Sony has filed a patent with the Japanese Patent Office for technology allowing a console to emulate PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation 3 games via the cloud. This will presumably tie into the company's streaming service PlayStation Now. The patent is entirely in Japanese, but you can check it out here.
This news comes via a tweet from prominent Japanese Twitter gaming personality @Renka_schedule, who frequently tweets gaming release date leaks and other industry information. The tweet (which we've used Google Translate to put into English) presents the patent information as allowing "a large number of game titles across PS1/PS2/PS3 and various generations of game consoles" to be stored and played via cloud gaming. Sony's cloud gaming service PlayStation Now currently offers streaming capabilities for PS2, PS3, and PS4 games, but doesn't offer any PS1 games for streaming.
What would this patent mean for Sony's PlayStation Now?
The emulation-specific part of the patent comes with Sony's assertion that the games "can be run on a virtual machine" that will mimic the operating system of whichever game console the game originally belonged to. In essence, this would mean emulation on Now - of PS1, PS2, and PS3 games, at least - would be done entirely through the cloud itself or through a conventional datacentre. If this is real, it could mean a real improvement for PlayStation Now's library. Right now, the service doesn't offer any PS1 games at all, and streaming for PS3 games is done entirely through custom consoles at Sony's datacentre. Under this new solution, the cloud would simply emulate PS1, PS2, and PS3 machines rather than actually using physical hardware to achieve this.
It's worth noting that patents don't always make it to market, and that this could simply be something Sony is experimenting with to see if it sticks. PlayStation Now doesn't have the most robust reputation in the gaming world, though, especially with attractive alternatives like Xbox Game Pass offering arguably better service. If Sony can pull off PS1, PS2, and PS3 emulation via the cloud, the potential library and quality of streaming could mean a serious boost for the service. We'll have to wait and see what happens next.
Would you subscribe to PlayStation Now if this patent was implemented? Let us know in the comments below!