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Can You Play PS3 Games on PS4? Enter PlayStation Now

Sony's new game streaming service makes the PS4 backwards compatible for three generations of PlayStation games! Here's everything we know.

News by Mike Williams, .

For some potential consumers, one of the biggest strikes against the PlayStation 4 is the system's inability to play your library of PlayStation 3 games. The issue is due to the huge difference in architecture between the two systems, but the final outcome is the same for consumers. When it was revealing the PlayStation 4, Sony mentioned the Gaikai cloud-streaming service as a way to possibly bring PS3 games to the new console, but then the company went silent.

At CES 2014, Sony Computer Entertainment president Andrew House announced PlayStation Now, which will stream PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation 3 games to PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and other mobile devices. According to House, the renamed Gaikai will provide "instant access" to three generations of classic PlayStation titles. So that means PS1, PS2 and PS3 games. PlayStation Now will be launching on PS4, PS3, Sony's new Bravia line of televisions, with the service moving to further devices at a later date.

"We are thrilled to deliver entertainment experiences only possible from PlayStation through our new streaming game service," said House. "PS Now will allow users to engage in the world of PlayStation, whether they're existing fans or have never owned a PlayStation platform."

Vita Remote Play is already a strong proof-of-concept for Sony's game streaming. I've used the app and it works flawlessly for me, streaming PS4 games to my tiny Vita. In fact, I've been able to get the service to work well when connecting to my PS4 from another home's WiFi connection. If Sony can bring that quality to a wide variety of platforms, I'm definitely game. At CES, Sony showed off PlayStation Now on PlayStation Vita or Sony Bravia TV. The games demoed were Beyond: Two Souls, God of War: Ascension, The Last of Us, and Puppeteer.

Will this new service revolutionize gaming? Probably not over the short-term. Right out of the gate, it essentially enables you to play PS3 games on newer PlayStation systems and select tablets, TVs and smartphones. However, as older games are added and its library grows, PS Now will become a far more compelling prospect, and over the much longer term could well pave the way to a future we’ve been predicting for some years: where most games are streamed, rather than bought from a store or fully downloaded digitally.

Here's everything we know about PlayStation Now:

  • The service will stream to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PS Vita, Sony Bravia TVs, tablets and smartphones. No details about which tablets and phones have been announced, but one hopes it's not just Sony tablets and Xperia phones. iOS and Android devices with the appropriate power and bandwidth availability would be ideal candidates and really give the service some oomph. Funnily enough, there's no reason why this service wouldn't also work on PC's, Xbox One and Xbox 360 - but we think that's an unlikely prospect, highly tantalizing though it may be.
  • PS Now is expected to go into Beta at the end of January, and only PS3 games will be available initially. If you're interested in signing up for info, you can do so here. However, this isn't a Beta signup - that will likely be a different process that we expect to be announced soon.
  • At CES, Sony demoed playable streaming versions of The Last of Us, Puppeteer, Beyond: Two Souls and God of War: Ascension. So those and other first-party titles are pretty much a given.
  • PlayStation Now will also support PSN features like online multiplayer, Trophies, and the messaging service.
  • PlayStation One and PlayStation 2 games will roll out some time later this year.
  • Games will stream at 720p – which is fine for PS One and PS2 games, and most PS3 games.
  • If bandwidth drops, you can expect the same kind of artifacting and rez softening you get while watching a service like Netflix under similar conditions.
  • Multiplayer games will be fully supported, and players will be able to connect regardless of whether they’re using an original disc or PS Now.
  • If you’re playing a game and want to switch to another device, you can save your game on one screen and start playing immediately on the other.
  • PS Now is likely to be tied to Sony’s upcoming cloud-based live and on demand TV/Movie streaming service, which was also announced at CES.
  • The service will offer subscription and rental plans.
  • PlayStation Now requires a consistent 5 Mbps connection to run effectively.

