Have Hackers Unlocked Universal PS2 Emulation On A Hacked PS3?

By now, you should all be well aware that we don’t really like piracy. So we don’t tend to cover much of the custom firmware scene because, although not universally used for piracy, it’s difficult to separate the enthusiast homebrewers and hackers (who often breathe great innovation into the industry) from those who want the fruits of their labours for nefarious means.

But this one is quite interesting, if true.


A user on GAF claims that the PlayStation 2 software emulation used to power PS2 Classics on the PSN Store has been completely reverse engineered. It’s apparently possible to manually replace the disc image of a PS2 Classic bought through the store with any other PS2 disc image you’ve hacked and encrypted with the newly released tools. Then you can install that new disc image and run it on a hacked PS3 running custom firmware.

The GAF user in question, who shows off screen photos of Persona 4 running on his PS3 Slim, is predicting that within a week it should be possible to automate the patching and encryption process and easily switch between games. He also postulates that it shouldn’t take too much to get them running from an external drive.

There is plenty of discussion around some of the PS3 hacking sites that would seem to back up this claim. So, if it’s possible to emulate all PS2 games in software, it begs the question: why doesn’t Sony just unlock this feature and allow backward compatibility again?

It’s easiest to jump to the conclusion that this is a purely mean-spirited business decision on Sony’s part. Basically, that they don’t allow it because they want to re-sell popular PS2 Classics on the store or as HD remakes. But perhaps there are licensing issues at stake? Perhaps it requires users to rip their PS2 discs to the PS3 hard disk and that presents potential security risks?

With the PS4 release on the horizon, is there still enough interest in PS2 games to warrant widespread backwards compatibility?

Source: NeoGAF



  1. I expect some hate for this but here goes:

    Being brutally honest, if applying CFW and PS2 emulation was made insanely easy on a PS3, I would do it.

    This isn’t because I’m a ‘free loader’ cheapskate but more because I plan to pass my PS3 to my daughter (age 5) as soon as a PS4 is mine. It would be nice if she could use my extensive PS2 disc collection and PS3 collection on the same device. She will not be playing online until she’s old enough to buy her own console, so hacks/online cheating is not going to be an issue.

    There. I’m not going to loose any sleep if it’s not possible and I’m not going to jump though any overly difficult hoops to make it happen. Just would be nice.

    As for Sony charging for PS2 repubs, they’re in it to profit. Simple as.

    • I’m against piracy but get where your coming from but wouldn’t do it myself.

    • I think that’s actually a very pragmatic approach. I doubt Sony would love you for it but it’s difficult to condemn you for just wanting to use the software you bought in a more convenient way. It’s just unfortunate that Sony doesn’t provide that way themselves (although understandable – they’re in this to profit, as you say).

    • if it meant i could play my ps2 games i already have on disc, originals of course, then i think i’d be tempted.

      i don’t want play pirate games, i just want to be able to play the games i already own.

  2. Tricky one, for years certain sectors of gamers have cried out to Sony to allow PS2 backwards Compatability on the PS3, only for certain games to appear via the store. Understandably Sony want (& need) to make money so what their doing is fine by me.
    Still, there are some very clever people out there & as proven by the PSP, they can find ways to open up the system & do what they like.
    I suspect licensing has a big part in why there’s no official BC on PS3, I’d love to replay GT3 & 4 on my PS3 but I’m not interested these days in hacking my own consoles.

  3. I don’t want to seem ‘for’ piracy here, but I can’t help thinking that if certain people are managing (and working harder than Sony’s goons) to do this then Sony should just hire them and get the whole emulation thing moving forward. Its taken all this time just to get PS2 compatibility that when PS4 comes we may have another wait.

    I know there are licensing issues and developer cooperation, which makes these kind of issues more complex because the hacker/home-brewer has literally circumvented licensing completely. But it is a result though.

    • I simply don’t think we’ll see PS3 emulation on PS4 at all due to the change of architecture.

      No one has ever said it’s not possible to have PS2 games run on a PS3 but there were cost (and price) reducing reasons for dropping it. Sony could of course just charge everyone a one off fee for it but I suspect it would be too high to make it worth while for most.

      • the thing is, they have got ps2 emulation running on ps3, but only if you buy the games off the store, not for the discs you may already own.
        because that’s all they are, just the exact same games running under software emulation.

