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Why PS3 Emulation Is So Hard Even After 15 Years

As we learned earlier in the year, the PS4 won’t be feature any backwards compatibility outside of the PS4. While a disappointment to many, some had wondered why it was that some PCs were capable of running emulations such as RPCS3 yet a next-gen console such as the PS5 isn’t. Well, for those who aren’t very technical, a new video by Modern Vintage Gamer breaks down the very reasons as to why it’s not easy to emulate the PS3, with professional input from a former member of Sony’s own ICE team.

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VenomUK42d ago

Call me an optimist but I don't necessarily think this is the end of the PS1, PS2, PS3 backwards compatibility dream! The reality is Sony has a 110+ million install base of PS4 owners so it was paramount to carry them over to the new generation so that's why it has invested in getting this working. But what Sony will discover through the player use metrics is just how much PS5 owners use PS4 games. It will see how valuable this is and may then look to conceivably expand compatibility to the older generations. No guarantees but at the start of the new generation when next-gen game releases are limited Sony is going to be shocked and delighted at how popular backwards compatibility and BC with boost mode on PS5 is.

Rude-ro42d ago

Sony has offered bc on all consoles in one way or another except to the PS4.
Sony are tech engineers.
The base is not concerned with backwards compatibility.
Is it/would it be cool? Sure.
Would it generate a lot of revenue? No.
It is niche. Known through sonys long run in console gaming and offering bc.

Sony pushes boundaries and tries to push things forward.
Cameras, tvs, stereos, batteries, etc etc etc..
They win some and lose some, but they are not about being stagnant and slapping a price on old and calling it “new”.

They gave up the fight per the direction of the ps3s architecture because no American tech company would ever allow the hardware to change that could effect software.
Microsoft, google, etc. all put up that fight.
Especially in the ps3 erA where Microsoft was loosing major ground/trust per insecure os builds and the like,

So now, Sony is focusing on what they do best... game coding.

They may not be allowed to “rewrite” computer hardware... but they sure as hell know how to pierce together the puzzle to make THE best game engines per their consoles.

darthv7242d ago

PS1 and PS2 'digital' bc is already a possibility. They just need to enable the feature. Many PS2 digital games have even been given trophies but at their core they are still the PS2 version, just running through specific emulation on the PS4 (and soon PS5). Disc based BC may be a bit harder as I believe theere is no CD diode on the optical drive of the PS4 (and subsequent PS5) so no CD media support. That eliminates 100% of the PS1 library and about 30% of the PS2 library.

PS3 discs would be supported if Sony were to add in a Zen compatible version of RPCS3 to their system. Then it would open the door for much more BC titles (both disc and digital). Maybe even get the emulation to utilize some of the SPU of the Tempest processor.

Shane Kim42d ago (Edited 42d ago )

Ps4 had no ps3 bc yet it's the most sold console. So much that MS haven't even showed figures for years. It's the second most sold console of all time. It's a nice feature but not one that sells consoles.

42d ago
INMATEofARKHAM41d ago (Edited 41d ago )

> Call me an optimist but I don't necessarily think this is the end of the PS1, PS2, PS3 backwards compatibility dream!

I think that's an honest assessment... I doubt we'll ever see offical support, obviously, but fans of emulation will always tinker and there's not much that cannot be solved with more processing power.

(Obviously, I'm talking about PCs here and not a consoles)

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42d ago
Knightofelemia41d ago

Unless you can't read yes I meant the Cell processor and just in case you're thinking of the villain from DBZ no I did mean him even though he is one of my faves.

cell98940d ago

I heard my name and I just couldn’t help my self lol

ApocalypseShadow42d ago

To this day, I still wonder what games would have looked like with all 8 SPEs working together. System only allowed 7 as 1 was redundant. And, one 1 was used as well for features. Bringing it down to 6 SPEs.

Just think of Killzone or Motorstorm with all 8 SPEs running. Mouth just waters and flies open. ..Ptuh Ptuh...lol. Got mud in my mouth. *Lunatics unite!!*

Mithan42d ago

One could also say "what would it have looked like if they had a more traditional cpu, with the same power?".

ApocalypseShadow42d ago (Edited 42d ago )

Traditional CPUs weren't putting out the same power. Remember? They we're hitting Moore's Law.

Only thing wrong with Cell was that Sony didn't teach PC developer's early on on how to program for it.

