Sony PS4 dilemma with PS3 game discs doubt

By Alan Ng - Nov 18, 2012

With details slipping out frequently on Microsoft’s Xbox 720 console, there has been a complete opposite of details for the elusive Sony PS4. We all know it is coming, but Sony and industry sources have remained tight-lipped on what kind of specifications and features we can expect to see when it releases. PS4 backwards compatibility however, may not be one of them.

We have heard minimal whispers on how Sony may be using AMD-based graphics for the system, compiled with exciting rumors suggesting that the next-generation PlayStation 4 will have specs such as a 4096×2160 output resolution and game support for 1080p 3D across all titles.

While all of the next-generation features are still very much in the air at this point, consumers will be hoping that one PS4 feature that will be set in stone, is the basic ability to play back existing PS3 titles with universal backwards compatibility across all future PS4 SKUs.

There is the ancient debate on whether backwards compatibility is really needed for a new console, but you can’t argue that it is always a feature that should be there should a gamer decide to insert a classic title for a retro session. Sony had to endure a pretty fierce consumer backlash after it was revealed that only the 60GB fat PS3 models had support for PS2 playback – leaving all subsequent models without this support.

This week, we have heard some potentially worrying information from a UK games developer, who have gone on record to say that the chances of the Sony PS4 having backwards compatibility with PS3 titles is ‘very slim’. They have told PSU in an interview that having PS3 support in the Sony PS4 would be a ‘difficult thing to achieve’, but didn’t rule out the possibility of Sony solving the problem via alternative methods.

One of these methods could lie in the Gaikai streaming service, which most of you should know that Sony are now in ownership of after a recent acquisition. The PS4 may not be able to play PS3 discs straight out of the console, but Sony could find a way to make it possible to stream PS3 titles through the PlayStation Network – but even then consumers may not be completely satisfied if this becomes a reality.

Regardless of what augmented reality and other dazzling features that may arise with the PS4 – would you agree that PS3 backwards compatibility with existing game discs is essential? Do you think it is possible to convert every single PS3 game to a streaming format for PS4 playback – we can see Sony having major problems with this.

At the end of the day, it is going to be a dire situation for Sony if GTA V owners cannot play the game on the PS4. Sony are not stupid though and we’re sure they are currently working out how to make everyone happy. Let us know your thoughts on a potential PS4 dilemma with backwards compatibility.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.

Also See: Sony PS4 hits 6 million sales, 14 million games

  • awaiken

    Being BC means putting the old hardware in the new console as well. I understand why they would remove that given the costs of doing so. Of course cynics assume straight away it’s so they can sell you Remastered versions down the line

  • No backwards compatibility, no PS4 for me. When my PS3 finally craters I would still rather get another PS3 than have to replace games, controllers, etc. At $50 a pop there would never be enough of a difference between the consoles to make it worth replacing all of the games I prefer to play.

  • Danny Dodge

    Simple solution- every game disk has a unique product code, register that disk with your ps3/4 profile then when it becomes available on ps store you can download it in the ps4 for free and just need to have the disk in the drive to play it to prove you still have the disk, that is the best solution.

  • Tim

    I personally could give a rat’s ass about backwards compatibility. I’ve been a gamer since Atari. When I bought a Super Nintendo, I didn’t expect it to play Nintendo games and guess what? It didn’t! The point of a new console is to move forward and expand the scope and potential of gaming. Not to see how well it can play old games. Especially since most of the games I would likely play no longer would have server support for online play. Bottom line, if you want backwards compatibility, don’t rely on console, rely on PC.

  • rick

    who cares. why play ps3 games when there will be ps4 games avalible. simply keep your ps3 for your ps3 games. leave sony to develop the future not worry about the past

  • This is an absurd concept. Emulating a PS3 would be insane. It’s nothing even close to anything they’re probably considering for the PS4 (unless they are actually going with another Cell processor).

    PS3 = crazy complex PPU + 7xSPU PowerPC-based processor architecture. PS4 = “which is said to include the AMD x64 CPU”. IE – it’s a traditional 64-bit complex general-purpose processor. Making the two architectures compatible would be crazy.

    So no. I’ll dispel the mystery right now. It’s not happening.

  • Just because the PS4 comes out doesn’t mean our PS3’s are going to stop working or something.

