Feature Article

How Sony Should Handle PS1 and PS2 Emulation on PlayStation 4

Backward incompatibility.

There’s no doubt that Sony spoiled us when it made the PlayStation 2 backwards compatible with original PlayStation games. The convenience of being able to immediately tap into a giant library at launch was a hit with a lot of people. Though there was some legacy support to be found in every console over the course of the last generation, the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii all had issues at some point; Sony and Nintendo eventually stopped including the required hardware in their consoles, and Microsoft relied on spotty software emulation that was abandoned by its developers well before it was “complete.” Still, backwards compatibility felt like the rule, rather than the exception, for a while.

Consequently, people were understandably surprised and disappointed that neither the PlayStation 4 nor Xbox One would ship with legacy support in tow, probably due to a lack of understanding that a shift in hardware architecture, which in turn affects how game code is interpreted by the console, is the main culprit. There are a lot of advantages to switching to a familiar, PC-like x86 CPU, especially for developers, but simple implementation of backwards compatibility is not one of them. This isn’t a total roadblock, however, as evidenced by Digital Foundry’s recent report that unveiled the existence of a PlayStation and PlayStation 2 software emulator currently in development for PlayStation 4.

There’s been a lot of excitement surrounding this bit of news, and if it turns out to be true, the first thing people want to know is if PlayStation 4 will support physical games, or, will Sony intentionally block discs and force people to pay for digital copies? I don't think Sony is in a position to do the latter.

In light of Microsoft's early mishandling of marketing the Xbox One, Sony has a positive, pro-consumer image to uphold, and if it doesn’t prevent the use of old PlayStation media, it would earn no small amount of additional goodwill by simply not acting greedy. There's no technical reason why discs wouldn't work, so strategically forcing customer's hands by blocking them would be a serious misstep.

Digital distribution and monetization of assets is a trend that’s cropped up in the last console generation, and it’s had a major effect on the way companies like Sony manage their portfolios. It’s a business, after all, and its required of them to make a profit. However, that doesn’t require imposing unfair restrictions and limiting access to features that customers will reluctantly pay a ransom for; it can also come from earning new customers by simply giving them what they want.

Sony's done it in the past, even at its own expense; it manufactured every PlayStation 3 launch model with PlayStation 2 hardware inside. While technically perfect, this was killing Sony as each system it sold came at a $200-300 loss. It wasn’t until the end of 2010 that Sony was able to manufacture consoles at near parity with PlayStation 3’s price tag.

Removing backwards compatibility was a major factor, and it upset a lot of people, but it wasn't because Sony was trying to reduce value. Rather, it was part of saving the PlayStation business. Thankfully, the original PlayStation library was safe since the PlayStation 3 was powerful enough to emulate it though software alone, as the PlayStation 4 is for the PlayStation 2. Plus, Sony allowed people to use their own discs. Why should that change now?

Sony may not have brought the UMD Passport Program out of Japan for the PlayStation Vita, which was designed to ease the transition away from UMD drives, but according to an interview with Wired, Shuhei Yoshida noted that prices on PSN in the west were adjusted to account for this gap in service. In fact, outside of games published by non-participating publishers, there isn't a lot of moaning about the price of digital PSP games in the west because most are a lot cheaper than their physical counterpart.

Sony allowed people to use their own discs. Why should that change now?

If Sony is indeed working on the rumored emulators for PlayStation 4, it’s going to be a long time until they're in the hands of customers. The smart thing for Sony to do would be to follow the PlayStation-PSOne Classics model by giving customers the choice to use the provided technology how they wish, and I believe Sony's got enough smart people who recognize the importance of doing so. Digital games are in a lot of ways attractive, even to people who own physical copies of their favorite old games, but not everyone wants to (or can afford to) repurchase a game for the sake of convenience. If Sony wants happy customers, it has to leave that decision up to those customers when the time comes. Otherwise, it may unnecessarily burn bridges that are worth preserving in the long run.

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Discussion

456 comments
tman978
tman978

I've been praying for this for a while on PS3. I still have God of war 1&2

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

With emulators in use to run ps1 and ps2 games it would be literally nothing to allow ps1/2 discs to be read and used on the machine. They could even install the disc on the HDD, for faster reading. 


But fact is with the first SALE of downloadable content and old library of games - that was literally the end of backwards compatibility and chance of allowing someone to use their old library of games on new systems across the board. 


