Despite a storied history that goes all the way back to their very first PlayStation back in 1994, as a platform holder Sony haven’t always been great with backwards compatibility or game preservation.
Wasn’t the PS2 backwards compatible?
Yes! The PlayStation 2 was an excellent start in this respect; with the enormous success – and therefore huge install base – of the PS1, Sony were keen not to alienate owners of their first console and ensure that their libraries carried over when they bought their sleek, new, DVD-playing PS2.
Though some later models of the PS2 have a greater number of incompatibility issues with some PS1 titles, for the most part the games in the older console’s library does work.
How about the PS3?
It became more complicated with the PS3; though all models of the PS3 will play PS1 games, only the original models of PS3 play PS2 games at all (check out our handy article ‘is the PS3 backwards compatible’ for more details on that).
Surely the PS4 was an improvement?
Things took a turn for the worse with the PS4 – discs for any previous PlayStation console simply won’t work on Sony’s fourth console. Though Sony’s PS Now streaming service does offer a selection of games from previous generations, it felt like a bit of a step back to lose backwards compatibility with discs altogether in the jump to PS4. You can check out this situation in more depth in our ‘is the PS4 backwards compatible’ article.
Things did get better with the PS5 though, right?
Absolutely! PS5 improved on that somewhat, by being backwards compatible with the vast majority of PS4 games – but unfortunately, older generations still miss out, unless you count PS Now of course.
And things are set to change with more than 700 games to be made available on the improved PS Now service, though many games – including all PS3 games on offer – may still only be available to stream, rather than download.
Are things likely to change in this regard though?
It certainly looks that way, as Twitter user Garret Fredley (@SomeCronzaGuy) yesterday posted an intriguing tweet mentioning a ‘newly created Preservation team’ at PlayStation:
As Fredley is one of their first hires for this team, it may be some time before we see what steps they take in order to preserve games that are otherwise being lost as the years pass. However, with Fredley’s passion for preservation and his position as Senior Build Engineer, it seems that exciting times are ahead for gamers who may have missed out on or lost the opportunity to play hundreds of classic titles.
Who knows? Maybe every title on our Best PS1 Games list will become readily available again. Let’s hope that Sony do their part to preserve gaming history; it certainly seems that there’s a glimmer of hope in this regard right now.
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Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.