  • If the PS2 games weren’t supported on most PS3 consoles, then I can’t see Sony as currently working out how to make everyone happy. Oh well, something good must be going on in Yoshida’s head.

  • Brian

    This is the end of the first paragraph:

    “PS4 backwards compatibility however, may not be one of them.”

    Why would they need PS4 backwards compatibility on the PS4? Doh!

    • they are talking about ps4 backwords compatibility meaning that ps4 will play ps3 game discs and games from the psn. but they are saying it might and might not

  • gil

    Yes, Gaikai…

  • MikeT

    The 80G Fat never supported backward compatibility out of the box. Only the 20 and 60GB FAT consoles did. I don’t recall the 80GB ever supporting backward compatibility, but if it did, it was because of a software download that allowed it. It did not come out of the box that way.

    • 65mustang

      no, I have a 80 Gb that came out of the box with backwards compatibility

  • BrothaDave

    I think this has to do with the architecture of the hardware if I’m not mistaken. The same way that the 360 and PS3 games had to be developed differently I think the PS4 is going to be similar to PC specs instead of a foreign architecture like the PS2 and PS3 were. That’s where Microsoft got it right, they made it easier for developers to use who were more familiar with PC and not having to learn something completely different.

    With the PS4 I think they will only be able to do PS3 games through streaming or have a real good emulation system built in I could see no support or bad support for PS3 games. Who knows the industry knows it all and they leak all information so when they want us to know we will find out. Our opinion doesn’t matter much shareholders make decisions based on finances and math not our opinion although we’d like to think otherwise. I just want to see the full specs for both new consoles I’m tired of the hype it’s time

  • tronn

    i dont see why you would backwards compatability for ps2/ps1 games on ps3 they look awful anyway

  • Danilo

    Dear Sony,

    i bought 190 games so far for the PS3 plus about 60 games on the PSN, if i’m not able to play them on the PS4, i suggest you burn painfully in hell.

    Best regards,

    • ikeezzo

      hey psst ,,,,, can you loan me one of your games ??

      • Time is Money, and Money means Work, you lost a lot of time writing this comment, don’t go further and keep on working.

  • DarthDiggler

    Backwards compatibility is kind of a last gen feature. I bet Sony has ample evidence on how little the feature has been used. The fact is what gamers say they want and what they do are often 2 different things.

  • Will MTL

    Don’t care, if I wanna play a PS3 game I will hook up my PS3, backwards is a nice feature, but a new console should focus on the future of gaming, not it’s past, unless it’s a simple fix that is. If it’s a major investment required and fixing the issue is time consuming, forget about it and make the console good instead, or take that time and money to refine it.

  • GrayFox85

    I would love Backward compatibility on PS4 , having one console to play it all is a much better solution than having to switch between consoles to play PS3 games , specially for the first year or so in the PS4 life were AAA games won’t be available.

    Other methods sony says ,, whether it is streaming or download via PSN ,, why on earth should i pay (again) for my already owned games when there is absolutely no change on the game.

    Dear SONY ,, please do a proper Backward Compatibility.. at least make it an option in premium more expensive SKUs , let the gamer choose.

  • Anon Y Mous

    Backward compatibility doesn’t matter to me. My PS3 will continue to function after the PS4 is launched. I don’t understand why this is so important to some people.

    • well … some people don’t want to have two large consoles on their house or they need money from that console to buy the new one ,,,, its that simple ,,,, anyway it depends on your situation

  • MartinB105

    The developer is correct. Unless Sony use the Cell in the PS4 (they won’t), emulating the PS3 will be at 100% will be absolutely impossible. Try to imagine how powerful a PC would need to be to
    emulate a PS3 at 100% speed, and you’ll start to appreciate why it can’t be done (my quad core PC can barely manage 20% speed
    for Wii emulation).

    Gaikai does not solve the problem either because you will be limited to the games
    that Sony decide to support on it, and you
    won’t be able to use your existing PS2 discs, which will probably mean paying
    for the same games again that you already own. Then there’s the increase in lag that’s inherent to cloud gaming.

    The solution is to keep your PS3 so that you don’t need backwards compatibility. I still have my PS2 so I can play my PS2 games that are not supported on my PS3 slim. This isn’t rocket science, folks.

    • Ah – I just noticed your comment here… I reposted basically, with something very similar. Great minds…

  • NaotaChannel

    I have close to 100 PS2 games.