Funny thing about the Cell design is that today's modern chips have multiple cores. Including mobile chips. Ken K and IBM were actually correct in the direction. Just not in the execution of teaching PC developers new tricks. But they all had to learn multi core programming anyway. PC developers basically said it was too hard. Showing that they lacked advanced programming skills and needed to go back to the easy and familiar.

Now they could program easily for current gen. But things swung in the opposite direction. Gamers complained that current chips weren't powerful enough. "It's mobile chips." But hey, Sony gave ease of development. Everyone should have been happy. Now, Sony decided speed and balance while still being complex. We'll see how smart these developers are in thinking outside the HDD and old game design box.

sagapo42d ago (Edited 42d ago )

@Apocalypse; there’s a big difference between multicore (cell) and multiprocessor ( like today). Multicore is way more difficult to program for than a multiprocessor system. So you can’t really compare that way.
The x360 was a multi processor system; multiplatform games were easier to develop on xbox 360, so they got an edge in performance. The PS3 exclusives however showed what the cell was capable of, which was impressive to say the least, but it was hell to program for.

LucasRuinedChildhood41d ago (Edited 41d ago )

@Mithan @sagapo
I wouldn't bother with ApocalypseShadow. Even though you've corrected him, he will not change his opinion.

"PC developers basically said it was too hard. Showing that they lacked advanced programming skills ..."
EA: "Hey Bioware, here's Frostbite. The engine is not very well documented but you should just know how to use it anyway because you have advanced programming skills."

This is such a dumb point of view. Programming being more difficult requires more time, training and resources. He's trying to take a jab at the intelligence of "PC developers" (casual fanboyism) when he can't even pay attention to a 15 minute video. If multicore and multiprocessor systems were essentially the same, then emulating the PS3 wouldn't be as hard as it is. These developers who "lacked advanced programming skills" are to ones who made PS3 games so maybe they know something.

"Now they could program easily for current gen. But things swung in the opposite direction. Gamers complained that current chips weren't powerful enough."
Not what happened. The PS4 being easy to develop for is because of the x86 architecture. The CPU being underpowered is not the reason that it was easy to develop for (if anything, it's the opposite - it would have created more limitations and required more optimization). It was just a financial decision to keep the cost low.

"Now, Sony decided speed and balance while still being complex. We'll see how smart these developers are in thinking outside the HDD and old game design box." The PS5 is easier to do develop for than the PS4. What is this guy even talking about?

RedDevils41d ago

I want Motorstorm on PS5 now damn it!

Cernunnos41d ago (Edited 41d ago )

Mostly the same, but possibly more stable frame rates. The PS3 was quite majorly bottlenecked by having very little RAM and the GPU was not the greatest.

no_more_heroes42d ago

Because the Cell processor was a monster in all the bad ways as well as the good.

excaliburps42d ago

Kutaragai is the one who pushed for it, no?

instantstupor41d ago

100%. I was going to add in a pithy "because of Kutaragi" in the comments because, yea, it's the Cell that's the problem..but it was a problem because of Ken lol.

PS3, if executed only on his vision, wouldn't have even had any traditional GPU at all! The Nvidia GPU got thrown in practically last minute due to (plentiful) feedback, and I just wonder if the PS3 only had SPUs to work with, how much more would the PS3 have struggled, and how would that have impacted visuals? Quite a complicated mashup, the PS3 ended up being lol.

Terry_B42d ago

Well, we have 2020 and the first Xbox is still not emulated.

TheRealTedCruz42d ago

No real reason for it. The original Xbox was basically a PC.

Most of the games had were also on PC. It had its exclusives, but the people who work on these projects usually aim for platforms where a lot of the titles could only be had through emulation.

FreeckyCake42d ago

Otogi, Ninja Gaiden Black, Dino Crisis, Blinx, Conquer bad fur day reloaded, Crimson Sea 1, Jet Set Radio Future and the list go on. There's a lot of reasons why OGX emulation must be stable in the near future.

TheRealTedCruz42d ago

That's still just a handful. It's a lot different than the hundreds had on the earlier Playstation/Nintendo console. Both of which have multiple, high quality emulators available by comparison.

RedDevils41d ago

The only game I want from 360 is probably Blue dragon, everything on Xbox has no interest or a waste of time when it also on PC.

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