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

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Can I Play PS3 Games on My New PS4?

One of the most common questions we’re asked is whether the PS4 is backwards compatible. Can I play my old PS3 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 cannot simply put a PS3 or PS2 game in your PS4 and play it. The systems are fundamentally not compatible with each other.


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 PS3) over your home internet connection.

You cannot use PlayStation now yet, though. It is currently in Beta, and is planned for launch in the UK “in the short term”, as SCEE’s Fergal Gara told Digital Spy. That means in 2015, if all goes to plan.

The US and Canada will get it a fair bit earlier, though. PlayStation Now will launch there as an Open Beta on July 31. It’ll hit PS4 first, before making its way to PS3, PS Vita and PS TV. It’ll even come to 2014 Sony Bravia TVs too. Exactly when has not been announced yet, though.

Pricing for PlayStation Now is largely a mystery, but we do know that the service will largely be based around paid-for rentals. On the officialPlayStation Now FAQ site, we’ll see “shorter rental periods prices as low as $2.99 and most titles are between that and $19.99.” Part of the Beta process is to find out what sort of payment plans work.

It also seems likely that PlayStation Now will be, in part, incorporated into PlayStation Plus. What seems most likely is that you’ll get a raft of free games to stream each month – and perhaps you’ll be able to accrue them as you can with the current Instant Games Collection titles. This is just a guess, though.

Will all the PS3 games be available? No, but the Open Beta will feature more than 100 games. Titles confirmed for the Beta include the following:

  • Dead Space 3
  • God of War: Ascension
  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
  • Ratchet and Clank: Nexus
  • Ultra Street Fighter IV

While these are all fairly high-profile releases, PlayStation Now is also likely to feature some smaller, slightly more unusual indie games too. The original closed beta featured lots of these kinds of games. Here are some of the games that featured in an earlier Beta:


  • All Zombies Must Die
  • Ben 10 Omniverse
  • Big Sky Infinity
  • Choplifter HD
  • Dead Island Riptide
  • Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard
  • Hunter’s Trophy 2 – America
  • Legasista
  • Mercury Hg
  • MX vs ATV: Alive
  • Sniper Ghost Warrior 2
  • Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD
  • Overlord: Raising Hell
  • Pacific Rim
  • PixelJunk Eden
  • Papa & Yo
  • Poker Night 2
  • Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken
  • Tales from Space: About a Blob
  • Way of the Samurai 3

When it finally launches the world at large, PlayStation Now will offer games from the PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS Vita catalogues. 

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.

Next, read our Xbox One vs PS4 comparison

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

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