PS4 Backwards Compatibility

While backwards compatibility has been available in some shape or form as far back as the Atari 7600, it wasn't a feature gamers expected to find on their consoles; it was a bonus when it appeared but hardly mandatory. The PlayStation 2 changed that by being fully compatible with the entire PlayStation library barring a handful of games. We saw this trend continue with the Wii and, to an extent, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, as enabling your system to be backwards compatible provided a large selection of games for your new console and encouraged developers to keep creating software for the previous hardware version. With the PlayStation 4, rumors swirled over whether or not Sony would provide backwards compatibility to past PlayStation consoles and now that the console is officially announced, we have our answer.

Disc-Based Compatibility
Sadly, Sony announced at the February 2013 unveiling of the PlayStation 4 that the console would not be compatible with any past PlayStation 1, 2 or 3 disc-based games. While this came as a shock, Sony does have a good reason for what some gamers are calling a huge mistake. The combination of the unique architecture of past PlayStation hardware releases, such as the Emotion Engine or the Cell Processor, and the fact that Sony is using “off the shelf” parts with the PlayStation 4 means that by default, the PlayStation 4 cannot play past PlayStation games properly. To natively play these games, Sony would have to add the older technology into the PlayStation 4, either compromising some of the features already present or raising the cost or the system. While gamers may lament the fact that backwards compatibility is not a part of the PlayStation 4, would you pay extra for it? Would you sacrifice some of the PlayStation 4 hardware in exchange for the ability to play past games?

The trade-off is for the best, as it's important for Sony to focus on the future rather than be shackled to the past. As you'll read later, this doesn't necessarily mean the PlayStation 4 may never be backwards compatible as Sony has a few tricks up its sleeve.

Downloadable Game and Content Compatibility
Disc-based games are only one part of the type of content the PlayStation 3 has received, with downloadable content, such as new levels, characters and stages and even full games being available for download via the PlayStation Store. However, none of this content will be available on the PlayStation 4 for the same reasons disc-based games are not compatible either. For many gamers, this has been a tougher pill to swallow. You'll always be able to play your disc-based PlayStation 3 games provided you have a working PS3, but what will happen to the digital content once Sony shuts off the servers? It costs money to host this content and it's not feasible to believe that Sony will host this content forever. Will these digital-only games be lost to the sands of time? Many of this content cost money as well, money that will most likely not be refunded should Sony remove the access to the games you paid for.

PS4 and PS3 Backwards CompatibilitySony has begun to address this issue since the launch of the PS4 by bringing certain digital games to the new platform. These titles include FlOw, Flower, Escape Plan, and Sound Shapes. In addition, many digital titles that have been released since the launch of the PS4 have been "cross-buy". This means that if you bought the game on the Vita or the PS3, you already own it on the PS4 and you can download the superior version without paying for it again. The same goes for the above mentioned titles and many other releases such as Tiny Brains, and SteamWorld Dig. As time goes on, we will most likely see more and more titles like these make the jump to PS4 with improvements and zero cost for those of us who already purchased them, or wish to play them on multiple Sony gaming systems.

The Upcoming release of PlayStation Now
As mentioned earlier, just because the PlayStation 4 doesn't ship with compatibility doesn't mean that it may never appear in the future. Sony has mentioned two routes they are looking into: emulation and streaming.

We've already seen PlayStation 2 games emulated on PlayStation 3 hardware, with games such as Bully and Grand Theft Auto III being released digitally for the system with other games like Metal Gear Solid 3 being released in disc form. With this approach, it's up to the developer and publisher to take the time to make their back catalog available for the PlayStation 4; while we'll see some games emulated, it will only be a fraction of the total library. Emulation may also present new glitches or bugs not present in the original release as well.

The option that Sony has confirmed to be going with is streaming, as mentioned at E3 2013. Confirmed at the beginning of this year, Sony announced a program called PlayStation Now. PlayStation Now is going to be a service available to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Vita, Smart TV, Smartphone, and Tablet owners. The service acts a lot like Netflix, which pioneered home streaming for movies.

