PlayStation 3 Preservation Using an SSD

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Rooks
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PlayStation 3 Preservation Using an SSD

Postby Rooks » Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:47 pm

So, hello again everyone. I know it has been awhile, and I have missed you all, but I recently embarked on a project to preserve all the data on my PS3, in perpetuity, because I do fear that one day, the PSN for PS3 will be shut down, much like how the Wii Virtual Console was shut down. Indeed, I believe that this is inevitable, at least on a long-enough timeline, as such, I began to ask myself this question: "If, 30 years from now, I wish to play Suikoden or Suikoden II on my PS3, will the PSN digital copy still function?"

In order to ensure that it does function, there are many precautions that we may take: including things like changing the thermal paste and pads and other tasks that require us to perform surgery on our PS3 units. I will likely cover these in the future, as I plan to do all of them, but for now, I will cover the easiest of these methods: Replacing the mechanical Hard Drive in your PS3 with a faster and much more reliable Solid State Drive.

Chapter 1: Why?

Q: "Why should I upgrade my PS3's hard drive, Rooks? It works great already!"

Good question, voice-in-my-head, allow me to explain:

1) Solid State Drives are vastly, vastly better at preserving data. All Hard Drives are mechanical, and thus have moving parts. The first thing that they teach you in Engineering 101 is that each and every moving part is a potential point of failure. As such Hard Drives (HDD) are innately inferior to Solid State Drives (SSD) which have no moving parts. Indeed, SSDs are so much more reliable, that they have actually changed the industry standards:

It used to be that a particular model of HDD's endurance was rated subject to the widespread industry standard of "Mean-time Between Failure" or MTBF. Now, since SSDs have no moving parts, they can theoretically read data off of them endlessly. But, writing data to them will eventually cause them to fail over a long period of time.

Now, many companies are rating their SSDs not as MTBF, but as Terabytes Written, or as TBW. Which measures the total Terabytes that can be written to an SSD before it causes failure. Meanwhile, you can more-or-less read off of SSDs forever. Well, not forever, but I assure you, every other component on your PS3 will fail long before the SSD does.

2) SSDs are quite a bit faster than the Mechanical HDDs. While the PS3's primary speed limitations lie in the SATA rev I at 1.5Gb/s speeds of its drive connector, you can significantly improve the speed with an SSD over its stock HDD. In my experience, this helps most with installing games, a real pain on the PS3. Install speeds often improve for me around 25%. Load times off of BD discs sometimes improve, but not by much. Really, though, it is faster and much more responsive to inputs, particularly on the Menus. While the Toshiba or Hitachi HDDs that were provided by Sony in their PS3 units are praised for being reliable, the least reliable modern SSD is vastly more reliable than the most reliable modern HDD.

3) SSD prices have never been lower. Literally. Some Tech Industry analysts say that SSD prices may fall to $0.09 USD per Gigabyte soon, in Q2 2019, this is almost as cheap as a new HDD.

Q: "OK, OK, you convinced me. But, how would I even go about this?"

Well, Voice, the tutorial does change slightly depending on what type of PS3 you have. While there are many model numbers, let's simplify to three of them: "PS3 Original," "PS3 Slim," and "PS3. . . err. . . that last one that was really cheap and had a sliding top that easily broke off."

The good news is that TechRadar and Sony themselves have you covered here. Here's a fantastic article from TechRadar:
https://www.techradar.com/how-to/gaming ... ve-1285911

Also, the official PlayStation site has you covered too, with links to downloading a new PS3 Operating System and everything:
https://support.playstation.com/s/artic ... uage=en_US

So, particularly those people with 20, 40, and 80-gig HDDs will definitely benefit from the upgrade here. I had a PS3 Slim with 160GB HDD, and I had that filled to the brim and often had to choose what to save and what not to save. I upgraded to a 250 GB SSD, and I could not be happier. Despite some rumors, all the PS3 models, to my knowledge, can have their Drives Upgraded to SSDs.

However, please remember that the PS3 does not natively support things like TRIM and other SSD-specific technologies. But, regardless, as I said, as long as you are mostly reading from the SSD.

Q: "Alright, so what SSD do you recommend?"

