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PS4 Backwards Compatibility: Can you play PS3 games on PS4?

Andrew Williams by

PS4 pic
PS4 pic

Can I Play PS3 Games on My New PS4?

The PS4 nearly has 18 months of life under its belt and although it has received several key new features – Remote Play, Suspend/Play and PlayStation Music for example – there are still a few things missing.

One of those is backwards compatibility. It's still one of the most common questions we're asked. Can I play my old games on my PS4? We've heard it a hundred times already. And for real gaming veterans, there's whether you can play original PlayStation and PS2 games on the PS4.

The answer is not a happy one. You can't simply put a PS3 or PS2 game in your PS4 and play it. The systems are fundamentally not compatible with each other.

SEE ALSO: Can you play Xbox 360 games on an Xbox One?

PlayStation Now

However, there is a solution. It’s called PlayStation Now, and it will let you stream older PlayStation games to your PS4 (and eventually PS3 and other devices) over your home internet connection.

PlayStation Now was announced at CES 2014 and was released as an Open Beta service on July 31 in the US and Canada. Since then, the service has been launched in full with both rental price options and subscription tiers.

It hit PS4 first, and before making its way to PS3 on May 12 2015. Eventually PS Now will spread to PS Vita and PS TV. It’ll even come to 2014 Sony Bravia TVs too along with select Sony Blu-ray players and the latest Samsung Smart TVs. Exactly when has not been announced yet, though.

In the US and Canada, PS Now costs $19.99 (£13.20) for a one-month membership or you can go for a three-month membership for $44.99 (£29.77). Rental prices range from $1.99 to $19.99 depending on the title and the duration of your rental period, which can last for 4 hours, 7 days or 30 days.

PlayStation Now has just launched in the UK too, albeit in Closed Beta. You can apply for access via the UK PlayStation Now website but there isn't a guarantee that you'll definitely get access. This Closed Beta is only for PS4 at the moment too.

See also: PS4 vs PS3

PlayStation Now

But we know what you're thinking, are all PS3 games available through PlayStation Now? Well, the answer is no. The US and Canadian PlayStation Now is home to a growing collection of over 100 PS3 games.

These include:

  • Dead Space 3
  • God of War: Ascension
  • Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus
  • Ultra Street Fighter IV

While these are all fairly high-profile releases, PlayStation Now is also features some smaller, slightly more unusual indie games too.

The UK Closed Beta currently includes titles such as:

  • The Wolf Among Us
  • Batman: Arkham Origins
  • NBA 2K14
  • Killzone 2
  • Saints Row The Third
  • Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

PlayStation Now will eventually offer games from the PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS Vita catalogues, but currently there's only PS3 titles available.

See also: What is PlayStation Now? A guide to Sony's streaming service

PS4 vs PS3

Why can’t the PS4 play PS3 games?

The PS3 and PS4 use completely different system architectures, which means the PS4 would need to emulate the PS3’s system in order to make the games work. The figure often quoted is that a system needs ten times the power of the thing it’s emulating in order to do so at full speed.

Sony does claim that the PS4 meets this ‘ten times’ more powerful mark, but producing a workable emulator also requires a whole lot of work when working with a system of the PS3’s complexity. And that means a healthy cash investment, too.

Sony decided not to do this, and it’s sure to be one of the most common complaints about the new console. We can imagine many people simply assuming they’ll be able to play their old PS3 games on the thing.

What about PS1 and PS2 games?

There is some good news, though. Sony is reportedly working on native emulation for PS1 and PS2 games in the PS4. This means you won’t need to use PlayStation Now to play your very old games, and will be able to simply put the disc in your PS4.

This rumour comes from Ashan Rasheed, an ‘industry insider’. However, it is certainly nothing more than a rumour at this point.

Rasheed says that the PS4 will be able to run older games at 1080p resolution too, rather than the much lower native resolutions of the older consoles – most PS1 games are designed to run at 240 x 320 resolution. This won’t mean 20-year-old will suddenly look fresh, but it will reduce the ‘jagginess’ in polygons in these older games.

We’ll be back with more news on PlayStation Now in the UK and the PS4’s PS2 emulator soon.

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