Wired now has confirmation that Sony is working on bringing PlayStation 2 titles to the PlayStation 4 via emulation. In an email to the company, Sony stated:
“We are working on utilising PS2 emulation technology to bring PS2 games forward to the current generation. We have nothing further to comment at this point in time.”
This confirmation comes after Digital Foundry had discovered that PS2 Star Wars games (from a PS4 Star Wars bundle) were being run on the newer system via emulation in place of porting.
Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter, Star Wars: Racer Revenge and Star Wars: Bounty Hunter are the games in question.
Emulation is a process of creating a software environment that can mimic the hardware and software of an older console, a trick that gets older games to work on newer platforms. Porting, on the other hand, is far more involved and, in some cases, involves remaking the game almost entirely so it runs on modern systems.
Digital Foundry stated that some games have had a bump in quality thanks to a higher native resolution, improved 3D effects, improved performance and even trophy support.
The PlayStation 4 joins the Xbox One in using emulation to run older games. Unlike the PlayStation, the Xbox is using the technology to run previous generation games from the Xbox 360, instead of two generations back with the PS2.
While the PS4 does currently offer backwards compatibility, it’s for PS3 games and happens via a subscription service called PlayStation Now, which streams those games – which you need to re-purchase – over the internet. Unfortunately for South African gamers, the service isn’t available here, likely due to our comparatively slow internet speeds.
Before Sony got involved, emulating PS2 games was already a tried-and-true – although technically illegal – practice by fans of older games who did everything themselves. Some emulators were even able to run games on mobile devices. Unofficial emulators have always fallen into a legal grey area, as fans pine to play these games but the developers and owners don’t accommodate updating the titles and licences they own.
Hopefully, Sony’s official involvement will fix this, and gamers who missed such PS2 classics as Black and Manhunt will get the chance to play them on their PS4s.