The PS3 changed the world.
Before Sony’s mammoth 3rd console, games were seen as little more than pass time for children.
However, all that changed when Ken Kutaragi, an Engineer at Sony, stepped onto the podium at E3 2006. Held high above his head was Sony’s new PS3. At that moment gaming stepped out of film’s shadow to claim the entertainment crown.
The PS3 brought us Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, The Last of Us, and Demon’s Souls: Experiences that defined the meaning of adult gaming.
That was over a decade ago. Now, PS3s are consigned to yellowing history books and thrifty eBay auctions.
Yet, its gaming legacy still lives on like none other.
But, has Sony made the effort to ensure the PS3’s immense and eclectic, sometimes strange, mix of gaming delights play on the PS5?
I decided to find out…
Can the PS5 play PS3 games? The PS5 can’t play disk-based PS3 games because the PS5 does not include Playstation 3 emulation. However, you can play PS3 games on your PS5 using Sony digital game streaming service Playstation Now. You are limited by PS Now’s PS3 game catalogue.
Now you know the PS5 can’t play PS3 disk-based games. But it can play digital PS3 games via Playstation Now. That’s great if you want to play the limited selection of PS3 games on Sony’s streaming service, but not so great if you have a large PS3 game library that you’d like to continue playing.
In the next few sections, I’ll look at:
- How to play PS3 games on Playstation Now
- Why Sony doesn’t include PS3 emulation in the PS5
- Alternative ways to play your PS3 disk based games
Let’s get started…
How to use PS Now to Play PS3 Games
You can play PS3 games on your PS5. But you’ll need a PS Now subscription to do it.
PS Now is Sony’s subscription gaming service. For a monthly fee, you have access to a massive collection of games that includes PS5, PS4, PS3, and even PS2 games.
PS5 and PS4 games can be downloaded directly onto your PS5.
However, PS3 games must be streamed from Sony’s Servers. This leads to a couple of problems:
- Games played via streaming can be laggy. Games can feel unresponsive because inputs and images are sent over the internet between your console and the PS Now servers.
- You can only play the PS3 games that are listed on PS Now. There is no way to play your disk based games. So that collection of Japanese anime games you have, they’re not going to work.
