People thought that emulating the PS3 on a PC would be impossible for decades, thanks to its completely foreign architecture. And yet, the team behind the RPCS3 emulator has proved that nothing is impossible because today we can play games designed for the Sony Playstation 3 on our PC! Let’s see how you can now play PS3 games on your PC with RPCS3.
Download and install RPCS3
Visit RPCS3 official site and download the emulator to your hard drive. RPCS3 is available for Windows and Linux. We will configure it on Windows, but the process is more or less the same for all supported OS.
The Windows version is available as a ZIP archive. Extract the downloaded archive. RPCS3 does not need to be installed, so you can run it directly by double-clicking on the rpcs3.exe file.
The initial configuration
Run the emulator and if you like, as he suggests in the pop-up that appears, check out his quick start guide on his official website for how to use it.
RPCS3 periodically exchanges information with its official site, such as updated compatibility data for the games it supports. If you are behind a firewall, you must allow access to RPCS3 to allow it to update its data without having to do it yourself manually.
RPCS3 emulates PlayStation 3 hardware but not software. For this part of the equation, you will need to download the original firmware that you would use on an actual console to update it.
To do this, visit the official PlayStation site and click on “Help” in the menu at the top left. Choose “System Software” from the options that appear.
The PlayStation site offers firmware for the entire family of PlayStation family consoles that are still supported. Choose “PS3”.
Scroll down to the “PS3 System Software Update” page and click “Accept and Download Now” to download the file.
Return to RPCS3. Choose “File -> Install firmware”.
Select the firmware you downloaded from the PlayStation site and wait a moment for RPCS3 to install the necessary files.
RPCS3 will notify you when the process has completed successfully.
You will have to wait a little longer while RPCS3 precompiles the modules that will help your games load faster.
RPCS3 supports both digitally downloaded games in PKG files and games on disc in ISO or uncompressed folder format.
Note: Downloading games you don’t own is considered illegal in most countries, and we won’t touch on the subject because we don’t tolerate piracy.
To run a game in PKG format, you must install it by selecting “File -> install .pkg”. Shortly after, it will appear in the RPCS3 games list, from where you can launch it by double-clicking.
You can start games on disc directly by selecting “Boot Game” then choosing their ISO or folder. Disc games may also require installation, but unlike PKG games, this is done through the PlayStation 3 emulated interface.
The first time you start a game, RPCS3 will compile a few more files that it needs to run. The process can be boring, but luckily it only needs to be done once per game.
Then click on “Pads” to configure the emulator controls. RPCS3 supports keyboard input, but it’s best to use a real PlayStation controller connected to your PC by choosing “DualShock 3” or “DualShock 4” from the “Handlers” drop-down menu at the top left. Xbox and other “XInput” controllers are also supported by choosing the appropriate option in the same location.
With your controller selected, check if it is detected by moving the two joysticks while watching their live entry in the two circles at the bottom right of the window. Most joypads today have the same button configuration established by PlayStation’s first DualShock joypad, so you probably won’t have to remap anything.
Finally, click on your game to start playing.
This is when you may run into a second problem: each game may need some adjustments in the emulator settings: some don’t work well (yet), and others are completely incompatible. In our case, Demon’s Souls displayed its graphics as shadows.
There are two ways to configure the emulator: by clicking on “Config” or by using the entries in the “Configuration” menu, you configure its options globally for all games. Alternatively, you can use configurations by game by right-clicking on an entry in the list of games and choosing “Create a custom configuration” from the menu that appears.
You won’t have to try all of the options available to see if the game works. Instead, visit the RPCS3 wiki and search your game to find the optimal settings.
Create a custom configuration for your selected game and adjust the emulator settings, as suggested in the RPCS3 Wiki game entry. Then click on “Save” to make the changes permanent.
Try relaunching your game and, if compatible, in a few seconds you will start playing as if you were playing on a real PS3.
It’s a PC!
Today’s PCs are much more powerful than PS3, so for compatible games, you can also enable “anisotropic filtering” and “anti-aliasing” in the GPU settings of RPCS3 for smooth game graphics with more details. Even better, you can increase the “resolution scale” to a number close to the resolution of your monitor so that RPCS3 improves the graphics of the emulated game.
Note, however, that some games may “break” when the emulator settings do not closely match the capabilities of the PlayStation 3 hardware.
RPCS3 has gone through the phase of trying to emulate most of the real hardware, and now its team is fixing bugs, increasing compatibility, and optimizing performance, with new releases almost every month.
So even if a game doesn’t work today, it’s worth trying again in new versions of RPCS3 after a month or two.
If you prefer to access a myriad of games from different game consoles, you should try RetroArch.
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