The almighty $ and desire for short term gains will always put the consumer last. For one thing gaming consumers are stupid - I am talking about us- people who buy games. Very few of us price shop, read reviews, or fully take advantage of a game that is bought. Many games are bought by Mothers who think Disney's Cars is a game just as good as Skyrim because they cost the same.  People will buy a game off steam without even reading a full description let alone a review (blame it on Youtube generation that cannot read past 40 characters). People will buy a game or have it bought for them, play it 10min get frustrated or simply do not like it and throw it under the bed never to see the light of day. They could give it to family, loan it out, resale it, or even donate it to children who could use it. But for some reason they hold onto it, collecting dust, with the thought they will eventually try it again. That is a tough $50-60 gone to waste. 


We as gaming consumers need to shop smarter- stop buying games because it has Call of Duty, Madden, or Disney on it without investigating to see if it is any good. When we get a game we need to use it or give it away, resale it, trade it (stop being a nation of hoarders). Do not get me wrong my black label copy of Xenogears is not going anywhere, but do you really need that 2003 NBA game, that you no longer have the system for, and that you only played for 1month  behind the entertainment center. Even digital downloads you can still get a refund, complain enough, lie (doesn't work with my system/rig), or beg you would be surprised. Read reviews!! And when you do get a game give it a try - 10min and you give up because you do not like the button config - tells me you got too much money and too little 

sense.


And if gaming consumers voiced their opinions louder and voted with their dollars- console makers would easily add backwards compatibility because good will with your customers goes along way. 

MegaPhilX2
MegaPhilX2

I agree. Allowing me or not to put the discs I already own into the PS4 to play them is definitely a factor that will determine if I get a PS4 or not.
But I don't feel that having the PS2 play PS1 games was spoiling us.

k41m
k41m

And this is why the PS4 will dominate.

ddogbritt16
ddogbritt16

If they made it for discs that would make me want to buy one even more.

lokar82
lokar82

I don't think Sony is as pro-consumer as this article says.  If they were, you could use PS3 controllers, headsets, etc. on the PS4 and the PS4 would have shipped with DLNA and mp3 support.  Plus I'm still a little bitter about them removing linux on the PS3.

gregbmil
gregbmil

I would be cool if I could use my PS2 discs in my PS4.   But if not, no big deal.   I will just continue to use my PS2

BH14
BH14

I doubt that it will happen. And if it did happen, Sony will try to make money from it. They make money from selling overpriced ps1/ps2 games with the playstation store. The problem with the playstation store was the games were overpriced and the library was way too small. Maybe they will charge $20 for the emulation software download. I would pay that and I think that is a fair price. I just don't see them doing this for free.

ShadowOfKratos
ShadowOfKratos

So... Sony is trying to develop a technology that already exists on a similar system... Why not just copy the PC emulators to the PS4? Modders have already done Sony's work for them. ** Eye-rolls **

What Sony should be working on is a PS3 emulator.  -_-  ** Sigh **

t8410025262083
t8410025262083

... the other thing is it stops people from buying old games, a lot of people want to play old games, but when it means buying an old console in order to do it they will refrain, the other thing is that some people want to have physical copies of their games. The original thing. Also like i said i want to play my old final fantasy game because they were awesome, and i don't want to have to buy the whole console just to be able to play it. You can play Age of empires 2 on your brand new core i7 PC if you want.... Consoles should be the same... to those that do have all the consoles, stopping people from playing their old games on a new system stops them from upgrading because they might be happy with some of the games they already have and are not ready to fork out for a new system that can't play their current games. If the new system is backwards compatible it's more of an upgrade instead of a replacement (some people have to sell their old machines in order to afford the new one)

grimakis
grimakis

I don't see why disc-based emulation is impossible. It of course won't be hardware based(which really isn't emulation at all) but it could still work with a software emulator. I don't even care if it upconverts. I just don't want to have my Nintendo 64, Wii, PS4 AND PS2 out.

t8410025262083
t8410025262083

The problem with that is that I live in South Africa where not only is the internet very slow and unreliable (downloading at less than a meg per second) but also very expensive and capped. We would pay 180 rand (about $18) per half a gig worth of data with some of our service providers. Only the well off can afford to stream anything. This is really not a fair thing for sony to do, I really want to be able to play all my Final fantasy games in particular and I do not own a PS3. I will be getting a PS4 soon from someone (I can't afford to buy it myself), but in order to play FFxiii i will need a PS3 as well which i just can't afford.


