Backward compatibility is a major selling point of any video game console, as being able to play your old games on a new system increases its value. It’s a good idea to know whether a system has this function before investing in it.
Thus, you might wonder if you can play PS3 games on the PS4. Let’s answer this question and examine your options.
Can the PS4 Play PS3 Games?
The short answer is that no, the PlayStation 4 is not backward-compatible with PlayStation 3 games. Inserting a PS3 disc into the PS4 will not work. And you cannot download digital versions of PS3 games from the PlayStation Store onto your PlayStation 4. This is the case with all editions of the PS4, including the slim PS4 and PS4 Pro.
The reason for this, like most backward compatibility situations, is that the PS3 and PS4 have different system architectures. PlayStation 4 consoles don’t have the hardware of the PS3, so they can’t run the older games natively. And Sony decided it wasn’t worthwhile to build a software emulator to handle the older titles, leaving the PS4 only able to play PS4 games. The PS4 can’t play PS2 or original PlayStation discs, either.
Thankfully, there are other ways to play PS3 titles on your PS4, even without native backward compatibility.
Stream PS3 Titles on PS4 via PlayStation Plus Premium
Sony retired its PlayStation Now cloud gaming service in mid-2022, alongside introducing three revised PlayStation Plus tiers. The company instead offers PS Now’s former game streaming functionality as part of the PlayStation Plus Premium tier.
If you sign up for PS Plus Premium, you can stream a wide library of titles on your PS5, PS4, and Windows. The subscription allows you to stream PS4, PS3, and PS2 games, so you can enjoy some of the best titles the family of consoles has seen over the years without downloading anything. Due to the compatibility issues discussed above, there is no option to install PS3 games and play them locally.
If you want to play a large number of PS3 titles on your PS4 for the lowest price, subscribing to PS Plus Premium is the easiest route as long as you have a steady enough network connection and don’t mind the upfront cost. At the time of writing, there are over 350 PS3 games available on the service, though the exact number changes as titles are added and removed.
See our overview of PlayStation Plus for more information.
Play Remasters and Remakes of PS3 Games
Due to the huge number of video game remasters and remakes that launch these days, you can often enjoy games that were made for older systems with a fresh coat of paint on a current console. Sometimes, these appear in compilations, so you get multiple games from a series in one package.
Below are a few examples of PS3 games you can play remastered on PS4:
- Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is a remaster of Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, along with loads of DLC.
- The Last of Us Remastered is an enhanced version of the monumental PS3 title.
- BioShock: The Collection bundles in remasters of BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock Infinite.
While you’re technically playing a PS4 game and not a PS3 title, these are effectively the same games with some small enhancements. If you missed out on the best of the PS3 generation but have a PS4, give these a try.
Use Cross-Buy and Cross-Gen Offers
The only other way to play PS3 titles on your PS4 is through cross-buy promotions. These give you access to a game on multiple systems when you buy it on one. For example, if you bought Doki-Doki Universe on PS3, you automatically have access to the PS4 version at no extra cost.
Similarly, when the PS4 generation started, some cross-generational games also offered upgrades to the new system for a small fee. For instance, if you bought Battlefield 4 on PS3, you could upgrade to the PS4 version for an additional $10. Physical copies of the games had a code inside to activate the offer, while digital purchases automatically discounted the next-gen versions.
Check your game library on PS4 to see if you have access to any of these. Any codes have probably expired by now, but digital offers could still be valid.
Workarounds to Play Your Favorite PS3 Games on PS4
While PS3 games don’t work on PS4 directly, we’ve seen how to enjoy PS3 titles on your PS4 through other methods. Whether you subscribe to PS Plus Premium or check out the many remasters available, you’ll find a way to play many of the PS3’s top games on your PS4.
Thankfully, the PS5 is backward-compatible with almost all PS4 games. However, it still can’t play PS3 titles natively.