PS4 Backwards Compatibility Explained

Inserting an older PlayStation Game into the PS4 won't work

It is an old question that is often brought to mind by newcomers- can my PS4 play PS1, PS2 or PS3 games? Well, this guide on PS4 backwards compatibility will give you all of the necessary information to understand the ins and outs. Let's begin.

Of course, the question that gamers will forever ask about their favorite console: is the PS4 Backwards Compatible?

We always want to play all of our games on one console. Our primary gaming tool, our newest addition to the family. So, just how do you utilize the feature available on your PS4? It is not easy, and this is the most significant complaint from PS4 users. They want to play their old games on their favorite console! However, don't feel too defalted,  since Sony's move into the digital age does come with many advantages. Read on.

PS4 Backwards Compatibility – How To Play PS2 And PS3 Games On PS4

So, can you play PS1, PS2 or PS3 discs on the PS4?

Unfortunately, no, the systems just aren’t compatible. The PS, PS2, PS3 and PS4 use utterly different system architectures. For the PS4 to be able to play past-console games, it would need an emulator built in due to the complexity. For this to even be possible, the PS4 would need to be ten times more powerful for a PS3 game to run at full speed. Though the PS4 more than meets this requirement, this is highly expensive, and Sony does not feel that this is a valid path. Sony wants to do this for fans, but it is quite the investment and takes a lot of work. Thus, Sony would rather develop news titles for fans to enjoy, hence the many exclusive games available.

PS2 Games look Great on the PS4 - Minus the Disc

Ape Escape 2 PS2 game played on the PS4 Pro.
Ape Escape 2 PS2 game played on the PS4 Pro.

This is where Sony got it right, bringing a growing list of PS2 favourites to the PS4, via PS Now. At this time there is small, but growing pool of games available on this PS2 emulator for PS4 (see further down this article). However, if they can make one game open, in time, they can create an emulated game for them all. Thus, expect many more to be entered into the PS Now catalogue.

What about the original PlayStation?

Keep in mind that the original PlayStation is now over twenty years old as it was released in 1994. It takes a lot of times and effort to bring those titles to the 2010s. However, for those of you wishing to play the classics, we have hope that they too will be available on an emulator or via PlayStation Now in the future.

Unlock Backwards Compatibility with PlayStation Now

Playing your favourite past-time titles is actually increasingly easy. If you have not heard of PlayStation Now, look into it. It is a backwards streaming subscription that allows you to play select titles on your PS4. PlayStation Now offers over 500 PS4 and PS3 games, that is right, you heard me, they even provide PS4 games as well. It currently costs $19.99 a month or $44.99 for a three-month subscription. This price is not unreasonable if you think about it. Sony is continuously adding more titles to PlayStation Now, and for the price of one used game a month, you have access to over 500 titles.

Some fans will certainly grumble at this service as they glance over at the stack of past PS2/ PS3 titles they own. Whilst understandable, newcomers have little excuse other than to jump onboard. Even for collectors, however, you do get a variety of awesome new features. How about earning trophies from your past titles? Not only does this give you a fresh excuse to re-play the games, other than they are awesome anyway, but the expect the visuals to also be somewhat better.

If you are even remotely thinking about trying it out, they also offer a seven-day free trial, so you can test it out and see if it is right for you. Take a look at the list of games you can play! The only bad thing is, you need a reliable internet connection. Thankfully, most gamers will automatically have acquired this at an earlier time. However, for those who have not, they are going to need to now. Remember this is a streaming service; you are playing the games live via the PlayStation servers. If you are not sure if you like it, then try a free trial today.

The Competition

Sadly for Sony, Xbox One and now the Xbox One X has created a built-in emulator so players can insert the discs of their Xbox 360 for smooth play. This gives the Xbox one over on PlayStation. However, backwards compatibility for the Microsoft consoles was much easier and cheaper. It is merely fans that expect Sony to perform the same tasks with more money, power, and difficulty. They can do it, but it will take time. Since Xbox lacks the quality, depth and amount of exclusive games available, there is actually more of a reason for the console to deliver past-games via a disc emulator.

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What is the current list of PS2 games available?

If you do not want to research yourself or click on links, this is what is currently available (from the date this guide was published):

Ape Escape 2

Ape Escape 3

Arc The Lad: Twilight of the Spirits


Dark Chronicle

Dark Cloud

Destroy All Humans

Destroy All Humans 2

Fatal Fury Battle Archives: Volume 2



Fu’un Super Combo


GTA: Vice City

GTA: San Andreas

Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life

Hot Shots Tennis


Legaia 2: Duel Saga

The King of Fighters 2000


The Mark of Kri

Max Payne

Metal Slug Anthology

Okage: Shadow King

PaRappa the Rapper 2



Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

Red Dead Revolver

Red Faction

Red Faction 2

Resident Evil: Code Veronica X

Rise of the Kasai

Rogue Galaxy

Samurai Showdown VI


Star Wars: Bounty Hunter

Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter

Star Wars: Racer Revenge

Twisted Metal: Black

War of the Monsters

Wild Arms 3

The Warriors

And there you have it; a breakdown of just how the backwards compatibility for PS4 works and how you can use it. Keep an eye out for further news and updates on the subject. Who knows, maybe 2018 will hold much more than expected when it comes to Sony games and consoles.

Emily Medlock

Emily Medlock is an avid gamer whose passions not only include video games of all kinds, but anime, music, movies, and reading.

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