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Sony’s New Hope: PS2 Emulation on the PS3


A quietly filed patent appears to reveal Sony is planning or at least considering the possibility of reintroducing full PS2 emulation to the PS3, which initially shipped with a special chip for this purpose, though this was later removed in a fit of marketing genius by Sony in order to cut costs…


The inferred plan is suggested by Sony’s American operation recently filing a patent which describes a method by which the PS3’s “Cell” processor could emulate the PS2’s “Emotion Engine”, apparently without the need for special hardware.

The PS3 initially shipped with such functionality provided in hardware, and this was a key selling point, but with later revisions of the console the chip was dropped and full PS2 backward compatibility subsequently lost.

Whether this was a wise move is probably debatable, particularly considering how tenaciously the PS2 appears to be resisting its demise, but it seems the whole problem may be avoided if a firmware update could simply add the required emulation features in software and so allow the PS3 to play PS2 games once more.

Of course, there is also the possibility that the patent is but one of the many thousands filed all the time by a large technology company speculatively with no immediate hopes of release.

Via Gigazine.

It seems possible that Sony either planned from the start to re-add emulation via software when they dropped PS2 hardware emulation, or that they have been so stung by the refusal of the PS2 to be quickly and cleanly superseded that they felt they had to develop a cleaner solution.

In any case, PS3 owning gamers will appreciate being able to finally dump their PS2s completely if ever that day comes…

Leave a Comment


  • VenturousArtist says:

    Once upon a time, Sony gave a shit about backwards compatibility.

    Then, they decided to remove it and replace it with a streaming service.

    Although they bathed in profit, their nobility however was shattered.

    The end.

  • Wii FTW. Huge-ass library of NES, SNES, N64, and GC games in one console, plus the Wii games. Epic win. Plus, I need Zelda and Mario. There’s a reason Super Mario Galaxy was awarded Best Game of the Year(on all consoles) in 2007 you know. And Twilight Princess is the best Zelda game since Ocarina of Time, which in it’s time was awarded Best Game of All Time(though that award is obviously dated now, I think it still deserves it). Owning alot of awesome GC games, like Luigi’s Mansion, Super Mario Sunshine, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, and The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker(Limited Edition with Ocarina of Time Master Quest. ^^), owning a Wii is a must for me when coupled with all the great downloadable N64 games, and the new Mario and Zelda one’s. Most other games I play on my PC. There are a few PS3/XBox 360 exclusions that I want, which will probably cause me to buy them in the future, but the list is short. Good PC and Wii combination is win imo. And my chipped PS2 for all the Japanese Anime-fighters, Devil May Cry series, and Legacy of Kain series games offcourse. ^^

  • Barbarian of Gor says:

    Let’s see…

    Looks at PS2 and PS1 by “Gaming Throne”…laughs…

    Then again, people begging the pawn shop dealer to unload their PS2 and piles of games they paid $1000+ for so they could have 1/10 that to go towards their next $1000 PS3 plus a few games is what put it in the “Used” market for me to get it at a sane cost since I can wait a few years…

  • When I finally got a PS3 around the time MGS4 came out, I was under the false impression that ALL PS3 SKUs were backwards-compatible. I hadn’t been keeping up with the news and simply assumed that the feature in question was included. I’ll never forgive Sony for springing a metric ton of gimped hardware on people during that transition period where they dropped backwards-compatibility.

    Sony whined that the 360 is a “piecemeal” console with all its add-ons? Yeah, right. At least if you get the wrong 360 SKU, you can upgrade it later. If you get the wrong PS3 SKU, you’re pretty much screwed.

  • I am loving my refurbished 60 GB PS3 from GameStop, since it is natively compatible with PS2 games.

    Seriously, if you want one now, just walk in and ask where you can find one (i.e. what is the nearest location). (Sorry if you are outside of the USA.)

