How to Play PS3 Games on PS4 - Backwards Compatibility Explained (2023)

When upgrading to thePlayStation 4, many consumers wonder if their PlayStation 3 library will be compatible with the newer console. The answer is not unfortunately not so simple. Therefore, we’ve to put together everything you need to know about playing PS3 games on your PS4 in this article.

Backwards Compatibility in Consoles

Any console worth its salt will support backwards compatibility. Any manufacturer who goes through the trouble of implementing backwards compatibility to their console is showing they care about the legacy of older video games. Microsoft is a good example; you can play the vast majority of Xbox 360 games on the newer Xbox Series X/S. Mind you, the Xbox 360 is not one, but two generations older.

How to Play PS3 Games on PS4 - Backwards Compatibility Explained (1)

Sony, on the other hand, appears to have been overly ambitious and short-sighted in the past. While the PS4 is not directly backward compatible with older-gen consoles, this wasn’t always the case. The PlayStation 2 was able to run PS1 games in the past, and there are certain PlayStation 3 models that are backwards compatible with the PS2 as well.

Sony has a somewhat ill-famed stance on backwards compatibility. Ever since the the release of PS4, the company has completely neglected it because it’s not lucrative enough for them. When asked about the potential of backwards compatibility back in 2015, the now-CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Jim Ryan is famously quoted saying this in an interview:

When we’ve dabbled with backwards compatibility, I can say it is one of those features that is much requested, but not actually used much. That, and I was at a Gran Turismo event recently where they had PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 games, and the PS1 and the PS2 games, they looked ancient, like why would anybody play this?

What happens when you insert a PS3 disc in a PS4?

Your PS4 will do almost nothing if you attempt to insert a PS3 disc in it. The reason for this is actually quite simple: The PS3 and PS4 have different system architectures, therefore it’s almost impossible for them to be compatible with one another.

There is no direct way to play PS3 games on a PS4, as the PS4 lacks the necessary hardware to do so. In addition, Sony felt it wasn’t worth developing an emulator to handle the older titles. Simply put, physical PS3 media will not work on PS4.

How to Play PS3 Games on PS4 - Backwards Compatibility Explained (2)

How to Play PS3 Games on PS4 - Backwards Compatibility Explained (3)

When a game is developed for a platform, certain hardware and software requirements are kept in mind. Unlike the PS3, which used a specialized CPU (Cell) and necessitated the understanding of new technologies and hardware, the PS4 was much simpler as it was based on the x86 architecture (the same as your PC). This meant developers could immediately begin taking advantage of the system.

Since the PS3’s architecture was so challenging, many programmers were unwilling to work on the console at first. To be clear, the PlayStation 3 was way ahead of its time and in many ways, a more powerful console than the Xbox 360. However, Microsoft had the upper hand due to the relative simplicity of developing games for their console.

Sony appears to have learned from their past mistakes by adopting the more popular x86 architecture in its newest consoles; nevertheless, they did so at the expense of backwards compatibility, which they were well aware of.

Alternative Approaches to Play Older Games on PS4

While physical media is out of luck, there are still some ways you can try to enjoy a PS3 game on your PS4. Keep in mind that these may not be the most elegant solutions, but they might be able to mitigate your desperation.

PlayStation Now PlayStation Plus

As previously stated, Sony was well aware of the disadvantages of not including backward compatibility into their consoles, which resulted in the development of the PlayStation Now cloud-gaming service. PlayStation Now has over 700 games to stream from the entire PlayStation library, including popular games from the PS3. Since it’s a streaming service, not all your favorites might be available on here.

The real issue is that PS Now no longer exists. Sony rebranded its subscription services last year where they merged PlayStation Now with PlayStation Plus, keeping only the former’s function alive but not its name. Now, in order to enjoy PS3 game streaming, you need to purchase PlayStation Plus Premium, which includes a ton of other benefits outside of PS Now.

The games can be downloaded and played directly from the servers using a real PS3 console, and the footage will be streamed as a video to your console. You can’t download the game to your own console, since that would require dedicated backwards compatibility hardware, which the PS4 does not have.

