How to play your PS4 games on your PS5

Get your old games on your new console.

Get your old games on your new console.
Photograph: Sam Rutherford / Gizmodo

If you have a new PlayStation 5 so chances are you also have a PlayStation 4 of some description set up – and moving your PS4 games to the new PS5 is not difficult to do. You can continue playing on your new console almost immediately, but here we’ll explain the steps you need to take first.

A note first about backward compatibility: Sony says the “vast majority” of PS4 games will work on PS5, with “select” games benefiting from higher or smoother frame rates. At the same time, Sony also admits that you may experience “errors or unexpected behavior” when playing PS4 games on the PS5.

In terms of controllers, you can use PS4 DualShock or PS5 DualSense to play your PS4 titles on PlayStation 5, as you feel more comfortable (you can’t use your old DualShock with your new PS5 games).

Your PS4 discs will run on PS5 - and you can get a free update.

Your PS4 discs will run on PS5 – and you can get a free update.
Print Screen: Sony

When it comes to PlayStation VR, it’s a little more complicated. The vast majority of games will work, but you’ll also need to move the PS4’s PlayStation Camera and sign up for a free camera adapter for Sony’s PS5.

For PS4 games that you purchased on disc, you can insert the same disc into your PS5 (unless it is digital edition), go to the Games screen and get it up and running – although you need to download an update first. In some cases (such as with No Man’s Sky, which we present in a screenshot on this page), you will get a free PS5 update to download and install. For digital titles, you can download them again on your PS5 from Games library section in games.

Another option that is potentially faster, depending on the number of games you have, is to move your PS4 games to PS5 on an external hard drive: it is probably a more attractive method if you already have a lot of titles stored on an external drive on your old console, or you don’t want to take up too much disk space on your new console with old games, or maybe both.

An external drive can be the fastest way to move multiple games at once.

An external drive can be the fastest way to move multiple games at once.
Print Screen: Sony

If you have not yet configured an external hard drive on your PS4, after it is connected, go to settings, Devices, and USB storage devices: Select the drive and then choose Format as extended storage and confirm your choice. The games will then be installed on the external drive by default – you can change this by going to settings So Storage, selecting System Storageand pressing the options button.

You can move games from the PS4’s internal storage to the external hard drive – ready to be played on the PS5 – by going to settings and Storagethen selecting System Storage and Forms. Choose your game, tap options, then choose Move to extended storage. Select the games to be moved and then choose To move.

That done, the external hard drive simply needs to be connected to a USB port on the back of the PlayStation 5, and the PS4 titles will appear when you access the Games library page under Games (when it comes to disc-based games, you’ll still need the disc too). For many users, this will be the fastest and easiest way to start using older PS4 games.

You can use the Data Transfer wizard when configuring the PS5 or later.

You can use the data transfer wizard when setting up PS5 or later.
Print Screen: Sony

You can also use your local network to transfer titles between PS4 and PS5. This will be suggested during the PlayStation 5 setup process, but you can also do this later: You need to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network and the same PlayStation account on both consoles to get started, and then you need to open settings on your PS5 and choose System, System software and Data transfer. To speed up the process considerably, you can connect your consoles with an Ethernet cable.

Lastly, there is saving game data – this can be moved using the data transfer process we just described, whether you are setting up your PlayStation 5 for the first time or later. Your saved data can also be synced to the cloud (PlayStation Plus) or to an external USB drive: Choose settings, Application data management, Data saved in system storage, and then also Upload to online storage or Copy to USB storage device on PS4 to do that.

Back on PS5, after logging into PlayStation Plus or connecting the USB storage device as needed, go to settings, Saved data and game / application settings, and then Saved data (PS4) to see the cloud and local options. Most saved data on PS4 should work on PS5, although ultimately it is at the discretion of the game developer – the saved data may not be transferred, even if the game itself works.