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Take Your Video Game Collection on The Go: These Are the Ultimate PlayStation 3 Emulators


If you want to take your PlayStation 3 collection out of the house and on the go, then you’ll need the best third-generation (out of five generations, so far) Sony home video game console emulators available online. Don’t worry if you’re completely new to the world of game emulation. In the rest of this article, you’ll learn a little more about what game emulation is, what it is for and how it’s performed; it will also help you better understand what emulators are for the PS3, which has one of the best (if not the best) era video games (Deus Ex Human Revolution, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Assassin’s Creed II, etc.) that you can use today without any problems.

Emulators are virtual recreations of your hardware consoles and you can download them to almost any device from PC and Steam Deck (Valve-developed handheld gaming computer) to smartphone. The difference with PlayStation 3 emulators is that they need a lot more processing power than, say, emulators for weaker consoles like the Super Nintendo or even the first PlayStation, which means smartphones are out of the question. We’ll consider here only those emulators that are completely legal to download.


RPCS3 is the most trusted PS3 emulator on the market. With 2,457 games that can be played on it, it’s an emulator that provides very good gaming experiences. With this emulator, you’ll feel like you’re actually playing your games on a PlayStation 3, not a PC.

Due to the open-source nature of this emulator, anyone who understands coding can contribute to the quality and functionality of the emulator in their own unique way, which is of course always desirable. The more people who have access to the emulator means faster bug fixes, faster updates, and in turn a better gaming experience.

RPCS3 has become one of the best PS3 emulators to date. It is constantly supported by a large fan base on Patreon (the platform, maintained by the same-named firm, allows content creators to monetize their work by giving them the tools they need to run a subscription service and sell digital goods), which helps fund their efforts to create new code to make the gaming experience even better. The first version of RPCS3 was released in 2012 and clearly caught the attention of emulation fans, since then a large number of contributors have continued to contribute and add their expertise to the project, making it, without a doubt, the best PlayStation 3 emulator. The PS3 is a complex console, which is why RPCS3 requires a bit more configuration and tweaking than most other emulators. It involves downloading the latest PlayStation 3 firmware from the official PlayStation site and installing it using the RPCS3 firmware installer.

How to install and properly configure the RPCS3 emulator

Note: Before you start, make sure your computer meets the system configuration for RPCS3 and ensure you have a compatible graphics card with Vulkan support (NVIDIA’s production drivers-supported Vulkan is the newest graphics technology that includes ray tracing and allows close-to-metal control for improved performance and image quality).

Downloading RPCS3:

  • Visit the official RPCS3 website:
  • Click on the “Download” button to go to the download page.
  • Download the latest stable version or the latest major version, depending on your choice.

Installation of RPCS3:

  • Run the RPCS3 installer that you downloaded.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to install RPCS3 on your computer.

PS3 firmware download and configuration:

  • RPCS3 requires official PlayStation 3 firmware to run games. You can download it from
  • Follow the instructions on the firmware download page and place it in the appropriate directory.
  • After installing RPCS3, launch the emulator.
  • You’ll be prompted to set up the controller. Follow the on-screen instructions to configure the input device (keyboard or controller).
  • Click on “File” in the upper left corner, then select “Install Firmware”. Select the firmware file you downloaded in step 3.

Setting graphic and sound settings and installing games:

  • Click on “Config” in the upper left corner, then select “Graphics” to configure the graphics settings. Adjust the settings according to the capabilities of your computer.
  • Similarly, configure the audio settings by going to “Config” and selecting “Audio”.
  • You’ll need the PS3 game files (which are usually in .pkg or .iso format) to play the games on the RPCS3. You can get them legally by making copies of your own PlayStation 3 games.
  • Click on “File” and select “Install Game” to install the game. Navigate to the game file and follow the on-screen instructions.
  • Once the game is installed, you can find it in the list of games within RPCS3.
  • Select the game and click on “Boot” to start playing the game.


If you want to play PS3 games on your Steam Deck or play PlayStation 3 games on the go, you’ll need to download EmuDeck. Like RetroArch (a cross-platform frontend for emulators, game engines, video games, media players, and other programs, RetroArch is available for free and open source), EmuDeck gives you the chance to play games from other consoles on Steam Deck as well, essentially becoming a hub of sorts for multiple emulators.

The method of playing PS3 games on Steam Deck with the help of EmuDeck is very good because instead of just adding one PlayStation 3 emulator, this emulator actually adds emulators for multiple systems. More precisely, if you decide to install EmuDeck on your Steam Deck, you’ll automatically install the following emulators with that emulator:

  • Sega Genesis
  • SegaCD
  • Sega32X
  • PC Engine
  • WonderSwan
  • Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Mame
  • FBNeo
  • Master System
  • Dreamcast
  • Neo Geo
  • Super NES Widescreen
  • Genesis Widescreen
  • Gameboy
  • Gameboy Color
  • Gameboy Advance
  • Neo Geo Pocket
  • GameGear
  • Nintendo DS
  • Nintendo 3DS
  • PSP
  • Nintendo 64
  • Nintendo Wii
  • Nintendo GameCube
  • PlayStation 1
  • PlayStation 2
  • PlayStation 3
  • Nintendo Wii U
  • Nintendo Switch

How to install EmuDeck?

It’s actually relatively easy to install EmuDeck on Steam Deck. Steam Deck itself is basically open source and you can install whatever you want on it as long as you can find a solution to any potential problems. To install EmuDeck on your Steam Deck, all you need to do is:

  • First, you’ll need to format the SD card to ext4 or btrfs if you want to store it on your SD card.
  • Then download the EmuDeck installer using the Steam Deck browser.
  • Once you’ve downloaded the EmuDeck installer, just move it from your “Downloads” directory to your desktop. You can do this by simply dragging and dropping the file.
  • Once it’s safely on your desktop, just run the file.
  • EmuDeck will then give you various steps to go through, including choosing exactly which emulators you want to install. You can easily install RPCS3, but it won’t take much time to download all emulators at the same time.

