The PlayStation 4 doesn't play games from previous PlayStation consoles because it uses completely new PC-based architecture. But if a new report is accurate and Sony plays its cards right, that could all change soon.
Game consoles live and die by what games are available to play. After the initial launch buzz fizzles, the one question gamers always ask is "where are the games?" And the answer is always the same: they're coming. The fact is, next-gen games take a lot of time to create.
PlayStation Now, the cloud streaming service announced at CES 2014 that will stream PlayStation 3 games, is a step in the right direction and will give the PS4 pseudo backwards compatibility, but more can be done.
According to a Eurogamer report, Sony is messing around with the idea of emulating PS1 and PS2 games on PS4. Even better, old games could be upscaled and enhanced with smoother, HD visuals.
For gamers, this is a huuuge deal. There are over 700 PS3 games, and while that may seem like a lot, it's nothing compared to the 3,800+ and 2,400+ PS2 and PS1 libraries. Sure, most of those games are terrible and aren't even worth republishing, but it still leaves room for hundreds, if not thousands, of critically acclaimed games from the golden era of 3D gaming to be replayed.
While the report claims the PS4 could use local built-in emulation to bring PS1 and PS2 games into the modern era, it's possible that Sony could leverage PlayStation Now to stream them instead.
Frankly, I think a PlayStation Now service that streams PS1, PS2 and PS3 games would be the better deal. Gaming is moving in the same direction movies and music are: streaming content.
Like movies and music, games first started out on physical cartridges and discs and then moved into digital downloads as more people installed high-speed broadband. Streaming from the cloud is the next phase for delivering games.
PlayStation Now is starting small in beta in North America, but it has the potential to be the Netflix of gaming.
Ten years ago, streaming music and movie services were but a pipe dream. Today, services such as Spotify and Netflix are the way to go to enjoy entertainment; more popular than purchasing downloads. I predict the same will happen with gaming. Sony has a real chance to usher in a new era of game streaming thanks to its extensive library of PlayStation titles across three generations of consoles. Let's hope it realizes this and doesn't blow it.