Can you play PS3 games on PS4? PlayStation 4 backwards compatibility explained

Anyone who’s been around long enough to own multiple consoles will always be looking for a way to take advantage of their bulging library of games via backwards compatibility.

Here at Digital Spy Towers, we’ve been hearing your cries as you ask us whether you can play PS3 games on PS4.

And the answer? Well, it’s a complicated one. You can’t simply play PS3 games on PS4 using a disc or by downloading them from the PlayStation Network.

It’s a very different service to that of its rival the Xbox One, where it’s as simple as slotting in any supported Xbox 360 disc and watching it whir into life.

Instead, you can only play PS3 games on PS4 using a Sony service known as PlayStation Now.

PlayStation Now logo

What is PlayStation Now?

PlayStation Now is a game-streaming service that allows you to play PS3 games on PS4 over a Wi-Fi connection. It’s basically the Netflix of gaming, where you can play any title within the PlayStation Now library as long as you have fairly speedy Wi-Fi.

The benefits of this are that you won’t have to wait for the PS3 titles to install or update. All the PlayStation Now titles are stored in the online cloud, meaning all that boring stuff happens in the background.

All you need to do is download the PlayStation Now app from the PlayStation Network Store and make sure you’re packing a 5Mbps internet connection or faster.

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How much does PlayStation Now cost?

There are two different pay models for PlayStation Now. You’re either looking at a fairly steep monthly fee of £12.99 per month (on top of your PS Plus subscription) or you can rent games for a one-off fee.

Those rental figures might make your eyes water though, as a two-day rental will cost you £2.99 or £4.99 depending on the title, or you’re looking at £5.99 or £7.99 per game for a 30-day rental period.

Thankfully, if you then decide to go for the monthly membership, all your save data is stored so you can pick up exactly where you left off.

If you want to try before you commit, Sony is offering a month’s free trial when you download the app.

sony ps3 dualshock 3

Sony Interactive Entertainment

Do I have to pay again for PS3 games I already own?

What irks us is that we can’t get any compensation if we already own the PS3 games on offer through PlayStation Now. That means your PS3 games will continue to gather dust in the corner for a while longer, we’re afraid.

PlayStation Now games uk

What PS3 games can I play?

Sadly, when you sign into PlayStation Now, you’ll notice that it doesn’t contain the entire PS3 back catalog either. Sony claims that PlayStation now offers over 150 games, but in reality, the figure is actually a bit less than that.

But there are tons of high-profile games that many who missed the PS3 generation might want to catch up on.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Batman: Arkham Asylum, Arkham City and Arkham Origins
  • BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite
  • Borderlands, Borderlands 2
  • Dead Island, Dead Island Riptide
  • FEAR
  • God of War Ascension
  • inFamous
  • Killzone 2, Killzone 3
  • Lost Planet 2
  • Mortal Kombat: Komplete Edition
  • NBA 2K14
  • Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time, Ratchet & Clank Nexus
  • Saints Row 2, Saints Row The Third, Saints Row 4
  • Sonic Generations
  • The Last of Us
  • The Lego Movie Videogame
  • Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
sony ps4 dualshock 4 camera

Why can’t the PS4 play PS3 games?

At a basic tech level, the PS4 and PS3 are two very different systems. To be able to play PS3 games natively, Sony would have to create a PS3 emulator within the PS4’s software, which is what Microsoft has done to solve the Xbox One’s backward compatibility problem.

Sony has said this isn’t something it is considering at the moment, so PlayStation Now is your only solution for now. And for many devoted Sony fans, it will be a sore point. After all, why pay again for games you already own?

Sony PS2

Can I play PS2 games on PS4?

There’s slightly better news when it comes to whether you can play PS2 games on the PS4. Sony is slowly adding select PS2 games to the PlayStation Store, which you can download and play on your PS4 without having to install any additional software.

They’re not cheap and they’re far from plentiful. But, it’s certainly a start.

The PS2 games currently available on PS4 are as follows:

  • Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits – £11.99
  • dark chronicle – £11.99
  • Dark Cloud – £11.99
  • FantaVision – £7.99
  • Grand Theft Auto III – £11.99
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – £11.99
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – £11.99
  • The Mark of Kri – £11.99
  • PaRappa the Rapper 2 – £7.99
  • Rogue Galaxy – £11.99
  • Star Wars: Bounty Hunter – £7.99
  • Star Wars: Jedi Star Fighter – £7.99
  • Star Wars: Racer Revenge – £7.99
  • Twisted Metal: Black – £7.99
  • War of the Monsters – £7.99

This list will continue to grow, so keep this page bookmarked if you want to stay updated.

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