PS4 Backwards CompatibilityWith PlayStation Now, you'll be able to instantly access titles across the aforementioned devices simply by logging into your PSN account. All of your saves will go with your, regardless of what devices you play on. The content will come straight to you via Cloud technology so you won't need to wait for it to download. It will be like watching a movie, only you're in control! This is the product of the Gaikai streaming technology that Sony purchased last year, and it's looking to be a great alternative to traditional backwards compatibility.

The first game available to stream on the service will be Naughty Dog's smash hit of 2013, The Last of Us. Beyond: Two Souls has also been named. The catalog will feature PS3 hits to start from what has been announced and will first be available on PS3 and PS4, with support for Vita and other devices coming soon there after. Pricing and subscription models have not been detailed, but it has been said that two options will be available. One is a subscription with all access to the games, while the other would offer a more À la carte option of renting the games on a single purchase basis.

Regardless of how they handle it, this service shows that Sony is not willing to let the timeless experiences of PlayStation 3 to fade into the folds of time. With PlayStation Now, we will have the capacity to relive those experiences not only on our PS4, but on most other devices we own. That alone sounds like a good deal to me.

Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 4/22/2013

Related Articles:


Double Dipping

The article says Sony has a couple of tricks up their sleeves, I'd say so. It sounds like both things mentioned could be pay to play services. That would mean if you want to play your old favorites you basically buy it all over again. But,I could be wrong, it's not Microsoft we're talking about.


They can play tricks all day but dont play tricks wit people money


But PS3 has a cell proccessor as well, why can't you just do a model with and without?


There is an easy solution to this. Sony needs to offer consumers the choice of two PS4's. A lower priced non-compatible system and a higher priced backwards compatible system that doesn't compromise the new technology. I think Sony will find that there are a LARGE number of gaming consumers willing to shell out another couple of hundred dollars for the convenience of being able to play all games on one system. We as parents are running out of space to house all of the gaming systems that are not compatible with the library of older games that we already have and the kids still enjoy playing. Not to mention the gaming industry doesn't seem interested in producing kid/tween friendly games anymore. It's all violence and gore with very little parental control options on the new games that are available. Gaming console makers also need to keep in mind that our televisions can only handle the hook-ups for a couple of gaming systems at one time so I am very cautious about which gaming systems I spend my money on. Let me give you a hint: They are the systems that play the most games by being backwards compatible.


The Nintendo Wii is the one for you, it seems like. Or if you're only too happy to pay all that money, a good gaming PC.

backwords compadibility

You can still get ps1 and ps2 titles via psn so those of you that are disk based junkies need to catch up to times yes I know not every title is digitized but a lot are, and those of you that are saying that there aren't any kid friendly games lets see for the ps3 I have seen a whole slew of titles geared to adolescents so where ever this accusations of no rated E games there are a whole slew of them (Shaunwhite snowboarding, littlebig planet, Tony Hawk Ride, Madden, NCAA Football, Need for speed: shift, along with a long list I don't have so to make this accusation that the game systems aren't kid friendly you need to redirect your intent to the game publisher's and not the gaming systems. And I'm sorry you don't call football a kid friendly sport but at what age do we at least in America get introduced to it so yes I will pass on this tradition

An Idea maybe

they could make a software where you could take your ps1, 2 and 3 games and rip them on the ps4 and run them in an emulator of sort say ps1 em ps2 em ps3 emulator that way got of all worlds if disc games you have that is

BC = less money

the only reason for no backwards compatibility is, if u could play all your old discs there would be much much fewer downloads bought from the network. I am a collector I have a large library of ps1, 2 and 3 games I refuse to spend more money to play a game I already own. No BC is simple a way to milk gamers more and more to play some of the great games they've come to love over the years. So as for me sony can shove the ps4 until public out cry forces them to add disc based BC. Until then I hang on to my hard earned money.

I'm out

I was so excited for ps4 but after reading that there's no bc I really don't think I have interest anymore. Ps4 doesn't offer enough to justify spending a large amount of money to replace my collection AGAIN! I still have ps2 games that I'm upset about not being able to play on ps3. I really hate forced consumerism and find myself slowly unplugging because these companies force feed us change rather than earn our money. Sorry Sony your glutenism for my money has run out and I will skip this version of ps just like I've skipped the iPhone 5 and windows 8. Moving forward is important but manipulating and forcing people to spend more is wrong and I'm on to you.

