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How to Use DualShock 4 Controllers with the PS3

During this transition time between the third and fourth generations of the PlayStation hardware, many users are trying to figure out what is compatible. One of the most frequently asked questions is if the new DualShock 4 controllers can be used with the PS3 console. It turns out that these controllers can be used; however, there are some severe limitations to their function.

Currently, PS4 consoles are difficult to find; however, DualShock 4 controllers are widespread. Thus, many people have asked me if the new DualShock 4 controllers can be used with the older PS3 console. As a PS3 family needing to buy a couple of extra controllers for some family fun, we decided to try it out.

Controller Connection / Sync

The biggest disappointment is that a wireless connection between the DualShock 4 controller and a PS3 console is not possible at this time. It is unclear if Sony will update the PS3 software to be able to connect the controller through Bluetooth. Without a wireless option, you will require a USB cable to use the new controller. Specifically, you will need a USB 2.0 A to USB Micro B cable. This is different than the charging cable (USB Mini B) that the DualShock 3 uses.

However, most of the USB 2.0 A to USB Micro B cables are too short to play comfortably and longer cables are very difficult and expensive. Therefore, I would recommend getting an additional USB 2.0 A extension cable to add length to your connection.

Once you have the cables connected, the sync process is automatic. Plug in the cables to your controller and your console and you should be ready for action.

Controller Limitations

Even once the controller is connected, you still will experience several issues. The Share and PS buttons have no function on a PS4 console. The trackpad, motion controls, and vibration typically will not work either. DualShock 4 does not have have true Select or Start buttons. The Option will respond as your Start button in most circumstances.

Unfortunately, the most difficult Dualshock 4 on PS3 issue is that the PS button is not recognized; therefore, you will continue to require a true PS3 controller to interact with the XMB.

Is it worth it?

In almost all circumstances, a user will be purchasing DualShock 4 controllers in anticipation of using them with both PS3 and PS4 systems. In this case a PS3 controller will be available for XMB manipulations. The cables are a hassle but only should cost you about $10 dollars if you are careful. In the end, you can enjoy some four player Diablo 3 or Castle Crashers on your PS3 and still have a couple of controllers when the PS4 finally becomes available.

David Kirk
David Kirk
David Kirk is one of the original founders of tech-recipes and is currently serving as editor-in-chief. Not only has he been crafting tutorials for over ten years, but in his other life he also enjoys taking care of critically ill patients as an ICU physician.


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