Concerns about PlayStation’s approach to game preservation have been ripe following a report that suggested the manufacturer plans to disable the storefronts on some of its legacy consoles, including PlayStation 3. While we’re still waiting for official confirmation of that – and Sony will need to communicate something fairly soon if the rumours are indeed true – further speculation suggesting that PS4 hardware will no longer be able to play games should an internal clock battery die are heating up.
As is so often the case, the story appears to have started on social media, although it has been picked up by major publications since. The gist is as follows: PS4 includes an internal clock battery that assigns times to Trophy unlocks, preventing users from being able to alter the date or time they earned particular trinkets. Over time, as with all hardware, this battery will die, and while it can easily be replaced, it requires a handshake with Sony’s servers when reset to authenticate it. Without that connection to the PlayStation Network, you won’t be able to play your games.
The worry for some PS4 owners, then, is that there could feasibly come a time in the distant future where your battery dies and Sony has disabled all of its servers, thus rendering your library of physical software obsolete. However, the likelihood of this happening within the next 10 years is extremely low, and even beyond that PlayStation could eventually release a firmware update which may solve the issue.
We’ve contacted Sony for comment on this and will update if we hear back, but we’d recommend keeping a cool head on this. While there are legitimate concerns about PlayStation’s approach to game preservation right now, there are a number of factors that would need to align simultaneously in order for your PS4 to stop playing games – and even then it's worth remembering that all PS4 games can be enjoyed on a PS5. In the short-term there’s absolutely nothing to worry about, and even long-term these problems may yet be resolved.