PlayStation 5 offers backward compatibility for the current PlayStation 4 range of games, which means you can play almost any PS4 game you already own on the new console. Some games also offer the ability to upgrade to a real PS5-optimized next-generation title, like Cyberpunk 2077 or Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
Here’s how to get started:
How to play backwards compatible PlayStation 4 games
The PS5 will be able to play almost all PS4 games available through backwards compatibility. Sony also promises that some games will actually be able to take advantage of the extra power of the new console to provide a “Game Boost”; for faster or smoother frame rates. That said, Sony also warns that some features from PS4 titles may not be available, and there may be “wrong or unexpected behavior” when playing backwards compatible titles on PS5.
Play PlayStation 4 games from one disc (PlayStation 5 only)
The easiest way to play backwards compatible games (assuming you have a PS5 with a disc drive and a hard copy of the game) is to simply insert the disc into your PS5. Some games require an update to install, but other than that it’s just plug and play.
Play digitally purchased PlayStation 4 games (PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 5 Digital Edition)
Games purchased digitally are a bit more complex, although it still works in the same way as downloading another digital title. Players’ existing PS4 games will continue to appear in their game libraries on PS5, just as they currently do on PS4. To install and play one, a player must select the game from their library and download it.
And unlike PS5 games (which must be installed directly on the internal SSD, where they can take advantage of the speed improvements that Sony has made here), PS4 games can be installed and played directly from an external device.
Sony also notes that it will offer an option to transfer both digital downloads and save data from a PS4 to a PS5 via Wi-Fi or a LAN cable.
Players will be able to transfer save storage via a USB storage device from a PS4 to a PS5, and PS Plus subscribers can also sync PS4 saves via cloud storage.
Sony says that the vast majority of the PS4’s 4,000 plus game catalog will work on the PS5 through backward compatibility, with the exception of the following titles:
- Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma Volume One
- TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge 2
- Just handle it!
- Shadow Complex Remastered
- Robinson: Resan
- We sing
- Hitman Go: Definitive Edition
- Joe’s Diner
According to Sony, while PS4 games will work with the DualSense controller on the PS5, for the “best experience” it recommends using a DualShock 4 to play PS4 games. (However, players will not be able to use a DualShock 4 for PS5 games.) Other PS4 accessories – including PlayStation VR headsets and special racing wheels, arcade sticks and flying sticks – will also work with the PS5.
PlayStation 5 upgrades
Some PS4 games will go a step further. Instead of just offering the ability to play the existing PS4 version as it already exists, some titles will offer upgrades to a full-featured next-generation PS5 version.
Sony notes that it is up to the developers to decide where the upgrade is free, if it requires an extra purchase or if it will only be available for a limited time. Some titles, like Cyberpunk 2077, has promised that players will be able to get a free upgrade to a proper next generation version when it is available. Other titles – like EA’s Madden 21 or FIFA 21 – offers free upgrades but only for a limited time. Sony is also letting developers charge for next-generation upgrades, with the option to offer players who already own the existing PS4 version a discount.
No matter what the case for your specific game, the upgrade process is the same.
Upgrade a PS4 digital game to its PS5 version (PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 5 Digital Edition)
To upgrade a digitally owned PS4 game, you need to make sure you are logged in to which account you own the title of. Next, you need to find the corresponding PS5 version of that game on PlayStation Store, where it will be offered to upgrade from your existing PS4 version to the new PS5 version. (Again, the offer can be free or paid, depending on what the developers decide.)
Just download (or buy and download) the new PS5 version just like with any other game.
Upgrade a disc-based PS4 game to a PS5 version (PlayStation 5 only)
However, upgrading a physical PS4 disc to its PS5 version is a bit more complicated. After inserting the disc into your PS5, you have a new option on the game hub in the PS5 main menu to upgrade to the PS5 version. Just like the digital option, you can either download the new PS5 version (or pay to upgrade and then download, if the game requires it).
However, there is one big caveat here: while you need to keep the new PS5 version of the game downloaded to your hard drive to play it, it only works when the PS4 disc is still in your console.
Transferring save data from a PS4 version to a PS5 version depends on the developer, according to Sony. It promises more details on how that process will work (including for its own first titles Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy: A Big Adventure) closer to launch.
Update October 9, 14:30: Added additional information about transferring PS4 save data.