internally making the tests on possibly all the major games to provide support as much as possible for them, but seeing how each console generation has some proprietary technology, it means that newer hardware doesn’t necessarily mean better performance. This process is similar to how we overclock our CPUs and GPUs on PC: we marginally keep increasing them until we run into errors and hangs.
Interestingly, the patent doesn’t mention „legacy code,” which means there might be seamless support for the PlayStation 4 games. However, we don’t know if all PS4 games will receive such tests, or only the top of them (possibly the exclusives?) will benefit from the extra care. (Our money is on the latter.)