Do companies like SONY forget that not all people who want to play games are millionaires? Also do they forget that not all infrastructures are the same as the US or Europe?


Zero_Echo
Zero_Echo

It is really a larger problem than emulation. The industry itself, is moving so fast, that making $ is more important than making something memorable. "The next greatest thing" just arrived, and look at that, it's gone! Wow, wasn't that great? On to the next greatest thing!" That's why people that really care about gaming are so interested in having ways to play their old games. There used to be a wonderful time when you didn't have save points; Wolverine-esque regenerating health; bright flashy "Go here now! Push Button to not die!" hand-holding; 2/3 of a complete game games. It was awesome.

P.S.

GS, you gotta do something about these posts from Facebook. I know that social media, inter-connectivity, hashtags, and all that jazz is a hoot, but come on, most of these people have nothing important to say. Maybe make a way to filter posts from Facebook out? It's a troll-rgy up in here.

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

I just want to goto the PS store and buy those PS1 and 2 games. ( I haven't had a PS3 system and I tossed out everything PS 1 and 2 wise)  REALLY miss some games like KH1 and 2 and SFA3!!! I hope they are not TOO expensive because I would be rather reluctant but if decently priced? Watch me. also lower prices would encourage least me to buy more because the prices are reasonable.

theslick_rider
theslick_rider

Great article! I think it's important that Sony do not force us to DL digital copies of games we already have discs for. If someone wants to do it anyway, that's up to them but give us the choice. 

Vinny Wong
Vinny Wong

No one plays PS1 or PS2 anymore. Maybe on the phones FOR FREE!

PSYCHOV3N0M
PSYCHOV3N0M

This is good for gamers who don't have an Original 60GB PS3 like I do :D

Karlinel
Karlinel

Finish the emulator, dont limit it to downloaded games (so we can use our disc collection), make people pay a fee for the emulator itself (with a discount for PSN+ members), rejoice.

Charlie Lambert
Charlie Lambert

come up with the big package. PS1 PS2 PS3 and PS4 in all one package. Sell it for about $800. Every system comes with a controller and Memory card for PS1 and PS2

Kelwin Lieng
Kelwin Lieng

I don't want to spend money on buying last gen games so just improve the PS4 so it can use PS2 and PS1 disc because I lost the receipt for all of the PS2 and PS1 games and I can't refund it.

jocaju
jocaju

The article is leaving out some information like the games will suppose have cleaner graphics, if that's the case, I'm assuming the game itself is modified by the devs or a Playstation team. So, my guess is that you will have to buy the games again. Unless sony gives us an option, we can play our ugly games straight from the disc or we can buy an updated version.

Joseph P. Johnson
Joseph P. Johnson

add PS3 to the list so I don't have to have 2 huge systems along with my Xbox's

Born_Lucky
Born_Lucky



ALL BLU RAY PLAYERS CAN READ CDs.- including the PS4


Sony purposely disabled the software so they could sell their music service.

Johny_47
Johny_47

It would be great if there was a way that ps4 owners could just download an update then the console would recognise the game disc that was in the disc tray then it would activate a free download of that same game if it's not able to play straight from the disc.


Quite a bit of fuss and it takes up space on a hard drive but at least older games are not useless(if you haven't got the older consoles anymore) *boasts a lot* I have =P


Get to it Sony.

Brandon Johnson
Brandon Johnson

Take a few seconds too read what Sony has stated. It is impossible due to the new architecture of the PS4 that is what allows it to make advances forward. It's not a matter of opinions or wants. It is impossible.

Brian Pomerleau
Brian Pomerleau

i use PCSX2 for emulating my ps2 game disks on my PC the thing is it runs my PC's CPU hard and video in the emulator stutters from time to time its not the CPU its the emulator putting alot of pressure on it usually a EMU will use ram instaed of CPU but PCSX2 is different!!

Lamesy
Lamesy

@jenovaschilld Did you just encourage people to complain, LIE and beg for refunds on DD? I agree with the general thrust of your argument, but let's not blanket endorse douchebaggery for the sake of 'sticking it to the man.'

