PS5 backward-compatibility with PS3, PS2 and PS1 games in doubt

PS5 vs PS4 Pro
(Image credit: Future)

Despite supporting more than 4,000 PS4 games at launch, it seems unlikely that the PS5 will be backwards compatible with games from the PS1, PS2 and PS3 eras. 

That’s according to an FAQ entitled “Transitioning PlayStation 4 Titles to Next-Gen Versions” that was posted on Ubisoft’s website earlier today that, in very clear language, said “Backwards compatibility will be available for supported PlayStation 4 titles, but will not be possible for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, or PlayStation games.”

That language has since been removed from the post in every territory, but not before sites like Tom’s Guide and Polygon already reported on it.

In Sony's defense, the company has never claimed that the PS5 would be completely backward compatible, and has only said that it will look to support the large majority of the PlayStation 4’s catalog at launch.

Transfer from PS4 to PS5, but not vice versa

Although the rest of the FAQ is fairly straightforward information about upgrade eligibility, there is one point at the end that’s worth paying especially close attention to: "only upgrades from PlayStation 4 to PlayStation 5 are available for physical or digital copies of the eligible games." 

What that means is if you buy a game on PS4, Ubisoft will help you get the PS5 version. However, if you buy the PS5 version, don’t expect to get a PS4 copy of the game for free.

While that makes a lot of sense as most folks will be upgrading from PS4 to PS5 and not downgrading, it’s slightly different than Microsoft’s Smart Delivery feature for first-party games on Xbox Series X and Xbox One X which will download the right version of the game for whichever console you’re playing automatically.  

Of course, right now none of this is set in stone. We'll have to wait for Sony's response to Ubisoft's post and we'll know more once Sony has issued a statement confirming or denying Ubisoft's information.

Nick Pino

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.