Why the PS3 can’t play PS2 games

January 24, 2009

Why the PS3 can't play PS2 games Sony may have you believing that the company cut out PS2 backwards compatibility in order to save costs, but the real reason is actually more strategic than anything else. All PS3s will most likely be able to play PS2 games in the near future.

The PS2 is Sony Computer Entertainment’s crowing achievement after the PSOne. Both consoles combined have sold close to 260 million units world wide. It does make it seem a bit silly when you see console fanboys bickering over the anthill-sized 20-some -million units for the PS3 and Xbox 360.

The PS2 and PSOne has a combined library of over 8,000 games (PAL, NTSC) to date, yet the latest version of the PS3 cannot play any of the PS2 games. I was fortunate enough to get my 60GB PS3 during launch, which is considered by many to be the ultimate version. I consider it to be the MVP (Most Valued Player) of gaming consoles due to the fact I could fence it for a good bit of cash on Ebay.

The 80GB, which came out after the 60GB, had a new piece of software minus the Emotion Engine (PS2 processor) and could play PS2 games. The emulator actually works quite well with support for 85 to 95 percent of the PS2 games out there. However, the latest iterations of the PS3 cannot play PS2 games at all. The system can still play PSOne games but will fail to read PS2 discs.

The main reason why Sony took BC out of the PS3 is because the PS2 is still selling well. Believe it or not, according to NPD the PS2 managed to sell about 1 million units during the four months within the holiday season. These figures are for US only.

Also, out of all the production consoles out there right now, the PS2 also brings in the most profit per manufacturing cost. In contrast, the PS3 is the console that has the largest loss per manufacturing cost ($50). It makes sense that Sony would keep these two brethren consoles in parallel in order to offset the loss incurred by the other.

There is evidence that the latest iteration of the PS3 has all the hooks in place to play PS2 games. There is even the PS2 saved game tool still intact in XMB within the PS3. It makes perfect sense that at some point Sony will EOL (end of life) the PS2 and start putting up PS2 games on the PSN. This will of course mean that there will be a firmware update with the emulator tucked inside it as well. Till then we just have to be a bit more patient and play them on the PS2.

25 Responses to “Why the PS3 can’t play PS2 games”

  1. Ivan_PSP:

    I knew all of that is common sense. Sony made all of the PS2 profit it needed already. So what they lose with PS3 they gain back with PS2. I gave my precious 60GB PLAYSTATION 3 to my cousin i regret it every second. Now i got the 80GB MotoStorm Bundle which can play all my 73 PS2 games perfectly.

    Mike Ferro:
    If you want to sell it (PS3) for a reasonable price put in in eBay and give me the link to buy.

  2. darkwhitehair:

    the only things I ask from Santa…

    death to the enemies of America and backwards compatibility of PS2 games…

    I would instantly buy so many PS2 originals if they could add it with a firmware update…

    a boy can only hope…

  3. Zoar:

    I hope your right, Mr.Ferro.

    Because I was just about to buy the old 80GB PS3 with backwards compatibility, but couldn’t, and now I’m waiting for a good reason to buy a PS3 again.

    I’m not going to buy a 360, because I don’t want to hurt Sony.

  4. Bourne:

    I have a cousin who wants a PS3 but the lack of BC is putting him off (and he’s only 10). I actually think this strategy could backfire in Sony. If potential PS2 to ps3 owners find that they can no longer play PS2 games on the PS3, whats the point in upgrading because i assume they amass a large collection of PS2 games.

  5. CarlB:

    This was also one of the major factors holding me back as well (originally the biggest was no trophies). I came across an interesting article talking about how the PS3 slim wouldn’t come anytime soon (I think there is a good probability if bc does get reincorporated it may be time for the slim), and saw this as an interesting take:

    “Still, the PlayStation 1 received a slim redesign six years after its release. This is only the PlayStation 3′s third year. Then again the PlayStation 2 received a slim design in 2004, only three years after release.”

    “However, the PS3-Slim won’t be arriving anyway near that early. Firstly, the console has an enclosed and interchangeable HDD. Sony would have to make room for this in the redesign, that is unless they include a smaller HDD that can’t be interchanged by the user.”

    “Secondly, 74.34 million PlayStation 1′s were sold before the PSONE, and 73.90 million PlayStation 2′s before the PSTWO. Yes, close sales figures despite the PS2 only being out three years. This is because the PS2 rocketed its way into record breaking sales.”

