PS1 and PS2 titles should be on PS5

PS3 users can still access a wonderful library of previous-gen titles from the PS1 and PS2 eras, according to this tweet by Lance McDonald.

It's crazy that on PlayStation 3, you can still today purchase hundreds of PlayStation 1 and 2 games digitally, all of which are still licensed for sale and run in 100% software emulation. Literally zero reason that we can't access this library on PlayStation 5.

— Lance McDonald (@manfightdragon) January 4, 2023

He goes on to point out that the PS5 has a catalogue of approximately 10 PS1 games. And in fact, the PS+ service doesn’t have a catalogue worth spelunking into; and is quite expensive if all you wish to do is play MGS1 or similar.

The issue here isn’t technology. The PS5, or a cloud service, is going to be more than capable of emulating PS1, PS2 and even PS3 titles. The issue comes down to licensing. Take MGS, for example. It was initially released on PlayStation 1, so securing a license to purchase it natively on PS3 was a deal done with Konami back then. But today, the goalposts have shifted. No publisher wants to allow the creation of a “Netflix for games,” but the downstream impact of this is simply that there’s a broken system for playing old games. Old games you probably already owned at one point.

Which is why people are simply, and have consistently, turned to emulation. Just grab a ROM, boot it into an emulator with appropriate BIOS, and off you go. This is made even less complex with well-bundled and documented emulation for Steam Deck, PC/Mac, etc. This is even easier on older consoles with Analogue Pocket/FPGA cores.

I do think there’s an achivist reason to host and preserve old games. Particularly as new business models around gatekeeping titles behind subscription services come about (again, even in scenarios where you own the old game). A “Netflix for old games” would be brilliant, if affordable. But licensing is such a nightmare that I don’t know if anyone would do it. So, sailing the high seas is likely best.

I have wondered if this domain is best suited for some sort of easy-access link and instruction manual on how to do some of this. I may spelunk into that world in the future.