    Or you can buy a broken 60GB on eBay and pay for Sony’s repair service. They will give you the same exact model you have them repair.

  • There’s a lot of evidence that Sony never plans anything ahead of time. I’m pretty sure that they just react to the whims and complaints from their fanbase and say they where gonna do it all from the start.

    That said, I’ll finally dump my PS2 once there’s some way to support most of its controllers and accessories and supports playing pirated ISOs via the hard drive.

  • decepticon says:

    Recently there are rumours of pictures of the ps3 slim.
    from the looks of it, it doesn’t look like it has a gloss finish , looks like the casing of the old ps2 :S
    pretty cheap looking

  • Meh, PS3 is a sinking ship, the sooner they start working on PS4 and avoid past idiocies, the better. As it is, good games still come PS2’s way and Wii won the next gen race by the millions. Just admit your console failed to compete even with the 360 and got owned by a console with crappier hardware because your marketing and PR crew were retards, and do something better next time.

  • roninracer says:

    I just wish I could play PS2 games on my PSP.

    Honestly if I can’t hack the console to make it region free and allow me to use ISO’s instead of physical media, then I’m not that interested.

    When will these companies join the 20th century?

  • CanadaMann says:

    let more companies drop sony!

    EA, Blizzard, Ubisoft, 2K, all drop ps3

    and let the stupid japs afford their own machine

    Soon they will realize their xenophobia is simply stupidity

  • At the same time it seems to highlight the stark contrast between the library for the PS2 and the PS3 as it stands currently.

    PS3 owners, it could be said, are getting told by this, but it’s very subtly done.

  • Anonymous says:

    This is almost reason enough to get a ps3 if this happens, but if it’s only ps2 emulation my ps2 won’t be going anywhere. Even now I still play ps1 games and pick up the occasional odd one I didn’t get to play before.

    I’ll play my Einhander until the day the disc dissolves.

    Now if they started making ps2/3 collections of older games…

    • Umm, I thought the PS3 have already had a cut in price…more than once. I bought mine when hey came out so I don’t really pay attention to the actual tag nowadays but I’ve heard of price cut PS3s. Even had a friend who said he finally got one since they were so much cheaper than before.

  • Vampire Lord says:

    Just now I read in Kotaku about the “may no longer be a rumor” PS3 slim production; now, if I Sony is still greedy enough I can see a Slim version + PS2 emulation to justify a NO PRICE CUT as always.

    It happened with all the increasing capacity of HDD, and the inclusion of Dual Shock 3.

  • Everyone keeps talking about backwards compatibility, but will it be that useful?

    Most of my ps2 games are burnt, i doubt these would even run on a b.c ps3 right?

    Unless you own a nice collection of original ps2 games, bc seems somewhat unnecessary…

    • The fact that new PS2 games are still being released and don’t appear to be stopping is what makes backwards compatibility such a strong selling point for Sony. In addition, the PS2 having sold so many units and having an almost unrealistic library of games means that probably most PS3 owners or future buyers have a PS2 and a ton of games. I certainly wouldn’t want to loose all the games I bought.

  • ChaosAngelZero says:

    How do I saved new console? By reintroducing emulation of the old console which is now even less relevant than it was back in 2006…

    Pure genius, seriously.

    Now, how about some decent exclusivities? Or *GASP* a reasonable, competitive price tag, uh?

    • Anonymous says:

      No decent exclusives? It has the best exclusives. Really, there are a lot of things to hammer Sony over, but exclusives aren’t one of them. Valkyria Chronicles alone is worth the (launch) price. So is Disgaea 3. I’m hard pressed to think of a single 360 exclusive you could pay me to touch. Yeah, they have tons of shitty FPS games, but if I liked that garbage genre I’d be playing them on my computer. I mean, there’s Idolmaster, but that’s it.

