Over the weekend, a number of PS3 games began appearing on the PS5’s PlayStation Store with prices. This is surprising since the PS5’s store typically only shows games for purchase that are compatible with that system. In the same way that the PS4 store doesn’t show PS5 only games or the PS3 store doesn’t show games for the PS4. As such, the appearance of these games has led to hope that Sony could be planning some sort of PS3 backwards compatibility for the PS5. PS3 games that are part of PlayStation Now can be viewed on the PS5 store but they can’t be purchased separately on Sony’s latest console. Interestingly, one of the games, Dead or Alive 5, isn’t available on PlayStation Now in Europe where it appeared for purchase.
Currently, the PS5 is backwards compatible with PS4 games. However, neither the PS5 nor PS4 can play PS3 games. This is because of the vastly different architecture that the PS3 used. Sony moved away from the Cell processor that powered the PS3 when the company developed the PS4. This meant that Sony had to abandon PS3 compatibility with future consoles as the different architectures meant the PS4 couldn’t run PS3 games natively.
Sony recently submitted a patent for backwards compatibility that specifically targets running games from much older hardware on new devices. By much older, think PS1, PS2, and PS3 on the PS5. Companies submit patents that never see the light of day all the time. Although the timing of this patent and then the mysterious appearance of PS3 games on the PS5 store has sent fan speculation into overdrive.
The PS3 games appearing on the store could simply be a glitch, possibly related to PlayStation Now. But where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire and there has been a lot of backwards compatibility smoke coming out of Sony recently.