Do Scratches Affect PS4 Games? Troubleshooting Cannot-Be-Read Disc

scratched disc with their boxes on PS4 console

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What To Know

  • Minor scratches on PS4 game discs generally don’t affect their functionality, but deep scratches can cause the game to freeze, skip, or fail to load, making the disc unreadable.
  • To prevent scratches, handle discs by the edges, store them in their cases, and keep the discs away from dust and direct sunlight.

This article addresses the impact of scratches on your PS4 discs and offers practical troubleshooting tips to salvage your gaming experience.

We’ll cover the severity of disc damage, how to assess it, and what steps you can take to fix or minimize the issue.

If you’re facing the challenge of unreadable PS4 games, stay tuned for solutions that could breathe new life into your favorite titles.

Let’s jump right in.

Do Disc Scratches Affect PS4 Games?

It depends on how scratched up your PS4 game disc is.

Minor scratches are highly unlikely to impact disc functionality. Deep gashes, however, could render the game disc non-readable.

The Blu-ray drive of the PS4 reads disc data using a laser. Scratches could hinder this process, resulting in freezing, skipping, or even the game failing to load entirely.

If there are thin hairline scratches and the disc works, the game will perform as always. There won’t be any impact on the gameplay experience overall.

To summarise, scratches can potentially affect PS4 games, like other games based on optical discs.

Disc repair kits can iron out minor blemishes and render the disc usable again. But cracks or deep scratches cannot be repaired, and you’ll have to buy a replacement disc.  

How Does a PS4 Disc Game Work?

When you insert a PS4 disc into your gaming console, the game title will appear on the screen. The system will then download the title to your PS4 console. After the game’s downloaded, you can start playing.

Spider-Man disc game is installing on PS4

Note that the game must be downloaded before you can play. The disc provides all the game installation files and verifies that you own the title.

As you insert the disc into the console, the latter will read the disc information and install the game onto your console drive. The installation could take some time, based on the game size and the console hard drive speed.

The disc is indispensable. You’ll need the disc even if the game files are downloaded onto your gaming hardware. That’s because the disc is necessary to verify that you have a proper license for playing the game.

You’ll not need the disc if you downloaded the game from the PlayStation Store. Download a game’s digital copy directly onto your console and enjoy the game without a disc.

PlayStation 4 alert about the disc is not inserted

Troubleshooting When PS4 Disc Cannot Be Read

If your PS4 console cannot read the disc, the disc could have been damaged or dirty. Here are a few things you could do:

Simple Solutions

  • Clean the disc with a disc cleaner. You can use a regular CD/DVD cleaner, like this Endust for Electronics CD/DVD Lens Cleaner. Wipe the disc in circular motions from the center to the edge. 
  • Uninstall and reinstall the game. It shall help eliminate all issues causing the gaming console to have issues reading the disc.
  • Restart your gaming console. To power off the device, hold down on your controller’s power button to evoke the Quick Menu. Next, head to Power and then Turn Off PS4.
  • Get a new disc. If the game disc is preowned, get a new one. The tiny hairline scratches, which the previous owner could have inflicted, aren’t always obvious.

Proper cleaning entails opening the console and using an air compressor to blow out dust. The accumulated dust could cause heat and static electricity problems.

Tiny electric arcs may generate if the circuit board is dirty. After dusting, clean the lenses with the appropriate tools and dip a Q-tip in alcohol before using it to clean the metal contacts and lenses.

If there’s an inherent issue with your PS4 that cannot be addressed with some mopping up, contact PlayStation. Update the hardware and follow the prompts by PlayStation to proceed further.

If nothing works, replacing the laser or drive may be needed. Do it at the behest of PlayStation, however. Taking the call yourself if unsure is not recommended.

On-Screen Error Message But the Game is Audible

The console sometimes accepts the disc but shows an error message once you press the Start button. The “Disc cannot be read…” message will appear, but the game will be audible in the background.

Once you dismiss the error prompt, the gameplay audio stops and the game abruptly stops. If this is something you’ve been experiencing, try the following:

  1. Uninstall the game from your console.
  2. Restart the device in Safe Mode. It will let your gaming console function with only the basic functions.
  3. Rebuild the database (repair and organize the hard drive data). Perhaps, the database went corrupt or became fragmented due to incomplete installations, power outages, system crashes, etc.
  4. Reinsert the disc.
  5. Reinstall the game.

PlayStation 4 Safe Mode on TCL TV

To access the PS4 Safe Mode setting, here are the steps:

  1. Power off the gaming console entirely, but do not disconnect the power cord.
  2. Connect your PS4 console and PS4 controller using your USB cable.
  3. Press your PS4 console power button and continue pressing for seven seconds. Let go after you hear the second beep.
  4. Press your PlayStation’s PS button to access Safe Mode.

Note that setting the device into Safe Mode could result in data loss. Ensure to back up all information to the cloud or a USB drive.

The Game Ran for a Couple of Minutes; Then, an Error Popped Up

At times, the error message will not appear right away. The game will play fine for a few minutes, and the error will show afterward.

In this case, downloading online storage to the hardware may fix the issue. To download cloud storage to your system, head to your PS4’s “Saved Data Management” section in its Settings menu.

Choose the game that you’d like to download and select the download option. This will sync the saved game information to your PS4 from the cloud.

Uploading save file of Spider-Man game on PS4

Note that downloading is possible only if you’re subscribed to PlayStation Plus.

Get the Digital Version of the Game

Getting a new disc is not always feasible due to non-availability concerns.

The game’s digital avatar could address the disc problem as the physical accessory is not needed anymore to play the title.

At times, the PlayStation Store has several games on sale. You could check the games available for a bargain by visiting the Store on your console and heading to the “Deals” section.

Note that the digital game is not always the replica of the physical disc. Even if the disc version runs on your console, you must redownload the digital variant after deleting the previous install.  

How to Prevent PS4 Discs from Scratching?

It’s better to prevent your PS4 discs from scratching than to deal with the ragged grooves.

To minimize the possibility of scratching your PS4 discs, store the disc games carefully and handle them carefully when in use.

Do not touch the disc’s underside or expose it to debris or dust. Hold the discs at their edges instead. Smudges and fingerprints could also impact the disc’s functioning.

Store the discs in their cases when not in use, and avoid stacking the discs or putting heavy objects over them. Keeping the discs in their cases protects them from moisture and heat. Direct sunlight, humidity, etc., could damage and render the disc unreadable.

If you’re unsure about keeping the disc pristine, buy your games digitally.


To conclude, scratches affect PS4 games. If they are deep enough, get a new disk or a digital copy of the game. If the scratches are shallow, you could do some cleaning following the instructions above and check if the disc works.

By the way, the internet is rife with suggestions that promulgate tapping the PS4 if the console cannot read discs. That unempirical method may work if a scratched disc is not the cause.

If your PS4 disc is heavily scratched up, we strongly advise against getting physical with your PlayStation. Even otherwise, we do not recommend tapping because it’s not certain the console will work after the taps or the number of hits needed.

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