Can the PS4 play PS3 games?

Written by Tech84 on April 19, 2016

Sadly, the short answer is NO.

Can the PS4 play PS3 games

Anyone who’s owned multiple consoles from different generations would love their current console have the ability to play their old game libraries from previous consoles. But sadly, you can’t play your PS3 Games on your PS4, and it’s for obvious reasons.

Why can’t the PS4 play PS3 games?

First reason would be from a technological point of view, as the PS4 and PS3 are two very different systems.

PS3 Cell Processor

The PS3 uses a cell processor, and it was supposed to help the console handle large workloads needed to run next-generation video games. But the cell processor design was very hard to work with, and many developers did not like the new technology and even spoke critically against it.

PS4 was designed with the game developers in mind

And the PS4 was designed with the game developers in mind, this time Sony wasn’t taking any chances and made sure that the PS4 would be easy to work with so it would be more attractive to all developers, not just from big game developers but also to attract indie game devs. This was a lesson Sony learned the hard way during the PS3 launch.

So having very different technologies, the PS4 would need an emulator in order to run PS3 games, this was something Microsoft did when they introduced backwards compatibility for the Xbox One.

But why did not Sony follow the steps Microsoft did to address this issue?
Sony has even stated that this isn’t something they are even considering at the moment. But we’ll get into more of that later.

Second reason would be from a business point of view, allowing the PS4 to play PS3 games would cannibalize any potential PS3 sales, people would opt to buy the newer PS4 instead of the PS3 since aside from being able to play the latest games coming out for the PS4, PS3 games would be playable on the PS4 anyway. So in theory, that would be mean a death sentence for the PS3.

Even though presently, the PS4 is clearly the console of choice for majority of gamers, the PS3 still saw around 1.34 million units sold worldwide in 2015. And Sony surely would not want those sales figures to stop.

Console sales figures

So there’s absolutely no chance of me being able to play PS3 games on the PS4?

Yes there is a way.

How to play PS3 games on PS4?

You can play PS3 games on the PS4 by using PlayStation Now, it’s a streaming service offered by Sony so you can stream PS3 games on your PS4. It’s like Netflix but for video games, you can play all the available PS3 games on your PS4 by using this service.

PlayStation Now

However, you would need to have a fast internet connection in order to play the games, around 5Mbps or faster. Because this is a streaming service, there’s no waiting time to install or perform updates on the games you want to play since all the games in PlayStation Now are stored and everything else happens on Sony’s servers and you are just basically streaming the game on your PS4.

How much does PlayStation Now cost and what about the PS3 games I already own?

You can get unlimited access to PlayStation Now’s full library of PS3 games for $19.99 per month, or $44.99 for 3 months. As of now, you can only rent individual games and the pricing depends on which game you would like to play. Titles like Deus Ex: Human Revolution can be rented for 4 hours for $5.

PlayStation Now Pricing

Sony is still probably testing the pricing for PlayStation now since lots of people are saying PlayStation Now is too expensive. Especially since you would also be require to have a PlayStation Plus subscription. You can view the list of available PS3 games here.

One caveat for PS Now is that you still wont be able to play your PS3 discs on your PS4 and you would still need to rent PS3 games on PS now even if you already own them on PSN (digital copy).

If you want to try it out without having to pay for the subscription, PlayStation Now has a 7-day Free Trial.

What About PS2 and PS1 games?

Same with PS3, you cant play PS2 and PS1 games on your PS4. PS and PS1 titles will be available on PlayStation Now in the near future though.


So why did Microsoft introduce backward compatibility for the Xbox One?

No real hard evidence, but it seems that the Xbox department over at Microsoft is simply getting desperate in improving Xbox One sales, this move would surely cannibalize on any potential Xbox 360 sales in favor of the Xbox One. It could improve Xbox One sales but this would sacrifice Xbox 360 sales. This is a total 180-degree move by Microsoft, as during launch, they were still in total support for the 360 as they have even insisted people to opt for the Xbox 360 for offline gaming for those with no internet connections as the Xbox One would require constant internet connection even when playing single player games.

On a side note:
During last console generation, thanks to PS3 homebrew, you can play PS2 games on your PS3 though.

 Posted in PS3, Tech,

3 Responses to “Can the PS4 play PS3 games?”

  1. Niko says:

    the tech point of view is flawed, ms was able to do that on a whim

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