How do you use a PS4 controller on PS3?

If you've got the sudden desire to go back to your PS3 for some last gen action, don't worry, you don't have to suffer literal controller shock when you go back and try to use those analogue sticks again. And eww, how did they get so sticky...?

Your PS4 controller works just fine with the PS3. You won't get the vibration function but lets just say that feeling like you're actually holding a controller that likes you outweighs anything the buzz can do. Here's how to use your PS4 DualShock 4 controller with your PS3. 

Get a micro USB cable attached to your PS3

Yes, for all its new tech, the DualShock 4 doesn’t come with the USB cable needed for charging it, so you’ll need a separate USB to Micro B USB cable to attach it to your PS3. If you’re not a USB expert, that’s different from the USB Mini B connection that DualShock 3’s use. While it’s too bad that the controller doesn’t come with its own charging cable, Mini B has become a fairly common connection so if you don’t already have one, you should invest in a cable now.

Plug in the DualShock 4 and watch the pretty colors

Now that you’ve used the USB cable to connect the PS3 and DualShock 4, switch on the PS3 and watch the magic begin. You’ll see the pretty colors on the top of the controllers flashing to indicate it’s receiving power, and it will soon change to one color to show that it’s registered to the system. You’ll see that you can explore the XMB and then dive into a game, if you can somehow tear your eyes away from the DualShock 4’s light show.

Keep it wired to the console

You’re natural reaction will be to unplug the controller once the PS3 recognizes it, but ignore that. The PS3 can’t recognize the DualShock 4 wirelessly, so you’ll need to keep it connected via USB whenever you use it with your current gen system. If you plan on doing this a lot, you’ll likely want to invest in a longer cable.

Know that not all buttons work

Once you start your game of choice, you’ll no doubt see a “Press Start” prompt on-screen. Then you’ll look at the controller and realize that the DualShock 4 has no Start button, or Select for that matter. Options and Share replace them, and while Options is recognized as a replacement for Start, the PS3 doesn’t seem to respond at all to Share, let alone the Touchpad. Same goes for any motion controls or vibration. And even though the DualShock 4 has a PS Button, the PS3 doesn’t respond to that either. That’s why you should…

Keep a PS3 controller nearby

Because the DualShock 4’s PS button doesn’t work on PS3, you’ll need a DualShock 3 (or SixAxis if you’re trapped in 2007) to interact with the XMB. Want to check Trophies, friends list, or switch games? Despite your futuristic controller, you’ll still need to stay anchored to the past.

Jump into one of the many compatible games

You may want to experience Grand Theft Auto V via your next-gen controller, but that’s one of several games confirmed to not work with the system. Reddit has a pretty good list of games that do and don’t work with the system. And some of the ones that do respond to the DualShock 4 aren’t 100% compatible. With most games you won’t find out how they work until you try, as it always is when using hardware in a manner other than the way it was intended.

And now you know all you need to enjoy PS3 games via a PS4. If you’re looking for any more info on the system, check out our list of PS4 news and PS4 games.

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