PlayStation Portal hacked by Google engineers — they’ve transformed it into the PSP of my dreams

A PlayStation Portal displaying Alan Wake 2
(Image credit: Future)

The Tom’s Guide team has been split on the PlayStation Portal. From questioning the point of a handheld that is solely reliant on remote play to the Entertainment Editor realizing how important this kind of device is for gameplay when the TV is being used, I personally fall into the former of these two stances.

Well, it looks as if two Google engineers agree, as after a “month of hard work,” they’ve managed to get a PSP emulator running locally on the device. In one fell swoop, the hacker community has vastly increased the value of this $199 machine.

How did they do it?

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First thing to know, the engineers, Andy Nguyen and Calle Svensson, did not need to modify the hardware of the PS Portal to make this work — getting the PPSSPP emulator running locally on the 6GB of internal storage with a “software based” exploit. 

So far, all we can confirm is that it runs Grand Theft Auto 3, and given the amount of room on that storage, you may be a bit limited in terms of how many games you’ll be able to install on this thing. 

Regardless, being able to play without needing remote play is going to be a huge step forward for the handheld, and Nguyen has confirmed that he “may demonstrate some videos this weekend” of the emulation in action.

When can we get our hands on it?

It’s worth putting a quick disclaimer right here: If you download a console BIOS and ROMs, you are breaking the law. 

In all of my emulation work on the Xbox Series S and Steam Deck, I create ROMs of my own games, which is technically legal — decided in key court cases like Sony Computer Entertainment America v. Bleem and Sega v. Accolade. Please do the same, and don’t divulge in piracy.

As for when you’ll be able to jailbreak your PlayStation Portal with this workaround, you’re going to be waiting a while. Nguyen confirmed that there’s “no release planned in the near future, and there’s much more work to be done.”

Getting a PSP emulator on here is just the beginning. With these engineers opening the lid on getting software running locally on the Portal, the opportunities for emulation and being able to truly use this as a portable games system are endless.

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Jason England
Managing Editor — Computing

Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a Managing Editor of Computing at Tom's Guide. He has previously written for Laptop Mag, Tom's Hardware, Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.