PlayStation Consoles

Is PS4 backwards compatible?

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Is the PS4 backwards compatible? The short answer is no – you can’t play PS3, PS2, or PS1 discs. Thankfully you can play PS2 classics via PS Store, and PS3 games via PlayStation Now, on any PS4 system.

Want to know if your PS4 is backwards compatible – or in other words, if it plays old games from old PlayStation consoles like PS3?

It’s not as simple a question as it sounds. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is backwards compatibility?

‘Backwards compatibility’ is when a newer console can play games designed for an older console in the same family. So for example…

  • PS2 was backwards compatible with the original PlayStation (PS1). Almost every game worked.
  • The launch version of the PS3 could play most PS2 games. But later versions removed the feature.
  • Xbox One can play many Xbox 360 games through emulation (where one system mimics another through a software emulator).

The short answer: PS4 is not backwards compatible with PS3

So how about PS4? The bad news is that PS4 is not fully compatible with PS3, or any other PlayStation console.

That means you can’t just pop a PS3 disc into your PS4, or download any PS3 game via the PS Store. They won’t work.

But that’s not quite the end of the story if you want to play older PlayStation games.

You can stream PS3 games with PS Now

One option is to use Sony’s cloud gaming service, PlayStation Now, which lets you stream a big selection of PS3 games on your PS4 via the Internet. You can also stream games to a PC and other devices.

There are hundreds of games available, including:

  • Batman: Arkham City
  • BioShock Infinite
  • God of War III
  • The Last of Us
  • Uncharted 3

PS Now costs £12.99 per month in the UK, but free trials are available pretty often.

PS4 does play some PS2 classics

The other good news is that many classic PlayStation games can be played on PS4, through official emulated versions.

You need to buy and download these from the PS Store – as we said above, you can’t just play your old discs. But at least many of them add features like improved resolutions, trophies, and remote play.

Some of the top PS2 games available on PS4 include:

  • Bully
  • GTA 3, Vice City, and San Andreas
  • PaRappa the Rapper 2
  • Psychonauts
  • Red Dead Revolver

As of November 2016, the PS1 classics you could get on PS3 were not yet available on PS4.

PS4, slim PS4, and PS4 Pro: what’s the difference?

When it comes to backwards compatibility with PS3, there’s no difference between any of the PS4 models known in 2016 (original, slim, and Pro). They all run the same games, although the Pro offers better graphics and performance for many titles.

This also means none of them can run PS3 discs.

So wait, is PS4 Pro backwards compatible with PS4?

In a manner of speaking, yes. PS4 Pro plays all PS4 games, but that isn’t the same as being ‘backwards compatible’. Even though PS4 Pro is a new and more powerful system, it isn’t a different platform the way PS4 is different from PS3.

A good way to think of it is like this:

  • Standard PS4 is like a PC with a mid-range graphics card
  • PS4 Pro is like a newer PC with a faster graphics card
  • Both play exactly the same games, but they look nicer on the Pro

Phew, console gaming is way more complicated than it used to be.

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