UH.... keep your PS3?

Like a previous poster said.... Keep your old console. Are you thinking now that PS4 is out, you should be able to throw away your PS3? WOW... not too bright.

if your tv has hdmi ports it's simple

i'm just going to hook up 2 hdmi cords one to my ps3 and one to a ps4 so i can switch between playing all of the old games i know and love on the old consoles to the new ones on the ps4 at the press of a button on a remote.... it's that simple and for people that don't have multiple hdmi ports use av cables for the ps3 it's still switches between them at the press of a button...

So you want a PS$ JUST to play PS3 games...?

If you're more interested in playing your old PS3 games, don't bother getting a PS4 until it has enough games there that you want... And anyways, you're supposed to be able to stream PS3 games (I'm guessing with scans via PSN) on the PS4. I don't see why people are so butthurt with all of the info that's been given...

sure you'll be able to stream

sure you'll be able to stream or download them but at a monthly cost for games you already have? That's idiotic and a big ripoff. I'll stay with my old PS3 that IS backwards compatible.

ps3 vs ps4

The ps3 60gb is a fully backwards compatible system that plays all ps1,ps2, and ps3 games. I own one myself,and i love it. But! they are rare to find now.

Update plz THERE IS BC

They even said there is BC for download games please try to keep up with the press conferences

Yea if you by them again! I

Yea if you by them again! I have played PS systems since they first came out. Even I'm disappointing with this actually. I hate the xbox franchise but it is looking better than this.

Done with Playstation forever

I have large libraries of PS1 and PS2 games...many of which were not ported to the newer console. Because Sony didn't make PS3 compatible with older games, I stopped buying their stuff. All the games I have, I still love to play...and I was very picky when I purchased them. I will be using emulators from now more Sony hardware ever again. I don't accept the excuses...what Sony wants to do, it does purely out of what it wants to do without caring what the customer wants. If you enjoy throwing out your console and all your games every few years (for many which cannot be replaced), keep buying their new stuff.

your an idiot

Keep your PS2 you freaking idoit and play old games like I do it plays both ps1 and ps2. I have an Xbox 360 and I go back and Play old games on my Playstion 2.So before you start talking think a little.

so are you

and have to switch or keep multiple systems hooked up? Pain in the ass.. I would have bought PS4, but only if it supported older games. Most of the PS3 games sucked, with the exception of a few, who wants to spend a fortune on a new system that only plays PS4 and then have the games turn out to be terrible again? and then a few years later PS5 will come out and all your games are unusable again? Apple has the right idea, and will eventually beat out both Sony and MS. A game controller for the PC, I can still plays games from the 90's on my PC AND it's hardware evolves faster, this is the future (and past for that matter..) of gaming - hookup your comp to your TV and play it like a console that never goes out of date.

"its a pain in the ass to switch"

you dont have to switch you put an hdmi cord on your ps3 and av cords on your ps2 and you're good all you have to do is switch your tv from av to hdmi it takes a second ..


my first PS3 played the old games PS2 and PS3 games AND I think PS1 games so I gave my PS2 console away because I did not need it and yes the first PS3 did play all the old games so now they want me to go buy another PS2 console no it is not fare to anyone that had one of the first PS3 and it is time stop because why should we keep starting over with a new console again its enough

This isnt an idea, its obviously a solution...

.... Until the console dies. New faster hardware should not only be able to play new games, but also imrove the loadtimes and play of older games in the collection. Games are an investment and a collection. Who wants 3 consoles all hooked up hogging the tv inputs? Who wants to have to dig out a bow and set up a console every time a game is chosen on a different system Pc gamers have the advantage of being able to run with a single piece of hardware if they choose. I want to be able to sell the old console and get better load times from the old games.

With Regards to PC

PC's are nice but you have to upgrade them too, with old parts becoming clutter. As for consoles hogging up ports.... just get a selector device for the units. Everyone complains about the PS4 not being BC, this was done to keep the cost down. Everyone knows that the Cell Processor uses more power and generates more heat than the PS4's native processor.... meaning that were they to include the Cell and Heat reduction capabilities that would have made the PS4 about 1.5 - 2x the size it is now with about a hefty cost increase.

