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

PS4 backwards compatibility is a much  discussed topic within the PS4 community. Read on to find out more.

Sony has quite the storied history when it comes to console manufacture. The company’s first venture into the world of video games was the original PlayStation, which was released worldwide between 1994 and 1995. The PlayStation began life as a potential joint venture between Sony and Nintendo. The latter was looking to create a CD addon to its Super Famicom (SNES) console, but the deal fell through, so Sony ended up creating the PlayStation by itself. The rest, as they say, is history.

Immensely popular sequels to the PlayStation followed. The PlayStation 2 was released in 2000 to massive critical success and popular acclaim. That console is home to some of gaming’s great classics: Jak and Daxter, Killzone, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater…the list goes on. After the PS2’s release, Sony entered the world of HD gaming with the PS3, which boasted an HDMI port. Excellent games like The Last of Us and Demon’s Souls find their exclusive home on Sony’s followup to the PS2.

In 2013, Sony released the PlayStation 4. This was an upgrade in terms of graphics, processing power, and pretty much everything else. The PS4 Pro, released in November 2016, was an even bigger step up than this. There have already been some excellent games on the PS4: Bloodborne, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and God of War, to name but a few. If you’re anything like us, though, you yearn for the days of the classics. How can we revisit the games of our past that made us so happy when we were children?

If you’re looking to do so on the PS4, we have good news and bad news. The good news is that backwards compatibility does exist on the PS4, and you’ll be able to play both PS2 and PS3 games on your console. This goes for whether you’ve got an original PS4 model, a powerful PS4 Pro, or the sleek PS4 Slim. All three of these models will be able to play the same games, so you won’t need to worry about not having adequate power to run them.

The bad news is that you won’t simply be able to play any PS2 or PS3 game you want to on your PS4. The console won’t accept physical disc-based games from either of those platforms. This means that if you want to just pop your Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas disc into your PS4 and take a trip down memory lane, you won’t be able to do so. Similarly, if you want to play the original The Last of Us for some reason rather than the excellent PS4 remaster, this won’t be possible either.

So what’s the good news good for then? Well, physical media aren’t the only way you can play original PS2 and PS3 games. The PS4 has a specific set of services you can use to enjoy old-school PS2 and PS3 content on your newer console. Be aware that if you do own any of these games digitally, you still won’t be able to play them on your PS4 unless the PS Store specifically says you can. Some indie games from the PS3 days have been updated with PS4 functionality, but most triple-A games haven’t.

The backwards-compatible services are different for both consoles. To play PS2 games, you’ll need to buy them from the PlayStation Store in the form of PS2 Classics. There’s a limited range of these available from Sony’s digital storefront, so you’re sadly limited to the games that have been converted to PS2 Classics. There’s a silver lining, though; these games have all been visually updated to run better on HDTVs, and they pretty much all have PS4-style trophies, too.

When it comes to PS3 games, you’ll need to subscribe to Sony’s streaming service PlayStation Now. That service will allow you to stream and play PS3 games on demand. If you do want to stream the games, you’ll need a stable Internet connection. Don’t worry; Sony will check your connection before you subscribe to see if it’s strong enough to stream games. Even if it’s not, many of the games on PlayStation Now can be downloaded to your console, so you can still enjoy them with slower connections.

It’s unfortunate that Sony didn’t build hardware backwards compatibility into its PS4. It makes a lot of sense, though; backwards compatibility drives up costs and sometimes isn’t actually what customers want from a console anyway. We reckon that the way you can play PS2 and PS3 games on your PS4 is actually better than just sliding the disc into the tray. You might disagree, of course. Sadly, these are the only ways you’ve got to play PS2 and PS3 content on your PS4. PS1 games just can’t be played at all- for that, you’ll need to get Sony’s PlayStation Classic.

So, what’s the future looking like for backwards compatibility? Well, Mark Cerny has said the PS5 will be backwards compatible with PS4 games. Whether this extends to PS3, PS2 and (dare we dream) PS1 games too remains to be seen. Some patents have been filed by Sony that might suggest this could be the case. It would be truly wonderful to revisit some of our favourite underrated games like Vagrant Story, Wild 9 and Tomba on our PS5. Time will tell, but we’re holding out hope.

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