Backward compatibility is a feature that the PS2 and PS3 (only the first phat models) had. For those who don’t know what the term means, you can play your old game discs on your current console. Back in 2015, Microsoft announced that Xbox One will have backward compatibility feature added – this is where the previous gen, Xbox 360, games (only specific titles) can be played on the Xbox One. They were the first company in this generation to add that feature 2 years of the console’s launch.
Sony didn’t go for the same route Microsoft did, however, this patent shows that the company is gearing for backward compatibility. The document was initially filed on November 22, 2016, and just got updated a few days ago (October 2, 2018) by Sony Interactive Entertainment America LLC.
“Each asset such as a texture called for by legacy software such as a legacy computer game software has a unique identifier associated with it,” it said on the document. “The unique identifier can be rendered by imposing a hash on the asset, and then the asset stored with its identifier in a data structure. An artist remasters the textures for presentation on a higher resolution display than envisioned in the original software, and stores them back in the data structure with their identifiers.” While this sounds a little complex, if we were to dissect some keywords from the statement like “legacy computer game software” and “presentation on a higher resolution display than envisioned in the original software” these points to backward compatibility.
If you read the document further, it says: “As further understood herein, the original (legacy) software code of an entertainment asset such as a computer game designed to be played on a relatively lower powered display can be preserved for use with model consoles with improved capability displays, while effecting remastering of the presentation through emulation principles.” To understand this better, older games that’s supposed to be designed for “lower powered display” (can be a term coined for lower resolutions) can still be intact if used with consoles that have improved resolution output.
This should be taken with a little grain of salt especially that Sony already announced PS Now games can already be downloaded to your PS4. PS Now offers not just PS4 games but also PS2. This might be where the patent is referencing, however, with this approach, it’s quite evident that Sony is looking ahead with backward compatibility as part of their checklist.