We’re only weeks away from the launches of the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition and the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, but backwards compatibility is still fairly murky. On Sony’s end, they haven’t been as clear as they could be about what works and what doesn’t, and while Microsoft offers tons of support for older titles, how they will run on both the Series X and Series S is much less well-known.
This article will give you an overview of how backwards compatibility works on PS5. If playing older games is an important part of the value proposition of a new console for you, read on to learn everything you’ll need to know to make an informed purchase this November!
The PlayStation 5’s Major Backwards Compatibility Points
Sony’s PS5 arrives November 12th, and there are two versions: the PS5 and the PS5 Digital Edition. The all-digital PS5 retails for $100 less than its physical media counterpart, but it’s important to remember that the PS5 and the PS5 Digital Edition are the same console plus or minus a disc drive. Because of this, you may assume backwards compatibility works the same across PS5s; however, this is not the case.
The gaming experience, i.e. how the games will actually run, is the same on either PS5 model, but access to games varies because the Digital Edition PS5 cannot play disc-based PS4 games. Any compatible PS4 games you’ve purchased or plan to purchase will be available for download on :PS5 Digital Edition. Although, if you only own a physical version of a PS4 game that does have a digital version, you’ll have to buy the digital version, and if a PS4 game doesn’t have a digital version, you’ll be out of luck entirely.
Naturally, the regular PS5 can play both digital and disc-based PS4 games. The good news is that for most intents and purposes, the PS5 will play your entire PS4 library. This isn’t technically true, as Sony has noted there are 11 PS4 games that do not work with PS5, but everything else, including PS VR titles, will.
The above are the major backwards compatibility points, but there are few more things to be aware of before you pull the trigger on a PS5:
- PS4 saved games will work on PS5 and can be transferred over LAN, Wi-Fi, or via USB/external storage.
- PS Now streaming to PS5 is supported as well as Remote Play from PS4 to PS5.
- PS4 games on PS5 will take advantage of new PS5 UX features, like picture-in-picture, for example.
How Will Old Games Play on PS5?
The answer here is a little more murky. Sony notes that PS4 games may see improved loading times, courtesy of the SSD inside the PS5, as well as increases to resolution and framerate for certain titles. Like the PS4’s Boost Mode that allows PS4 games to tap into the power of the more premium PlayStation 4 console, Game Boost on PS5 will do something similar.
For games that run with dynamic resolutions or unlocked framerates, significant performances increases are likely, but very few games across the entire last generation of consoles managed to run at a completely locked 30fps or 60fps, so it’s similarly likely PS4 games in general on PS5 will simply perform better than their PS4 counterparts. As with Xbox’s method for handling backwards compatibility, individual PS4 games will also be selected for next-gen improvements.
The only currently-announced game that does this is Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima, which will run at 60fps with faster loading times on PS5, while on PS4 and PS4 Pro it was locked to 30fps. No specific mention of an increase to resolution has been announced, but it’s safe to say that the game will likely run at or near 4K. Considering this, it’s not out of question for other fan favorite PS4 games to get performance updates for PS5.
As far as PS1, PS2, and PS3 games go, there isn’t any good news to speak of: no backwards compatibility has been announced. Though, this is somewhat misleading! Sony has a long history of confusing backwards compatibility, but usually more things are compatible than you’d expect.
Most PS3s, for example, didn’t have backwards compatibility, but Sony has brought a bunch of PS1 and PS2 classics to the PS store to play on PS3. The same can be said of PS4, which doesn’t have backwards compatibility for PS1, PS2, or PS3, but Sony has released a bunch of PS2 classics, usually updated with higher resolutions and trophy support, on the PS Store for download on PS4.
Any PlayStation Classic title that’s available on PS4 will also be playable on PS5. Similarly, if you already own a PS2 Classic you play on your PS4, you’ll be able to download and play that PS2 game the moment you get your PS5. This also means that PS1, PS2, and PS3 games, in some form, may continue to come to PS5, like how Sony released older titles on the PS Store to play on earlier PlayStations over the course of the console’s lifespan.
Did you know the PS5 was capable of playing older PlayStation games? Is Sony going far enough in terms of backwards compatibility for you? Let us know in the comments down below!