The PS5 will still be able to play some disc-based games when its internal clock dies, but digital purchases will be inaccessible.
According to a study by game preservation team Does it Play, the PS5 won’t suffer as badly as older Sony consoles when its internal battery dies. In testing it was found that a PS5 with its internal battery disabled could still play a variety of PS4 discs in offline modes, along with some PS5 discs, but results were inconsistent. Spider-Man: Miles Morales apparently played without issue, but Mortal Kombat 11 could not finish installation. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War would start up, but the user couldn’t actually play the game due to its reliance on online connectivity which is impossible without the internal battery,
The issue is that all Sony consoles, including the PS5 and PS4, have an internal battery called a CMOS which helps the console keep track of the time when it’s powered down. Consoles rely on the accuracy of this internal clock in order to verify your access to digital content. In the case of the PS4, the winding down of this clock actually prevented you playing disc-based games too, but the battery's death only affects some PS5 discs.
So, what does this mean for PS5 owners? Well not much for the time being, but there are huge implications when it comes to both game preservation and long-term game ownership. If you’re planning on hanging onto your PS5 for many years to come, you may reach the point where your console’s internal battery dies and you’re left with a severely hampered machine. Sure, it will still play some disc games, but you’ll lose access to all your digital games.
CMOS batteries have a variable lifespan, but it typically lies somewhere between 5-10 years, which isn’t great for anyone planning to hang on to their consoles in the long term. On PC, it’s a two minute job to replace the CMOS battery when it goes, but given the nature of games consoles, it’s not such a simple repair job.
There is some improvement here when compared with previous Sony consoles though. The PS3, PS Vita, and PSP are essentially paperweights once their internal batteries die, so the PS5 working at all is progress. Does It Play isn’t happy though, and is calling for Sony to release a firmware update that removes the requirement for the CMOS battery to connect to Sony servers for games and DLC to function. If you want to support Does It Play’s call to Sony, you can use the template they provide to contact Sony and voice your concerns.
Sony is already in the game preservation bad books after announcing that it was shutting down the PS3 and PS Vita PlayStation store, meaning you won’t be able to buy games from the store (though you can still redownload games you already own). This was followed by PS3 users reporting that they could no longer download certain game patches for PS3 games, which will render many games unplayable over time.
Related Forum: PlayStation Forum