Sony confirms PlayStation 4 backwards compatibility plans

November 20, 2015 | 12:27

Tags: #playstation-2 #playstation-3 #playstation-4 #ps2 #ps3 #ps4 #xbox-360 #xbox-one

Companies: #microsoft #sony

Sony has confirmed that it is looking to add backwards compatibility to its latest PlayStation 4 console - but for PS2, not PS3, games.

When Sony launched the PlayStation 2, it did so with a promise: you can play every single one of your original PlayStation games on the device. For gamers, it was a no-brainer: upgrading offered higher graphical fidelity and more complexity for new games, while maintaining support for their existing library of titles. The follow-up, the PlayStation 3, was the beginning of the end for this blanket support: while the early units included a PS2 'Emotion' processor for near-complete backwards compatibility, later models relied solely on software emulation for a small sub-set of titles - and even this feature was rapidly dropped, though maintaining support for original PlayStation games.

The PlayStation 4, by contrast, had no such backwards compatibility - until now. A recently-launched Star Wars: Battlefront bundle comes with a selection of PS2 games included, and Eurogamer was the first to notice that they were emulated rather than ported: the PS2 logo appears when the game loads and, like the early PS3s, there's a user interface for handling creation of emulated PS2 memory cards stored on the console's hard drive.

If an emulator has been created for some games, there's little reason for Sony not to extend it further - and the company is doing just that. 'We are working on utilising PS2 emulation technology to bring PS2 games forward to the current generation,' a spokesperson explained in a statement to press this week, before saying that 'we have nothing further to comment at this point in time.'

For Sony, it's a chance to catch up to Microsoft which has recently enabled compatibility with selected Xbox 360 games on its Xbox One console - but skipping back two generations may be too much for gamers who have become used to the silky-smooth high-resolution graphics of modern games and have forgotten just what things looked like when the PS2 was king.

Sony has not detailed whether the emulator will allow existing disc-based games to be played on the console, or if it will be limited to newly-purchased digitally distributed titles to boost revenue.
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