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Comments 13

  • Avatar for nickn #1 nickn 3 years ago
    I'm very excited for this. I had an Xbox 360 and switched to the PS4. There are so many games I missed. Sign me up.
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  • Avatar for docexe #2 docexe 3 years ago
    Well, it’s an interesting option for retro-compatibility to offer the entire catalog via subscription ala Netflix. What I’m not confident yet is regarding the issues of latency in the streaming, especially considering the internet and cloud infrastructure in my country isn’t exactly outstanding. I’ll need to see how well this works in my region.
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  • Avatar for Baleoce #3 Baleoce 3 years ago
    @docexe Yeah I've always been skeptical of cloud streaming for games. One thing you can't cheat is the speed of light. At this CES event the PSNow demo booths they had up were being fed off a local gaikai server (literally just down the hallway). The games being demo'd were 3rd person action games such as The Last of Us and God of War. Those types of genres can get away with a certain level of latency and still be fully playable. However when you start looking at fighting games and twitch reaction games it gets a lot fiddlier. The Verge noticed some perceptible lag when playing on the HDTV setup of God of War, and you'd imagine that Sony would be demoing these on their best latency TVs, and that's in a local environment with a presumably minimal ping. I worry that a service like this will effectively exclude certain genres. There will be a lot of factors at play as to how smooth your experience will be. How close you are (ping latency) to the nearest PSNow server. Your maximum HDTV gaming profile visual latency. Broadband up/down. Router capabilities, if you're playing on a wireless device. I'm guessing if you're playing via HDTV you might wanna hook it up via ethernet cable. I guess it's best to wait and see what the US beta findings are.
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  • Avatar for danger.to.others #4 danger.to.others 3 years ago
    Aren't the majority of people concerned for backwards compatibility because they want access to the games they bought on their new systems?
    It's a step in the right direction, but it still leaves all the games people bought before back on the old console, seemingly having to buy it again if it was something special (like a Last Of Us or Borderlands 2, things like that).
    Consoles die with age. I'm not thrilled that one day I'm going to lose my digital collection.
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  • Avatar for skybald #5 skybald 3 years ago
    @danger.to.others they already have the console they bought the game for. They only bought the rights to one license. At best, Sony will offer discounts on games you can somehow prove you own, but they don't need to.

    Why can't I play my VHS in a blu ray player? Do I get the bluray copies for free if I have the VHS?
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  • Avatar for ProfAmaretto #6 ProfAmaretto 3 years ago
    I'd like to know if any other companies are on board for this, or if Sony is in the process of wooing them. EA, Ubisoft, Konami, Capcom, Square Enix, etc. Sony has a great stable of exclusives dating back to the PS1, but they'll have to offer a wide variety for this to be worthwhile.

    That being said, I'm pretty excited for what this could mean.
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  • Avatar for Frosty840 #7 Frosty840 3 years ago
    "Sony's new Bravia new of televisions"

