If you’re one of the many PlayStation 4 owners who want backwards compatibility, you should check out this PlayStation 3 emulator work-in-progress. The video above shows off the RPCS3 PS3 Emulator playing the game After Burner Climax in game…on a PC.
There are two reasons this is significant. First, there so far hasn’t yet been a legitimate, playable Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 emulator. While the majority of contemporary PCs can play games more technologically sophisticated than After Burner Climax, most can’t do so while simulating PS3 or Xbox 360 hardware. From a purely technical standpoint, this is impressive.
Second, the After Burner Climax emulation contradicts Sony’s reasons for not bringing backwards compatibility to the PlayStation 4, especially because it’s been done by fans. The company has repeatedly said in the past that because the PS3’s cell processor architecture is so different from the more PC-like standard x86 CPU architecture found in the PS4, it would be nearly impossible to bring backwards compatibility to their current-gen console. Backwards compatibility is simply another term for emulation.
This didn’t matter too much until Microsoft announced and then launched an extensive, full-fledged backwards compatibility feature supporting over 100 games and counting. With Xbox 360 games now playable on Xbox One, many PS4 users wanted more than the already implemented PlayStation Now streaming service alternative. That’s understandable, since simply popping in your old Demon’s Souls disc is more user-friendly then paying a subscription fee and streaming a game over the internet.
While Sony executives have said they don’t have any plans to bring native PS3 game support to PS4, they also said they never ruled it out entirely. Microsoft’s success with backwards compatibility may have prompted Sony to quietly announce and release PS2 emulation with some older Star Wars games last fall. While this isn’t nearly as difficult to do as native PS3 support, it’s a step in the right direction.
Meanwhile, the RPCS3 PS3 Emulator isn’t perfect, but it runs smoothly for the most part. If fans lacking a major corporation’s resources can achieve basic emulation, it seems much more likely Sony could too.