Fantastic Question, Voice. It is almost like we are the same person sometimes!

I recommend an SSD from one of the top-tier manufacturers. As the PS3 does not support technologies like TRIM, I suggest two things: 1) The SSD have a background "garbarge-collection program" that is TRIM-like. and 2) That it have Single-Level Cell Caching, or SLC Cache. Though on SATA 1.5 Gb/s, the SLC is not gonna help too much lol.

Reference: https://forums.crucial.com/t5/SSD-Archi ... d-p/115182

Here are some reputable brands than I can recommend, in Alphabetical Order:
-Crucial / Micron
-Intel
-Kingston
-Samsung
-SanDisk / Western Digital

Virtually every SSD from these manufacturers contains SLC caching and also some type of garbage-collection / TRIM program. So, you are good to go there. Also, they are all well-respected manufacturers with a reputation for quality in their SSD products. Crucial and Micron are actually the same company, but "Crucial" is the consumer products division, while "Micron" is the "parent" and enterprise-grade products division. Usually you will find cheaper prices on the "Crucial" brand. Similarly, the SanDisk and Western Digital brands are the same, though, I would suggest avoiding the WD "Green" drives, as they are not up to snuff sometimes, but the WD "Blue" drives are rock solid.

You will, of course, need the 2.5 inch SATA version of these SSDs, though, as the PS3 obviously does not support the modern M.2 format. Don't worry, all SATA versions are backwards compatible with the PS3's SATA revision I, 1.5 Gb/s. So, SSDs rated for SATA rev III 6Gb/s will work fine, if at a slower speed.

As I said earlier, the PS3 will be limited in speed by the SATA BUS to 1.5Gb/s. It is alright though, as I said, we are going for longevity here, not speed, and boy-oh-boy, SSDs have longevity in spades.

Q: "What size do you recommend?"

I recommend at least 250 GB sizes, with a firm recommendation at 500 GB. As for me? I got a great deal on a 250GB SanDisk Ultra SSD for $35 USD or thereabouts. The total of my PS3 data and games is about 200GB, so I got the right size for me. But, even if you have many, many digital games the 500 GB model should be more than enough for you to store everything for the very long-term. Image

Keep in mind, that SSDs are now up to 2 Terabytes or more total nowadays, so, the sky's the limit here. But, there is no reason to over-buy, either.

At 500GB, I imagine you will be fine. The real problems tend to come form the first-generation PS3s with 20-80 GB HDDs, and some of the PS3 slims with 160 GB.

Keep in mind that just like with traditional HDDs, you will wish to keep about 10% or more of the space of the SSD free for things like SLC caching and for garbage collection, etc. So, at 250 GB, you can rely on only 225 GB of storage, etc.

Still, I have lots of save data and about 30 digital games from PS1 to PS3 installed, including SI, SII, SIII, and SIV, and still have some space left over, so, I think many people will be just great with 500 GB, and I likely will be fine with 250 GB sizes.

Q: "Wait so the sites you linked above said that they want you to "back-up" you data! What if I cannot do that?"

Fantastic as ever, Voice! Let's help people out with that!

So, the easiest way to back up your data and to prepare for a transition to SSD is to use something that allows you to save all your data to the SSD before hand. The PS3 has a built-in data backup utility that is detailed in the TechRadar article. However, this method does require an external drive or an adapter something like this:

Image

If you use this method, you can completely clone your PS3's drive to an SSD. Then follow the TechRadar instructions for installation, and boom! you are done with a vastly faster and more reliable SSD installed.

If not, keep reading: Now, this adapter casts $8.50 USD and ships worldwide, so there is that. However, if you are a cheapskate like I am, then listen up!

We will have to use the more ghetto-method of backing up the PS3.

This will require a USB flash drive though. Admittedly that is an extra cost, but they are cheap, you can get a plenty-large 4GB USB Flash drive for about $4.00 USD, so, that saves some money, and since flash drives are useful in a wide variety of scenarios, I think they are a better value than a USB to SATA adapter.

First you will need a separate computer. I suggest downloading the latest PS3 operating system from Sony here:

https://www.playstation.com/en-ie/get-h ... fe-mode-m/

Then install it on the USB drive as instructed on the website.

