Sony Patent Hints At PlayStation 1, 2, 3 Emulation Via Cloud Streaming

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sony patent emulation

Backwards compatibility has become a contentious issue for next gen consoles.

While Microsoft has firmly come out in support of the feature and integrated it into the upcoming Xbox Series X, Sony has yet to confirm whether the PlayStation 5 will have an equivalent service but a new patent Sony filed in Japan last year hints at past gen emulation coming to consoles.

The patent, discovered by Twitter user Renka_Schedule was filed last year. It details an emulation system supporting PlayStation 1, 2 and 3 titles. According to PSU, the translated Japanese text in these filings reads:

“A large number of game titles across PS1/PS2/PS3 and various generations of game consoles can be stored and used via the cloud gaming library.”

“These games can be run on a virtual machine that mimics the operating system associated with each game console.”

The diagrams included appears to show PlayStation 1, 2 and 3 games being run on a single system with similar interfaces.

sony patent emulation
Image: Sony

This experimental new feature would likely be an upgrade to the cloud streaming infrastructure currently being used by PlayStation Now. This service allows PlayStation users in select regions around the globe (Australia excluded) to stream PlayStation 2, 3 and 4 games on a PlayStation 4 or PC. It does not currently extend to PlayStation One games, but this may be something added in future.

Currently PlayStation Now operates on a custom-built PlayStation 3-based server rack rather than simple emulation. The new patent hints at an alternative way of emulating games compatible with modern hardware. It is not indicated whether this patent is related to the development of the PlayStation 5, but inclusion of a backwards compatibility system like this one would be very welcome for the console.

PlayStation has a vast back catalogue through PlayStation Now, but you can’t access it in Australia. Users overseas can access the service, but Australians are mostly reliant on the small 50-game PlayStation 2 titles offered through the PlayStation Store.

Whether this feature is implemented in the PlayStation 5 or not, the patent hints at increasing interest in the field of backwards compatibility for Sony. An upgrade like this could make PlayStation Now or an equivalent service far more accessible for a global audience when the PlayStation 5 launches later this year.

Comments

  • I’m no hardware architect, but surely the PS5 would have the grunt to at least emulate the PS1 and PS2 locally.

      • Thank god PS1 emulation is almost mint, PS2 is serviceable, and PS3 is coming leaps and bounds. So sick of Sony’s shit with BC.

    • Its a pretty common misconception that ‘grunt’ would make anything work fine. I’ve played some games that have worked perfectly, and others where the graphics, sounds and gameplay just completely freak out all over the place, and getting into single digit FPS. Those are PS2 and Xbox games attempting to emulate on a PC in the last couple of years.

      • Except that is the problem, “attempting to emulate”. They are running on reverse engineered guesswork and a lot of mess. They aren’t made with any direct knowledge of the original systems, as the OS of those systems are proprietary. This is not to say that they would not work exceptionally if the first party, i.e. Microsoft and Sony developed them themselves with full knowledge of the systems. Just look at MS emulation of 360 and Xbox games which are improved and buttery smooth. The problem is that developing emulation costs a fair bit of time and resources without much additional income generated from it, and Sony have repeatedly essentially said since the PS3 that they can’t be stuffed.

    • More interestingly: how long would you need to stream a PS1 game before you’ve transmitted more data than is contained on the original game disc?

  • First of all. If this is game streaming, then that is not “emulation” or backwards compatibility by any definition. It simply is what it is, game streaming.

    Second, from what you have described of the patent it is incredibly unclear whether it is game streaming. Particularly your second quote “These games can be run on a virtual machine that mimics the operating system associated with each game console.” This does directly refer to emulation and it seems a little weird they would be discussing virtual machines unless the PS5 allows it to do that locally. Although the patent may just be referring to them use virtual machines in the cloud.

    • If the game is being streamed it presumably still needs to be running on some kind of system which mimics the original machine, whether the source is hardware or software, and lets face it – it’s probably software. So it’s still being emulated.

  • This should work great with Australia’s shit internet and lack of PSNow.
    Sony’s commitment to backwards compatibility is a joke.

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