Sony has released an official statement confirming that the company is working on a method of emulating classic PlayStation 2 games on the PlayStation 4.
Ever since Microsoft announced support for Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One at E3 this year, backward compatibility has once again become a major talking point. Now, there’s word that Sony is prepping a similar piece of functionality for the PlayStation 4 which will allow the console to emulate PlayStation 2 titles.
A Sony representative confirmed the project in communication with Wired, stating that the company is “working on utilizing PS2 emulation technology to bring PS2 games forward to the current generation.” Beyond that, no further details are being shared by Sony at this time.
The timing of this confirmation seems to have been chosen rather strategically. This week saw Xbox One backward compatibility go live for all users, having been tested extensively in recent months both in-house and via the Insider program. The selection of titles available will reportedly expand in the coming months.
Microsoft’s offering allows users to access titles they have already bought digitally at no extra cost, giving Xbox 360 owners another reason to upgrade. It remains to be seen how Sony’s service will compare, since PlayStation 2 games weren’t offered digitally until their release via the PlayStation Network on PlayStation 3.
It’s likely that purchases on PlayStation 3 will carry over to the PlayStation 4, although there’s no word yet on whether physical PlayStation 2 disks will be usable. Combined with the fact that the content is a generation older, it could well be that Sony’s attempt at backward compatibility pales in comparison to efforts by Microsoft.
However, it has to be said that the PlayStation 2 library is about as diverse and varied as any console ever released. If players can access it in its entirety, that’s a huge selling point — but that seems likely to offer up an enormous technical challenge for the engineers currently working on the project.
Earlier this year, Sony said that it was unlikely to change its approach on backward compatibility, a decision that many linked to the launch of the company’s rental service PlayStation Now. Given the broadly positive response to Microsoft’s decision to implement the functionality, it seems that Sony couldn’t hold out any longer.
There are currently no details on how and when we can expect to hear more about PlayStation 2 support for the PlayStation 4. However, players can preview the emulation software in its current form with the games included in the console’s current Star Wars bundle, which are reportedly using the new tech rather than being straight ports.