Then plug it into your currently-running PS3.

Now, here using this method, we will retain all of your saved games, but, we will rely on the PSN servers to re-download all the games and their related data themselves.

So, we will want to access several items on the Sony XMB menu, including: Virtual Memory Cards, Save Data (PS3) and Save Data (PS2).

https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-back ... ave-games/

Backing up PS3 games and their saves is detailed here. Note that you do not want to access the GAME> GAME DATA menu, but, the GAME> GAME SAVES (PS3) menu. Even though the copy options may show the PS+ icon, they do not require PS+ to save to a flash drive.

As For Suikoden III *cough* PS2 games: Please select Saved Games (PS2) > Then the Game you want, AKA, Suikoden III, Suikoden IV, or maybe a Persona or two, then hit the TRIANGLE button. Select "Copy" and your installed USB drive should appear, and allow you to save the data to that.

For PS1 games, it is a bit more complex: You need to access the individual virtual memory cards, then select the exact save data that you wish to transfer over and save to your USB drive.

Select the Virtual Memory Card in question, then find the particular save that you would like to transfer, then press the TRIANGLE button. The option should come up to COPY the file to the USB drive.

https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/ps/197341 ... ard-on-ps3

Once you have all these saved files to the USB drive, you can safely disconnect the USB drive, turn everything off, and then remove the old HDD and replace it with an SSD.

Remove and Replace the HDD as shown here:

https://youtu.be/v9rQqvZIYUE

This guy goes through a lot of steps, for the PS3 Original Version. The Slim and Really Slim and Has a Disc Cover Made For Breaking models are slightly different, so please take note of this, or the instructions from Sony or TechRadar listed above.

When you have the new SSD installed, it will be a simple matter to plug in the Flash Drive and use it to install the new Operating System and your old Game Save Files, as shown above.

Remember, in this scenario, we will re-download everything from the PSN while it is still functioning. So, all games and any updates will be downloaded at a later date. But, I think this is sufficient to give our awesome community a shot in the arm at long-term digital solutions to archiving these wonderful games.

------------------

Alright, so that should be more-or-less a guide for what you need to do to begin preserving your PS3, and your PS3 data for the long term. Remember, an SSD will fail long, long after the PS3's disc drive, its thermal paste, its cooling fan, and even its GPU, CPU and RAM. So, for the long-Term this is the best solution at a reasonable cost.

Let me know below in the comments what you would like me to change next! I am thinking about a thermal paste change and total system cleanse next!

UPDATE: So, the second part of this was more complex than I thought lol. I got a Torx Screwdriver for the security screws for the teardown, only to find I needed not Torx, but Torx Security. . . So, the proper driver is the Torx Security T8, not the Torx T8 that I got. I am slapping my forehead right now, and it is going to be about June before the order gets delivered lol. Sorry folks.
Last edited by Rooks on Fri May 24, 2019 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: PlayStation 3 Preservation Using an SSD

Postby Roshambeaux89 » Thu Apr 18, 2019 7:38 pm

I have no specific request but I'd like to make a general comment on how detailed and comprehensive this post is. It looks like you've been marinating this idea of a PS3 preservation project and I'm very appreciative of you being proactive in consideration of the future. I always like to think that the compendium of the past digital game copies will always be made available in future consoles. I look forward to your future posts, which are usually thoughtful or thought-provoking. This is unrelated but is there a podcast in the works that relate to either gaming, philosophy, literature, etc.? The Frozen North Silent Hill episode is still one of my favorite listens to this day.

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Re: PlayStation 3 Preservation Using an SSD

Postby Rooks » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:44 pm

Thanks.

Unfortunately, no, not really. I want to teach, as I find that really rewarding, but, I have a lot of tech projects that I am working on that actually pay money lol. So, there is that.

As far as conservation: Yeah, I think that thermal paste is going to be the next step, as most Thermal Interface Material manufacturers recommend a change every eight years or so. Bad internal thermal conductivity is one of the things that caused "Yellow Light of Death" and "Red Ring of Death" in that console generation. See, the lower the temperature your components run at, the longer the lifespan of those components. If I am looking for a "30-year PS3" then that thermal paste has got to go.
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Re: PlayStation 3 Preservation Using an SSD

Postby Rooks » Thu Oct 10, 2019 7:50 pm

ADDENDUM: Let's talk a bit further about SSDs!

