The jump from PlayStation 2 to PlayStation 3 meant that many gamers had an entire library of PS2 games that could not make the leap onto the next console. While the PlayStation 3 features two models that offer backward compatibility, you will still need a separate piece of software to play games that make use of the optional PS2 hard drive. Once the software has been installed, gamers can then play games such as Final Fantasy XI and SOCOM 3 with all their additional maps and expansion packs.
Verify your PS3 is backward compatible. If you have four USB ports in your system, you can play PS2 games. If you only have two USB ports your console is not backward compatible with PS2 games
Select the “PlayStation Store” from the PSN menu on the PlayStation 3's cross media bar. Press "X" to enter the store.
Locate the item in the PSN Store listed as “PS2 System Data”. Press “X” to enter the download menu and select “Download Now.” The system data is free so you will not need any billing information registered with the account.
Exit the PSN store and from the cross media bar move left to the “Games” menu. Scroll down the menu until you locate the PS2 System Data file. Press “X” to begin installing the data.
Insert a game that requires the use of the PS2 hard drive. Games that require the drive will feature a small icon on the back of the box stating that it is “PS2 HDD” compatible. Final Fantasy XI is the only game available that requires the hard drive.
Select “Yes” when you are prompted to install the data to the PS3 hard drive. The PlayStation 3 will automatically detect when a game is compatible with the hard drive.
Play the game normally. All content saved to the hard drive will be located in a separate file under the PlayStation 3's “Games” menu.
Select “Game Data Utility” from the “Games” menu on your PS3 and press “Triangle” to bring up the menu used for deleting the game data. Doing this will clear out your PS2 data and free up your hard drive when you no longer want the content on your console.
The use of the PS2 System Data will also allow you to access online features specific to PS2 games. These can include uploading scores and downloading additional content and game patches.
Do not use the PS2 System Data as a means to install pirated PlayStation 2 games. This practice is illegal.