Another way you can install EmuDeck and play games

You can also install RPCS3 through the Discover Store in Linux.

To do this, just search for the name of the emulator and install it. However, this method has a rather big drawback, because you will have to set all the settings yourself inside the emulator. This means you need to sort out your own controller settings so that PlayStation 3 games actually work with your Steam Deck, and you need to find the best settings so that the games you want to play run at a decent overall frame rate.

How to get game license files?

  • Go to the PlayStation Network store on PS3
  • Download the games you want.
  • Get the .rif files (encrypted license files for each game).
  • Copy these files to your computer.
  • Copy and paste the act.dat file which you can find in the same place as the .rif files. Each PlayStation 3 user has a different act.dat file and you need it to access the PSN store.
  • Find the IDPS. This is a 32-character hexadecimal string that you can find using a file manager like Multiman. Make a note of this.
  • Download RifConv and HxD Hex Edition to your computer
  • Create a file on your computer and name it idps.hex
  • Open the file with a hex editor and type the IDPS number before saving and closing the file
  • Start RifConv
  • Make sure you are on the Rif2Rap tab. Add idps.hex, act.dat, and the folder containing all your .rif files to the required fields. You can convert multiple games at once using this method.
  • Press “Create” and a new directory named created_raps will appear.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that you need to install the latest system update on RPSCS3, in order to prove that you actually own your own PlayStation 3. Fortunately, Sony has made this extremely easy for users who want to emulate a PS3 system by simply downloading the latest update for the PlayStation 3 on their website in case anyone needs to reinstall the system software using their computer.

Why Is Emulating PS3 Games Tricky and Complicated?

The main reason why PlayStation 3 emulation is so difficult is because it runs on the Cell processor architecture. Computers must be extremely powerful and fast to be able to virtually recreate these processors. It’s true that it’s much easier to emulate older consoles.

Like the PS Vita, there just isn’t that much commercial viability in trying to emulate the PS3.

The specifications that a computer needs to meet in order to be able to run the PlayStation 3 emulator and games

Minimum specifications:

  • CPU – AMD/Intel – Any x64 CPU.
  • GPU – OpenGL 4.3 compatible or higher.
  • RAM – At least 4 GB of RAM.
  • Storage – SSD/HDD (about 6 GB required for emulator data and virtual console data).
  • OS – Windows 7 SP1 or later / Linux 5.4, Ubuntu 18.04 or later / macOS Big Sur 11.6 or later / FreeBSD 12.3 or later.

Recommended specifications:

  • CPU – AMD/Intel 6 cores and 12 threads, 8 cores or more.
  • GPU – Vulkan-compatible GPU with active driver support.
  • RAM – at least 8 GB of dual-channel RAM is recommended.
  • Storage – SSD is recommended for emulator files (about 6GB is required for emulator data and virtual console data).
  • OS – Windows 10/11 21H2 or later / Linux 5.17 or later / macOS Monterey 12.0 or later / FreeBSD 13.0 or later.

The Limitations of Playing PlayStation 3 Titles

The PS3 is still a great system, no doubt about it. However, the fact that Sony launched two more console generations after that, it’s a bit outdated. Sony had stopped making PlayStation 3, and it wasn’t any longer in circulation. The PlayStation 4 was its replacement.

The value of a PS3 in 2024 will rely on your gaming preferences and financial situation. Here are some things to think about:

  • Video game collection: There are a lot of highly regarded games in the PlayStation 3’s vast library. Having a PS3 may be beneficial if there are particular PlayStation 3 titles you’d like to play but they’re not available on more recent systems or via backward compatibility.
  • Spending plan: Compared to more recent consoles such as the PS5 or PS4, PS3 games and consoles are typically less expensive on the used market. A PlayStation 3 may serve as a good option if you’re on a limited budget and want to play a lot of older titles.
  • Online services: A few PS3 online services, such as the PlayStation Store for brand-new PlayStation 3 game purchases, have been terminated by Sony. Nevertheless, depending on the game, elements like online multiplayer can still be accessible.
  • Backward compatibility: Playing a range of games across various PlayStation generations is possible with the PS3, assuming you have an assortment of PS1 or PS2 games that are backward compatible.
  • Competing: PlayStation Tournaments, a series of organized competitions that you may directly enter from your game system, ignited competitive gaming to PlayStation consoles, albeit only to the PS5 and PS4. The PlayStation 3 Tournaments are long gone. Players of any level of skill are invited to compete via the web in a variety of well-known games with the opportunity to win virtual and tangible prizes from tournaments that are routinely scheduled. With the advent of PlayStation Betting, players with a PlayStation can now place bets on the results of their games. Because you’ll only be fighting against other players rather than the house, as you would at a betting site offering Dota 2 eSports betting, such as those found here, these games remain entirely legal.
  • Future-proofing: Remember that Sony no longer supports PS3, thus it might not get software upgrades or support for more recent features. A more modern PlayStation system might be what you’re searching for if you want a console with access to the newest games and continuous support.

Ultimately, what you want from a game system and your own gaming preferences will determine whether a PlayStation 3 is still worth purchasing in 2024. It can still offer a fun gaming experience if your main gaming interests are in older PS3 games and you can get a console and games at a fair price. However, if you’re seeking the newest features and games, you might want to think about getting one of the more recent PlayStation consoles, such as the PS5 or PS4, if they’re within your price range and readily accessible.