    Derp
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  • Avatar for bigdsweetz #8 bigdsweetz 3 years ago
    I for one am stoked for this. I really hope that they pull this off CORRECTLY. That's going to be the biggest thing. If they do this right. I hope they have been looking at OnLive to see how to make it happen and at EA and Blizzard to see NOT what to do (well, hell themselves as well when the PS4 came out because it nerf'd the hell out the PSN servers)
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  • Avatar for greggjones10 #9 greggjones10 3 years ago
    I don't get it??? I been reading the only reason PS will not cloud us the games we already bought on our older systems is that they can not tell what games I bought. they know every game I own. I update them, play online, download packs????? God, if they want to make it fair, there should be some thing on PS now to register all your games though the ps3 on to your account before you sell, store, give to your kids or blow up your ps3
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  • Avatar for keithroth03 #10 keithroth03 3 years ago
    I don't like how they continue to sway away from the last gen and games owned on disc or digitally by consumers. Games are not cheap this works wonders for new comers what about me being able to play my ps3 games I purchased and other ps titles I own on the ps4. This definitely hurts the ps4 owners who one day there ps3 will die wont be able to play the titles they own already......
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  • Avatar for jrtrio #11 jrtrio 3 years ago
    Again we are getting screwed by Sony and their newest version of Playstation. We got screwed majorly when we bought the early version of PS3!! We spent at the very least $100 and some spent $200 more than those of you that waited two or three years before buying the 3. And thinking that this is the newest and best technology we will be able to play the new PS3 games and this ps2 games that we spent HUNDREDS of dollars on!! NOPE, sorry SUCKER!! Only a few, very few, games from your older console will play on the new PS3. So, now we have to invest hundreds of dollars more on games. Gee feel like we're getting screwed once again by SONY? You betcha!
    So, now we're going to have to buy NEW games adding to the growing pile of cash you've paid out for each console and the games that go with it!!
    I'm calling upon all Playstation owners!! I'm calling upon you to hold onto your hard earn cash and KEEP that $400 for the console and the $70 for each new game, until Sony HEARS US AND BUILDS A CONSOLE THAT CAN PLAY EACH AND EVERY GAME THAT WE'VE SPENT HUNDREDS...no THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS ON ALREADY!!
    Don't let them screw us again!! We don't just want to play the older games from some cloud stream, WE WANT TO PLAY THE OLDER GAMES WE'VE ALREADY PAID THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FOR!!
    Look at your library of games guys. Multiply them by the $59 you paid for them and tell us HOW MUCH HAVE YOU SPENT ON THEIR GAMES ALL READY!!!
    Then post this on your Facebook page and ask your friends to repost it! Make it a worldwide event and maybe, just maybe those yahoo' sat Sony WILL HEAR US!!
    BUILD THAT CONSOLE THAT CAN PLAY ALL MY GAMES!!!
    Build it...and we will come!Edited March 2014 by jrtrio
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  • Avatar for fredcanfly #12 fredcanfly 2 years ago
    @jrtrio I bet you're mad at Chevy for not putting 8-track players in cars anymore either! Or how about that PC you bought 20 years ago? They should find a way to make Windows 8 run on it! All those cell phones you bought over the years? Make them run on 4G networks, darn it! Unrealistic expectations don't mean you are getting screwed. It just means that you expect technology to not progress forward. That would be bad for consumers! Sony is not screwing us! They tried the backwards compatibility thing. They put the ps2 on a chip inside the ps3. That costs money. So, they charged more. Then no one bought them. Xbox 360 decided to skip that feature, allowing them to be cheaper (and releasing a year earlier) which caused them to sell more. Sony had to do something, so they decided to skip the chip as well and was then able to drop the price on the ps3. Then the numbers started to even out. So, lesson learned. Consumers are not willing to pay for backwards compatibility. Sony decided to skip that this generation and their numbers are great on ps4 sales! Who's screwing who? Consumers voted with their wallets and Sony listened. Sounds like you're mad at your fellow gamers.

    You want to play your older games? Keep your older system! When it breaks, pay to have it repaired! I know people that still have their 8-track players. They take care of them and still use them. They also don't expect Chevy to release their new 2015 Suburban with a new 8-track installed in it. It is a dead technology.

    I would like to be able to pay a reasonable subscription fee to play a huge library of games. I think with PS Now I will probably never be bored again! If that means that I have to pay to play games I already owned on an older system, so be it. I look forward to this service. I think it's great for gamers!
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  • Look I agree with most of the people out there. I believe that the ps4 should be at the very least play the the ps3 games. I currently own a ps3 but I recently got the ylod and the area repair location informed me that "it is too old to fix", but who the hell do they think they are to say that to anyone. I would love to be able to purchase a ps4 but I simple can not afford to spend $500 on a new system. If I was to break down and splurged, I should at least be able to play the games I already own. I shouldn't have to pay for them again. I mean, not everyone has internet to stream games from "the cloud". Just out of curiosity, who wants to pay for a game TWICE then lose your internet then low and behold you are unable to play the game again? Personally if playstation would concede in making the ps4 able to play ps3 games, I would be all for buying the new system. If not then it looks like I might be hanging up my controller, selling off my games and just buy a blue-ray player and forget about gaming.
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