However, if you can get past the lag, there are over 375 Playstation 3 games on PS Now. Take a look at the list of PS3 games on PS Now below:
- ALEX KIDD IN THE MIRACLE WORLD
- ALIEN RAGE
- ALIEN SPIDY
- ALTERED BEAST
- ANARCHY: RUSH HOUR
- ANNA EXTENDED EDITION
- ANOMALY WARZONE EARTH
- AQUA PANIC!
- AR NOSURGE: ODE TO AN UNBORN STAR
- ARCANA HEART 3
- ARCANIA THE COMPLETE TALE
- ARMAGEDDON RIDERS
- ASURA’S WRATH
- ATELIER AYESHA: THE ALCHEMIST OF DUSK
- ATELIER ESCHA & LOGY – ALCHEMISTS OF THE DUST SKY
- ATELIER RORONA PLUS: THE ALCHEMIST OF ARLAND
- ATELIER SHALLIE – ALCHEMISTS OF THE DUSK SEA
- BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM GAME OF THE YEAR
- BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY
- BATMAN: ARKHAM ORIGINS
- BATTLE PRINCESS OF ARCADIAS
- BATTLE VS CHESS
- BATTLEFIELD 4
- BATTLEFIELD™ HARDLINE
- BENTLEY’S HACKPACK
- BIG SKY:INFINITY
- BIONIC COMMANDO REARMED
- BIONIC COMMANDO REARMED 2
- BIOSHOCK 2
- BIOSHOCK INFINITE
- BLACK KNIGHT SWORD
- BLADESTORM – NIGHTMARE
- BLADESTORM: THE HUNDRED YEARS’ WAR
- BLAZBLUE CALAMITY TRIGGER
- BLAZBLUE CHRONOPHANTASMA
- BLAZBLUE CONTINUUM SHIFT
- BLAZBLUE CONTINUUM SHIFT EXTEND
- BLOOD KNIGHTS
- BLOODRAYNE BETRAYAL
- BOMBERMAN ULTRA
- BORDERLANDS 2 ULTIMATE EDITION
- BORDERLANDS GAME OF THE YEAR EDITION
- BORDERLANDS: THE PRE-SEQUEL ULTIMATE EDITION
- CAPCOM ARCADE CABINET
- CARS MATER-NATIONAL
- CARS RACE-O-RAMA
- CASTLEVANIA: HARMONY OF DISPAIR
- CASTLEVANIA LORDS OF SHADOW
- CASTLEVANIA: LORDS OF SHADOW 2
- CASTLEVANIA: LORDS OF SHADOW – MIRROR OF FATE HD
- CEL DAMAGE HD
- CHAMPION JOCKEY: G1 JOCKEY & GALLOP RACER
- CRASH COMMANDO
- CRAZY TAXI
- CRITTER CRUNCH
- DARK MIST
- DARK VOID
- DARKSTALKERS RESURRECTION
- DAYTONA USA
- DE BLOB 2
- DEAD ISLAND: RIPTIDE
- DEAD OR ALIVE 5 LAST ROUND
- DEAD OR ALIVE 5 ULTIMATE
- DEAD SPACE 3
- DEADLY PREMONITION: DIRECTORS CUT
- DEATH TRACK: RESURRECTION
- DECEPTION IV: BLOOD TIES
- DECEPTION IV: THE NIGHTMARE PRINCESS
- DEVIL MAY CRY 4
- DEVIL MAY CRY HD COLLECTION
- DISGAEA 3: ABSENCE OF JUSTICE
- DISGAEA 4: A PROMISE UNFORGOTTEN
- DISGAEA D2: A BRIGHTER DARKNESS
- DISNEY EPIC MICKEY: THE POWER OF TWO
- DISNEY PIXAR BRAVE
- DISNEY PIXAR CARS 2 THE VIDEOGAME
- DISNEY PIXAR TOY STORY MANIA!
- DISNEY UNIVERSE ULTIMATE EDITION
- DON BRADMAN CRICKET 14
- DOUBLE DRAGON NEON
- DUKE NUKEM FOREVERDYNASTY WARRIORS 6
- DYNASTY WARRIORS 6 EMPIRES
- DYNASTY WARRIORS 7
- DYNASTY WARRIORS 7 EMPIRES
- DYNASTY WARRIORS 7 XTREME LEGENDS
- DYNASTY WARRIORS 8
- DYNASTY WARRIORS 8: XTREME LEGENDS
