If you‘ve been lucky enough to get your hands on the powerful new PS5 console, you may be wondering how you can upgrade your existing PS4 games to take advantage of the next-gen improvements. With backwards compatibility, many PS4 games can be upgraded to the PS5 version for free or at a discounted price. This guide will walk you through the different ways to score free PS5 upgrades so you can breathe new life into your PS4 game library.
Check Digital Store Listings for Free Upgrade Offers
The most straightforward way to find available PS5 upgrades is to check the PlayStation Store listing for any PS4 games you own. When viewing the game page, look for a button or option to "Upgrade" or "Download PS5 Version."
For example, if you owned God of War on PS4 and have a PS5, you would see the following on the God of War PS4 store page:
Selecting this option lets you upgrade to the PS5 version at no additional cost. It‘s a completely free upgrade from PS4 to PS5 for digital purchases.
Popular titles like God of War, Ghost of Tsushima, Days Gone, and Mortal Kombat 11 all have free next-gen digital upgrades available. Check your PS4 library and any games still on your wishlist to see which have free upgrades.
Take Advantage of PS4 Discs with Disc Drive PS5
If you own physical PS4 discs and upgraded to a PS5 with a disc drive, you may also qualify for free upgrades. Simply insert your PS4 disc into the PS5. In many cases, the console will auto-detect the disc and prompt you to install the PS5 version.
This works because the PS5 is fully backwards compatible with almost all PS4 games. By recognizing the PS4 disc, you prove ownership to unlock the upgraded version. However, be aware that PS4 disc upgrades will not work on the Digital Edition PS5 since it lacks a disc drive.
Review Free Upgrade Offers from Major Publishers
Keep an eye out for official announcements from major game publishers related to free PS5 upgrades. Publishers will often confirm via press releases and social media which titles will receive free next-gen upgrades.
For example, shortly before the PS5 launch, Activision announced that owners of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War on PS4 would be eligible for the free PS5 upgrade when they purchase the Cross-gen bundle version:
Players who purchase the Current Gen version of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War can upgrade to the Next Gen version at no additional cost. This upgrade is available within the same Console family (PS4 to PS5 or Xbox One to Xbox Series X).
Similarly, CD Projekt Red has confirmed that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will receive a free upgrade to PS5, which is planned for release in Q4 2022. Follow gaming news sites and publisher accounts on social media to stay updated on which titles are offering free upgrades.
Check Your Digital Game Library on PS5
For any games you own digitally on PS4, you can also check your game library directly on the PS5 console. Navigate to your library and look for the PS5 version of your PS4 games.
In many cases, you should find the option to download the PS5 version at no cost. Your save data may also transfer over automatically through the cloud or via USB transfer from your PS4. So you can pick up right where you left off with your upgraded game.
Take Advantage of Launch Window Upgrade Offers
During the PS5 launch window from November to February 2021, several major publishers offered free PS5 upgrades for PS4 games purchased physically or digitally.
For example, if you bought AC Valhalla, Watch Dogs Legion, or FIFA 21 on PS4 during those months, you could upgrade to the PS5 version at no cost. While these initial promotional offers have ended, it demonstrates how publishers tried incentivizing early PS5 adopters with free next-gen upgrades for recent purchases.
Consider Cross-Gen Bundles When Buying New Games
Now that the PS5 has launched, you‘ll notice some games are being sold as "Cross-Gen Bundles" which include both the PS4 and PS5 versions. This is different than the free upgrade offers mentioned earlier.
While you have to pay upfront, Cross-Gen bundles essentially give you the best of both worlds. You get the game on PS4 so you can play immediately, and the PS5 version is ready when you eventually get the new console.
For big fall 2020 titles like Assassin‘s Creed Valhalla, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and Marvel‘s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the Cross-Gen PS4 + PS5 bundles were typically $10 more than just the PS4 base version. So for a small premium, you are future-proofed with the PS5 upgrade.
Weigh the Pros and Cons of Upgrading for Each Title
Before upgrading your PS4 games to PS5, it‘s worth considering the pros and cons on a title by title basis:
Potential benefits of upgrading to PS5 version:
- Higher resolution – Up to 4K versus 1080p on PS4
- Higher framerate – Up to 60fps or 120fps versus 30fps on PS4
- Faster loading times – Almost instant thanks to the PS5 SSD
- Enhanced visuals – Ray tracing, improved lighting/textures
- Better immersion – Support for DualSense controller haptics and adaptive triggers
Downsides of upgrading:
- You may need to replay portions of the game if save data doesn‘t transfer
- Limited availability – Not all PS4 games have PS5 upgrades
- Incremental upgrade – Some games play mostly the same as the PS4 version
If you‘re still actively playing a PS4 game and plan to invest dozens more hours on PS5, the upgrade can be extremely worthwhile. However, upgrading older titles or games you‘ve already completed may not provide a meaningful difference. Evaluate each upgrade offer based on your personal situation.
Be Patient for Potential Post-Launch Upgrade Offers
While the majority of upgrade offers were made available for the PS5 launch window, there‘s still a chance publishers could offer paid upgrades down the road post-launch.
For example, in an interview with Eurogamer, CD Projekt Red revealed they are exploring the option for a paid upgrade path to let PS4 owners of Cyberpunk 2077 upgrade to the PS5 version after launch.
"We‘re working on the next-gen edition of Cyberpunk 2077 for XSX and PS5," says senior PR manager Radek Grabowski. "For those who own the Xbox One or PS4 versions of Cyberpunk 2077, we‘ll offer a free upgrade to Xbox Series X and PS5 respectively when available. If someone prefers to wait and get the next-gen version straight away when it comes out, they will be able to."
So while not confirmed yet, this demonstrates that publishers may offer upgrade paths for already-released PS4 games after the PS5 launch window has passed. The upgrade fee is still likely cheaper than buying a "remastered" version.
Summary of Ways to Get Free PS5 Upgrades
To recap, here are the main methods that can score you free or discounted PS5 upgrades for your PS4 games:
- Check digital listings for upgrade offers
- Use your PS4 game discs on a PS5 with disc drive
- Take advantage of publisher announcements and promotions
- Access your PS4 digital library on the PS5 console
- Buy select games as Cross-Gen PS4 + PS5 bundles
- Keep an eye out for post-launch upgrade promotions
With some diligence across these options, you should be able to upgrade your favorite PS4 games to enjoy new levels of performance and immersion on your shiny new PS5. The strategic use of backwards compatibility and smart purchasing decisions will help you make the most of the new generation without breaking the bank re-buying titles.