Backward (In)Compatible: PlayStation 5 Will Not Support PS3, PS2, or PS1 Games

Posted on September 18, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in PlayStation with 20 Comments

Sony confirmed this week that its upcoming PlayStation 5 console will not provide backward compatibility with PS3, PS2, or PS1 games.

“We keep in mind the engineering specialized for the PS5, as we produced the device,” Interactive Entertainment’s CEO Jim Ryan told a Japanese video game publication when asked about backward compatibility. “In the midst of that, the [PlayStation 4] already has 100 million players; we thought they ought to want to play PS4 titles on the PS5 as well indeed, so we included compatibility with the PS4. While implementing that, we also focused our efforts on taking in the high-speed SSD and the new DualSense controller at the same time. So, unfortunately, we couldn’t reach the implementation of such compatibilities.”

Sony had previously said that the PS5 would be “99 percent” compatible with PS4 titles. And that the PS4 didn’t support older PlayStation games when it originally launched.

Sony’s strategy—pushing its customers to the new console if they want to play new games—stands in sharp contrast to Microsoft’s: The software giant is ensuring that the Xbox Series S and X are 100 percent backward compatible with any game titles that work on Xbox One today, and that includes games across every Xbox console generation, including the original version and the Xbox 360. Furthermore, backward compatible games titles will look and play better on newer consoles.

It will be interesting to see whether this difference factors into a sizable number of buying decisions this holiday season.

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Comments (20)

20 responses to “Backward (In)Compatible: PlayStation 5 Will Not Support PS3, PS2, or PS1 Games”

  1. jimchamplin


    That sounds like a mistake.

  2. Maverick010

    I just locked my Pre-order for the PS5 in last night. I will probably be one of the few to say I have every console in my house plus PCs and laptops. Xbox Series X will possibly be pre-ordered next, plus in the phase of upgrading my Custom PC slightly and building a new PC for my Son.

    One thing I will say, I think this is the first time in forever that the consoles and PC will carry same type hardware in them and bring playable 4K gaming on all platforms at around the same exact time.

  3. nbplopes

    I’m waiting to see how the actual gaming experience and games will be on each platform.

    The rest is folk.

  4. glenn8878

    Banking on backwards compatibility when it never mattered much in much older consoles like PS3 and Xbox 360 is a reach, but everyone can decide themselves.

    PS4 customers have a 2 to 1 advantage compared with Xbox One customers.

    If older games matter, Microsoft can mine 161 million Xbox customers compared with 344 million PS customers that Sony can't attract.

    PS4 = 110 million (2013)

    PS3 = 87 million

    PS2 = 155 million

    PS = 102 million

    PS to PS3 = 344 million

    Xbox One = 50 million (2013)

    Xbox 360 = 87 million

    Xbox = 24 million

    All Xbox = 161 million

  5. ben lee

    This won't hurt them, they've never had backwards compatibility at release of a new generation before. Actually supporting last gen games at launch is the best they've ever done. It actually put me off picking up a PS4 during launch, I'll likely be picking up a PS5 before the end of the year though.

  6. thalter

    Don't give Microsoft too much credit here - They only support a handful of original Xbox games on the Xbox One (far fewer than the X360 could play).

    Microsoft suspended all work on backwards compatibility last summer, so don't expect to see any more original Xbox or Xbox 360 titles added to the BC list.

    • ecumenical

      In reply to thalter:

      "Microsoft suspended all work on backwards compatibility last summer, so don't expect to see any more original Xbox or Xbox 360 titles added to the BC list."

      No, they stopped adding games to the "Xbox One" catalog in order to do the work of enabling backward compatibility, with additional new enhancements like auto-HDR, on Series X and Series S.

      Once those systems are out the door, it's quite likely they will go back to adding games to the catalog, as publishing rights allow.

  7. Daninbusiness

    I'm sure that the PS5 could easily support PS1 and PS2 games entirely via software emulation at this point, if they wanted to - later versions of the PS3 did exactly that. Given unofficial PS3 emulation progress on the PC, I imagine they could also add this in if they wanted to as well.

    Not sure about the math and strategy that Sony is prioritizing.

    I do wonder how often Xbox One users take advantage of backwards compatible games; I would guess that they don't do it all that often but it's a really nice psychological feeling to know that you can carry your collection forward, maybe that helps push people towards Xbox if they are on the fence about which platform to invest in.

    (In our case, my family dips into an Xbox 360 games once every month or two...)

  8. Scott8846

    On the other hand, I can barely keep up with new releases these days, which don't let me much time to revisit older games* and I doubt the younger generation care all that much for PS1's games or even PS3's.

    * : I thought about that recently and while I have fond memories of various older games, they are not like movies or books, I rarely can justify to take 10, 20, 30 hours or more to revisit them and even if I do they often didn't aged all that well.

  9. bats

    Will it be interesting to see whether the difference factors into a sizable number of buying decisions this holiday season? Laughingly.....NO. Was that the case for the PS4? NO, and the PS4 absolutely CRUSHED all version of the Xbox One consoles. This tells me that this "backwards" compatible issue is an absolute non-issue. If people want to play the PS3, PS2, or PS1 games, then they can go ahead and subscribe to the PSNOW's gigantic library of old games, which one can subscribe to for possibly $40-$50 year (on a sale).

    However, it is extremely smart of Sony to make the PS5 backwards compatible with PS4 games, as it pretty ensures that people WILL NOT switch to the new XBOX.

    • MutualCore

      In reply to bats:

      Why must you assault XBox fanboys with facts and logic like that? It hurts.

    • bluvg

      In reply to bats:

      There were a number of reasons the PS4 was #1. Lack of backwards compat may not be much of a factor as you say, but it seems likely to me that it would have played more of a factor if there hadn't been so many other reasons that made it #1.

      • dab2kab

        In reply to bluvg:
        And i think the lack of back compat held back some potential xbox one buyers. When the xbox one came out, one of the many reasons i didnt consider upgrading was i had this library of xbox 360 games that wouldnt work on it, and the new consoles simply didnt have that many big new games. If back compat was there from the start, along with dropping the kinect for a lower price, i wonder if a lot more 360 owners would have bought the one instead of waiting for years to do so like i did.

  10. crunchyfrog

    Not surprising at all. I would have been MORE shocked if it did play PS3 and older system titles. It's all about generating forward revenue, not playing old games that are paid for.

    • Maverick010

      In reply to crunchyfrog: For me I never factor Backwards compatibility into my purchase of the consoles. Yes I was bumped out when that first began with PS4 but got over it quickly, plus I use emulators on the PC to allow me to still play certain classics. I also see that they could always decide to add backwards capability at sometime during the PS5's shelf life. Right now I will enjoy all the great games already announced and coming.
  11. crunchyfrog

    Another reason I only play PC.

  12. codymesh

    this is nothing - the real incompatibility we should be talking about is the PS4 controller not working with PS5 games. It is so anti-consumer.

    But you know, at this point, I think people (gamers) just don't care. They are willing to spend ungodly amounts of money on everything from thousand-dollar graphics cards, flashing lights on their keyboards, minor iterations to their controller, in-game microtransactions, and premium HDMI cables.