- DYNASTY WARRIORS: STRIKEFORCE
- EAT THEM!
- ETHAN: METEOR HUNTER
- EVERYBODY’S GOLF
- EVERYBODY’S GOLF: WORLD TOUR
- F.E.A.R. FIRST ENCOUNTER ASSAULT RECON
- F1 2014
- F1 RACE STARS
- FAERY : LEGENDS OF AVALON
- FALLOUT 3
- FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS
- FIGHTING VIPERS
- FINAL EXAM
- FINAL FIGHT: DOUBLE IMPACT
- FROGGER RETURNS
- GENJI: DAYS OF THE BLADE
- GO! PUZZLE
- GOD OF WAR HD
- GOD OF WAR II HD
- GOD OF WAR: ASCENSION
- GOD OF WAR: CHAINS OF OLYMPUS
- GOD OF WAR: GHOST OF SPARTA
- GOLDEN AXE
- GRAVITY CRASH
- GREG HASTINGS PAINTBALL 2
- GRID 2
- GRID AUTOSPORT
- HAKUOKI: STORIES OF THE SHINSENGUMI
- HAMILTON’S GREAT ADVENTURE
- HEAVENLY SWORD
- HEAVY FIRE AFGHANISTAN
- HOUSE OF THE DEAD 4
- HUNTED: THE DEMON’S FORGE
- HUNTER’S TROPHY 2 – AMERICA
- HUNTER’S TROPHY 2 – AUSTRALIA
- HUSTLE KINGS
- IBB & OBB
- ICO CLASSICS HD
- INFAMOUS 2
- INFAMOUS: FESTIVAL OF BLOOD
- INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US ULTIMATE EDITION
- INVIZIMALS THE LOST KINGDOM
- JETPACK JOYRIDE DELUXE
- JOE DANGER 2: THE MOVIE
- JUDGE DEE – THE CITY GOD CASE
- KILLZONE 2
- KILLZONE 3
- KNYTT UNDERGROUND
- KUNG FU RABBIT
- LEARNING WITH THE POOYOOS – EPISODE 1
- LEGO BATMAN 2: DC SUPER HEROES
- LEGO BATMAN: THE VIDEOGAME
- LEGO HARRY POTTER: YEARS 1-4
- LEGO HARRY POTTER: YEARS 5-7
- LEGO STAR WARS™ III: THE CLONE WARS™
- LEGO STAR WARS™: THE COMPLETE SAGA
- LEGO® DISNEY PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN THE VIDEOGAME
- LEGO® INDIANA JONES™ 2: THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES
- LEGO® INDIANA JONES™: THE ORIGINAL ADVENTURES
- LINGER IN SHADOWS
- LITTLEBIGPLANET 3
- LOCOROCO COCORECCHO
- LOST PLANET
- LOST PLANET 2
- LOST PLANET 3
- MAFIA 2
- MAGIC ORBZ
- MAHJONG TALES : ANCIENT WISDOM
- MARS: WAR LOGS
- MEGA MAN 10
- MEGA MAN 9
- METAL GEAR RISING: REVENGEANCE
- METAL GEAR SOLID HD COLLECTION
- MIRROR’S EDGE
- MONKEY ISLAND 2 SPECIAL EDITION: LECHUCK’S REVENGE
- MORTAL KOMBAT KOMPLETE EDITION
- MOTOGP 15
- MOTORCYCLE CLUB
- MOTORSTORM APOCALYPSE
- MOTORSTORM RC COMPLETE EDITION
- MX VS ATV: ALIVE
- MX VS ATV: UNTAMED
- MX VS. ATV: REFLEX
- MXGP – THE OFFICIAL MOTOCROSS VIDEOGAME
- NEED FOR SPEED RIVALS
- NIGHTS INTO DREAMS
- NINJA GAIDEN 3: RAZOR’S EDGE
- NINJA GAIDEN SIGMA 2
- NOBUNAGA’S AMBITION : SPHERE OF INFLUENCE
- ODDWORLD: STRANGER’S WRATH HD
- OF ORCS AND MEN
- OPERATION FLASHPOINT: DRAGON RISING
- OPERATION FLASHPOINT: RED RIVER
- ORDER UP!!
