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Sony working on PS2 emulation for PS4

Trio of Star Wars re-releases appear to be the first titles using the tech to be made available

When the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launched, they bucked convention by leaving out backward compatibility with games made for their previous iterations. Since then, both Microsoft and Sony have been adding that support back in. Sony rolled out its PlayStation Now game streaming service with a catalog of PS3 games, and Microsoft introduced backward compatibility of Xbox 360 games for the Xbox One.

Sony is further filling out its support for older games, as the company has confirmed to Wired that it wants to add PS2 emulation to the PS4.

"We are working on utilizing PS2 emulation technology to bring PS2 games forward to the current generation," a Sony representative said. "We have nothing further to comment at this point in time."

The comment came in the wake of a Eurogamer Digital Foundry report saying that PS2 emulation has already made its PS4 debut in the form of a recently released assortment of old Star Wars games. PS4 hardware bundles featuring EA's new Star Wars: Battlefront have also included a download code for four Star Wars games from previous generations: Super Star Wars, Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter, Star Wars: Racer Revenge and Star Wars: Bounty Hunter. Super Star Wars was a Super Nintendo title and is available on its own from the PlayStation Store, but the remaining three were from the PS2 era and only made available in Star Wars hardware bundles.

Eurogamer is convinced the PS2 games are running on an emulator, saying, "First of all, a system prompt appears telling you that select and start buttons are mapped to the left and right sides of the Dual Shock 4's trackpad. Third party game developers cannot access the system OS in this manner. Secondly, just like the PS2 emulator on PlayStation 3, there's an emulation system in place for handling PS2 memory cards. Thirdly, the classic PlayStation 2 logo appears in all of its poorly upscaled glory when you boot each title. And finally, all in-game button prompts relate to the PS2's controller - nothing has been changed at all, effectively ruling out a remaster."

Assuming Sony doesn't plan to use PS2 emulation exclusively as incentives to buy hardware bundles, what remains to be seen is what sort of business model Sony will attach to its PS2 emulation. PlayStation Now lets users pay to rent PS3 games for a certain amount of time, or subscribe to a Netflix-like option that gives them unlimited access to a subset of the total catalog. On the other hand, Microsoft's Xbox One backward compatibility lets users buy Xbox 360 games digitally or slip in an original disc and play the game for free.

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Latest comments (9)

Pete Thompson Editor 5 years ago
Nice to see that Microsoft and Xbox still innovate their competitors, so often it seems that those competitors continually take credit where it's not due!!

Just waiting on Sony to announce their PSololens or PSAR unit.. ;)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Pete Thompson on 20th November 2015 4:34pm

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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 5 years ago
*rolls eyes*

That strikes me as a very fanboy-esque comment. :/

On-topic, this is great news. Companies will HD a lot of PS3 games, but having the PS2 library available is pretty awesome.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
Just reading on the PS blog that a SNES game was available on PSN for the Vita and PS4 blew my mind. That needs to happen more because it's pretty amusing at the end of the day to have a game made for a Nintendo platform pop up on the "competition". Granted, I think this won't become a big "thing" at the end of the day, but as for Star Wars games in general, I'd kill to play both Knights of the Old Republic games on the Vita or PS4...
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 5 years ago
Assuming Sony doesn't plan to use PS2 emulation exclusively as incentives to buy hardware bundles, what remains to be seen is what sort of business model Sony will attach to its PS2 emulation.
It would be kind of an odd announcement if Sony said that all PS4's are now backwards compatible.....with PS2 games. So it looks like the next logical progression would be to start adding PS2 games to PS Now. I read on the wiki page that Sony was considering doing this with PS1 and PS2 games anyway but it was never guaranteed.
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Pete Thompson Editor 5 years ago
Fanboy? Please, I'm in my mid 40's.. My comment was just showing some appreciation as a veteran gamer for the innovative work that MS and Xbox One put into their business and the gaming industry as a whole. Which sadly is something that this site, a gaming "industry" site nonetheless, still seems devoid of being able to do as it comes across to many, myself included, as having a clear bias towards Sony over MS for some reason.

