At least, that’s the latest from Does It Play, a Twitter account dedicated to game accessibility and preservation. As far as they can tell, when the system’s internal CMOS battery dies, the PS5 will be able to play PS4 and some PS5 discs, though digital titles will be inaccessible.
News about game preservation for PlayStation consoles has been pretty dire in the last few months. After Sony announced that it would be closing the stores for the PS3 and PSP in July and the PS Vita in August, users began discovering that the PS3, PS Vita, and PS4’s DRM was linked to the systems’ CMOS battery (which, among other things, remembers the time) and server verification.
All CMOS batteries will eventually die (and can be replaced). In most consoles, that will just mean the system will prompt you to set the time whenever you turn the system on. The PS3, PS4 and PS Vita, however, rely on the console’s digital clock to verify whether the user has the right to access digital content. If the battery is dead, the console will connect to the PSN servers to verify the time, and games should work fine. If the console can’t connect to the PSN servers, however, and the battery is dead or has never connected to PSN before, the console will be unable to verify that the user has the right to play the games. In the case of the PS3, this means that users will be unable to play downloaded games. In the PS4’s case, it will even stop the console from playing physical discs. Allegedly, this is because the system’s clock is tied to maintaining the integrity of Trophies.
On either console, it means that users could lose access to their games if Sony ever shuts down PSN. It has come to be referred to as C-Bomb because unless Sony does something, it’s only a matter of time before this starts affecting every Vita, PS3 and PS4.
Does It Play recently tested whether this issue affects the PS5 by removing the system’s CMOS battery and disconnecting the console from PSN. Like the PS3, removing the CMOS battery means the PS5 can no longer play digital games. However, unlike the PS4, it looks like the console will still boot physical PS4 games.
According to Video Games Chronicle, PS5 game results were more mixed. Mortal Kombat 11 would repeatedly crash during installation, but Spider-Man: Miles Morales would boot and play fine. Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War would boot, but since the game relies on being connected to its servers, it was largely unplayable.
“Our tests are continuing, but we are alarmed at the fact that Mortal Kombat 11 failed to install and we will be checking a variety of other games to see if other discs encounter the same issue,” Does It Play said.
Does It Play also noted that they only have access to one PS5 console, and until they could replicate the results on more PS5s, what they found wasn’t conclusive. They also stated that losing access to digital games would be the biggest issue for people who own the PS5 digital edition.
It’s thought that Sony could fix any C-Bomb issues with firmware updates, but so far, that hasn’t happened.
What happens in the future when the CMOS battery in your console dies and the servers are unreachable? We fear it could have serious implications for software preservation.
— Does it play? (@DoesItPlay1) March 26, 2021