- OVERLORD II
- OVERLORD RAISING HELL
- PAINKILLER HELL & DAMNATION
- PAPO & YO
- PHINEAS AND FERB ACROSS THE 2ND DIMENSION
- PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END
- PIXELJUNK EDEN FULLY GROWN EDITION
- PIXELJUNK MONSTERS BIG BITE EDITION
- PIXELJUNK RACERS 2ND LAP
- PIXELJUNK SHOOTER
- PIXELJUNK SHOOTER 2
- PIXELJUNK SIDESCROLLER
- PLANET MINIGOLF
- PLANETS UNDER ATTACK
- POOL NATION
- PORT ROYALE 3
- PUZZLE AGENT
- QUANTUM THEORY
- RAG DOLL KUNG FU: FISTS OF PLASTIC
- RAGNAROK ODYSSEY ACE
- RAIDEN IV: OVERKILL
- RATCHET & CLANK ALL 4 ONE
- RATCHET & CLANK NEXUS
- RATCHET & CLANK Q-FORCE
- RATCHET & CLANK: A CRACK IN TIME
- RATCHET & CLANK:QUEST FOR BOOTY
- REALMS OF ANCIENT WAR
- RED DEAD REDEMPTION
- RED DEAD REDEMPTION: UNDEAD NIGHTMARE
- RED FACTION: GUERRILLA
- RED JOHNSON’S CHRONICLES
- RED JOHNSON’S CHRONICLES – ONE AGAINST ALL
- RENEGADE OPS
- RESIDENT EVIL CODE:VERONICA X
- RESIDENT EVIL OPERATION RACCOON CITY
- RESIDENT EVIL REVELATIONS
- RESIDENT EVIL REVELATIONS 2
- RESIDENT EVIL UMBRELLA CHRONICLES
- RESIDENT EVIL: THE DARKSIDE CHRONICLES
- RESISTANCE 3
- RETRO CITY RAMPAGE DX
- RICOCHET HD
- RIFF: EVERYDAY SHOOTER
- RISE OF THE ARGONAUTS
- ROCKETBIRDS: HARDBOILED CHICKEN
- R-TYPE DIMENSIONS
- RUNNER 2: A FLAT OUT RUN OF THE RHYTHM ALIEN
- SACRED CITADEL
- SAINTS ROW 2
- SAM & MAX BTS: EPISODE 1 – ICE STATION SANTA
- SAM & MAX BTS: EPISODE 2 – MOAI BETTER BLUES
- SAM & MAX BTS: EPISODE 3 – NIGHT OF THE RAVING DEAD
- SAM & MAX BTS: EPISODE 4 – CHARIOTS OF THE DOGS
- SAM & MAX BTS: EPISODE 5 – WHAT’S NEW BEELZEBUB?
- SAM & MAX THE DEVIL’S PLAYHOUSE – EP 1
- SAM & MAX THE DEVIL’S PLAYHOUSE – EP 2
- SAM & MAX THE DEVIL’S PLAYHOUSE – EP 3
- SAM & MAX THE DEVIL’S PLAYHOUSE – EP 4
- SAM & MAX THE DEVIL’S PLAYHOUSE – EP 5
- SAMURAI WARRIORS 4
- SAVAGE MOON
- SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS CLASSICS HD
- SID MEIER’S CIVILIZATION REVOLUTION
- SILENT HILL HD COLLECTION
- SIREN BLOOD CURSE
- SKULLGIRLS ENCORE
- SKY FIGHTER
- SKYDIVE: PROXIMITY FLIGHT
- SLY COOPER: THIEVES IN TIME
- SMASH CARS
- SNIPER ELITE V2
- SNIPER GHOST WARRIOR 2
- SNIPER: GHOST WARRIOR
- SOLDNER-X 2: FINAL PROTOTYPE
- SOLDNER-X: HIMMELSSTURMER
- SONIC ADVENTURE
- SONIC ADVENTURE 2
- SONIC CD
- SONIC GENERATIONS
- SONIC THE FIGHTERS
- SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 4 EPISODE II
- SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 4: EPISODE 1
- SONIC UNLEASHED
- SPACE ACE
- SPEC OPS: THE LINE
- SPLIT/SECOND VELOCITY
- STAR WARS™: THE FORCE UNLEASHED™ II
- STAR WARS™: THE FORCE UNLEASHED™: ULTIMATE SITH EDITION
- STRONG BAD’S COOL GAME FOR ATTRACTIVE PEOPLE – EPISODE 1
- STRONG BAD’S COOL GAME FOR ATTRACTIVE PEOPLE – EPISODE 2
- STRONG BAD’S COOL GAME FOR ATTRACTIVE PEOPLE – EPISODE 3
- STRONG BAD’S COOL GAME FOR ATTRACTIVE PEOPLE – EPISODE 4
- STRONG BAD’S COOL GAME FOR ATTRACTIVE PEOPLE – EPISODE 5
- SUPER HANG-ON
- SUPER PUZZLE FIGHTER II TURBO HD REMIX
- SYBERIA 2
- TALES FROM SPACE: ABOUT A BLOB
- TALES FROM SPACE: MUTANT BLOBS ATTACK
- THE AWAKENED FATE ULTIMATUM
- THE BOOK OF UNWRITTEN TALES 2
- THE DARKNESS
- THE DARKNESS II
- THE ELDER SCROLLS IV: OBLIVION