Do a search on here for Xbox One backward compatibility and you'll see one article that covers the subject dated 15th June after this years Xbox E3 conference with another recent mention of backwards compatibility also in June 2015, despite it launching to those not in the preview program on the 12th November, look at that date on this site and there's no mention of the new dashboard rolling out or the BWC functionality. Now do a search for PS4 PS3 streaming (not a good as native backward compatibility offered by Xbox) and you'll see multiple articles dated back to 2012.
As an industry site GI.Biz should be impartial, but that's not how it comes across as a reader.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Pete Thompson on 21st November 2015 2:17pm

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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 5 years ago
Mmmhmm... Yet backwards compatibility and emulation isn't a new thing as espoused by MS, and it's a little fanboy-y to imply it is. The Wii was BC with the Gamecube, and the VC emulation for Nintendo machines is fantastic. Remarking that
Microsoft and Xbox still innovate their competitors,
ignores what Nintendo did. And also ignores the fact that emulation as provided by modders shows that it should be easy enough to shoehorn PS2 games into the PS4 (most PS2 games can be emulated on an above-average PC, and that's without access to the original hardware/software documents that Sony has).

A wider point I'd like to make is, just because a site seems to have a bias, doesn't mean the readers have to weigh-in with pithy but shallow remarks that seem to have their own bias. :)
Now do a search for PS4 PS3 streaming (not a good as native backward compatibility offered by Xbox) and you'll see multiple articles dated back to 2012.
That'll be because Sony bought Gaikai (a streaming service) in 2012.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 21st November 2015 3:42pm

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Pete Thompson Editor 5 years ago
Hmm, this is digressing and being taken out of context a bit. I don't recall saying that BC and emulation was new Morville, I simply made an observation that Sony will be heralded for their emulation and garner a lot of media attention in the run up to the 2016 release of emulation on PS4 in certain media outlets (such as this one) while Xbox (who already have native BC in place) will not get a mention on some media sites, again (sadly) such as this one.

Not sure why you bring up Nintendo, especially as emulators have been around a lot longer than the Wii's launch 9 years ago, emulators have been around for decades? ie: PC-> Atari, ZX 81/Spectrum, Commodore, Orignal Xbox to X360 etc etc

You are right in saying that I ignored Nintendo's Wii BC, that's because Nintendo BC wasn't brought up or mentioned in this Article,
You seem to digress a bit in the effort to try and justify calling someone a fanboy (twice) just because they have made a critical observation and have an opinion, which is strange as you are a critic yourself. This is the internet, and the internet is made up of people opinions, and I expect that your comments could be construed by some as being a little fanboy-y in trying to bring Nintendo to a discussion about Xbox & PS BC / Emulation especially as Nintendo were late comers to the BC / emulation party.

My original point seems to be lost on You.

In regards to this
A wider point I'd like to make is, just because a site seems to have a bias, doesn't mean the readers have to weigh-in with pithy but shallow remarks that seem to have their own bias. :)
I brought up the subject of GI.Biz having a bias towards Sony sometime ago and I was told by a staff member that it doesn't, yet here we are some consideable time later still experieincg the same bias. Is it right for a site that is supposed to cater for the entire "industry" to have a bias towards one company? Sites that cover a entire industry such as this one should be totally impartial and unbiased and that's sadly that's not the case here.

Have yourself a good weekend Morville, I'm off to France for a few days trying out a prototype (bionic) knee brace. :)
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 5 years ago
Ah, yes, it is all a bit of a digression. Apologies. :) It's all based around the fact that it just irks me when people say or imply "bias", ignoring wider points/history (interesting to read this comment thread together with the "Diverse Critics" article, I think?). But eh, it's all just games, so no point in either one of us getting annoyed (and apologies if I came across that way :) ).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 22nd November 2015 7:28am

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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 5 years ago
Pete, emulation of earlier systems is not at all "innovative"; as Morville pointed out, lots of platforms have been doing this over the last decade and a half. As just one example from the competition, Sony's had PlayStation ("PSOne") emulation on a number of different devices, starting with the PlayStation 2, which was released before Microsoft's first console. What Microsoft is doing is no more "innovative" than having twin sticks on the controller.

That said, MS is certainly ahead of Sony here, though I'd characterize it more as Sony lagging behind in what they should be doing. While Sony should be praised for having so much PS3 material available via PSNow, it's also disappointing that I can't play games I already own for free unless I keep my PS3 hardware. And I'm going to be pretty darn disappointed if Sony doesn't release generic PS2 emulation on the PS4 that works with most, if not all, disc-based games. (I finally had to get rid of my Japanese PS2 due to console overflow, so I don't know when I'll be able to play my Densha de Go games again.) However, Sony, due to the slightly more unusual architecture of the PS2 and PS3 as compared to the Xbox and Xbox 360, does have some (admittedly self-inflicted) technical challenges in this area that MS doesn't. While my guess would be that the PS4 should have no problem with PS2 emulation, I wouldn't be surprised if PS3 emulation couldn't be done reliably, especially for later games, due to the SPUs.
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