So, In the opening post I came to many a conclusion without fully explaining myself, and the Voice-In-My-Head-That-Haunts-My-Dreams was none too kind to me about leaving out some vital info for the sake of brevity. As such, I will just make this a crash course on SSDs, why they are great, and what you should know about them before buying one.

Q: "Hey Rooks! you jerk, you didn't fully explain yourself when you dissed WD Green drives, but said WD Blue dives were fine. Also, you are a giant hypocrite when you didn't add ADATA to your list of approved drives, when you are using an ADATA drive right now, on the very PC you are typing this post on!"

A: Yes, you are correct, and I will now take the opportunity to explain myself, thoroughly. Also, Voice, it doesn't appear that you know what a Question is, because I didn't really hear a question there. *Sighs*

OK, so, as a crash course in SSDs, let's get started:
First off, there are currently three basic types of SSDs on the market: The first uses Multi-Layer Cells (MLC), second, Triple-Layer Cells (TLC, no not the cable channel) and the fourth and newest uses Quad-Layer Cells (QLC). There are Single-Layer Cell SSDs, but we will get to that in a second.

Now, the more layers that you add to a "Cell" of NAND flash storage, the less reliable and lower-life that Cell will be. But, in return, since every cell costs more-or-less the same, and takes up the same space, you can create higher density, and lower the cost-per-gigabyte. As such, QLC is the slowest, least reliable, and cheapest type of NAND Flash, while SLC is the fastest, most reliable and most expensive NAND Flash. Nowadays, manufacturers are not really making SLC drives anymore, now, almost all drives in the consumer space are MLC, TLC, or QLC with a small SLC cache. However, as I stated, NAND Flash technology has gotten so reliable nowadays, that even QLC is vastly more reliable than Spinning Hard Drive. Not only that, but the scaling of speed and reliability is not linear, meaning that an SLC drive is not 4 times as reliable as a QLC drive, it is really about 2 times or 3 times as reliable. And, while the cost-per-cell remains roughly the same, a QLC drive provides much more performance-per-dollar, or whatever currency you may choose. So, in a theoretical scenario, an SLC drive will be 3 times as fast and reliable, but, cost 4 times as much per gigabyte of storage space. MLC drives cost half of what SLC drives do, but, only give up about 30% of the speed and reliability in turn. etc, etc.

https://youtu.be/OffzVc7ZB-o

QLC drives just hit the consumer market in 2017. And while it is still too soon to independently validate their reliability, it seems to be that they have roughly 1/3rd the speed, reliability, and longevity of an SLC drive. In terms of speed: again, on the PS3, we are limited by the SATA rev I, 1.5Gbits/sec interface. As such, even the slowest QLC drive will perform in terms of speed the exact same as the fastest MLC or SLC drive. The primary concern here for us is reliability and longevity.

So, in the mere two years since their release to the consumer market, QLC drives have just simply not had enough time to have independent media and reviewers to blast those drive properly with writes to check their reliability. This goes to show that SSDs are super-reliabile, even QLC drives. But, for the purposes of PS3 Preservation, aiming at 30 years or more, I do hesitate to recommend QLC SSD drives to anyone, just because we have not had enough time to properly evaluate those drives for the long-term. It could be that four years from now, we will have a real grip on their longevity, and I could Recommend them. But for right now, I cannot recommend them for the very long term.

That being said, Triple-Layer-Cell drives have been available for many years and have been properly tested in long-term stress tests. They are readily available at reasonable prices, and are more than reliable enough for preserving data on a PS3 even after potentially the PSN for PS3 goes down. Especially because, as I mentioned above, SSDs can read nearly indefinitely, it is writing to the drive that causes wear over time. Ideally, you save all your games to the SSD, then never write again, and have a nearly perfect storage, that outlasts all the other components on your PS3. Even thought the PS3 is nearing end-of-life in Sony's Planned Obsolescence, it still does receive updates, and the PS3 store does have periodic sales.

