Over 15 years after the PlayStation 3 first released, the choices that Sony made with the console are still haunting the PlayStation brand. Sony revealed this week that it would be overhauling its PlayStation Plus subscription service to allow users to access more games from PlayStation’s history. This new library of games will include nearly every PlayStation platform with a number of titles being available to download natively to PS5 and PS4. However, PS3 games on the service can only be experienced if played via streaming, which obviously requires an internet connection. Although this is something that PS Now subscribers have been used for for years now, the lack of PS3 backward compatibility on PS5 only continues to make Sony’s services pale in comparison to the competition.
If you’re out of the loop with why the PS3 continues to be such an issue for Sony when it comes to backward compatibility, the problem lies with the console’s structure. At the time, Sony was trying to really break new ground with the PS3 and built the platform on the back of cell processing architecture. And while this structure for the console led to games being more technically impressive at the time, it also created a whole host of other problems. Not only did some third-party developers struggle with porting games to PS3 when the platform was still around, but the unique way that games run on the console has also led to Sony being unable to add backward compatible functions to the PS4 or PS5.
Because of this problem, the only way that Sony has since found a way to make PS3 games playable on modern PlayStation hardware is through streaming. Not only is this something that subscribers have to actually pay to use, but it’s also a solution that solely relies on the internet. And given that internet connectivity around the world isn’t as reliable as it is in some western markets, this isn’t a good fix by any means.
By comparison to Xbox, Sony’s ongoing problems with backward compatibility just look like a black eye on PlayStation as a whole. Microsoft has found a way in recent years to make titles dating back to the original Xbox playable on Xbox One and Xbox Series X. In fact, physical Xbox and Xbox 360 games can still get put into an Xbox Series X right now and work just like they would have on the original hardware. Not to mention, Xbox has even added graphical and performance upgrades to these old games as well. This is something that PlayStation fans (myself included) have been dying to see come about on PS5 for quite some time. Instead, the best Sony can seem to continue to do in response is ask users to pay an annual subscription just to make games from the past a bit more convenient to play.
Likely the most upsetting thing about Sony’s lingering problems with PS3 backward compatibility is that the PS3 was a fantastic console overall. The platform’s library was excellent and contained classics like The Last of Us, Infamous, Metal Gear Solid 4, and so many more. Even though a number of titles in this catalog have since been remastered or ported elsewhere, it’s frustrating to see games from this era becoming that much harder to revisit as the years go by. After all, who still wants to have a PS3 hooked up to their TV in 2022?
Sony’s new version of PlayStation Plus isn’t downright awful by any means. For those who want to play some great PlayStation games from yesteryear (and have a strong internet connection), it’s great to see that Sony is now making those titles a bit more accessible. Still, if not for the decisions that were made with the PS3 roughly two decades ago, PlayStation’s current ecosystem could be much better as a result.