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Some PS5 owners are accidentally playing PS4 versions of their games

Published Nov 16th, 2020 10:15PM EST
PS5 games
Image: Activision

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  • Sony’s PlayStation 5 can download and play both the PS4 and PS5 versions of games.
  • Some PS5 owners are accidentally playing the PS4 version of the game instead of the next-gen version because the console doesn’t make it very clear which version you’re playing.
  • There’s only one icon for every game on the dashboard even if you have both versions installed, so make sure you choose the right option from the menu before you play.

One of my favorite features of the PlayStation 5 user interface is apparently confusing some early adopters.

Many of the new games coming out this fall are launching with last-generation versions and new-generation versions, such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. The PS5 is backward compatible with a vast majority of PS4 games, which means both versions of the game will be playable on your brand new console. The problem is that unless you know what to look for, you might be playing the wrong version.

As spotted by VG247, Activision Support tweeted out the following helpful hint on Saturday, just one day after Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War launched on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC:

In order to save room and make the UI less cluttered, Sony stores every version of any one game under the same icon on the dashboard. In other words, even if you have the PS4 and PS5 version of Call of Duty or Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales installed, you will still have a single icon for that game. In order to switch between versions of the game, you can follow the steps above, but the PS5 apparently does not make that clear enough, and thus many PS5 owners have been playing the last-generation versions of their games on accident.

Unless you’re paying close attention to the text at the top of the screen when you start up a game, there is no clear indication that you’re playing one version of a game or the other. Plus, by the time you’re actually playing a game, the only real differences between the versions are visual, so unless you know the difference between 30FPS and 60FPS, there’s a good chance that you’ll never be any the wiser that you are playing a PS4 game.

This also goes to show just how different this generational upgrade is from previous ones. The first PS4 games don’t hold a candle to the video games that came out near the end of the generation, but the graphical improvements were obvious right away. That’s not always the case on the PS5, which focuses more on higher frame rates and sharper resolution. These upgrades aren’t going to be as readily apparent, especially if you have an older TV.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.