Q: "OK, but, what about companies like ADATA and WD Green and others that you neglected?"
A: "Well, I use an ADATA SSD right now. But, I need to explain about Terabytes Written to Gigabytes storage."

So, After many years of experience, I suggest that you take a look at the Manufacturer's Specification sheet before you buy. So, as I said above most or all manufacturers list a TBW or Terabytes Written. I suggest that you get a drive with 100TBW per 250GB of drive space. So, obviously, as size increases, so does TBW. A 128GB drive, which is too small for PS3 in my opinion, would need about 50TBW. And, a 500GB drive with 200TBW is plenty.

So, let's do some math! 1 Terabyte = 1,000 Gigabytes. Thus, 100 Terabytes Written on a 250GB SSD is 100,000 GB to 250 GB. Simplifying that as a fraction, we end up with 400 to 1, or, 400 GB Written to 1 GB of storage. Meaning that each 1GB of storage can be overwritten 400 times before it fails, statistically speaking. So, this leaves us with a simple equation: TBW x 1,000 divided by Capacity in Gigabytes = what I like to call: "Write Cycle Endurance."

So, what you wish to look for is a Write Cycle Endurance of 400-to-1 or more. Now, let's take the WD Green Drive I mentioned earlier, and plug it into our simple equation: The Greens have a capacity of 240GB and TBW of 80. So, 80 x 1,000 / 240 = 333.3 to 1. That's much lower than the standard 400:1 I mentioned above, now isn't it?

Let's take the SanDisk 250GB drive that I mentioned I got a deal on above in the opening post. It has a TBW rating of 100, so, 100 x 1,000 / 250 = 400. Exactly the standard that I arbitrarily set, funny that. Now, let's take a third drive, shall we?

Image

This is the Hewlett-Packard HP S700. It is TLC, TBW is 295, and capacity is 500GB. So, that is 295 x 1,000 / 500 = Write Cycle Endurance per GB of 590! That's a great drive with masses of storage and endurance, well above the 400 to 1 Standard that I set! arbitrarily!

See how this works? I am skeptical of drives with Write Endurance lower than 400:1. And I don't consider them capable of 30-year vitality in this situation. As far as ADATA and their drives. Well, their product stack has a mixture of TLC and QLC drives. And, as I said above QLC is difficult to validate over the long term. For example *gets the most out of his newly-invented equation* Take the Intel 660p drive at 1TB, and plug it into the equation:

200TBW x 1,000 / 1,000 = 200-to-1 Write Cycle Endurance. . . While those drives are a great value per GB, and Intel backs them up with a 5-year warranty. Intel obviously has excellent Quality Control teams, and excellent warranty and customer support, and a reputation for quality. But, we are talking about a 30-year scenario, here, and 200:1 just wont do, I am afraid. Right now, I am using an ADATA TLC NVMe drive, and it has worked perfectly thus far. But, with some QLC drives in their stack, I cannot recommend ADATA as a whole.

Q: "OK, OK, so my head hurts after all that math. Good thing we are the same person and you have a headache, too!"
A: "Tell me about it."
Q: "So, anything more to add?"
A: "Yes, here we go:

So, I can Add Hewlett-Packard and at least ADATA's TLC drives to the list of Rooks-Approved drives for PS3 preservation. Also, when purchasing, remember the equation: "TBW x 1,000 / Capacity = Write Cycle Endurance." That will help you select a proper drive for the long term.

Q: "So, you've talked about what is acceptable, but, do you have a favorite drive to recommend?"
A: "Well, I don't like shilling for corporations, so, I like to recommend a range of good products from different companies and let people make their own choice."
Q: "Come on, like 12 people at most are going to read this far, tell us!"
A: "OK, so the best of the best for PS3 preservation in my opinion is the Samsung 860 EVO 500GB."

So, as I said, right now I have a SanDisk 3D Ultra at 250 GB. And it is great, works perfectly. However, the reason that I tend to recommend 500GB drive for long term storage is two-fold: 1) Not all that space will be readily available to the user. So, on my 250GB SSD, actually only 230 GB is usable, then other space is taken by the PS3's operating system, SLC cache, Garbage Collection and TRIM, etc. In the end, I only have about 80GB usable space left, and if they have a Going-Out-Of-Business fire sale on the PSN, I may fill that up lol. 2) As you fill an SSD, just like an HDD, some Cells or Sectors will eventually become worn out or unusable. Thus, the larger the SSD, the more space you have for Garbage Collection and the longer it's life, as I made clear earlier. Thus, 500GB is the way to go, and I will likely save up some money and wait for a Black Friday sale on the Samsung, then upgrade.