      This isn’t 2006 anymore. I don’t get how anyone can bash the PS3’s library, at least in relation to the 360’s. If you want to put it up against the PS2 or the SNES or the PC or what have you, sure, but what does the 360 have that isn’t an FPS or Idolmaster? I have all three consoles and the one that’s gathering dust, the one I have almost no games for, the one I regret buying… it’s the 360, not the Wii. The Wii has a fuckton of shovelware and underwhelming 3rd party support, and it’s basically just a Gamecube with a gimmicky controller, but you know what? It still has games I want to play. 360, well, it doesn’t. And when I want to play an Xbox game like X-Men Legends, chances are I have to dig out my old Xbox. It’s bullshit that Sony removed the full backwards compatibility in the first place, but at least perfect PS3s exist. I have one. Does anyone have a truly backwards compatible 360?

      • ChaosAngelZero says:

        Woops, sorry for the delay… so Xbox 360 doesn’t have good exclusivities, uh?

        Not even counting Japanese-only ones (which would seriously overpower the PlayStation 3 with an almighty list of STGs -read, serious games unlike that IDOLM@STER crap): Halo 3 and ODST (cry as much as you like, it rocks way beyond anything Sony will ever put out), Gears of War 2, Ace Combat 6, Blue Dragon, Star Ocean 4, Infinite Undiscovery, Magna Carta II and Lost Odyssey in case you like boring-ass dungeon crawlers, Bullet Witch, both Crackdown titles, Culdcept Saga, Dead or Alive 4, Fable II, Far Cry Instincts Predator, Forza Motorsport 2 and 3, Guilty Gear 2, Ninja Blade, Operation Darkness (which must be the single most underrated gem in the catalog) Project Gotham Racing 3 and 4, Too Human, and last but not least Senko no Ronde (this alone should convince you).

        How’s that for “no interesting exclusivities”, uh?

  • MechaTama31 says:

    There are actually two PS2 chips involved with the backwards compatibility, the Emotion Engine (CPU) and the Graphics Synthesizer (GPU). The models with full BC have both the physical PS2 CPU and GPU. The models with partial BC still have the physical GPU, but emulate the CPU, the Emotion Engine, albeit not perfectly. So, this patent is to emulate something that they already have an emulator for. What they need is to emulate the GPU, so all those PS3s that don’t have either chip can have BC.

  • abort-retry-fail says:

    Sony’s failure to full-implement this backwards-compatibility has cost them dearly.

    Personally, not having that feature did not give me any incentive to possibly ever buy one. The other problem is they put Disgaea on PS3, which was a waste of time, Atlus should have pulled the plug on them…

  • Anonymous says:

    I picked up a respiffed 60gb PS3 with an extended warranty for a song a few months back. I upgraded the HDD to a 250GB and have been using it as a media system. I can play all my old PSX and PS2 games on it. I still have my chipped PS2 to play downloads and imports but it’s seeing less use as of late.

    If Sony does release some sort of software emulation, I think it’s only a matter of time before it’s hacked to allow it play imports/backups.

  • Anonymous says:

    Idiots! Just because Sony files a patent for SOMETHING THEY HAVE ALREADY DONE (*cough* 80GB *cough*) doesn’t mean you should get excited! Sony has been able to emulate the EE on the Cell for *YEARS* now! It’s the GS that they haven’t been able to. Without that, PS2 emulation is just a fantasy. Unless that happens, stop jumping at every piece of junk that comes along that makes you think otherwise.

  • Anonymous says:

    I already bought a PS3 with the Emotion Engine about 6 months ago for $300. The only PS3 game I have played on for more than 20 hours is probably Armored Core FA. Aside from that, I’ve been catching up on some old PS2 and PS1 games.

