No specific platforms were mentioned in the patent.
A new patent filed by Sony suggests that the next PlayStation could include backward compatibility for previous PlayStation consoles, and fans are very excited.
The patent (which can be found on J-PlatPat with further information on Hokanko) with the publication number 2019-503013 was filed on January 20, 2017 and published on January 31, 2019 by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Inventors listed include PS4 lead architect Mark Cerny and principal programer at Sony Entertainment Europe Simon Pilgrim. Pilgrim’s first listing on LinkedIn notes him as “Developing optimized cross platform maths, animation and geometry libraries for Playstation 3, Playstation Vita and Playstation 4 platforms.”
The patent details a process that could run software from legacy devices perfectly on a new device. It notes that components like a CPU may be faster in new devices, but the architecture might not match closely enough with previous hardware CPUs in order to play the older software. So, to trick the legacy software to work with new hardware, it mimics legacy devices. Diagrams included with the patent also suggest the system “spoofs” processor IDs to facilitate this.
While the patent makes no reference to any specific hardware, Hobby Consolas suggests this patent is for PlayStation 5 and that it will be able to emulate all previous Sony home consoles: PS4, PS3, PS2 and PS1. A popular Reddit thread is citing this article, and while the patent may point to future PlayStation hardware being able to emulate legacy platforms, nothing here is certain. In fact, the patent only mentions a new device application, and could very well point to these techniques being used on PlayStation 4 for emulation purposes.
While a potential PlayStation 5 could very well emulate PlayStation 4 relatively easily if it’s built with a similar infrastructure, platforms like PlayStation 3 are much harder to emulate due to its unique architecture, specifically its Cell Processor. This is one of the primary reasons Sony has had difficulty getting PS4 to emulate PS3 games in the past, though it’s possible this patent suggests Sony may have found a way around these issues.
It’s also worth mentioning that Sony has a habit of filing patents that take a long time to actually take effect, and it’s not guaranteed this applies to the next generation of PlayStation hardware. IGN has reached out to Sony for comment.
On the Reddit thread, user fyz306903 wrote about complete backward compatibility, saying “That’d make me buy a PS5 day 1. I’d also be a PS fan for life, just by virtue of all my games being on a PS account, so I can really see the business sense of this.” Meanwhile, user Pidjesus echoed this sentiment, writing “The whole PS1-5 library available would be the greatest piece of tech ever.”
Speaking on PS3 architecture being notoriously difficult to emulate, user S2K_F20C wrote “If Sony manages to pull off PS3 emulation, I will be amazed. The PS3 hardware architecture is very weird, which made it notoriously difficult to develop for.”
PS2 emulation is already available on PS4 via PlayStation Store and the first batch of these games dropped in 2015, while selected PS2 and PS3 games are available for streaming via PlayStation Now.
In other PS5 news, Sony has reportedly shifted first party development focus onto its upcoming platform, and here are some PS5 games we think may already be in development.
Colin Stevens is a news writer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.