PS5 secret slips out – gives Xbox Series X a huge advantage

Xbox Series X pulls ahead of PS5 in THIS key area – but will it make a difference?

PS5 and Xbox Series X
(Image credit: Sony/ Microsoft)

The PS5 and Xbox Series X launches are just a couple months away and we're still waiting on prices and exact release dates for both consoles. While Sony and Microsoft have been keeping us in the dark on that front, we've at least  been given a good look at the PS5 games and Xbox Series X titles we'll be able to get stuck into at launch and beyond. 

The PS5 will be kicking things off with a strong line-up of platform exclusives that will show off the hardware's next-gen capabilities, like Marvel's Spider-Man: Mile Morales, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and Horizon Forbidden West – the sequel to 2017's Horizon Zero Dawn.

But in spite of its launch line-up, there's an area in which the PS5 won't be able to compete with the Xbox Series X, and that's backwards compatibility.  

Microsoft has been touting the Xbox Series X's backwards compatibility for a while now, boasting that the console will have "the largest launch line-up for any console ever" thanks to the four generations of titles that will be playable once the hardware releases. 

After the disappointing news of Halo Infinite's delay, which was the Xbox Series X's main launch title, the company is leaning heavily on its library of current and last gen titles as a selling point. Meanwhile, the PS5 will support a range of PS4 games, if not all of them, but it appears to have been confirmed that the console won't be compatible with PS3, PS2, or PlayStation games. 

Spotted on Ubisoft's Australian FAQ page in a section about cross-gen support, the now-revised section read (via Forbes):

"Backwards compatibility will be available for supported PlayStation 4 titles, but will not be possible for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, or PlayStation games."

We can't say that this is a huge surprise, as Sony abandoned backwards compatibility with the PS4, with Sony's Jim Ryan explaining to Time in 2017:

"When we’ve dabbled with backwards compatibility, I can say it is one of those features that is much requested, but not actually used much.

"That, and I was at a Gran Turismo event recently where they had PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 games, and the PS1 and the PS2 games, they looked ancient, like why would anybody play this?"

Given the leap in hardware from the current gen to the next, it's hard to imagine anyone opting to replay classic games that are going to look worse for wear when the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia fail to upscale the graphics. Is it a big enough factor to put people off buying the PS5? We doubt it; anyone in Sony's ecosystem hasn't had BC for the last seven years, and knows Sony's stance, while newcomers will likely be buying in because of the next-gen games. 

But for some gamers, this has given Microsoft the upper hand. We'll just have to see how this shakes out come November. 

Shabana Arif

Shabana worked at as News Editor covering tech and gaming, and has been writing about video games for almost a decade (and playing them since forever). She's had bylines at major gaming sites during her freelance career before settling down here at T3, and has podcasts, streaming, and video content under her belt to boot. Outside of work, she also plays video games and should really think about expanding her hobbies. If you have any tech or gaming tips, shoot over an email or DM her on social media.