  • My PS3 is backwards compatible which is good since I’ve only purchased like 4 ps3 games since I bought the thing 2 years ago. Even now I am playing a ps2 game on it. It’s a good thing they realized the backwards compatibility is such a key feature and was a major part of the ps2’s success. Now if only they would realize the market needs more than just FPS and sports games clones to survive.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have a fully backwards compatible PS3, thank god, since the PS2 is such a piece of shit. I mean, in terms of how it’s put together. Incredible fucking library, but goddamn… I own a lot of fucking consoles and the only one I’ve ever had to open up and perform amateur electronic surgery on was my PS2–and the DREs have come back so I’d have to fix it again if I didn’t have my big black box of love.

    I wish they could combine Nintendium indestructibility with a library worth having. I can’t remember the last time I touched my Gamecube, but it does still work, despite taking a terrible beating over the years.

    • here’s my console list

      family computer – don’t know the age – still alive, in our cabinet

      my ps1 is 12 years old – still alive and in the cabinet

      ps2 9 years old – still alive and is in the side of my tv

      x360 3 years old dead >_<.. not really as in dead, but will hang if opened for long… i don't have aircon in my room and my country's temp are high

      plan to buy ps3, when the day it is hacked came

      • Hey they already have latest gen consoles for rent in my (poor) country.

        I want to support the few developers of good games on PS3, so I buy the original games, then rent the console.

        By buying the console and renting / pirating the games, you benefit no one except the sweatshop workers who manufactured the console, and yourself.

    • I bought a PS2 the day it came out and had no problems with it whatsoever. I still use it today and it works great. The dualshock controllers on the other hand had to be replaced every year, but since Sony replaced them for free I have no complaints. and just so you all know:
      The PS3 can play all the PS1 games and supports PS1 100%
      It will be great if Sony will make a firmware update and we will all be able to play PS2 games as well.

    • I don’t know, I went through 3 Gamecubes all of which broke down, even my last one. I wasn’t doing anything to them to cause such damage as I take care of all my expensive electronics. But my N64 on the other hand seems to be standing strong.

  • Your kidding me.
    They didn’t have on ps3 compability with other games from ps2 and ps1.Then why the ps series at all.
    Truly make it compatible with all the ps systems and that will be cash.
    I can understand the reason of fail if ps3 only had ps3 games working on it.
    Ps2 did support ps1 games if i remember right when i played on one of my buddies console.

    • SOME PS3s have backwards compatibility. You had to have bought it within about the first year of them coming out, the last ones to be backwards compatible were the Special Edition Metal Gear 4 80Gig consoles.

      Even then, some games won’t play properly, they can have hiccups. For instance my fiance has the 80gig and his brother bought KH:Re Chain of Memories and it played but during the tutorial it got stuck and the next part of the tutorial couldn’t be triggered.

      We played Dokapon Kingdom on it last night though and had no problems at all ^_^

      I would wait to buy a PS3 though right now all things considered. If they can find a better compatibility option it will be worth it.

        • Yeah, and those PS3s upscale PS2 games and smooth out the graphics quite a bit so they don’t look so crappy on a 46″ TV. Nice PS2 games like RE4, GOW look about as good as some early 360 and PS3 games when upscaled. Why Sony though it was a good ideal to drop that model I’ll never know.

    • Oh hell yes. Panzer Dragoon Orta, Jet Set Radio, GTA San Andreas, Knights of the Old Republic, Ninja Gaiden, Halo, Morrowind, quite a few good ones. Certainly not as large as the PS2 library, but it’s pretty funny that the X360 is far more back compatible than the PS3 even though they switched CPUs and video chips.

    • Lazydabear says:

      There is a lot of PS2 games for example that people haven’t played like .//hacksign series.

      There are some good games for the Xbox for example that people still enjoy Star Wars:Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2.

  • CanadaMann says:

    sony wasted 3 billion to battle the box
    microsoft wasted 1 billion to battle sony

    who will win? it’s clear

    yeah I also know that people can get different brand dvd-players other than sony, but only one brand for OS (ignore the not-for-sale mac and freeware linux)

    microsoft dominates!
    plus they got good people bill gates(though retired)
    but sony only got greedy stupid managers