- THE GUIDED FATE PARADOX
- THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD 3
- THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD: OVERKILL EXTENDED CUT
- THE KING OF FIGHTERS XIII
- THE LAST GUY
- THE LAST OF US
- THE LAST OF US: LEFT BEHIND
- THE LEGO MOVIE VIDEOGAME
- THE RAVEN: LEGACY OF A MASTER THIEF
- THE SECRET OF MONKEY ISLAND: SPECIAL EDITION
- THE SLY TRILOGY
- THE WITCH AND THE HUNDRED KNIGHT
- THE WOLF AMONG US
- TOKYO JUNGLE
- TOY HOME
- TOYBOX TURBOS
- TRASH PANIC
- TRINITY: SOULS OF ZILL O’LL
- TRON : EVOLUTION
- TRUCK RACER
- TWISTED METAL
- TWO WORLDS II
- UNCHARTED 2: AMONG THIEVES
- UNCHARTED 3: DRAKE’S DECEPTION GAME OF THE YEAR EDITION
- UNCHARTED: DRAKE’S FORTUNE
- URBAN TRIAL FREESTYLE
- VELOCITY ULTRA
- VIRTUA FIGHTER 2
- VIRTUA FIGHTER 5 FINAL SHOWDOWN
- WAKEBOARDING HD
- WARRIORS OROCHI 3
- WARRIORS: LEGENDS OF TROY
- WHEN VIKINGS ATTACK!
- WHITE KNIGHT CHRONICLES
- WHITE KNIGHT CHRONICLES 2
- WOLFENSTEIN: THE NEW ORDER
- X BLADES
- XCOM: ENEMY WITHIN
- YAIBA: NINJA GAIDEN Z
- YAKUZA 4
- YAKUZA 5
- ZACK ZERO
- ZEN PINBALL 2
- ZENO CLASH 2
- ZOMBIE TYCOON 2 – BRAINHOV’S REVENGE
If some of those games interest you, then you should absolutely sign up to PS Now to play PS3 games.
Setting up a PlayStation Now subscription is relatively painless. You can go to the PS Store on your PS5 and sign up. Often Sony runs promotions such as 7-day trials or money off near Christmas and Black Friday. So it might be worth waiting until then.
It’s also worth buying a year upfront as it dramatically lowers the cost of signing up.
A year’s worth of PS Now normally costs $59.99. Whereas a month’s subscription is $9.99. So if you pay monthly you’ll end up paying double the amount over a 12 month period.
You can save even more money by buying a PS Now voucher from sites Like Amazon. Christmas time I bought a 12 month PS Now voucher for only £22 which is about $30! So take a look on Amazon to see if there are any Playstation now Voucher Deals.
If you do get a voucher, you’ll need to redeem it on the Playstation store.
Once you have purchased/redeemed your subscription, you can select PS3 games to stream on the PlayStation Now app on your PS5 home pages.
Why Can’t the PS5 play PS3 disk games?
There are a number of reasons why the PS5 doesn’t play PS3 disk-based games. These include the lack of hardware power to emulate the PS3 Cell CPU, the cost of creating emulation software, a lack of market interest in retro gaming, and the lack of profitability for Sony supporting retro gaming.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why Sony doesn’t support PS3 disk-based games on the PS5, below.
The PS5 isn’t powerful enough
The PS3 was home to one of the most enigmatic and downright befuddling pieces of hardware in console history: The infamous Cell processor.
The Cell processor, a component born of a marriage between Sony and IBM, was known for being extremely difficult to code for early in the PS3’s life.
The Cell used a then foreign multi-core architecture. A main dual thread CPU controlled 8 other mini CPUs. The idea was that the main dual thread CPU would hand off tasks to the eight powerful mini-CPUs.
