How PS4 Games Upgrade to PS5 & Backwards Compatibility

Backwards compatibility & game transfers on the Playstation 5 detailed.

Junaid Yawar  •  October 16, 2020

How PS4 Games Upgrade to PS5 & Backwards Compatibility

Playstation 5 is releasing worldwide on the 19th of November (12th in some regions). Attaining infamy by being some of the most hotly debated and often confusing discussions online, such as, “How will PS4 games upgrade to your PS5?”, “Will all PS4 games upgrade for free and if not, what is the fee and or process?” and finally, “How does backwards compatibility on the PS5 work?”

This article is to shine some light on all the information we have collated at the moment, ranging from the Playstation website to its Blog. Also bear in mind, where no concrete evidence is available, some ‘assumptions’ on how it may or could work are also discussed.

How Does the PS4 to PS5 Upgrade Work?

Sony has released recent information regarding some Playstation 4 games which will be upgraded for Free to be played on the PS5. Furthermore, there are games which require you to buy the ultimate edition on the PS4, to be able to get a free upgrade of the same game on the PS5. And finally, some games will require a $10 or more fee if you have the standard edition to be able to play the PS5 version.

Backwards Compatible On PS5
Naughty Dog Have Confirmed All Their PS4 Games Are BC With PS5
Backwards compatibility on PS5 | Image Courtesy of Neogaf

Looking at the Playstation website again, I discovered an important point which should have been made more clear ( In my opinion) before Pre-orders for the two PS5 Console variants went live.

If you own a PS4 game as a physical disk, as opposed to digitally, you MUST buy the physical variant of the PS5 to be able to play it if as part of an Upgrade or Backwards Compatability scheme. Below is an excerpt from the website which details how the upgrade process works when you have a digital or physical PS4 game and here is where the need for the disc version of the PS5 is.

Upgrade PS4 games to digital PS5 games

“The PS5 console gives game publishers the ability to let players upgrade their disc and digital PS4 games to digital PS5 games. The upgrade may be offered at no additional cost or for a fee and may be available for a limited time. If players have a PS4 game on Blu-ray Disc, they will need to insert the PS4 game disc to see the upgrade path, download the PS5 version and keep the PS4 game disc inserted each time they play the PS5 version of the game. To upgrade eligible PS4 disc titles to digital PS5 versions, players need a PS5 console with a disc drive.”

In the midst of all this noise and speculation on the upcoming PS5, we should have received more clarity on this matter. Playstation should post an update as their articles since there is a strong need to address the process of upgrades and for the audience to be made aware of the exact future of how developers will go around charging a fee or not, for PS4 game owners who will transition to the next gen Playstation console.

For an exhaustive list of games that are currently upgradeable from PS4 to PS5, you can look at a compiled list here which is kept updated as more information is available.

On the other spectrum, as of now, Playstation does not have an official blog or post listing ALL the games that will be upgradable, but there is a small list of games that will ONLY work on the PS4 and are NOT backwards compatible or upgradeable. These are as follows:

Afro Samurai 2 Revenge of Kuma Volume One
TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge 2
Just Deal With It!
Shadow Complex Remastered
Robinson: The Journey
We Sing
Hitman Go: Definitive Edition
Joe’s Diner
Credit : PS Blog

How do PS4 ‘Game Transfers and Game Saves’ work between the two consoles?

“You can transfer digital games, game data, and game saves from a PS4 console to a PS5 console using LAN cables, or by connecting wirelessly (WiFi). If you’ve already stored PS4 games and game data in the external USB storage device connected to your PS4, you can bring them over to PS5 with that external USB storage device. And if you are a PS Plus member, you can also sync PS4 game saves on PS5 through cloud storage.

Please note that the ability to transfer game saves between a PS4 version and a PS5 version of the same game is a developer decision, and will vary title by title for cross-generational games.

For Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, when players decide to upgrade from PS4 to PS5 their game saves will transfer.* Sackboy: A Big Adventure also will support game save transfers from PS4 to PS5 in an update that will be delivered shortly after the release of the game.* We’ll share additional details on both games closer to launch.”

Older articles initially surfaced at the start of the year saying how over 90% of PS4 titles would be backwards compatible with the PS5, but Sony kept a tight lid on this and never confirmed it. Last week we finally received confirmation through the Playstation Blog stating around 99% of PS4 Games will work on the PS5, which is fantastic and finally some concrete evidence.

Backwards Compatible On PS5
Backwards compatibility on PS5
Credit : Rachid Lotf

Backwards Compatibility On The PS5

The PS4 era was a blockbuster generation for Sony. Not only did it outsell the competition by more than double the units, but also attracted millions of new gamers onto the Playstation ecosystem. One area which still needs improvement has been the backward-compatible (BC) arena.

In terms of BC, Microsoft has successfully integrated support all the way from the original Xbox to it’s current Xbox One X console through to the upcoming next gen Xbox Series X. Sony, on the other hand, has touted how Playstation 3’s architecture and emulation made it hard for the PS4 to play older games. As an answer to BC, Sony has pushed its streaming service ‘PS Now‘ which boasts tons of older games all the way from the PS1 era to the current-gen.

As lovely as PS Now might sound or the various remasters to remakes of games such as Crash Bandicoot to Final Fantasy releasing on the PS4, having older games seamlessly work once inserted as a physical disk into newer consoles has been a big issue. While Sony has always denied BC being a top priority, nonetheless, Microsoft pulled it off with such ease and finesse, it leaves so much to be desired for the Playstation user-base.

Why The Disc Version Of The PS5 Is King?

Backwards Compatible On PS5
Backwards compatibility on PS5
Credit : PS Blog

PS5 Physical Disc Edition

You can play digital versions of your compatible PS4 games you downloaded from the PlayStation Store on PS4, PS5, web, or PlayStation mobile app.

How to Play PS4 game discs on a PS5 console with a disc drive

  1. Insert the PS4 game disc. You may need to download an update.
  2. Select the game hub from your Games home.
  3. You will need to keep the disc inserted each time to play the game.

PS4 game discs can’t be used with the Playstation 5 Digital Edition. 

PS5 Digital Edition

  • You will be able to play digital versions of your compatible PS4 games on the PS5 Digital Edition console. These will be compatible PS4 digital games you have already purchased or plan to purchase, via Playstation Store on PS4, PS5, web, or Playstation mobile app.
  • Since there is no disc drive, you won’t be able to play your PS4 disc-based games on the PS5 Digital Edition.
Backwards Compatible On PS5
Backwards compatibility on PS5

In essence, if you buy the disc variant of the PS5 then pretty much whatever your Playstation 4 library comprises of, be it physical media or digital can easily be compatible with your PS5. It does mention how when using a PS4 disc, it needs to be kept inserted in the PS5 for the system. The first time a disc is inserted it will download the PS5 version of the game to the console but the PS4 Disc needs to be in the disc drives at all times for future play.

That’s all the information we have so far on how game saves, transfers & physical + digital content work on PS5. It took Playstation some time to discuss these imperative points and the drip-feed release of information, in general, has favored Sony so far in creating not only hype but also allowing them to release the type of information when they want, keeping the audience on their toes constantly.

Now that we know a majority of PS4 games (over 99%) will be backwards compatible on PS5, does this help make your decision to get a new console easier than before? For more information on all things Playstation, don’t forget to check the section here.

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