This month, Microsoft finally introduced backward compatibility to the Xbox One, an often requested feature that has been missing since the console launched two years ago. As of today, 104 Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Arcade games are playable on the Xbox One, with more titles already on the way. With Microsoft's introduction of backward compatibility, all eyes have turned to Sony to see how the company would respond.
Currently, there are a number of last-gen titles available for streaming through Sony's subscription service PlayStation Now. It's far from a complete collection, but it includes most of the popular titles of the last several years. There have since been rumblings that Sony would be introducing backward compatibility for PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2 games as well - something that's been sorely missed since the PlayStation 4 launch.
Those rumors came to a head with the launch of the Star Wars: Battlefront PS4 bundle. Alongside Battlefront, the bundle included download codes for four classic Star Wars games - the Super Nintendo classic Super Star Wars and the PS2 games Star Wars: Racer Revenge, Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter and Star Wars: Bounty Hunter. A Twitch stream of Bounty Hunter revealed that the game's menus had not been updated, showing controller layouts mapped to the Dualshock 2. This fueled speculation that the game had not been ported, but was instead being emulated on the PS4.
Sony has since confirmed that PS2 games can be emulated and made playable on the PS4. Speaking with Polygon, the company also confirmed plans to bring classic games to its latest console.
"We are working on utilizing PS2 emulation technology to bring PS2 games forward to the current generation."
The statement leaves out important details such as the expected timetable or if the decision will only apply to specific games. The Pan European Game Information Ratings Board (better known as PEGI) recently re-rated a number of PlayStation 2 games, including Dark Cloud 2, Ape Escape 2 and Twisted Metal: Black, indicating that these are likely candidates for eventual release on PS4.
Strangely enough, Sony has remained adamant since launch about their stance on backward compatibility. The company confirmed as recently as last month that there were no plans to introduce backward compatibility to the PS4. It's possible that the Sony was specifically referring to PlayStation 3 titles, as they're technically available through the PS Now service.
Emulating classic games would vastly improve the PlayStation 4's existing library, allowing fans to replay classic games from their childhood or to experience the fantastic JRPGs on the console for the first time. Sony's latest console doesn't necessarily need an edge over the competition, as the PS4 continually boasts impressive sales month after month. Still, it's a smart move to keep their console comparable to the competition as the platforms move into their third year on the market.
The Star Wars: Battlefront PlayStation 4 bundle is available now.