PS4 Backwards Compatibility: Can You Play PS1, PS2, and PS3 Games on PS4?

Play your old favorites on your newer hardware

What to Know

  • Open the PlayStation Now app, highlight the game you want to play, click X on your controller and choose Download or Stream Now.
  • You can download classic and remastered PS2 and PS3 games from the PlayStation Store on your console.
  • Neither option has the full PS1, PS2 or PS3 catalog, so there's no guarantee that your favorite game is available. 

This article explains how to play PS1, PS2, and PS3 games on a PS4 by downloading or streaming them on PlayStation Now or purchasing classic and remastered games from the PlayStation Store.

How to Use PlayStation Now to Play PS2 and PS3 Games Through Your PS4

The PlayStation 4 disc drive and hardware can't read PS2 or PS3 discs, so the easiest way to access your favorite old games is to use PlayStation Now, Sony's streaming service. PlayStation Now gives you access to an extensive library of PS2, PS3 and PS4 games. Over 600 games are available through the service for $10 per month.

PlayStation Now is available through the PlayStation 4 and PC. It's not currently compatible with Mac, and the service doesn't offer any PS1 games. 

  1. Unless you already have an account, sign up for PlayStation Now in a web browser or on your PlayStation 4.

    The service offers a 7-day free trial before you begin paying for it.

  2. On your PlayStation 4, open the PlayStation Now app.

    PlayStation 4 desktop with PlayStation Now app highlighted
  3. Browse through the library of titles. 

    PlayStation Now app with PS Now Collection highlighted showing PS2 games category

    Go to PS Now Collection and click PS2 games or PS3 games to narrow down your options.

  4. Highlight the game you want to play and click X on your controller. 

    PlayStation Now app with a specific PS2 game highlighted - Ape Escape
  5. Choose Download or Stream Now.

    PlayStation Now app with Stream Now highlighted

    Download allows you to play the game offline but will take up hard drive space, while Stream Now allows you to play the game immediately via your internet connection.

  6. Wait for the game to stream or download to your PS4.

  7. Play the game like you would on a PS2 or PS3 games console.

How to Download PS1, PS2 or PS3 games to the PS4

Some PS1, PS2 and PS3 games are available to purchase through the PlayStation Store, allowing you to play them on your PS4. Not many are available through the service but it's worth checking. Here's how to download them.

Major games included here include classic Grand Theft Auto games like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, as well as PaRappa the Rapper 2 and Red Dead Revolver. There are also remastered versions of original PlayStation 1 games like Final Fantasy VII, and Final Fantasy VIII.

  1. On your PlayStation 4, select the PlayStation Store icon and press X button on your controller.

    Playstation 4 desktop screen with PlayStation Store app highlighted
  2. Scroll up to Search and click X.

    PlayStation Store app with Search Bar highlighted
  3. Enter the name of the game you're looking for. 

  4. Tap right to scroll through the list of results. 

    PlayStation Store showing search results for Grand Theft Auto
  5. Select the game with X.

  6. Tap Add to Cart to buy the game.

    PlayStation Store with Add to Cart highlighted

What Is PS4 Backwards Compatibility?

Backwards compatibility refers to the ability for new technology to be able to still use older software. In the case of the PlayStation 4, it's the ability to play PS1, PS2 or PS3 games on the system so you don't need to dig out your old games consoles to play old favorites. 

In the past, the PS2 was backwards compatible with the original PlayStation 1, while one launch version of the PlayStation 3 would allow you to play PlayStation 2 games. The answer for PS4 backwards compatibility is a little bit more complicated than this though. 

Remastered Games Are an Alternative for PS4 Users

Numerous classic games have been released in a remastered form. These typically add extra features or improved graphics so they're not the same as the original game but they are often better. 

On the PlayStation 4, you can play classics like Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII and PaRappa the Rapper in remastered forms available on the PlayStation Store. 

You can also buy remastered collections such as Spyro Reignited Trilogy, and Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. Games like these two are available in a physical form so if you prefer to use discs, you can do so and put them in your PS4 console like a regular PS4 game. With new remastered games coming out regularly, it's worth researching whether your old favorite is available this way.