Why native PS3 gameplay on new PlayStation consoles is difficult

Many gaming fans are familiar with and may have shared the “PS3 has no games” meme, but that has always been an exaggeration of the state of the console over its lifetime. The PS3 was very successful and hosted some of the most iconic games of the seventh generation of consoles, ranging from Unexplored for Travel. Among many other examples, the PS3 has hosted several iconic first-party and third-party games, many of which have seen re-releases and remasters over the years. For those that haven’t been re-released, PlayStation has offered PS Now to stream PS3 games, and now PlayStation Plus does the same on PS4/PS5.


PlayStation’s streaming service, PS Now, has been integrated into the main online service that PlayStation gamers subscribe to, moving to a tiered subscription model. PS Plus is separated into three tiers: the unchanged Essential, the Extra tier (bringing with it several ‘hits’ of first-party and third-party games), and the Premium tier, which includes PS3 game streaming as part of the others. streamable games. from PS Now. Beyond a few exceptions like reissued titles like Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Where The last of us Remasteredthese are the only ways to play PS3 games on PS4/PS5, and that’s because of the inherent difficulty of porting PS3 games.

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PS3: innovative technology, poor support


Development for the PS3 was notoriously troublesome for both first-party and third-party titles, as noted by developers ranging from crazyfrom executive producer Seann Graddy, to Obsidian Entertainment CEO Feargus Urquhart. The source of the developers’ criticisms came from the unique and complex Cell processor architecture upon which the PS3’s hardware and software were based, although many external factors hampered and discouraged the developers. Many studios and development teams were less accustomed to working on cellular processing in games, a much more specialized hardware component than ATI graphics and IBM’s Xenon processor in the Xbox 360.

Moving on to the eighth generation of home consoles, Sony and Microsoft ended up aligning themselves by partnering with AMD. Both the PS4 and Xbox One were developed on x86-64 architecture, a much more ubiquitous processor architecture that’s been used in Windows PCs for decades. These days, development on PS4/PS5 and Xbox One/Xbox Series X/S is generally much more consistent and universal, making cross-platform development (and cross-play) more feasible. As a result, this also made PS3 backwards compatibility much more difficult. The Cell processor architecture means that games require more backend work to be compatible with new consoles.

Some games have made the transition to modern consoles thanks to developer support and interest. The Last of Us Remastered and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection wouldn’t have come to PS4 and more without Naughty Dog’s investment in remastering these games for PS4. Many other third-party PS3 titles have also made their way to PS4 on a case-by-case basis. That being said, since PS3 games were designed for a very specific hardware and software framework, PS3 game backwards compatibility just isn’t easy enough to be straightforward.

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Several PS3 games remain unplayable on PS4/PS5

For now, PS Plus is the only option for fans to play PS3 games on a modern system, aside from methods like emulation. However, given the difficult nature of developing games for the PS3, reverse engineering PS3 games to run on PC or Linux is even more difficult. Sony is rumored to be providing an official path to emulation, though it’s unclear if and when this feature might come to the PS5 in the future. That’s certainly unfortunate, especially since PS3 games can only be streamed through the Premium tier of PlayStation Plus, which is the most expensive subscription tier offered by Sony ($17.99/month, 119, $99/year).

That being said, PS3 emulation on PC has come a long way; As recently as 2021, the development team behind the PS3 emulator RPCS3 announced that every game in the PS3 library was confirmed to run and run (albeit not well) on the emulator. Sony supporting its own PS3 emulation initiative on PS5 isn’t entirely impractical, especially since the hardware would be more than capable of handling emulation. Not to mention that PlayStation would be able to prioritize development over PS3 emulation and release technology much faster than fan efforts. Since PS4 and some PS2 games are playable on PS5 via emulation, PS3 might be next.

Of course, this comes at a price for technology. Emulation as traditionally distributed only involves the cost of the game itself, not the emulator. That’s probably why games like this classic star wars game bundle released in 2015, which basically confirmed that PS2 emulation works on PS4, released at a premium price. Same deal for games like the Jak and Daxter setAlso running natively on PS5 via emulation, but are still available for $39.99 MSRP.

The PS2 emulation on PS4 was apparently released with little fanfare from Sony or PlayStation itself, but the PS3 emulation on PS4/PS5 would be difficult to announce subtly. Many hardcore PlayStation fans have been asking for ways to play games like Solid metal gear 4 Where Infamous natively on Sony’s modern consoles, setting aside game streaming via PlayStation Now. Playing PS3 games natively on PS4/PS5 is certainly possible and can lead to definitive game builds, but that’s largely thanks to the developers who support us. For those looking for a definitive version of PS3 games on modern consoles, streaming games on PS Plus is not a good enough alternative.

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