Done with Playstation

I totally agree, especially in these financial times - what are they thinking!! Streaming digital is fine but if you live where there is NO DSL or unlimited data downloads you are screwed without hard disks. I'm not going to use my monthly allotment downloading a game that I won't have access to the next time Playstation decides to release a new version of the console. It makes no financial sense to pay for a game twice!

yes i ageer

My first PS3 did play PS2 and PS3 and I like you I have a lot OF PLAY STATION 2 games I have not been able to play since I had to replace my PS3 console after 8 years got home to find out all I could do with it was the PS3 games and use it for a DVD play I was very upset with this two in two years I have only bought 1 game when I use to buy 1 to 2 a month and now just don't buy their stuff any more

bc for ps3

Actually Ps3 did make a bc console I have one and I play my ps2 and 1 games on it regularly you just have to have the right hardware. 80gb edition w a certain serial number has it made!!!!

Mine has it too

I still have my Gen 1 PS3, with BC

the_hot 1

anyone not getting a ps4 is retartedly biased microsoft is trying to monopolize and screwing you out of your money point, blank period

I love seeing people misspell

I love seeing people misspell and ignore punctuation when calling others names denoting mental or educational deficiency. Thanks for the chuckle.

Me too!


Playstation Core Sysytem

Make a PSCore system with an operating system that can be updated. Make periphrials. A BC Hard drive, a better eye, better controllers, keyboards. Make the Core system upgadable with more memory and ram. basically, make it into your OWN system with your own extras that you want. soon you will be able to add the hologram room and it will be all good

pc gaming

please PC gaming is a joke from modders 2 hackers & always buying new vid/sound cards every other released title. CONSOLES ONE TIME BUY ALL UPDATES R DOWNLOADED---FREE--

Wtf are you talking about?

Are you serious? My pc will outrun any of the consoles coming out. As for hackers yea on some games there are hackers and a lot of games have tried to initialize means of handling hackers such as punkbuster. That's why I enjoy games that are on personally owned servers because a good admin can recognize a hacker and ban them. I owned my own css server for a long time and banned plenty of hackers. Also a pc can still run if the gpu goes out a console can't. As for modders they don't mess a game up you don't have to play a modded version of a game if you don't want to. The modding community actually helps make games replay value better and allows you to change things about the game such as skyrim which has had a lot of modding that can be fun and useful. Such as the hd textures you can download. You don't have to buy a new gpu every title release if you buy a good one to start with.

True PC can outrun any of the consoles out there

True PC can outrun any of the consoles out there, yeah you get software updates but what if you need more power? You can easily do that with a Gaming PC just open it change the video card maybe you need more ram? Well count on PC to make that easy for you!

pc gamming

I have been a PC gamer before these consoles took off. I have emulated most console games to play on PC even with the original controllers. As long as you know how to use a computer and build them right they always will be a better rout to go and infinitely more versatile.

Money to burn

Most P.C. gamers think evrey one has an extra cash to burn evey time a new video card comes out. I will give you P.C.s have the edge on consoles on the graphics side. But not on value for the dollar spent. If you Buy a state of the art gameing P.C. frome lets say a low end, Aileanware. There starting price is around $950. and at the high end $3500. If your a do it your selfer you can bring the price way down to about $550 to 1500 and build it the way you want. The avrage life span of a videocard is abou 1.5 to about 2 years MAX befor they cannot keep up with the new standards for that gameing geniration. while consoles have a 7 to 10 year life cycle. In that time most people go threw 3 to 5 videocard or even whole new systems. Console and P.C. gameing are two diffrent beasties. Even though they play the same games.

ps4 backwards compatability

its this simple...i own a ps1,2 and if you too own these dont worry about the ps4 playing older


i have over 70 ps3 games and dont even know how maney ps2 ps1 games i have. there r so maney im running out of room i was so exited wen i herd about the ps4 but no bc thy can kiss my ass ill wait to the last min. to see wat happens until then play on just started the last of us and love it i can wait enough of us dont buy the 4 they will do somting so until the play on gamers oh and i like the one persons idea buld a single hdd box that plays all the old game for about 100 bucks boom done

your damn spelling

Hey 'tard, the word is M-A-N-Y not manEy like you've posted. I bet you quit school-didn't 'cha?

