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.
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.