    “So until the PlayStation 3 reaches similar numbers (how long will that take?), you won’t be seeing a PSTHREE any time soon. Slim redesigns cost money and Sony’s drive is to make the console profitable, not smaller.”


    I don’t agree with the authors take on HDD’s, as these are fitting into netbooks nowadays, but as you can see, the PS3 hasn’t even reached a third of the PS2′s sales numbers in roughly the same amount of time on market. Going with the sales/slim version theory, the slim wouldn’t come on market until another five years (2014 – as this is how long it would take to reach 70+ million), and that is selling 10 million units per year not four to five as is projected. 5 million u/y would take 10 more years to reach those numbers, well beyond the PS3′s projected life cycle.

    According the ten year life cycle, PS2 production should be ending next year, but considering there are 56 more titles scheduled for release this year on PS2, and Wii is in the lead position with an underpowered console (which nobody anticipated), this may mean the PS2 may be on the market for a few more years. Good thing I still have mine.

  6. Royzy:

    In all honesty I didn’t realise BC was that important to people, now I see how people feel.

    For me I guess it isn’t an issue, because aside from FFVIII and the MGSs, I don’t really go back (usually it is an urge, then realise ‘meh’ and take it out again).

    For how often I’d play older games, I wouldn’t be that worried about getting out my PS2 if I wanted to play them.

    That said, I have BC in my PS3 anyway… so NEH NEH NuH NEH NEH!!

  7. lock_down:

    “Sony’s drive is to make the console profitable, not smaller.”

    Well if it’s smaller, doesn’t that mean that the cost of material is cheaper because there isn’t as much of it?

    I disagree with that gamezine article; the PS3 is going to 45nm chips this year so I think a redesign will be out by the end of the year.

    It will be cooler to run and won’t need as much space…that’s one of the reasons why the PS3 is so big to get it to cool down..so if there’s less space it means less amount of casing material to buy.

    Given that GOW3 and Uncharted 2 are coming out near the end of the year, plus IMO GT5 will be out by the end of they year; put those three games together and add in a slim, cheaper PS3 and you’ve got an enticing product.

    But the bonus is that you make the product interesting again.

    That’s the difference; the PS1 and PS2 were selling well anyway, Sony didn’t really need to make a re-design…they just did it to help save money.

    The PS3 isn’t selling well, so by doing a redesign you not only save money, but in turn you make the product interesting again, and people who may have snubbed the PS3 may look again at a purchase.

    BC and getting a half decent PlayStation classics store online are another thing entirely. I hope Sony are sorting out a beefier online PS1 and PS2 library for when BC goes back in.

    Though I guess it gives them time to sort out clearance and rights issues before they do (hopefully) but BC back in the PS3.

  8. lock_down:

    “That said, I have BC in my PS3 anyway… so NEH NEH NuH NEH NEH!!”

    Well, Royzy, unless you got your PS3 from the US where the EE chip was put in, you can’t be happy with the software emulation in the PS3 for PS2 titles which is what Europeans have in their PS3.

    It’s terrible. So many PS2 games froze on the PS3 that I had to dig out the PS2 again.

    That’s another thing Sony have to do…if they’re going to do BC by software…which they should do anyway so as everyone benefits…they’re going to need to make the emulation software a lot better than it is now.

    Perhaps that’s why Howard Stringer wants Sony to focus more on software…

  9. CarlB:

    “Well if it’s smaller, doesn’t that mean that the cost of material is cheaper because there isn’t as much of it?”

    To a degree, yes, but there is a cost up front in trying to make the smaller form factor. The product itself can be more expensive because of the form factor. This is part of the reason why we see laptops with the same specs being more expensive than desktops, netbooks with the same specs more expensive than laptops, pocket pc’s, mini pc’s, etc. Even memory follows this trend with micro as compared to a regular flash sd (no I’m not saying the same it is just an example).

    The redesign would be more expensive than the PS3 now is initially (costs of redesign, new manufacturing lines, equipment, etc.), but get less expensive as time and sales went on. Just as the original PS3 was more expensive than the PS3 being sold now.

    I agree a redesign would entice more people (I’m one of them), but I think enough sales have to be there in the original model to justify the investment of a redesign. Sales with the PS1, PS2, and DS have all done this. Not so much with the PS3.