Hey 'tard

REALLY? 'tard? how very mature and intellGent yOu sound just becuse someone hit the wrong key and didn't reRead tHere mEssage befoRe thEy hiT sENd. GoOd for yoU tEll mE WhaT Is yoUr PHD in?


Their* lol sorry

Grow Up, People...

It's called technology and advancement. Year after year after, new models/versions of cars, phones, gaming consoles, TVs, etc. come out. And guess what? Most people buy the new ones and don't complain. And let's not get started on the iPhone fans who buy the new phone EVERY time it comes out. Keep your old consoles and play your older games on them. I also have MANY games in my collection. I eventually gave away my PS1, but I still own my PS2 and have my PS3, of course (as well as still owning my Xbox along with my XB360). It's called change. Advancement. Nothing stays the same forever. And the PS4 specs and technology is an advancement, and obviously is unable to "backtrack" and be able to perform at its highest quality if also installing older tech. And regardless of whether it's a possibility to have backwards compatibility or not, I don't understand the problem. You obviously already have a PS3, so keep it and play your PS3 games, while also enjoying the future awesomeness of gaming on the PS4.

Why we can't (and shouldn't) have BC

The reason WHY we can't have backwards compatibility is because of hardware. I don't see how you guys don't get this. PS3 games run on a COMPLETELY different architecture (cell) than the PS4's, and simply will not function. If they used hardware of the same architecture, it would be possible, but we would not be getting the power we're getting in the PS4 now. Not to mention the thing would be WAY more expensive. Using a more PC-like architecture is less expensive to the consumer, but more importantly, WAY easier on the developers. The PS3 made developing far more difficult than necessary, and now devs. will be able to built at PS4 "quality" in possibly half the time it would have on PS3 (with PS3-level content). Look at GT5. 5 years, and not even a "complete" game. Just hold on to your PS3's if those games are THAT important to you. Do you REALLY think you're going to use ALL of your old games anyways once there's newer and better options on the PS4...?

B.C. is not what is the issue in a whole

the reason they don't make things BC in the design process is MONEY! plain and simple. for those people who enjoy video games that don't have lots of money to expend on them are the ones that lose really. do to the fact that you play a series its released for one unit. you by the next game in the series. you love it as well now you hear there is a new one being released in a year or so. oh but wait it coming out for the new system premiere:( this is the type of thing they do the game company's and system makers do this dance to make more money. that's what it all comes down to and its depressing.

PS3 Libraries

But with all the insane sales on gamefly and other websites, my PS3 library is at 100+ games. So for me, backwards compatibility would be nice, but it's not a must. I would probably just put the PS3 in a second room or something. As far as hardware, I see that the architecture changed significantly, but I don't really see a huge leap from current-gen PS3 games to PS4. I'm going to wait on the PS4 vs PC comparisons of hit titles (Battlefield4 & COD Ghosts) before making a jump on the new system.

I am out of this ship before it sinks

I love my ps3 and dlcs and can not support the road they are taking. Feels like a slap to the face top that off you know if we allow this they will just do it to ps5. So yeah forget you sony you just lost me.

So your outa nex-gen then

I can't get why people complain about no BC, even when it is offered through a different medium, Gaikai. If the Playstation or the Xbox were to be BC with EVERY previous generation then the cost of the new units would be considerably more. The PS4 would have to pack on some much needed heat reduction capabilities due to the Cell processor (were it to be directly BC), similarly for the Xbox One. Some say, "My tv doesn't have enough ports to support all the devices connected at once."... Easy, buy a selector box...usually have 4 in and one out. For those that say, "Well I still want to play my PS3 games.".... Easy enough too... keep the PS3..retire the PS2. If your still playing the PS2 or PS1 chances are your library has a slow growth (meaning you don't buy many new games or are really selective). In that case your probably not going to get the PS4 or X1 until the price drops. It isn't just hardware, its also the way the games are coded.