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PS3 backward compatibility: Sony would have the ambition to revive its old console


A new patent obtained by Sony in the United States allows us to learn more about the manufacturer’s plans for the legacy of the PS3.

The PlayStation 3 in Astro’s Playroom

The PlayStation 3 today represents a real pebble in Sony’s shoes. The manufacturer’s first HD and Blu-ray console is also its last to offer an entirely bespoke and particularly complex architecture, even today. Result, if one can easily imagine PS1, PS2 or PS4 backward compatibility, the PlayStation 3 requires very special work.

It is in this sense that Sony filed a patent on January 28, 2021 and validated on June 14, 2022 by the United States: “ Systems and Methods for Converting a Legacy Code into an Updated Code “. In French, how to convert a retro program into an up-to-date version, and therefore readable by a modern device. Be careful, however, not to rejoice too quickly for the PS5.

Soon PS3 games to run on PS5?

This 52-page patent describes in detail everything that such a backward compatibility system should offer. Being able to interpret every instruction in the first place, but also decipher every player action, even when transmitted with old peripherals.

Sony patent June 2022 PS3 backwards compatibility
Source: Sony

We can see references to the peripherals of the PS3: the PS Eye camera, the PS Move, the SD card reader of the first models or the DualShock 3 controller. It is also a reminder of the internal architecture of the PS3 with its central IBM Cell processor and integrated Nvidia RSX graphics chip in the final stages of the console’s design.

Be careful, however, not to draw conclusions too hastily, as we can sometimes read on the web. From our reading of the patent, there is nothing to really suggest that this is a project aimed at the PlayStation 5 or a current console from Sony. The mechanisms described in the patent could very well apply to the servers that Sony sets up for its PlayStation Plus Premium service, which precisely allows you to play PS3 games in streaming.

Sony patent PS3 cloud streaming
Source: Sony

This is indeed what we can read in the description of another diagram which illustrates the architecture of Sony’s cloud gaming service. On one side of the diagram is Sony’s data center with a server running a PS3, PS4 or PC game, capable of receiving instructions from the player or sending images across the network. On the other side, we have the player’s device, only responsible for decoding the images received and sending the commands made to the controller. The most attentive will recognize the game The Last of Us used in illustration for the video game used.

If we can always assume that Sony would like to offer a form of direct backward compatibility of its PS3 on PS5, this patent alone does not make it possible to affirm it definitively. It should also be kept in mind that patents do not always reflect the products marketed by brands. They are only indicators of current projects or of interest to the manufacturer.


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