Is PSVR 2 backwards compatible?

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony’s new VR headset, the PSVR 2, is launching very soon. And if you regularly played games on the original PSVR headset, you might be wondering: is PSVR 2 backwards compatible?

PSVR 2 is the successor to Sony’s well-received PSVR headset, which originally launched back in 2016 for PS4 consoles. The PSVR 2 has been developed with the current-gen PS5 in mind, and that means there’ll be a litany of new VR exclusives we’ll be considering for our best VR games list.

Naturally, experiences like Horizon: Call of the Mountain and Resident Evil 4’s VR component will dominate much of the conversation when it comes to PSVR 2’s software lineup. But you may find yourself wondering what’s to become of your existing PSVR game library? Read on to find out if the new PSVR 2 headset is backwards compatible.

PSVR 2: is it backwards compatible?

PSVR 2 promo shot showing off the headset and controllers

(Image credit: Sony)

The unfortunate truth is that if you own the original PSVR headset, you’ll probably want to keep a hold of it if you’re ever planning on revisiting older VR games. That’s right: PSVR games cannot be played on the PSVR 2 headset. This also means that, unsurprisingly, PSVR 2 exclusive games can’t be played with the first iteration of Sony’s VR hardware.

It’s worth noting, though, that PSVR games are themselves backwards compatible on PS5, and can be downloaded and played on the current-gen machine. You’ll just need to make sure that you have the original headset hooked up to the PS5 in order to play them. 

So if you’ve got a hankering to play PSVR hits like Resident Evil 7, Tetris Effect or Rez Infinite, it may be in your best interests to keep your PSVR around. There’s always the possibility that some of the best PSVR games will receive PSVR 2 compatibility updates somewhere down the line. But given the age of these releases, this doesn’t seem too likely in most cases.

PSVR 2: Why isn’t it backwards compatible?

PSVR 2 PlayStation logo branding

(Image credit: Future)

We have some idea as to why the PSVR 2 isn’t backwards compatible with PSVR games, thanks to Sony’s senior vice president of platform experience, Hideaki Nishino. During a September 2022 episode of the Official PlayStation Podcast, Nishino spoke on PSVR 2’s lack of backwards compatibility.

“PSVR games are not compatible with PSVR 2 because PSVR 2 is designed to deliver a truly next-generation VR experience,” states Nishino. “PSVR 2 has much more advanced features like all new controllers with haptic feedback and adaptive triggers and inside-out tracking, eye tracking in the headset, and 3D audio all coming together of course. So this means developing PSVR 2 requires a whole different approach from the original PSVR.”

PSVR 2 is undoubtedly an upgrade over the original model, and many of its best games will be designed with its wireless Sense controllers in mind. And while we understand that Sony may wish to start a clean slate with PSVR 2, we’re not confident in Nishino’s explanation being an adequate reason as to why older games can’t be played on the device.

The original PSVR was compatible with more standard controllers like the DualShock 4. And in many cases, it was the best controller choice depending on the game you were playing. Now, PS4 games can be played on PS5 via backwards compatibility, and can be done so with the DualSense pad, albeit without bespoke extras like haptic feedback and adaptive triggers.

The decision to exclude backwards compatibility on PSVR 2 will be a knock to many, especially given its $549.99 / £529.99 / AU$858 price tag. It’s something that isn’t an issue with contemporary PC headsets like Oculus Quest 2. Games developed for that headset don’t suddenly become incompatible with the Quest Pro, for example.

Will PSVR 2 get backwards compatibility in future?

PSVR 2 renders

(Image credit: Future)

The software focus for PSVR 2 will be on its library of exclusive games. But there’s also a good variety of titles coming to PSVR 2 from PC headsets. A number of VR games are also seeing remasters on PSVR 2, like Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge and No Man’s Sky.

For the time being, it seems that remasters and re-releases will be your best bet for playing older PSVR titles on the new headset. But of course, we’d love to see true backwards compatibility come to the headset should the demand exist for it.

PSVR 2 compatibility could do wonders for these older games. PSVR 2 sports a panel resolution of 2000 x 2040 per eye – massive improvement over the first headset’s 960 x 1080. It means that games that once had a rather visually soupy look on PSVR (looking at you, Skyrim VR) could appear much sharper – and thus more playable – on PSVR 2.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.