PS5 will be backward-compatible with 'almost all' of the best PS4 games at launch

PS5 backwards compatibility
(Image credit: Sony)

The PS5 will be backwards-compatible with PS4 games, PlayStation's chief architect Mark Cerny has reiterated during the PS5's hardware unveiling, explaining that "almost all" of the top 100 PS4 games will be playable at launch. Those top 100 games are ranked by playtime.

It doesn't seem like the PS5 is backwards compatible with PS3, PS2 or PSone, though, based on the presentation, which only focused on how PS4 games will work on the new console.

"Running PS4 and PS4 titles at boosted frequencies has also added complexity," Cerny said. "The boost is truly massive this time around and some game code can't handle it. Testing has to be done on a title-by-title basis. Results are excellent, though. We recently took a look at the top 100 PlayStation 4 titles as ranked by playtime, and we're expecting almost all of them to be playable at launch on PlayStation 5."

Expect every PS5 console that's ever made to retain backwards compatibility, and not to be stripped out to save money in the manufacturing of future versions of the console. "Once backwards compatibility is in the console, it's in," Cerny said. "It's not as if a cost-down will remove backwards compatibility like it did on PlayStation 3."

Cerny is referring to the fact that the PS3 launched with PS2 backwards compatibility (the PS2 chipset was built into launch PS3s), but later had the feature removed as newer iterations of the hardware were created. That won't be a problem here, then, and backwards compatibility with PS4 games will always be part of the PS5 offering.

Is it enough?

It sounds like compatibility with PS4 games is as far as the PS5 is going to go, at least based on what Sony has revealed about the console so far. We already knew PS4 games would work on PS5, but it's good to get more insight about the testing required to make all games work on the newer console. 

Hopefully this means we'll be able to play the likes of Fortnite, Apex Legends and Warframe on day one when the new console lands. It's also good that your purchases from the last seven years on PS4 will have value for many years to come.

Still, backwards compatibility is one area where Microsoft has an edge. With the Xbox Series X, four generations of Xbox games will work on the new console, which is quite an advantage when it comes to our PS5 vs Xbox Series X comparison.

Samuel Roberts

Samuel is a PR Manager at game developer Frontier. Formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor, he's an expert in Marvel, Star Wars, Netflix shows and general streaming stuff. Before his stint at TechRadar, he spent six years at PC Gamer. Samuel is also the co-host of the popular Back Page podcast, in which he details the trials and tribulations of being a games magazine editor – and attempts to justify his impulsive eBay games buying binges.