The PlayStation 5 offers backward compatibility with the existing PlayStation 4 series, so you can play almost any PS4 game you already own on the new console. Some games also offer the option to upgrade to a proper PS5-optimized next-gen title, such as: Cyberpunk 2077 or Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
How to get started:
How to Play Backward Compatible PlayStation 4 Games
The PS5 can play almost any PS4 game available through backward compatibility. Sony also promises that some games can actually use the extra power of the new console to provide a “game boost”
Playing PlayStation 4 games from disc (PlayStation 5 only)
The easiest way to play backward compatible games (assuming you have a PS5 with a drive and a hard copy of the game) is to simply insert the CD into your PS5. Some games require an update to be installed, beyond that it’s just plug and play.
Play digitally purchased PlayStation 4 games (PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 5 Digital Editions)
Digitally purchased games are a little more complex, although they still work similarly to downloading other digital titles. Players’ existing PS4 games will continue to display in their game libraries on the PS5, just as they currently do on the PS4. To install and play one, a gamer must select the game from their library and download it.
And unlike PS5 games (which must be installed directly on the internal SSD, where you can take advantage of the speed improvements made here by Sony), PS4 games can be installed and played directly from an external drive.
Sony also notes that it has an option to transfer both digital downloads and save data from a PS4 to a PS5 via WiFi or a LAN cable.
Players can transfer game saves from a PS4 to a PS5 using a USB storage device, and PS Plus subscribers can also sync PS4 game saves using cloud storage.
Sony says the vast majority of the PS4’s 4,000+ PS4 game catalog will work with backward compatibility on the PS5, with the exception of the following titles:
- Afro Samurai 2: The Revenge of Kuma Volume One
- TT Isle of Man – Drive on the Edge 2
- Deal with it!
- Redesigned the shadow complex
- Robinson: The trip
- We sing
- Hitman Go: Definitive Edition
- Joe’s Diner
Sony said that while PS4 games will work with the DualSense controller on the PS5, it is recommended that you use a DualShock 4 to play PS4 games for the “best experience”. (Players cannot use the DualShock 4 for PS5 games, however.) Other PS4 accessories – including the PlayStation VR headset and specialty racing bikes, arcade sticks, and flight sticks – will also work with the PS5.
PlayStation 5 upgrades
Some PS4 games will go a step further. Rather than just offering the option to play the existing PS4 version as it already exists, some titles offer upgrades to a full-fledged next-gen PS5 version.
Sony notes that it is up to the developers to decide where the upgrade is free, whether an additional purchase is required, or whether it will only be available for a limited time. Some titles like Cyberpunk 2077, have promised that players will be able to get a free upgrade to a proper next-gen version as soon as it becomes available. Other titles – like EAs Madden 21 or FIFA 21 – Offers free upgrades, but only for a limited time. Sony is also charging developers for next-generation upgrades, with the option to offer a discount to players who already own the existing PS4 version.
Whatever the case for your specific game, however, the update process is the same.
Update a digital PS4 game to its PS5 version (PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 5 Digital Edition)
To update a PS4 digital game, you will need to make sure that you are signed in to the account on which you own the title. Next, you’ll need to find the appropriate PS5 version of this game on PlayStation Store, where there is an offer to upgrade your existing PS4 version to the new PS5 version. (Again, this offer can be free or paid, depending on what the developers decide.)
Then just download (or buy and download) the new PS5 version just like you would any other game.
Update a disc-based PS4 game to a PS5 version (PlayStation 5 only)
However, upgrading a physical PS4 disc to the PS5 version is a little more involved. Once you’ve inserted the CD into your PS5, you will have a new option in the main PS5 menu on the Game Hub to upgrade to the PS5 version. As with the digital option, you can either download the new PS5 version (or pay to upgrade and then download if the game requires it).
There’s one big caveat here, though: while you’ll need to download the new PS5 version of the game on your hard drive to play it, it’ll only work if the PS4 disc is still in your console.
Transferring saved data from a PS4 version to a PS5 version depends on the developer, according to Sony. It promises more details on how this process will work (even for its own first-party titles Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy: A great adventure) closer to the start.
Update October 9, 2:30 p.m .: Added additional details about transferring PS4 backup data.