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PS5 battery failure issue exposed — what you need to know

PS5
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It appears that the PS5 has a similar, but not identical, problem as the PS4

The issue is tied to the built in CMOS battery, which maintains the system clock when the PS5 is disconnected. If this battery runs out of power, then the console won’t be able to maintain its internal time. This is only an issue if the console is also unable to ping Sony's servers. For those that have a constant internet connection, then it shouldn't be a problem. But if Sony were to shut down PS5 servers ten-to-twenty years from now, then games might find that their systems are nothing more than large paperweights.

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No battery lasts forever, and that's the case with the CMOS battery inside the PS5. While the average CMOS battery can last anywhere from 10-20 years when used for maintaining time, it can vary. Even then PS4 and PS5 owners should not worry. At the moment, PS2 and PS3 CMOS batteries are winding up dead. 

The upshot of this is that if you want to play digital games downloaded from the Sony PS5 store, then you must have either a working clock or an internet connection for them to load. 

The PS5 has now been tested with a limited selection of games on a single PS5 by Does It Play on Twitter. They've confirmed that a version of the PS4 issues remains present, although disc based games would sometimes play fine. 

What happens when the battery dies?

For the time being, not much as long as your PS4 can connect to the internet. When the CMOS clock is wiped, the console must connect to Sony’s servers before you can play any digital games. 

Disc games have mixed successes. Some will load fine without the CMOS battery and an internet connection, some simply won’t install correctly. This is very different from the PS4 issue we reported on recently. That console simply refuses to play any discs unless the clock is working correctly. 

How long does this battery last and can I replace it?

The CR2032 that Sony uses in the PS5 will last somewhere between 10 and 20 years. These button cells tend to do a good job of staying charged when not in use. If your PS5 is plugged into the wall then the battery won’t be doing much. If you unplug the cable and put the PS5 into a cupboard then it will slowly discharge as it maintains the PS5 settings and internal clock. 

Can you replace it yourself? Yes, kind of. It’s not without taking the PS5 to pieces, which is incredibly risky for most people. Ideally, if you were going to replace the battery you’d have it done by an approved repair shop that’s confident in getting the console back together after. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube, however.

What’s the problem if it can connect to the internet?

The biggest problem will come when Sony starts to turn off its servers as it is was planning on doing with the PS3 and PS Vita, before changing course. Although it’s important to separate the issues here. Sony was planning on shutting down purchasing power for customers, not the servers completely. Either way, as long as the servers are up, then CMOS battery or not, PS5 games should still play fine.

Why does my PS5 need to know the time?

DRM, or digital rights management, is used to protect copyrights on digital media. Technologies like DRM require internet connections to ensure a person is playing a legitimate piece of media. Because Sony wraps PS5 games in this protective bubble to prevent theft, the system needs to know the time or it upsets the DRM and it locks you out of the game. 

It’s also possible that Sony could, if it wanted to, send a final patch out to consoles when it’s going to stop supporting them that would remove all of these restrictions. That would mean that any games on your console would continue to work with or without the internet. Will Sony do that? Unlikely. 

There's also the issue of trophy synching. For trophies to sync properly with Sony's servers, it requires the CMOS battery to be alive. If trophies don't properly sync, gamers will run into errors.

The big argument here is that many people want their current consoles to be like the NES, which you can plug in and use right now. Modern consoles are too reliant on DRM and connecting to the internet for that to be guaranteed in the future.

A tech journalist with many years of experience, Ian got his start writing about the battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray. Technology might have moved on, but there's still plenty of skirmishes to report on. 

  • LZeph
    "If specific events occur together, there's a possibility that your electronic device might stop working fully in 20 years time."

    Um, ok... kinda figured that was true of all high-tech purchases...
    Reply