  4. Licensing issues? Not sure – after all, my old phatty had PS2 B/C out of the box and that’s not been disabled through retrospective licensing renegotiations… no, it comes down to profit and profit only – after all, Sony are so skint they’re looking for revenue from wherever they can get it. HD remakes are a cheapish way of boosting the catalogue and reconnecting the PS brand to older, nostalgic gamers.

    But – why not offer an olive branch to Plussers and allow this to work whenever a game disc is inserted – I’m sure there’d be a workaround to avoid HDD installation. Then again, if the aspirations from Gaikai are to be believed this is already in the pipe – how else to soothe the furrowed brow of PS3 owners who, unless a fix is forthcoming, are going to be just as vocal as the PS2 fraternity were back in the day when BC was first dropped?

    • There are licensing issues in re-releasing a game in a different format, as well as converting the file, re-selling the game and possibly introducing it in to new regions.

      It has nothing to do with playing the game, just re-distributing it.

      • How is this considered a redistribution, though? I already own the disc and just have to insert it into my PS3 drive. The software would do the rest. Not sure I get your point.

      • The original PS3’s had PS2 hardware inside them which I think technically gets round the licensing issues (same for the ps1 on ps2 I think) as it’s effectively running on a PS2. They removed it to cut the cost of the ps3 hardware.

        I think when you use software to emulate it then you incur these licensing costs. I could be wrong.

      • They are not emulating PS2 _GAMES_ they are emulating the PS2, Sony doesn’t have to pay any license for emulating a PS2 since they own all (i guess?) IP for it.

      • I’m talking about the official versions of PS2 games on PSN. Licensing and developer’s cooperation is needed otherwise there is no way Sony can get hold of the game, convert it, and distribute on PSN. When a PS2 game was made in 2002, I doubt the publishing/developing contracts included digital re-releases online.

        In terms of just making the console able to accept PS2 discs then there are likely some implications involved seeing as PS1 games can be played but PS2 games can’t. It could be the original licensing contract, infringement of copyrights etc.

      • yeah, because ps1 emulation has always been done in software, so they can’t really take that away.
        but ps2 emulation used to be done with hardware, though we only ever saw a half crippled version of that in europe due to that BS shortage delay they used to redesign the ps3.
        now they’ve got it in software and they’re restricting it to downloadable games, for no reason other than greed.

  5. I have a extra “broken” PS3 (Fixed it twice), And If there will be an somewhat easy way to get most of my PS2 games to work on PS3, I will try it out.

  6. I would enable this if it was easy. I only have a ps3 superslim as my orig ps3 ylod’d and I replaced instead of hoping my home made fix would last any longer than I needed it to to system transfer. My old one played ps2 games, so my new one should as well.

  7. I still have a 60GB PS3 with backwards compatibility and I don’t think I’ve used it since a couple of months after i go it. I certainly wouldn’t use CFW to option up the option if I didn’t have it.

    When I do get my PS4 then my PS3 will sit right next to it so my wife can play blu-rays etc… from the PS3 and I can stream PS4 games to my Vita when the TV isn’t available. If I really want to play old games I can boot up an old console, I just never do.

  8. Interesting. It would be a huge fail on Sony’s side for keeping the Emotion chip in the original SKU if PS2 emulation was possible without it. Keeping that technology behind locked doors for further monetization of 10 year old games is very questionable and if that’s the case, shame on you, Sony… It wouldn’t be unexpected, though.

  9. If hackers manage to do that, they are heroes, even if it doesn’t work perfect and not with all games.

    If Sony would unlock a software emulation that would not work perfectly and with every game…. oi the agony

  10. I already have my 60gb EU ps3 – which does the ps2 emulation by software anyway i believe , not hardware – so in theory this was just waiting for someone to unlock it, and now they have.
    Anyway, If they really wanted to sell ps2 classics on the store it would make sense for them to actually put them on the store. The ps2 classics section is a joke with only a handful games actually qualifying for the tag.
    Ability to play my ps2 discs on any ps3 would be cool though- plus i believe they unlocked the cell and gpu for OtherOs. I might investigate further when i’m looking to hold off a bit longer on buying a PS4.

    • Also, there used to be some sort of ‘PS2 engine’ available for download on the Japanese store, no idea if it had anything to do with emulation though.

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