  10. CarlB:

    I remember a few people asking, saying, or being curious several times as to whether PSN was just as fast as or comparable to Live, so here is a few comments from the IGN Playstation 3 Team and a link to more about the PSN online report card:

    PSN has “oft-pitiful download speeds”
    “PS3 is still a long way from being the online equal of the Xbox 360, and much of that comes down to Microsoft simply having a better way of conceiving and implementing its ideas”

    “On the 360, updates are insanely quick to download and install, thanks to the fact that the system can do both simultaneously. On the PS3, if you download something in the background from the Store, you still have to manually install it in most cases.”

    “And then there’s the fact that every feature on the 360 is included in every game. The piecemeal system of giving developers individual components that they can choose to update (sacrificing memory for custom soundtracks, for example) and the gradual decrease of those components’ memory footprint means that games are woefully inconsistent in what they offer. If we want to chat with a friend on the 360 while playing games with them, we can. In every game, from launch up until now. If we want to play a different game — say a launch title while a friend is playing Gears 2 — that’s also possible. There are still online games that Sony itself makes that don’t have voice chat.”

    “Until every feature is supported in every game and every mode (that includes stuff like being able to pull up in-game XMB while watching DVDs/Blu-rays or playing PS one/PS2 games, whole sections of the PS3 experience feel like they’re lagging behind the other parts.”

    “one very glaring issue with the PSN in general: it’s slow as hell.”
    “GT5P took over an hour to finally grab the files, but Hot Shots? We started grabbing the online update more than an hour ago and it’s not even to 50% yet. In fact, it was barely to 40%.”

    “Hey, speaking of the PS2 and the fact that it had 86 quadrillion amazing games, Sony should probably get cranking a little faster on giving us full PS2 backwards compatibility on every system. It’s almost like they’re afraid of the money it would generate. That or their networks are, which is more likely. But hey, all the excess revenue generated by having tons of people buy dozens of PS2 games at like $20 a pop could buy plenty of new servers and host them on some fat pipes. Plus, 3rd parties would get a cut, of which they get none when classic PS2 games are sold on eBay or used at the local GameShackStopBuyCoLand.”

    “The network speeds — even for us on a ridiculously fast connection — are far too slow for the amount of content up on the store and in games. The patching process can be monumentally bone-headed at times (Hours of updates just to get online? Seriously, Sony?), and the scattershot nature of things like custom soundtracks and, at least for now, Trophies leaves more than a little room for improvement. If we’re still complaining about the lack of universal backwards compatibility in a year, expect to see some heavy-handed grading. And IGN doesn’t grade on a curve, see?”

    “The PlayStation 3 has so much potential. If only it would apply itself a little more. It’s clearly capable of great things, but without improving on some of the key areas outlined above, it’ll never reach that potential. Also, something really must be done about getting it into a bigger class size. Perhaps we should speak with the school about lowering tuition costs… ”


  11. lock_down:

    “…but I think enough sales have to be there in the original model to justify the investment of a redesign”

    That’s why I think it will come out with the games…like the slim PS2 came out in time for San Andreas…and that sold game 12 million.

    We’ve all (OK, just me) mentioned GT5 a million times and the potential it has; bundle with a new redesign it should really spike interest.

    While I know that the upfront cost involved in doing a redesign, I think Sony have to take the risk because it’s clear the current design isn’t working.

    And if the PS3 is ten-year as they say, the cost should be re-couped over time.

    PSN is a complete car crash. I’ve never talked up PSN. The store is too light on content (in Europe anyway), Home has a tonne of potential, but being localised doesn’t really help, even though it’s probably necessary.

    Once the PS2 hardware is dead, I think we will see a proper PS2 store on PSN. But then you can’t host every game, and Sony might not get the rights to put it on the store.

    Who knows. It’s something they should be sorting out, if they’re not already.

    I don’t mind XMB. They just need to have a more streamlined XMB menu. Going through 30 settings options is a bore…

  12. lock_down:

    On the speed issue though with PSN, I’ve never noticed it to be slow when I’ve downloaded any demo’s.

    The browser is pretty fast as well, if unusable.

    If only they could make Firefox for the PS3…

  13. Royzy:

    lock down,

    Yeh I hear the emulation is supposed to be bad, but I have had no problem with any titles I have put in myself. They patched it a few times to make it better though, I’m not aware of how much it was improved it though.

