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Sony to bring PS2 compatibility back to PS3?

Sony patent hints at Emotion Engine's (virtual) return

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Sony has applied for a series of patents that have sparked speculation that the electronics giant is about to bring back backward compatibility to the PlayStation 3.

The proto-patents all centre on processor emulation, and refer to techniques that could be used to allow the Cell-based PS3 to run software developed for the PS2's Emotion Engine processor.

If built into the PS3's system software, such techniques would allow the games console to run titles created for its predecessor.

Sony has done this before. The original PS3s contained the PS2's Emotion Engine and Graphics Synthesiser chips in order to enable the then new console to play old games.

But by the time the console was released in Europe, these components were left out. Some versions contained the Graphics Synthesiser to enable a degree of backward compatibility, but even this was dropped from later models.

Sony has always argued that consumers want new, PS3-specific games rather than the ability to run previous-generation titles.

Might it now have changed its mind? Certainly, some pundits are suggesting the filing of the patent applications is an indication Sony is about to bring PS2-compatibility back.

But Sony has played this feature down to such an extent over the past few years that it's hard to see the company wanting to revive it. Only if it's planning to make PS2 titles availble to PS3 owners as downloads does a newfound interest in backward compatibility make sense. Punters might not be so willing to buy brand new, pricey PS3 titles during the downturn, but they might be persuaded to pick up low-cost PS2 downloads instead. ®

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