The PlayStation Now service is well underway and set to arrive this summer for the PlayStation 4. It will enable PS4 owners to stream PS3 games via the cloud. What you probably didn't know was that Sony may have other plans for PSX and PS2 games... they may not have to be streamed via the cloud.
According to Eurogamer, they claim they have a source close to the information that the PS4 will receive local emulation support for older PlayStation titles, so you can essentially run them from your own game discs, or if you no longer have the game discs in your library, you might be able to grab a digital copy with a one-time purchase from the PlayStation Store.
As noted in the article...
“A well-placed source working with Sony's streaming service reveals that only PlayStation 3 titles are currently scheduled to use the "gameplay over IP" cloud service. PS1 and PS2 titles are set to follow the more conventional route of running locally under emulation on Sony's latest console - but with the possibility of HD visual enhancements.”
This news is kind of amazing because it was naught but a few days ago that we wrote about the Xbox 360 emulator, Xenia, coming along quite well, according to the developers. The developers are also aiming for Mantle support, so there will be to-the-metal optimizations available for PCs running AMD cards. In the article, it was noted that this would be perfect leverage for the Steam Machines because it would not only be able to play the latest and greatest PC games, but old Xbox 360 exclusives such as Kameo, Perfect Dark Zero or Forza Motorsport.
I thought Sony was being fastidious with PlayStation Now, but they're showing that they're actually a lot more astute about their current position regarding the PlayStation 4's market presence than I originally thought, if we're to assume local emulation is on the table as Eurogamer points out.
The real big advantage here is that any gamer with a long running collection of older titles will be able to make the most of them by keeping hold of only one console. They won't have to rebuy old PlayStation One units from eBay or try to talk someone at GameStop into letting go of a dusty, old beat-up PS2 for less than $200. You just whip out your old games and plop them into the PlayStation 4.
This kind of forward-thinking, progressive mind-frame is what helped put the PlayStation 4 leagues ahead of the Xbox One as far as sales, community perception (and reception) and market value go. If Microsoft wasn't going to focus heavily on game-related features and wanted to go the route of “TV on your TV”, the least they could have done was implement emulation for backwards compatibility in some form or fashion, as opposed to letting another group of developers work on Xbox 360 emulation for PCs (and by proxy, Steam Machines).
For as far as we know, Microsoft hasn't even circled back around to any talk about backwards compatibility for the Xbox One. I guess they expect people to keep buying Xbox 360s whenever their units tank? More sales for them, right?
Sony is definitely leveraging some good space about them right now with the PlayStation 4. When backwards compatibility becomes available it will easily raise the value of the console considerably, as you'll be able to play every previous generation of PlayStation titles on the latest console. How cool is that?