PS3 Modding

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In 2010, fail0verflow jailbroke the PlayStation 3's firmware as a response to Sony disabling the console's OtherOS feature. It used to be that a hardmod was necessary to force a downgrade to load custom firmware. However, in 2017 a newer softmod exploit was released based around the same concept, using the web browser instead.

Modding your PlayStation 3 allows you to do many things;

  • Bypass protection mechanisms like Cinavia.
  • Dump games from disc and hard drive.
  • Transfer files to and from filesystems other than FAT32.

You can still connect to PSN from a modded console, so make sure you disable auto sign-in, and don't use any homebrew apps while signed in as that will risk getting your PSN ID and Console ID banned.

Compatibility chart[edit]

The primary attack vector for custom firmware is a component used for signature verification that could be found in models up until January 2011 (meaning if your PlayStation 3 had a factory version at or lower than 3.55, it could be modded out of the box with a simple upgrade to 3.55). However, Sony would later fix this around 3.56 and newer. To reenable it, it used to be that the console would need to be forcefully downgraded to 3.55. However, a completely different exploit was found in the web browser for 4.82 that could reenable the component given the right conditions.

PS3 Model[1] CFW support Homebrew Method
CECH-A to CECH-G NAND Writer
CECH-H to CECH-Q NOR Writer
CECH-2xxx NOR Writer
CECH-25xx ~ NOR Writer*
CECH-3xxx PS3HEN
CECH-4xxx PS3HEN

*Only if the firmware MinVerChk reports is lower than 3.55.

Procedure[edit]

Important Note: As with any modding procedure, failure to perform a single step in the process could potentially brick your console.

PS3HEN[edit]

If your PS3 cannot run custom firmware, you will need to use the PS3 Homebrew ENabler (PS3HEN). It currently takes the form of a hybrid firmware you install on top of the original firmware to get various homebrew running.

A complete guide on PS3HEN can be found here.

BG Toolset[edit]

If your PS3 can run custom firmware, it needs to be able to access the webpage necessary to jailbreak the console. Currently this takes the form of the BG Toolset, which you can access by going to https://www.ps3xploit.net/bgtoolset/ in the PS3's web browser.

In order to use it, you need to ensure:

  • The console is on one of these firmware versions: 4.80/4.81/4.82/4.83/4.84/4.85/4.86/4.87
  • The browser has all of these enabled:
  • The Flash Player 9 plugin
  • JavaScript
  • Cookies
  • The firmware mode must be either CEX or DEX
  • The system time is accurately set

This page explains how to use it, including instructions on how to back up the flash memory in case something goes wrong.

Once the flash memory has been patched, you can install a custom firmware that matches the same version as the console's original firmware. Only once you're on the custom firmware can you downgrade.

Emulation[edit]

RetroArch[edit]

RetroArch has a PS3 port with lots of working cores that should cover most of the usual targets.

Official Sony Emulators[edit]

Main article: Official Sony Emulators#Emulators on PlayStation 3

PS2[edit]

You can emulate PS2 games on any model of the PS3 using ps2_netemu (Sony's own software-based PS2 emulator, also known as the "PS2 Classics Emulator"), which was developed for playing the PS2 games sold on PSN. It was never meant to be used as a general-purpose emulator, which means you really shouldn't be expecting perfect compatibility with games it hasn't been specifically optimized for, but many titles are playable. Refer to the PSHomebrew's PS2 Classics compatibility list for per-game info.

Note that if you own an old backwards-compatible PS3 unit, and it for whatever reason hasn't broken yet, you'll rather want to be using ps2_emu - the emulator that's launched when you put a PS2 game disc into the console. Unlike ps2_netemu, this one utilizes the extra PS2 hardware integrated in your console and has much better compatibility. ps2_emu is only usable on COBRA firmwares, meaning custom firmwares that integrate the functionality that was previously only available for those who bought the DRM'd Cobra dongle. Refer to Wikipedia's PS3 backward compatibility list for per-game info.

PSP[edit]

PSP games also work on PS3 through an emulator created for playing "PS3 Minis" from PSN, but compatibility is very limited (less than that of PPSSPP). Refer to PSHomebrew's PSP on PS3 compatibility list for per-game info.

References[edit]

  1. PS3DevWiki. SKU Models.