An anonymous source at Sony claims that the company will use local emulation to support PS1 and PS2 titles on the PS4, and visual upgrades are a real possibility.
A “well placed” source at Sony has recently informed Eurogamer about the specifics of the Japanese console-maker’s backwards compatibility solutions for the PlayStation 4.
According to the source, Sony’s cloud-based service PlayStation Now will only stream PS3 games onto the PS4; original PlayStation and PS2 classics will be available via a more traditional avenue: emulation.
Sony’s last-gen PS3 contains emulation code for PS1, PS2 and PSP titles within its firmware, and with time, Sony has made considerable strides in expanding the emulation procedures, as the PS Vita has extensive functionality when it comes to PS1 game playback.
Could the PlayStation 4 have this same emulation code within its firmware? The reports suggest that this is indeed the case, and with the PS4’s beefy and flexible specs, Sony will be able to tap a wide array of potential improvements for emulation performance.
The source goes on to say that Sony is working on bringing high-def visuals to emulated titles, and that we may see classic games refined for optimum graphical fidelity on the PS4–with the possibility of full HD That means less blurry edges, jaggies, and other visual imperfections you see when hooking up a PS1 or even PS2 into an HDTV.
Arguably some of the charm of those yesteryear classics may be lost if the graphics are enhanced, however it appears that Sony aims to improve emulation in terms of overall quality, and that actual content will be preserved.
Furthermore there are many benefits to local emulation versus cloud-based streaming, one of the obvious being the effects of latency issues on gameplay–disconnections, lag spikes, etc. Also Sony would save a lot of bandwidth with a one-time download versus a continual stream of content.
It will be interesting to see how the PlayStation Now service develops over time, and if Sony confirms or dis-confirms the claim of emulation code in the PS4’s firmware. Sony has also recently started sending off beta invites for the PS Now service,
In any case, this possibility only goes to show that Sony has a long-winding strategy in the ever-evolving gaming war, and we’ll likely see more detailed reports of their future plans in the next coming months–especially at this year’s E3 Expo.