The gaming world knew that Sony was up to something potentially groundbreaking when they purchased Gaikai, a leading digital streaming service in the lead-up to the PlayStation 4’s unveiling. That bomb was finally dropped with the reveal of PlayStation Now, a streaming service that seemed to hold the answer to Sony’s problem of backwards compatibility; no longer would consumers need to play physical copies of older titles, simply stream them from Sony directly.
But a new report claims that PlayStation Now isn’t the whole story. According to one inside source, Sony is only intending to make the streaming service applicable to PlayStation 3 titles, instead relying on emulation on the PS4 itself to power games from Sony’s earlier generations – potentially with even better graphics than originally possible.
The report comes courtesy of Eurogamer, who claim to have a “well-placed” source within Sony’s streaming service feeding them details on Sony’s future plans. The PS4-maker kept noticeably vague when explaining which games they were intending to feature as part of their streaming service, and the source claims that’s no mistake, as PlayStation Now is just one half of the company’s answer to backwards compatibility.
Sony’s answer, the source claims, is the same one the company arrived at in the early days of the PlayStation 3 (or at least part of it) before phasing it out: software emulation. It’s hard to pat Sony on the back for finding merit in a strategy that PC modders have been utilizing for years, giving classic PS2 titles a second wind through the use of emulation.
Yet PS3 owners will recall that the software emulation used in the console’s first days – and even those consoles shipping with previous console’s chips – resulted in some… questionable upscaling. In short, games that weren’t designed to run at the resolution and size of future televisions tended to show it. Again, Sony’s apparent solution for the PS4 is to do as the modders do: improve the game’s visuals on a level of native resolution. Take a look below for an example:
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Obviously this should all be taken with a grain of salt, since even if true, there’s no guarantee Sony will stick to the plan. However, the benefits are easy to see; for many PS4 owners, the ability to download an older title for a set price and set download size is far more appealing than whatever subscription model Sony concocts for PlayStation Now, with bandwidth demands hard to pin down beforehand. Not to mention appeasing those doubters who still believe a streamed game experience can’t compare to playing locally.
We’ll keep you updated as more word or an official announcement arrives on this issue, but what do you make of the report? Does this seem like a no-brainer, or were you hoping to see Sony open up their back catalogue of games in a more straightforward, simple way? Share your thoughts in the comments.
PlayStation Now is aiming for a summer 2014 launch.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.