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PS5 backwards compatibility with PS4 games explained: Here's how it works

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony has remained somewhat vague about backwards compatibility on the PS5. We know the next-gen system can supposedly play "99%" of thousands of PS4 games the company has tested, but how exactly will it work?

In an interview with Game Informer, Sony's senior vice president of platform planning and management Hideaki Nishino reiterated that "99% of the thousands of PS4 titles, both catalog and newly published, will be playable on PS5." 

More importantly, Nishino revealed for the first time that your collection of PS4 games will automatically transfer to your PS5. 

"When you sign in to PS5 with your account, you will automatically see your library of played PS4 content through the menu,” said Nishino. “...we’re excited about supporting our PlayStation community as they transition from PS4 to PS5 when they’re ready."

There was some worry among gamers that the PS5 wouldn't be backwards compatible with even PS4 games. Remember, when the PS4 launched, it couldn't play PS3 games until PlayStation Now, Sony's cloud subscription service. We now know the PS5 will support almost all PS4 games but not PS3, PS2 or PS1 games (some PS3 and PS2 games are playable on PS Now). 

Sony hasn't shared an exact list of backwards compatible PS4 games but we do know many of those titles, including God of War, The Last of Us: Remastered, and Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, will be available with a PlayStation Plus subscription. 

We also know PS4 games should run better on a PS5 than they did on their native console. Sony says they will play at a boosted frequency so you get higher and more stable frame rates as well as better resolution. 

Sony will need the PS5's limited backwards compatibility to operate seamlessly if it wants to compete with Xbox in this area. Xbox already promised that all four generations of Xbox games will be playable on the Xbox Series X, and that they will run natively with the full power of the CPU, GPU and SSD.

As a reminder, the PS5 will launch on November 12 starting at $499 for the standard edition and $399 for the PS5 Digital Edition. The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S will land on November 10 for $499 and $299, respectively. 

H/T TechRadar