PlayStation Premium is available for $17.99 per month, $49.99 per quarter, or $119.99per year.

How to Play PS3 Games on PS4 - Backwards Compatibility Explained (4)

Cross-Gen Offers

Some games that span multiple generations are sold together in what is called a “cross-generation package.” If you buy a bundle of this kind, you can play the game on both generations without having to pay extra. Similarly, numerous titles that had previously been released on other consoles offered inexpensive upgrades to the PS4 version.

How to Play PS3 Games on PS4 - Backwards Compatibility Explained (5)

For a brief time, for instance, Sony allowed PS4 owners to upgrade their PS3 games to PS4 versions for just $9.99. This involved logging into your account and going to the PS4 PlayStation Store, where the game you just bought would show up for download.

To upgrade your game on digital copies, you will need a code. Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, and Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition are just a few examples of games that had this feature.

It is worth noting that the time period for this has expired, however accounts that have availed this previously can still take advantage of it. You can also check your physical copies or digital codes for any mention of a next-gen upgrade, through which you can get the PS4 version of that PS3 game for free.

Remakes & Remasters

The variety of remasters and remakes being released for video games these days makes it possible to play games originally released for older systems on modern gaming consoles. While, these are sometimes, not fully identical to the original game, more often than not, they are generally better because of new features and enhanced visuals.

How to Play PS3 Games on PS4 - Backwards Compatibility Explained (6)

As long as we’re on the subject of remasters, not only are PS3 games revived by remasters, but you can also play remakes of games dating back to the original PlayStation 1. As a matter of fact, remasters of certain games have seen greater success than the originals themselves. This includes games like: Mafia: Definitive Edition, Final Fantasy X, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered.

If all else fails, this is the last option you can fall back on. While remakes are more scarce, most popular PS3 titles have PS4 remasters, Last of Us being a notorious example of this.


To sum it all up, there is no direct way of playing physical PS3 games on your PS4. You’ll need to hang on to your PS3 for this to work. However, if you wish to play these games digitally, you can stream then remotely via PlayStation Now, aka PS Plus Premium.

You can try to upgrade your older games to their PS4 editions if the developer allows it, and you can also play remasters of your old PS3 games natively on the new console.

For the time being, the PS5 is the talk of the town, and thankfully, it is compatible with PS4 games. This is mostly due to the very similar under-the-hood nature of both consoles, as both are powered by x86 architectures and AMD-developed SoCs.

You can simply insert a PS4 disc in a PS5 and it will run the game. In fact, it might even make those games better with improved frame-rates thanks to the PS5’s upgraded capabilities. As for the PS3 to PS4 conversation, we all wish Sony did more.

Read Next

  • PS3 Backwards Compatibility: How to Play PS2 Games on PS3
  • Sony's Backwards Compatibility Means That Only PS4 Games Would be Supported on…
  • Xbox Backwards Compatibility Gets 76 New Games in Massive Update But Today's…
  • PlayStation VR2 Will Not Support Backwards Compatibility With PSVR


playstation Top Gaming


How to Play PS3 Games on PS4 - Backwards Compatibility Explained? ›

The PS4 is

The PlayStation 4 (PS4) is a home video game console developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Announced as the successor to the PlayStation 3 in February 2013, it was launched on November 15, 2013, in North America, November 29, 2013 in Europe, South America and Australia, and on February 22, 2014 in Japan. › wiki › PlayStation_4
not backwards compatible with PS3 and PS2 games, because the PS4 and PS3 have different hardware/software architecture. For some reason, the PS4 system is neither graphically equipped nor powerful enough to run PS3 games. The same reason applies to PS2 games being incompatible to run on a PS4 system.

Are PS3 games backwards compatible on PS4? ›

The short answer is that no, the PlayStation 4 is not backward-compatible with PlayStation 3 games. Inserting a PS3 disc into the PS4 will not work. And you cannot download digital versions of PS3 games from the PlayStation Store onto your PlayStation 4.