    I didn’t buy a PS3 because it didn’t have BC, when I was in the market for a new console. I play all modern games on PC.

    If Sony refuses to implement BC again, I’ll continue playing games with PC/PS2. It may also be time to look at Wii U, and XBOX.

  • Balanced Blade

    Hello there Peeps. I think the PS4 should be an improvement on every level from the PS3 to even warrant the purchase, or very close to every level. The graphics being its most prominant upgrade. The look and size are the last on the list of important changes. MORE POWER, thats what we want. Highest resolutions currently possible at a reasonable price. If a game with the best graphics and story line were to be produced exclusivly for PS4 then people would invest, regardless of backwards compatibility. Trust me, you will see! Peace.

  • Agent75

    When I got a PS2 all them years ago, playing PS1 games on it was cool, not forgetting games looked a bit better. I sold my PS1, so having one console was better than having 2 consoles. Can’t say I bothered with my PS2 much when I got a PS3, but it would of been cool playing PS2 games on it. Can’t see the PS4 being able to play PS3 games, Sony are just not bothered about that side of gaming. Like Nintendo, they just want gamers to pay for games again by downloading them. My PS3 is the second model, can’t say I’m impressed with the latest model. But having consoles all over the place isn’t ideal for me. I’d say 100% that the PS4 will just be a console on its own. There’s a rumour that the Xbox 720 games won’t come on disc, they’ll come on cards like with Vita and 3DS games, Microsoft won’t pay into Blu-ray, what with being Sony’s own format, but Sony laptops come with Windows, so…

  • John

    BC is absolutely essential! Without it, in some form or another will result in a total flop!

  • Stew

    Don’t know what planet some of these idiots live on, my PS3 store is stuffed with PS2 games to download…

    You have to wonder if any of them have ever owned a PS3, or are just Microsoft paid shills (like this blog)

  • John

    If it doesn’t run my 30+ PS3 games when the system launches I won’t buy it and wait for quite some time to buy PS4, if ever. I still play the occasional PS2 game on my Phat PS3, they are better than the ugly upscaled “HD” (as if) collections for me. Stripping backwards compatibility is a stab in the back for loyal fans that want one system to rule them all. Nobody wants that streaming BS for this either. I want to play my own discs and not suck up on internet bandwith to do it and besides it took more than a year for the PS3 to get the really good games to come out. I suspect the same will happen with the PS4.

  • backard compadibility is stupid after spending $300 or more $$$ I’m going to want to play the latest

  • Stranger On The Road

    While I do understand the need to reduce the cost of the new system when it is introduced, I will say that backward compatibility is must.

    Although, if the first installment of the console doesn’t support PS3 games, I wouldn’t mind it that much since the PS3 is still in the market and it is still doing well. Plus I honestly don’t see developers dumping the PS3 until a year have passed on the PS4, and even then I can see some developers still targeting the PS3.

    On the other hand, by the time the 2nd installment of the PS4 is released, I except full support for the PS3 games. The cost factor in the first installment is understandable, in the 2nd installment, not some much. So as long as the PS3 games will be support in future installments, I wouldn’t mind not having it in the first installment since I won’t throw away my PS3 just because I bought the PS4. But it have to be there later.

  • Jewy McJew

    There is no way the PS4 will be able to play PS3 games without them being re-compiled and downloaded. There is just not enough juice to emulate the cell.

  • jose

    The ps2 had backwards compatibility, and it is still the best selling system of all time. The ps3 didn’t after a while, but you could argue that a bigger issue for game sales was the cost of the system, and the economy at the time. I think if the ps2 can have backwards compatibility, and still outsell the ps3, then clearly, price is a greater factor than backwards compatibility for game sales. The backwards compatibility was also an edge against the lacking dreamcast, gamecube, and xbox at the time.

  • lodrs

    If losing backwards compatibility means better hardware, than so be it. I buy a new console to play new games.

  • Lunatic Medic

    You’re both wrong.
    Launch 20 and 60GB were B/c
    As well as the first batch of 40/80’s.
    Next batch of 40/80’s were NOT
    then the MGS4 Gun Metal Gray 80 WAS

    old man, there was NEVER a ps2 emulator on the store. You’re referring to the “PS2 Data” application that HELPED the ps3 to read ps2 discs better after a slew of complaints that some well liked games weren’t being read properly.

