For over a decade, Sony has been under continued controversy for removing backwards compatibility from the PlayStation 3 in later revisions and removing it entirely with their PlayStation 4. This in spite of the fact that the Xbox One has had great success in utilizing their back catalogue in order to make up for their lack of exclusives during this generation of consoles. This could be changing with the upcoming PlayStation 5, as first reported by Gearnuke.
Before, various sixth and seventh generation consoles included hardware so that older-generation discs could be played in their successors. PlayStation 1 titles could be played with a PlayStation 2, and PlayStation 2 titles could be played with “Fat” launch-era PlayStation 3’s. Nintendo also allowed backwards compatibility on their Wii console with GameCube titles, while the Xbox 360 could play some popular Xbox titles.
With the Xbox One allowing for an increasing amount of Xbox 360 games to be digitally emulated, it appears that digital emulation is to be the future of backwards compatibility in the gaming industry. A patent filed on October 2 by Sony Interactive Entertainment America LLC, titled “Remastering by emulation” seems to signify this.
Below is a summary of the patent:
Each asset such as a texture called for by legacy software such as a legacy computer game software has a unique identifier associated with it. The unique identifier can be rendered by imposing a hash on the asset, and then the asset stored with its identifier in a data structure. An artist remasters the textures for presentation on a higher resolution display than envisioned in the original software, and stores them back in the data structure with their identifiers. The original software is then played on the higher resolution display, with asset (such as texture) calls being intercepted, identified, and the data structure entered to retrieve the remastered asset having a matching identifier. The remastered asset is then inserted on the fly into the game presentation.
This seems to continue a trend from the last half of this generation: previous-gen enhancement. The PS4 Pro has a list of ‘enhanced’ titles that allow for higher resolution and/or framerates, while Microsoft has essentially been remastering via Emulation for a while now. With this patent, Sony doesn’t really seem to be starting a trend, but continuing and trying to up their feature list in order to keep up with Microsoft’s recent efforts.
Interestingly, it doesn’t look like remasters will factor into the next generation of consoles as much as they have this one, which makes sense. When games have already been remade to modern standards, there isn’t much you can do but upscale the resolution and force 60 fps while emulating these older titles.
If true, this can only be good news for gamers. I’ve recently been interested in finally buying a PlayStation 4, but with the next-generation around the corner, it seems silly to plonk down $600+ for a PlayStation 4 Pro, PlayStation Plus, and all the games that I’ve wanted to play. With the recent news that PlayStation Now is allowing subscribers to download games, this could very well be the future of gaming entirely. Users would pay for a subscription to stream while allowing users to download titles if they prefer that, or their internet speed or cap cannot support such a task. This is a bit different than Xbox Game Pass, which allows for downloads but not streaming. Overall, I’m down with this, but I hope that they don’t try to abandon physical media for digital yet. Maybe for the PS6.
What do you think of this news? Would you be satisfied with digital backwards compatibility? Let us know in the comments!