How do I make my PS3 games compatible with my PS4? ›

How do you connect a PS3 disc to a PS4 console? You can't do that; you need to buy the games on PS now to play PS3 games and also be connected to the internet.

Why won't my PS4 play PS3 games? ›

PS3 games are unfortunately not supported on the PS4 because the PS4 does not have backwards compatibility. The PS4's architecture is programmed very different than the PS3, utilizing the X86 instruction line which is the same found in many desktop computers as well as the Xbox One.

How does PS3 backwards compatibility work? ›

Backwards compatible PS3 refers to the kind of ability that the PS3 console can play games on PS2 & PS1 consoles. This means you can play your favorite games without having to keep all your old systems. In short, all PS3 models are backward compatible because every PS3 model is backward compatible with every PS1 game.

How to get PS2 and PS3 games on PS4? ›

The easiest way to do this is by subscribing to PlayStation Now. This is a service that allows you to stream games from previous PlayStation consoles and play them on your PS4.

Does PS3 discs work on PS5? ›

Therefore, you can only play your PS3 games as digitally downloaded copies. So, if you have physical disc copies of your PS3 games, you won't be able to play them on the PS5. There are tons of games available digitally, but unfortunately, a PS5 cannot physically play your old PS3 discs.

Will PS3 games work on PS5? ›

Many impressive games are available or on the way for this platform, but some users may still want to play older titles. While the PS5 has backward compatibility, how useful is it? Fortunately, the PS5 can play PS3 and PS4 games without requiring modifications.

Is PSN disabled for PS3? ›

The PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Vita have both received updates that disable the ability to create PSN accounts on the systems.

Why won't my PS4 let me play disc games? ›

Troubleshoot PS4 console disc reading issues

Clean the disc with a soft, clean cloth to remove any dirt or prints. Try inserting another game, Blu-ray disc, or DVD. PS4™ consoles can't play burned discs or audio CDs. Access Safe Mode and select option 5 Rebuild Database.

Why wont my PS4 play any disc games? ›

There may be a problem with the firmware that runs your PS4 if it still can't accept or read discs. Try rebooting your console into safe mode and selecting the Rebuild Database option. If that doesn't work, try the Reinstall System Software option available in safe mode. Clean the interior of your PS4 disc drive.

Which model PS3 is backwards compatible? ›

All PS3 models are backward compatible with PSone games. However, only the original model features backward compatibility with PS2 games. Even then, most original models are only backward compatible via software emulation, meaning that not every PS2 game is supported.

What is a backwards compatible PS3 worth? ›

Playstation 3 System 80GB Playstation 3
Sale Date ▲ ▼Title ▲ ▼▲ ▼ Price
2021-11-30Sony PlayStation 3 80GB Black Console backwards compatible [eBay]$105.00
2021-11-30Sony PlayStation 3 PS3 Backwards Compatible Console 80GB CECHE01 PS1 PS2 PS3 [eBay]$230.98
28 more rows

Can you put a PS3 disc in a PS5? ›

You can't use your physical PS3 game discs with PS5. This is because the latter can't recognize them. Instead, you must get a “digital copy” of your PS3 game for cloud streaming from PS Now (or PS Plus), which is Sony's paid service.

Can you play PS3 discs on PS5? ›

Can I use PS3 discs on PS5? While the PS5 is backwards compatible, it will only work with PS4 games alongside the PS5 discs. You can play PSOne, PS2, and PS3 games on your PS5, but these are only the digital versions.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Lilliana Bartoletti

Last Updated: 07/01/2024

Views: 5251

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (53 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Lilliana Bartoletti

Birthday: 1999-11-18

Address: 58866 Tricia Spurs, North Melvinberg, HI 91346-3774

Phone: +50616620367928

Job: Real-Estate Liaison

Hobby: Graffiti, Astronomy, Handball, Magic, Origami, Fashion, Foreign language learning

Introduction: My name is Lilliana Bartoletti, I am a adventurous, pleasant, shiny, beautiful, handsome, zealous, tasty person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.