The Samsung is fantastic. It is TLC, but, a very high-quality version of TLC with masses of Write Cycle Endurance. The 500GB plugged into my equation turns out with 300TBW and a whopping 600:1 Write Cycle Endurance. Both independent media reviews, long term stress tests, and customer reviews attest to the reliability and longevity of this drive. Don't get me wrong, SanDisk is great, too, especially if you've ever worked in photography, SanDisk you'll know is a legendary brand with great reliability. But, then again, so is Samsung lol.

That being said, the SanDisk and Hewitt-Packard drives are a great alternative, too. With Write Cycle Endurance close to the Samsung. Also, Intel makes some great TLC drives, as does Micron / Crucial. Actually, the Intel, Micron, and Crucial drives all roll off of the same assembly lines, as they have a joint manufacturing deal. In fact, those factories are located in Utah, Virginia, and in Singapore, all places with good labor laws in place. So, if you are concerned about Labor Ethics in Technology, you really can't go wrong with an Intel / Micron / Crucial SSD. Just stay away from the Intel or Crucial QLC drives for now lol. And the Newest versions of the Western Digital Blue drives are good, too. They actually have the same technology as the SanDisk, as, well, Western Digital bought out SanDisk lol. Just stay away from WD Green drives, as those are using tech from before WD bought out SanDisk.

Q: "OK that clears things up"
A: "Do you understand the concept if a question, or not?"
Q: "Yes, I will let that slide for now. But, why on earth did you write these long posts few people will read?"

Well, it is because I truly do love this community. The Suikoden Fanbase is the best, and even though I've had differences with some in the past, I love each and every one of you, even Raww, for some reason. Look, I may have left the SRM, due to circumstances beyond my control, but, I still want to do what I can to help the Suikoden Community, that has not changed in the slightest. And I hope my knowledge of PC hardware can help people play these games for decades to come.

Edit:
So, some things have come to light: First off, the Hewlett-Packard SSDs are actually made by Micron, go figure lol. And they are great, but that's because it is a Micron SSD, with an HP shell wrapped around it. Some of the ADATA SSDs are actually Micron as well, and others are actually from Samsung and others. ADATA remains something of a grab bag, with inconsistent results and quality.

To explain further about QLC v TLC SSDs, here is Professor Christopher Barnatt, who I consider to be one of the most delightfully British gentlemen in all of history explaining things lol. https://youtu.be/WACyyFF_ci0
Last edited by Rooks on Sun Oct 20, 2019 5:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: PlayStation 3 Preservation Using an SSD

Postby Jastreb_J21 » Tue Oct 15, 2019 10:45 am

Thanks for the explanations regarding SSDs, I was sort of lost with these... I was looking at getting a laptop after 4 or 5 years of using my trusty desktop computer, as I've got both a new job that may need me to move around and plans regarding these Jurmala houses for the holidays.

And it turns out that I've been living under a rock for a while, as I didn't know what SSDs were... And that's a great explanation, I think I'll consider the possibility of having one in said future laptop!

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Re: PlayStation 3 Preservation Using an SSD

Postby Rooks » Wed Oct 16, 2019 1:22 pm

Wow, congrats on your job and potential new place!

Thanks, I am just glad that I seemed to have helped a few people in the course of this project. It is complex and long, but, the more knowledge we have the better we can all preserve these games in the long run.

I've long been a supporter of Classic Games Preservation efforts, the Suikoden Games most of all. But virtually every game is a part of history, and that history needs to be properly preserved. Of course, the way things are going, Companies are not interested in preserving their old titles for the most part. In the end, that leads many people to Pirate various games, as Emulation and Piracy are more a matter of Service and Price to the gamer, than they are of random bad people wanting to steal things. That being said, I do much prefer to find some way to pay reasonable prices for great games like Suikoden, and play them fully legally.
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