PS5 backward compatibility: Everything you need to know

Ellie using a bow
Ellie using a bow (Image credit: Sony)

PlayStation was heavily criticized for its stance on backward compatibility during the PlayStation 4's lifetime. PS3 games could not run natively on PS4, meaning people couldn't just pop in a disc and play their old games. The only way to play PS3 games on PS4 was to rebuy them if they were available separately on the PlayStation Store. This has changed PS5.

PS4 games are backward compatible on PS5, much like what Microsoft has been doing for the past few years with Xbox One and Xbox 360 games. The difference here is that not all PS4 games will be playable, but it appears that only 10 PS4 games, none of which are that big, didn't make the cut. Thankfully, nearly all PlayStation 4 games are playable on PlayStation 5.

What is backward compatibility?

Ghost Of Tsushima Storm Trailer

Source: Sony (screenshot) (Image credit: Source: Sony (screenshot))

Backward compatibility refers to the ability of a new piece of technology to support older software or hardware. In gaming terms, backward combability is when a new console can play games designed for consoles from previous generations, i.e., the PS5 being able to play PS4 games.

This idea has been around for several console generations, though it's become a hot topic over the past few years. We obviously don't want to see our old games go to waste, and this is something that PC users don't have to worry about — almost every PC game, no matter how old, will continue to run on computers. So why should console players have to worry about it?

Going forward, we shouldn't.

Which games are backward compatible on PS5?

Borderlands 3 combat

Source: Gearbox (Image credit: Source: Gearbox)

The PS4 has a catalogue of about 4000 games. Of those, nearly all of them should be backward compatible.

With all of the amazing games in PS4's catalog, we've devoted significant efforts to enable our fans to play their favorites on PS5. We believe that the overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 titles will be playable on PS5.

Sony recently confirmed that only the 10 following PS4 titles won't be backward compatible:

  • DWVR
  • Afro Samurai 2 Revenge of Kuma Volume One
  • TT Isle of Man - Ride on the Edge 2
  • Just Deal With It!
  • Shadow Complex Remastered
  • Robinson: The Journey
  • We Sing
  • Hitman Go: Definitive Edition
  • Shadwen
  • Joe's Diner

Are backward compatible games enhanced on PS5?

Red Dead Arthur

Source: Rockstar (Image credit: Source: Rockstar)

PlayStation 4 games running on PlayStation 5 will take advantage of a feature called Game Boost. According to Sony, this means that players can "enjoy faster and smoother frame rates in select PS4 and PSVR games."

We're expecting backward compatible titles will run at a boosted frequency on PS5 so that they can benefit from higher or more stable frame rates and potentially higher resolutions. We're currently evaluating games on a title-by-title basis to spot any issues that need adjustment from the original software developers.

It's unclear which games will benefit from this or what their frame rates and resolutions may be improved to.

Can I play physical backward compatible games on the PS5 Digital Edition?

Ps5 Vertical

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

No, you cannot play any physical games on the PS5 Digital Edition because it does not have a disc drive. There is no program in place that lets you convert a physical game into a digital license, so if you want to play any physical PS4 games on PS5, you need the standard PS5 console. Otherwise you're out of luck. Only digital PS4 games can be played on the PS5 Digital Edition.

Will PS4 accessories work on PS5?

Dualshock 4 Hero Closeup

Source: Jennifer Locke / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jennifer Locke / Android Central)

Certain PS4 accessories can be used on PS5. DualShock 4 controllers, officially licensed PS4 gamepads, PlayStation Move and PlayStation VR Aim controllers, 3.5mm and USB headsets, and PSVR will work with PS5. There are some caveats, however.

The DualShock 4 can only be used to play backward compatible PS4 games on PS5. It cannot be used to play PS5 titles that take advantage of the DualSense controller. Those with a PSVR headset will also need an adapter.

Can the PS5 Play PS1, PS2, or PS3 games?

Uncharted 3 plane crash

Source: Naughty Dog (Image credit: Source: Naughty Dog)

No. PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan confirmed that the PlayStation 5 could not play PS1, PS2, or PS3 discs. However, some older games on these consoles are currently available as classics on PS4 through the PlayStation Store, so it's possible these PS4 versions could be backward compatible.

We have been building devices with a focus on PS5-specific engineering. Among them, PS4 already has 100 million players, so I thought that I would like to play PS4 titles on PS5 as well, so I introduced PS4 compatibility. While achieving that, we focused on incorporating high-speed SSDs and the new controller DualSense in parallel. So, unfortunately, compatibility with [PS3, PS2, PS1] has not been achieved.

Jennifer Locke
Games Editor - PlayStation, Android, VR

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things.