PS3 backwards compatibility may come to PS5: What we know

ps3 backwards compatibility

While it has long felt like an impossibility, gamers may be able to dust off their PS3 games and play them on PS5 via backwards compatibility.

The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 generation of consoles is notoriously difficult to work with and to emulate. Plenty of developers had trouble making games for the system and even now, their unique architecture is hard to replicate.

old snake metal gear solid 4
Metal Gear Solid 4 seemed like it would be forever locked in a PS3 prison.

The 64-bit Cell microprocessor used in the console was ahead of its time and had plenty of power. However, developers struggled to program for the console due to its unique processor and programming intricacies. The CPU uses one big core to handle communication between all internal components and seven smaller cores that can quickly talk to each other.

The result was a nightmare to program for. This is why the PC emulation scene usually ignores games released for this generation. But while Microsoft has gone through great pains to make Xbox 360 backwards compatibility a reality on modern consoles, Sony hasn’t done the same. At least, not yet.

Will the PS5 get PS3 backwards compatibility?

Sony has reportedly been working on adding PS3 backwards compatibility to the PlayStation 5.

In an hour-long podcast, Game Mess Mornings hosted by Giant Bomb, Jeff Grubb discussed what Sony is up to. Grubb stated that Sony is working on backwards compatibility which would see PlayStation 3 games made playable on the PS5.

The PlayStation 4’s technical architecture was a major change from the PS3. As a result, the new console couldn’t run PlayStation 3 games via backwards compatibility at all. This has seen a long list of massive releases being unplayable on modern PlayStation hardware, and others spiraling toward becoming lost media.

Sony has not publicly revealed or teased any plans to introduce PS3 backwards compatibility to the PS5. Though Grubb suggests that this is in the work at PlayStation, it’s unclear when it might be released. It’s also possible that Sony may be working on it, but might abandon it. This is, unfortunately, a running trend when it comes to Sony.

What PlayStation 3 games need PS5 backwards compatibility the most?

There are a number of major PS3 games that would benefit immensely from being playable on the PS5.

Arugably the most notable example of this is Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The game was released as a PlayStation 3 exclusive and has never been ported, remastered, or re-released. PS3 backwards compatibility on PS5 would instantly make the game available once again.

First-party titles like Infamous, Killzone, Resistance: Fall of Man, and LittleBigPlanet are stuck on the PlayStation 3. Other titles like Final Fantasy 13 and the original version of Catherine were released on Xbox 360 and PC. This has seen them playable on other platforms, but not on PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5.

Final Fantasy 13 Lightning
Final Fantasy 13 is readily available on Xbox hardware, but not PlayStation.

Sony has remastered or remade a number of its biggest first-party games from the platform including Demon’s Souls, The Last of Us, and Uncharted 1 and 2. First-party games that were critically acclaimed but not as commercially successful such as Tokyo Jungle and Heavenly Sword haven’t been so lucky. 

Some PlayStation 3 games are already playable on the PlayStation 5 via streaming through PlayStation Plus’s deluxe tiers. However, streaming has its own set of limitations including a small selection, lack of availability in some regions, and the performance issues associated with cloud gaming.

PlayStation 3 backwards compatibility on the PlayStation 5 would make many of these games available once again, even before discussing renewed digital distribution. It remains to be seen how or when Sony implements the backward compatibility features, but fans have cause for hope.

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Written by Bilawal Bashir

Bilawal is a software engineer who loves video games, comic books, and anime. But he will never love pineapple on pizza. In over two decades of gaming, he has only broken two controllers. His work has also been featured by TheGamer and WhatIfGaming.

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