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How does PS4 game backwards compatibility work on PlayStation 5?

By Aaron Potter

PS5

Ever since first announcing the PlayStation 5 would be releasing in the UK this November, prospective purchasers have been left scratching their heads as to how certain functions of the console will work. One of the biggest examples of this is the case of backwards compatibility, but we do thankfully now know that up to 99% of existing PS4 games will be playable in some state on PS5.

Why does this matter? Well, the number of new games playable on a new console at launch has always been notoriously slim, making it crucial for Sony to find away to nail backwards compatibility. Luckily, this appears to be the case. In this guide we’ll be covering which games are included, whether save data will transfer, and how the process works depending on if you buy the standard PS5 or the Digital Edition. Let’s take a look…

Which PS4 games are playable on PlayStation 5?

As per the latest reports, Sony is in the middle of testing all the PS4 games it can to ensure they work as best as can be on PlayStation 5. It estimates that around 99% of the catalogue should have no problem running, with only minor titles like Joe’s Diner, Afro Samurai 2 and Hitman Go: Definitive Edition confirmed to not work. Considering that there currently exists in excess of 2,500 PS4 games that’s an impressive percentage.

The reality is that most of your PS4 game collection will work perfectly fine on PlayStation 5, even being compatible with your Dualshock 4 controller. System architect Mark Cerny is on record as stating that special attention is being paid to the PS4’s top 100 most played games, hinting that these select few will even benefit from special next-gen enhancements. The recent news around Ghost of Tsushima’s PS5 version is evidence of this, as developer SuckerPunch Studios will reach up to 60fps thanks to the PS5’s Game Boost feature. You can expect loading times to be shortened, too.


PS Plus members have something extra special to look forward to in terms of playable PS4 games at launch thanks to the new PS Plus Collection. This serves as a collated list of PlayStation hits that will be readily accessible on day one, mainly being made up of some of the platform’s most popular games. Here’s the full list of PS Plus Collection titles:

  • Batman: Arkham Knight 
  • Battlefield 1 
  • Bloodborne 
  • Days Gone
  • Detroit: Become Human 
  • Fallout 4 
  • Final Fantasy XV 
  • God of War 
  • inFAMOUS: Second Son 
  • The Last Guardian 
  • The Last of Us Remastered 
  • Monster Hunter: World 
  • Mortal Kombat X 
  • Persona 5 
  • Ratchet & Clank 
  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard 
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End 
  • Until Dawn

Will your save progress from PS4 titles transfer over to PS5?

Okay, so now we know that the vast majority of PS4 games will look and play fine on PlayStation 5, the natural next step would be to ensure that player saved data is easily transferrable, right? Not necessarily, it would seem. Sony has instead confirmed that the ability to do this will vary on a title-by-title basis, and that actually it’s the responsibility of the developer to make cross-save between PS4 and PS5 a thing if they choose to do so.

Obviously, this won’t be too much of an issue for when players start playing PS4 games on their PS5, but if you were hoping to continue any progress from one console to another you might be out of luck. There’s still no word as to how much of a priority or how easy to implement cross-save actually is, so our advice would be to finish any outstanding PS4 games before trying to play them on PS5.


Do physical PS4 discs work on PlayStation 5?

Players that still have a fondness for physical media will likely be wondering whether their PS4 game discs will work on Sony’s next-gen console. The simple answer is yes, but only if you opt to pick up the more expensive PS5 featuring a disc drive. From here you just pop the disc into the slot and it’ll be read by the console, loading up a digital version of the game for you to play. PS4 game discs ostensibly operate as a physical key.

At present there is no way for PS4 discs to work on the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, which makes sense. However, this is a drop in the water considering that owners of this console variant still have a wide swathe of digital titles to play.

Can the PS5 play PS1, PS2 and PS3 games?

While Sony has made some effort previously to make a handful of PS1 and PS2 games playable on PS4 via ports and remasters, there’s been no indication so far that the same will be true for PlayStation 5. Even the PS5 equipped with a disc drive won’t be able to read PS1, PS2 or PS3 discs and run them at launch. Instead, the only method players have to dive into PlayStation’s classic libraries is through the PlayStation Now app, where they can be streamed when or if they become available