  • As long as the physical console isn’t the size of a small Tyrannosaurus I won’t be too bothered. PS3 is big enough as it is.

  • It would be nice to have it, but not needed.

  • This article is ill-informed. If people wanted backwards compatibility, they would have payed for it. The consumers have said very clearly that they don’t care about it when the ps3 came out. People simply aren’t prepared to fork out the extra dough when it comes to the crunch. Keep in mind that to make a console backwards compatible you essentially have to put an extra chip on the board because the jump in performance isn’t generally enough to do proper emulation of the previous generation. Obviously you could re-code all the ps3 games for the ps4 but that’s even more expensive again.

    It’s really not a big deal though. If you have a big collection of ps3 games and accessories, they don’t suddenly become useless; you can still use them with your ps3.

    • Stranger On The Road

      I fully agree with you, but as I wrote in my post, I will be satisfied if they add the backward compatibility in future installments on the PS4. By then the manufacturing cost should have gone down, and the PS3 won’t be selling as well as it does during the first year of the release of the PS4.

  • Let’s see Sony show how much love they can give to their loyal fans who have bought games for the PS1, PS2, and PS3 and wishes to play it on the PS4. Companies have denied people their wishes and have taken stuff off the shelves as soon as it gets popular. We can only wait and see what kind of soul Sony has.

  • PsychoSploosh69

    I can’t see where the problem with is lies. With the ps3 not being able to play ps2 titles, it was understandable because of the huge upgrade in hardware between the 2 systems. Ps3 is blu ray, and ps2 was dvd. Totally different formats, and at the time, I don’t even think regular blu ray players were capable of playing dvds. That came a few years later. I personally would love if it had backwards compatibility, much like everyone else. I can’t see the ps4 being that big of an upgrade graphics wise or anything else over the ps3. I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but if it doesn’t have backwards compatibility, I’d get over it like I did the ps3. There are ways around it anyway. Like buying digital copies on PSN and playing it on the ps4, but means forking out more money, which I’m not a fan of. But hopefully They do decide to have it backwards compatible.

    • Stranger On The Road

      the Blu-ray driver can read the DVD discs just fine, without any updates. The problem is that Sony used a hardware emulator to emulate the PS2 on the PS3, and that hardware added to the cost of manufacturing, so they decide to remove it from other the installments.

      There is an assumption that the PS2 can be emulated on the PS3 though a software emulator (which is how we get the PS2 games from SEN/PSN). But that emulator is a per-game emulator. I don’t know when they will decide to release one that will read the discs instead of requiring that you buy a digital copy, but I look forward to having that emulator.

  • Drunk On Drank UK

    I don’t think we will be seeing the PS4 in the UK for at least 2 years.

  • bonezai

    bad article

  • I was very annoyed when Sony stripped the PS3 of it’s BC of PS2 games I’d actually like to see a PS4 with BC for all PS games (1, 2 and 3) but I dare say that would be a bit of a stretch. I think I might just upgrade my PC over buying another console it would be cheaper than a new console.

  • Jill

    Ever since the Metal Gear Solid HD collection was released, I never bothered about backward compatibility of the PS3, or bothered to own a PS2!!! I don’t think a lack of backward compatibility of the PS4 should be a dealbreaker. People can still own a PS3…. and wait till the PS4 drops in price and more PS4 titles get released before owning a PS4.

  • 60 GB Model AND the ***80 GB FAT MODEL FIRST GENERATION***, supported the Backward compatibility. When you write a review, include every information that is out there.

    • old man

      and for a short while the PSstore had an Emulator for ps2 games

      • awaiken

        No it never did. Misinformation alert

    • Not really a review, more of an article about speculations, but over all a rather pointless discussion of some “rumor” maybe… Including thorough information is always a bonus, but the entire article shows the level of competence your dealing with. 😉


      it was the 20GB and 60GB, my friend.

      • I had the OG 80gb “fatty” with sd ports & 4 usb’s! Admir is right! 🙂

        • Fee

          Yea there was only a 40 and 80Gb option at launch, no 20Gb, that was the 360, i bought the 80Gb for i believe 100 more plus it had the Chrome trim and the memory card slots…..seemed worth it, plus i argued the free blu-rays via the mail in card more than made up for it.

