The seven-year-old PS4 has now been replaced with PS5 (reviewed), but for many gamers that will be both exciting and terrifying. Will your PS4 games and save data work on PS5, or will you have to start your potentially vast games library from scratch?
The good news is PS5 is backwards-compatible with the vast majority of PS4 games, and these games should actually perform better with PS5 Game Boost, running at increased frequencies, with improved visual fidelity and higher framerates.
You can also choose to upgrade selected cross-gen games for an even smoother gaming experience. Upgrading games to PS5 is often free, but some upgrades will command a charge.
PS4 user and game data should also sync with PS5. The exception to this rule will come when you are using PS4 data with a cross-gen PS5 game: in these cases it is up to the developer to choose whether or not to support it.
Are both versions of PS5 backwards-compatible?
The first thing to note is there are two versions of PlayStation 5: the cheaper PS5 Digital Edition, and the standard PS5 console. (See Where to buy PS5.)
Only the standard console has a disc drive, which will enable you to play physical copies of PS4 games as long as they are inserted in the drive.
Compatible PS4 games are also supported on PS5 Digital Edition, but only where they are digital versions that have been purchased through the PlayStation Store (this is also possible using the standard console).
How to transfer games from PS4 to PS5
You can transfer PS4 games to PS5 using an external hard drive, via Wi-Fi Transfer (Settings > System > System Software > Data Transfer), by re-downloading them from the PlayStation Store, or by simply popping the disc into the drive.
Do note that if you are planning to insert the PS4 disc into the PS5 drive, the disc will not include any updates installed since you purchased it.
Must I upgrade my PS4 games to PS5 versions?
You do not have to upgrade PS4 games to play them on PS5. The ability to upgrade some cross-gen games (either free or with a small charge) is separate to the issue of PS4 backwards-compatibility.
If the upgrade to PS5 is free then it may be worth taking advantage of the offer, though these games will also take up more space on your drive. You could benefit from a smoother gaming experience, with shorter loading times and the ability to play in 4K resolution at 60fps. If it is chargeable then it will be a personal decision, likely based on your love for that game.
To upgrade a digital PS4 game to the PS5 version, simply find the game on PlayStation Network and select the option to Upgrade. To upgrade a physical copy of the game, insert the disc, go to the game hub for that game, then look above your trophy progress badge to see a link to download the PS5 version.
Note that if you upgrade games for which you own a physical copy on disc, you will need to have the disc inserted in the drive to play the game even after you have upgraded it. They do not become digital versions.
PS4 games that already have free PS5 upgrades include Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Borderlands 3, Bugsnax, Dead by Daylight, DIRT 5, Fortnite, Hitman 3 (digital version), King Oddball, Maneater, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Mortal Kombat 11, No Man’s Sky, Planet Coaster, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, The Pathless, Watch Dogs: Legion, and WRC 9. More free upgrades will be released in due course.
Can you play PlayStation VR games on PS5?
PSVR games are supported on PlayStation 5, but you must use the PS4 Camera with an adaptor rather than the PS5 Camera for these.
Can you play PS2 and PS3 games on PS5?
Unfortunately, not. Backwards-compatibility for the PlayStation 5 is limited to PS4 games.