In what has triggered a collective gasp from the legions of PS4 owners, Sony has given a huge hint that they may be gearing their latest console for backwards compatibility with their PlayStation 2 library. This comes as a surprise as the systems creators and marketers have made it clear that backwards compatibility was not a planned feature for the PS4, which was rather disheartening to hear after Sony’s previous (yet somewhat limited) efforts to make the PS3 backwards compatible through both on-board hardware and then software emulation. This surprising revelation has revitalized interest in the chance of once again enjoying what is Sony’s largest and most critically acclaimed library of games.
Though Sony has all but confirmed BC with the system when a company representative had shared “We are working on utilizing PS2 emulation technology to bring PS2 games forward to the current generation,” with WIRED via email, the initial revelation of this upcoming feature was discovered almost by accident. Gamers who had purchased the Star Wars: Battlefront PS4 Bundle found that the additional games that had come with the system (Super Star Wars, Star Wars: Racer Revenge, Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter, and Star Wars: Bounty Hunter ) were not remasters or ports, but were emulated. This was evidenced by how the games prompters players for PS2 memory cards and the removal of “jaggies” and upgraded resolutions. The best feature was the graphical overhaul, similar to what the PS3 did for PS1 titles as the system contained PSX hardware. The games even had trophy support, despite running on proprietary emulation software.
The clear benefit to this is providing a substantial boost to the young systems library, as the PS2 library is packed full of stellar titles that defined the sixth generation of video game consoles. Though the system itself is home to a host of A-list, exclusive titles, Sony would be hard pressed to push that the system can also play games from their substantially less expensive PS2 library, as the games are still readily available with many titles garnering a cult following. A move such as this would deal a blow to the budding market for remasters, as re-releasing games with updated visuals and additional content has become the norm with franchises that saw fortune on the PS2 and now PS3. There are also a few PS2 games on Sony’s PlayStation Now streaming service, but those are remasters and not ports of the original PS2 games.
How far this will go is still up to speculation. Given that software emulation is Sony’s course of action, backwards comparability may just be the re-release of several PS2 titles on the PlayStation Store, generating a profit from games that no longer generate revenue from physical disc sales. The ideal choice for gamers would be the ability to run PS2 games right off the disc with the system, adding to the library and possibly generating more sales of the system. All in all, it looks like Sony has listened to their fan base and is making good on their commitment to give their customers what they ask for.