  • Drkhunter

    To be honest I’d rather the console was the best it could be rather than the most compatible. I enjoy a retro session as much as the next gamer, but that’s why I kept my PS2 and PS1 😉

  • i think it would be nice for one reason: anybody remember the launch of the ps3? the games were $h!t for about a year, before all the exclusives came out. i mean, R@C ToD came out in late 2007, LBP in 2008, uncharted in 2007, ece. for a year, there were no good first party games for the ps3 (except for motorstorm). but, if you had the ps2, you could trade it in and keep your amazing ps2 games. if the same thing happens to the ps4, why on earth would you get it if the ps3 has an amazing library already? nobody would buy it. and it will finish in 3rd place again.

    • If PS4 or Orbit, doesn’t get a Backward Compatibility, I’m totaly out. I mean, I prefer to invest my Money in the NEW WiiU then, wich is compatible with I THINK the whole Wii Library and every controller from the Wii is compatible with the WiiU. Nintendo knows how to makes us save money on extra stuff and knows exactly what a consumer is willing to pay for. And Knowing that most new games will come out on the WiiU too, then I would be brainless, to not buy it. But let’s see what the future got for us. But something that is sure, I’m getting the new Xbox, because microsoft did it already once, they can do it twice and make a powerfull machine with all a gamer would need :).

      • st4sh

        the 360 isnt backwards compatable with all xbox games, not with most of em actually, only the most popular ones, i wish i still had my original xbox because of this

      • daviddang

        really? REEALLY? i highly doubt that. like you’re just gonna stop buying future systems and miss out on NEW games (what new consoles are FOR) just because you can’t play older games that were only guaranteed to play on one console. i’m sure you probably thought the same thing about the lack of BC for this gen’s consoles. look, i would LOVE backwards compatibility as much as the next guy but i’m not gonna be some self entitled whiner (like so many gamers these days) because the next one won’t be able to handle it. it would be amazing to have but by no means a requirement. hell, it would probably up the cost of the machine like crazy. just keep the console you already have for the games that run on them if they dont work

        • They can’t have an excuse this time around. I’m paying for practically a Computer. Why wouldn’t I be able to play previous Version games. Is not about consumers anymore but about TIme vs. Gain.

  • Cod4life

    I’m happy with my ps3 if ps4 can’t play games I already have then why buy it

    • Fee

      It’s a novel idea really, I can see how you’d be confused. You’d buy a PS4 to play PS4 games, and if backwards compatibility is indeed non-existanent and you want to play PS3 titles as well still, you will (prepare yourself for this) do exactly as you currently do and you’ll play it om your PS3, which will be sitting next to, or more than likely to the rear of your new PS4 in a less prominent location. Absolute worst case doomsday scenario, you can’t afford to own both, at least not whilemthe PS4 is new and $$$$ and in this scenario you’d be faced with what’s commonly called a decision. Do you want the latest greatest and the few games that truly tap the new consoles potential at launch, or do you want the giantnp library of Your ps3. You may likely be asking what an arse hole reply and what warrants such sarcasm etc., and all I can say is look to your post for the answer, because the one thing you and surely no one else will be doing is dishing out cash for a PS4 only to play their current PS3 games and with no interest in PS4 games for their PS4, which is the impression your post gives. So for a no B.S. sarcasm free straight up answer to your question, There is none, there’s zero reason to buy a ps4 if your happy with your PS3 and the PS4 can’t play those games, ill go a step further and say there is zero reason to buy a PS4 even if it is backwards compatible and you just intend to use it to play PS3 games on it, wait until you want to play ps4 games on the pa4 to buy it and you’ll likely save some money on the console

      • I will buy a PS4 if it plays original PS3 games. Why ? Well, easy answer, only to be prepared to when good games come out. I will already have the machine to play it :). So I will have ONE CONSOLE, that plays both PS3 and PS4 games, and while waiting for good PS4 games I can still play the old ones from PS3 and just sell my Ps3 Console. Same thing with the WiiU, I could have a Wii and play older games, or get the new machine and still be able to play older games or even Better have a Nintendo 3DS instead of a Standard DS, even knowing I won’t play 3D games, if some day a new and INTERESTING 3D game comes out, I’ll be already prepared to have it :).

  • Sweet ‘n’ Tender

    Nope, no big deal… I don’t think I ever put a PS2 disk in my phat PS3.