Analysis: PS2 Emulation on PS4, PS Now and Xbox One Backwards Compatibility

Sony announced PS2 emulation on PlayStation 4 in reply to Microsoft's backwards compatibility, a great move but what about investing in new software?

The biggest bang at E3 back in June was Microsoft’s announcement of Backwards Compatibility for Xbox One. The feature rolled out on November 12 and is currently being used by Xbox One gamers.

It is probably the biggest selling point for Xbox One this holiday season. The announcement of Backwards Compatibility shocked and surprised the world, Sony included.

But, the company had no answer to Microsoft’s trump card, which only God knows how long they have been holding close to their chest.

Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida did made a statement though, he expressed his surprise and also asked fans to not expect a similar feature for PlayStation 4.

It was surprising. I didn’t think it was possible. There must be lots of engineering effort. They talked about 100 games, but what kind of games will be included? Is it smaller games or big games? We don’t know.

Yoshida added that they have no plans for such a feature, but never say never.

It’s going to be super challenging to do so. I never say never, but we have no plans.

What fans had a hard time understanding is that the architecture of PlayStation 3 made it next to impossible to run games on PS4. The Cell processor with its ultra-fast SPUs was a decent hardware design and provided enough power to developers. However, our industry has moved on from such a complicated hardware design.

CPUs are just not made that way anymore. PS4’s processing cores are capable enough but from an engineering point of view, it a daunting task to emulate PS3 games on PS4.

So, Sony invested in Gaikai and turned it into PlayStation Now. Streaming was the simplest of solutions for running PS3 games on PS4, giving fans backwards compatibility (kind of).

However, when Microsoft pulled-off what Sony considered impossible, the “shock n awe” effect came naturally. At the time Sony also said that they want to move forward with PS4, and have a different approach than Microsoft.

The irony is that Sony, instead of moving forward with PS4 and investing in software like it said, is now introducing Backwards Compatibility on PS4.

Instead of taking the colossal task of running PS3 games on PS4, Sony decided to tackle Xbox One backwards compatibility with PS2 emulation.

It’s an amazing feature indeed and I can’t wait to go back to Syphon Filter, Sons of Liberty, Black and many other awesome PS2 games.

Sony is leading in sales and third party developers don’t think twice about making exclusive content deals for PS4. Considering this, bringing in backwards compatibility will do nothing but boost PS4’s demand.

Unfortunately, PS2 emulation means that Sony’s PlayStation Now isn’t going anywhere for the company. The investment in Gaikai wasn’t the right move as the industry isn’t yet ready for such a platform.

Sony is refraining from sharing more information about PS2 Emulation but we do know that it’s running on a proper emulation software. When will it be available? We don’t yet know.

Still, even if Sony’s Gaikai investment didn’t do much and PS Now is in no position to take on Xbox One BC, PlayStation 2 emulation is big enough to compete with Microsoft’s backwards compatibility feature.

The best part for Sony is that this announcement will tone down all the hype and buzz surrounding Xbox One’s backwards compatibility; and move the attention away from the fact that there are hardly any games for PS4 this holiday season.

When will games release on PS4?

This holiday season will come and go with fans, instead of playing new games, being excited for a feature that will probably arrive sometime in 2016. With that said, Sony’s PS2 emulation is something that will help keep PlayStation 4 in the lead.

Best case scenario is that Sony will officially reveal PS2 backwards compatibility at PlayStation Experience in December and make it available in the same month. That is something I want to see.

Sarmad is our Senior Editor, and is also one of the more refined and cultured among us. He's 25, a finance major, and having the time of his life writing about videogames.