BH14
BH14

@ShadowOfKratos  

The playstation 3 is still alive and is selling quite a bit so Sony won't be making a PS3 emulator. I agree that I would rather have a PS3 emulator than a ps1/ps2 emulator though.

pyro1245
pyro1245

@grimakis  it's not impossible, just depends on whether SOny wants to be sleazy or not.

pyro1245
pyro1245

@t8410025262083  you guys need to get your internet situation under control because it sounds like you're getting ripped off.

pyro1245
pyro1245

@PSYCHOV3N0M  i had one of those..... make sure to clean out the dust every now and then.....

BH14
BH14

@Karlinel  

Exactly. I don't expect it to be free. I would be willing to pay like $20 for a ps1/ps2 emulator. If they say $50, I will say no. 

scottpsfan14
scottpsfan14

@Karlinel Yep That would work for me. I'm willing. Although they could just add psone classics to the ps store also. Just like ps3 can play ps1 discs or you can download psone classics if you don't have the game (even though you could just buy like 25 ps1 games for a tenner on ebay).


pyro1245
pyro1245

@jocaju  the game is not modified, it is just rendered at a higher resolution, like any emulator can do.

TrialMonkey
TrialMonkey

@jocaju  The original PS3 backwards compat would sharpen the graphics without change to the game itself. The same tech could be used in their emulator on the PS4 possibly.

ziproy
ziproy

Why don't you ask Microsoft to do the same thing??

pyro1245
pyro1245

@Born_Lucky  actually they probably just glanced right over cd's then wen't 'meh' because who the hell uses cds anymore and if you do I don't want to hear about it because i have nothing but laughter at you.

raiden3788
raiden3788

@Born_Lucky  Actually, they just didn't implement a music player application. It's not that the PS4 can't read the disk, it's that it has no means of playing it.

TrialMonkey
TrialMonkey

@Johny_47 Also, if there is some kind of serial number or something on the disc they could use that to make sure people didn't use one disc for many people. Or I guess they could just require that you have that disc in while playing.

Born_Lucky
Born_Lucky


Is it a blu ray player?


Yes?


Then it can read cds and dvds


Anyone who says different is lying.


mike468
mike468

You need to remember though that no pc really uses or relies of 8 gb of dedicated GDDR ram. The PS4 is different.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

@Lamesy @jenovaschilld  Yes, i am encouraging people to complain loudly, to beg incessantly, and to lie when needed regarding Digital Downloads if you are unsatisfied. This country and many others have had laws for consumers related to first use law, consumer purchase laws in that they (the consumer or purchaser) can resale, modify, or give away anything they have bought legally. Done with that cassette tape of vanilla ice - well legally allowed to sale it, loan it, or give it away. Want to give your full set of lord of the rings books to your nephews - by all means lawfully allowed. Tired of the car you bought, modify it, and resale it. 


But at no other time has technology been available to circumvent this law then through digital downloads. The courts are still drawing a fine line with this law since music DD, as to whether it is property or leasing. Games used to come on physical media resulting in ownership of property now it is leasing of a form of entertainment whereby the buyer owns nothing!. 


Any complaints you may have, any problems with your purchase, and at any time the leaser can change the rules. Buyer beware? - well most people just do not know what it is they are buying. I encourage anyone who is unhappy with a digital purchase to speak out - with not only their cash, but to use any means neccessary to resolve a bad digital purchase. Douchebaggary? maybe so, but when the deck is stacked against you - do not give in, give back! 

pyro1245
pyro1245

@BH14 @ShadowOfKratos  the ps4 could not handle a ps3 emulator, nor could most computers for that matter. If it was possible it would have happened 5 years ago.

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

@Born_Lucky Blue ray that can play cds and dvds uses a different laser. What I heard is that they took out the reg one. But again rumored....

mike468
mike468

@Born_Lucky  


Agreed. Just look at the Bleemcast! and Mame. If Software emulation was impossible, neither would exist or be possible because of the different architecture. 


You need to remember too that these programs where designed to work around with reverse engineering (ie infringing on  copyright patterns). there is nothing legally from preventing Sony from reverse engineering their own older hardware to develop software emulation for the PS4.

snakebite6x6x6
snakebite6x6x6

@mike468  Considering his post was about the emulator taxing his processor and not his ram, I'm not sure your post is relevant.