  14. Ivan_PSP:

    Wow all this people seem to amaze me everyday. Who in this universe doesn’t own a PlayStation 2 already. Stop lying to yourself and go buy any PS3 model it has a very good price is not expensive ass you all make it to be. Xbox 360 can cost way more with the hard drive wireless card blu ray disc and all the ps3 features like the ability to add photos music videos from anything also web browsing. High quality a untouchable gaming library exclusives not like Xbox 360 multiplaform crap. I’m very satisfied with my PS3 and even my Xbox 360 which i had to build buying extra add on. On eBay if you search you can get a 40GB PS3 new for $330 and up or just $300 used.


    My PS3 is being exchange for a new one i love Sony. Great outstanding customer service…

    PLAYSTATION Netword ID: Ivan-
    Gamertag: Ivan PSP

  15. darkwhitehair:

    I fucking hate you Roy…

  16. darkwhitehair:


    you read things like this… and you see how petty fanboys can get…

    cheers to you all…

  17. CarlB:


    I own a PS2, but I know it will go out someday and the PS3 is supposed to last forever (like yours did), so it would be nice to invest in a console that supports PS2 from the beginning (instead of having to spend more money later on for yet another console that incorporates bc). But then again, my PS2 and PSP combined still have a far better library for them than a PS3 (gotta love “longevity”), so I don’t need to invest in it until Sony gets it’s crap straightened out.

  18. SW:

    Nice linkage Ivan, ill have to look into that tonite. Love doing extra stuff with consoles (altho the ps3 happily allows linux installs etc)

    Also turned my Wii into a FTP server last nite!(thanks to some people far smarter than I!). Loving Wii hombrew…

  19. darkwhitehair:


    take note of that gamertag… block it IMMEDIATELY!!! he is the PS3 clone of kev… also first one to Boom headshot him gets my restecpa…


    Im hoping for a slim line with BC or BC with firmware… crossing fingers and toes…

  20. SW:


    I think IGN needs to check thier pr0n torrents running. I get things very fast

    thank you very much. Firmware updates I wll admit are fucking painful to

    download and install.

    So I dunno what IGN is talking about tbh, my downloads are very fast. Sucks to

    be them?

    You CAN get auto install of software, however there is a catch. You need to

    actually set the machine to shutdown when finished with dl’s. It auto installs

    them in that case, at least it did the last 3-4 demos I downloaded.

    I think thats some crazy nitpicking by IGN tho tbh. It doesn’t take longer than 5 or so mins to install a game.

    Ill agree with voice chat, but in my opinion BOTH companies have it all wrong.
    Give me access to my OWN fucking chat server. Team up with TS or Vent, give me a stripped down app on my ps3/360 and ill connect to my own clan server, with preset channels etc. I don’t want to talk to random people in game.

  21. CarlB:


    Maybe it was just an isolated incident at that time in that location for IGN only. Looks like they agree with you on the firmware updates though. Good news is they continue to constantly improve. I noticed they said Trophies are considered to be more enticing… could any body elaborate on the trophy system and PSN’s equivalent of gamerscore here (how it is better)? I have looked but have found only limited information. Are they now on every game including the new ones on PSN? Just curious.

  22. Barnabe Jones:

    Ivan – So it is true? You have gone over to the dark side. It is truly a dark day for PS3/PSP owners everywhere.

    Carl B – “There are four different types of trophies; bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Each trophy contributes to a ‘level’ system linked to a player’s PlayStation Network profile, with gold trophies contributing more experience level advancement than silver, and silver contributing more experience than bronze. A platinum trophy is awarded to the player once they unlock all other trophies in a game.”

    – Basically it is very similar to the gamer score concept. Instead of a number, your trophies are counted towards a percentage towards your level. There are four types of trophies (bronze, silver, gold, and platinum), each increases in value respectively. With the push of a button you can measure your trophies against friends. It is very easy to compare your progress in a game vs. one of your friends. It lays our your trophies next to your friends side-by-side. The whole system is set up very well and is very convenient to use. There are less pages to sift through than the 360s OS. Your friends ranking/trophies are very prominently displayed on there names.

  23. Barnabe Jones:

    I honestly can’t say if one is better or worse. They are a little different. The main advantage of the PS3s set up is that it has it’s own proper place on the XMB. It makes it a little more prominent and easier to look at.

  24. CarlB:

    Thanks Barnabe. What is your level right now?

  25. dwicker86:


Leave a Reply:

You must be logged in to post a comment. Don't have an account? Register today!




Copyright © 2014 Blorge.com NS