Playstation 3 Backwards Compatibility Demystified

After a few Twitters, text messages, and some questions from listeners of Drunken Monkey Tech, I thought it might be a good idea to match up the different versions of the PS3 and clarify what features and compatibility are available with each one.

Full story on the inside.

[UPDATE: 2-3-09] While it’s nearly impossible to find a 60GB PS3 at retailers (fully hardware backwards compatible), you can generally find one on Amazon, but be prepared to pay a slight markup, or settle for a used unit. You can check availability here: Check Amazon Availability Of PlayStation 3 (60GB)

Where noted, some systems that were discontinued are still available (at the time of this writing) in limited supply. When they are gone, so is your chance to get a PS3 with backward compatibility for PS2 games. All SKU’s going forward will only be backward compatible with PSOne titles.

Early systems featured physical Playstation 2 hardware on board which was more reliable and had a higher rate of compatibility with legacy titles. Since August 2007 all models of PS3 achieve backwards compatibility with PS2 titles through software emulation, which has a lower compatibility rate.

ALL models of PS3’s have hardware compatibility for PSOne games, including current SKU’s.

20GB Launch System – November 2006 (DISCONTINUED)

  • PSOne and PS2 Backward Compatible (Hardware)
  • NO SD/Memory Stick Slots
  • NO Wireless Networking
  • 4 USB Ports

60GB Launch System – November 2006 (DISCONTINUED)

  • PSOne and PS2 Backward Compatible (Hardware)
  • SD/Memory Stick Slots
  • 802.11b/g Wireless Network Adapter
  • 4 USB Ports

40GB – October 2007 (DISCONTINUED)

  • PSOne Backward Compatible ONLY (Hardware)
  • NO SD/Memory Stick Slots
  • 802.11b/g Wireless Network Adapter
  • 2 USB Ports

Although discontinued, at the time of this writing, I’ve still seen them on store shelves.

80GB Motorstorm/MGS Bundle – August 2007 (DISCONTINUED)

  • PSOne Backward Compatible (Hardware)
  • PS2 Backward Compatible (Software)
  • SD/Memory Stick Slots
  • 802.11b/g Wireless Network Adapter
  • 4 USB Ports

Although discontinued, at the time of this writing, I’ve still seen them on store shelves.

80GB ‘CORE Pack’ – August 2008

  • PSOne Backward Compatible ONLY (Hardware)
  • NO SD/Memory Stick Slots
  • 802.11b/g Wireless Network Adapter
  • 2 USB Ports

160GB Uncharted Bundle – November 2008

  • PSOne Backward Compatible ONLY (Hardware)
  • NO SD/Memory Stick Slots
  • 802.11b/g Wireless Network Adapter
  • 2 USB Ports

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17 thoughts on “Playstation 3 Backwards Compatibility Demystified

  1. Thanks Matt, much appreciated, been doing some trading of PS3’s lately and this comes in VERY handy!

  2. Was just a little bummed out when we went looking for one of the backward compatibility PS3’s and couldn’t lay hands on it… soooo if you haven’t got it and wanted it gooood luck!

  3. I have one. I bought it at a PawnShop. I don’t suggest that everyone follow my “example” but it’s just a thought. I’m happy with my system and I’ve had it for the better part of a year and a half now.

  4. I know Sony released an update for the PS3 Singstar that allows PS2 versions of Singstar to work even with systems without backwards compatibility. Maybe they’ll open this option to other titles in the future.

  5. Hmm, my PS3 has the PS2 Software emulation (the 80GB 4-port USB with MGS4). What if I do a software (firmware) update on this badboy? And what’s still a mystery is why Sony would remove this feature? (or is it simply because it’s not really 100% compatible as if you had an actual PS2, so saying it was PS2 could leave them open to some false advertisment lawsuits?)… Anyway, still bummed about what to do on firmware updates. Maybe I can backup the one I have now just in case?

  6. If you have backwards compatibility now, you’ll still have it after a firmware update. Sony isn’t removing it from any existing systems, just from all systems they are selling from here on out.

  7. To hell with sony then.

    Where’s a good PS2 emulator?

    If I find one, my computer is several times better than PS2.

    I bought a PS3 and expected to scrap my PS2, and I would expect by now the PS3 would be powerful enough to run an emulator. I have the 40 gig model and what a mistake that was.

  8. This was a great help! I have heard various “stories” about what is and isn’t compatible and this cleared it up. Thanks for a great article.

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