Playstation 4’s PS2 “Backwards Compatibility” is a Double-Edged Sword


The announcement leaked a while back that Sony had been using a PS2 emulator on the PS4 to run a batch of recently released Star Wars classics alongside Battlefront, which not only ran at a better resolution, but included Trophy support. Then there’s that whole pulled Dark Cloud reveal thing.

The thought of revisiting my extensive PS2 library while earning trophies was enough to pique my interest, but yesterday we learned that the PS4 was unable to read physical copies of PS2 discs. That isn’t stopping Sony from bringing PS2 games to the PS4, but those of you who’ve purchased “PS2 Classics” on PS3 will no doubt be disappointed in knowing that absolutely none of them will carry over.

Well, that sucks.

Rather, Sony will begin selling digital downloads of select PS2 games on PS4 for roughly $10-$15. Like the Star Wars classics mentioned above, all PS2 downloads will include a 1080p resolution upscale, along with their own complete Trophy lists.

They will also support all of the PS4 functions, like screenshots, streaming, Share Play, Remote Play, activity feeds, and 2nd screen support for instruction manuals on the Vita or Playstation App.

Only these 8 titles will be available when the service rolls out tomorrow alongside Sony’s PSX fan-event.

  • Dark Cloud
  • Grand Theft Auto III
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  • Rogue Galaxy
  • The Mark of Kri
  • Twisted Metal Black
  • War of the Monsters

Twisted Metal Black and War of the Monsters are marked at $9.99, while the others are $14.99. Is that a fair asking price for graphical upscales, PS4 functionality, and Trophy support? Is this what Playstation fans want in terms of backwards compatibility?

With Xbox One offering backwards compatibility (for free) on a select list of Xbox 360 titles, it’s important to remember that these aren’t PS3 games. It’s a multi-generational gap. Even Xbox One and Wii U don’t offer a way to go back two console generations. We’re talking about going back to a generation that didn’t offer HD graphics or Trophies, offering a way to play them on PS4, not simply inserting an old disc in a new console and running it off of an internal emulator.

It’s not exactly apples to oranges, but there’s clearly a difference in console generations. And although that may be true, I don’t believe that Sony should charge full price to consumers who have already purchased these games digitally on PS3.

Should this be a free service? No. Money, time, hard work, and resources went in to re-coding the games to work on modern hardware. It’s not as simple as flipping a switch and BAM!, a 12 year old game is suddenly 1080p and has a Trophy list. But I do feel that the asking price is a little steep. $10 for bigger games, I can get behind. $5 for the more niche stuff, like War of the Monsters or Mark of Kri, seems reasonable.

If Xbox One offered the ability to pay the same price for Xbox classics, upscaling their graphics and including Achievements, would I buy them? Absolutely. Achievement support for Shenmue 2, Star Wars: KOTOR, Morrowind, Jade Empire, Otogi? Fuck. Yes. And I feel the same way about the PS2.

“I don’t believe in paying for games I already own,” is a valid argument, but only sometimes. These may be the same games in name only, but they’re clearly programmed to look better and include Trophies. Whether or not that dulls the sting is up to you, but it’s no different from buying the HD Collections that lined store shelves in droves during the last console generation.

Do I wish Playstation offered a free way to play old games that I’ve already purchased? Well, yeah. I have over 100 PS2 games that I’d love to play on PS4 with Trophy support. That’s just not going to happen, at least not right now. But if there’s something I want to play bad enough, like Shadow Hearts, Persona 3 FES, or Digital Devil Saga, I’m okay spending a little cash to do so.

It’s a matter of understanding that it’s not free to make games, or even re-code them for modern consoles, and I’m not above paying for that service. But when your main competitor offers a similar service (not exactly the same, obviously) for free, it’s easy to understand the taste of bitterness.


  1. Of course it isn’t BC. Xbox fanboys need reminding this constantly, especially with how weak their emulation is.

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