That was in theory, anyway…
The fact was the Cell CPU was so difficult to use effectively that many early games completely ignored the 8 mini CPUs, opting to run all code on the dual thread main CPU.
Eventually, developers, with the help of Sony, wrapped their brains around the Cell’s architecture and started getting fantastic performance out of it.
However, the Cell is so complicated it’s almost impossible to emulate. Some have succeeded at emulating the Cell architecture on PC. Unfortunately, games are only recently approaching playable frame rates. And that’s on high-end PC hardware that’s well beyond the PS5’s capabilities.
No clear route to return on Investment.
Making emulation for the PS3 would be a tough, expensive task for Sony. And that expense is magnified even more when you consider there is nearly zero potential return on investment for Sony.
People who want to play PS3 games on their PS5s likely have the games they want to play already or can buy them used incredibly cheaply on the second-hand market.
So there would be no easy way for Sony to monetise the emulation. Even if they did start selling Digital PS3 games on the Playstation Store, the games would have to be very cheap to entice gamers.
And keep in mind, Sony knows how many people are playing Playstation 3 games on the PS4 and PS5 by collecting data on Playstation Now usage.
There isn’t a big enough market
One of the biggest reasons Sony is reluctant to build PS3 emulation into PS4 is the perceived lack of market interest in emulation.
This is backed up by what Jim Ryan, Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO, has said in the past:
“When we’ve dabbled with backwards compatibility, I can say it is one of those features that is much requested, but not actually used much. That, and I was at a Gran Turismo event recently where they had PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 games, and the PS1 and the PS2 games, they looked ancient, like why would anybody play this?” – Jim Ryan Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO
The PS3 Architecture is expensive
In the past, Sony has taken extreme measures to emulate past hardware. For example, the PS2 actually included the original PS1’s CPU inside it.
So why can’t Sony just drop a Cell CPU and the rest of the PS3’s architecture inside the PS5?
Simply put, it would be very expensive.
Though the Cell CPU and adjoining GPU are old technology it would still likely cost at least $50-$100 to include ageing hardware in the PS5.
What options do you have to play disk-based PS3 games?
Ok, so the PS5 wont play PS3 disk games. Sadly, outside of buying another Playstation 3, your options are limited. Let’s explore them:
Buy a Playstation 3
Your first option is to just buy another PS3. Or if you already have one, keep it out next to your TV.
Emulation on a PC
Another option is to use your own PC and download emulation software such as that offered by RPCS3.
However, PC emulation of the Playstation 3’s Cell architecture is in its infancy due to the complicated multi-core cell structure.
There are not many games that can be emulated at playable frame rates. Plus, you’ll need a very high end game PC. However, the team over at RPCS3 have a clear roadmap to success. You should expect the emulation to improve by leaps and bounds over the coming years.
If you’re interested, check out the RPCS3 website.
Play PS3 classics remade for the PS5/PS4
Another way to get your Playstation 3 gaming fix is to play remade PS3 classics that have been remade for the PS4 and PS5.
For example, you can play:
- Uncharted Trilogy Remake
- The Last of US: Part One Remake
- Ratchet and Clank Remake
- Bioshock: The Collection
- God of War Remastered
And many more.
You can find a comprehensive list of PS3 games remade for PS4/PS5 here.
Let’s take a look at the main points from the article:
- PS5 can’t play disk based PS3 games.
- PS5 can only play PS3 games on it’s subscription service PS Now
- PS Now costs $59.99 a year or $9.99 a month
- There are over 375 PS3 games on playstation now
- There’s multiple reasons why the Playstation 5 can’t play PS3 disk games
- PS5 isn;t powerful enough to emulate the PS3’s hardware
- There’s no way for SOny to make good money from emulating enabling PS3 back compatibility
- There isn’t a big enough market
- PS3’s architecture is too expensive to physically include in the PS5
- There are limited options for you to play PS3 games:
- You can buy a PS3 console
- You can emulate the PS3 on a powerful PC
- You play PS3 remakes on your PS5
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