Backwards compatibility could be returning to the PS3 in a different form than you were probably expecting.

After a slow and unsteady start out the gate, Sony’s PS3 has been steadily gaining steam in the past few years. Still, for all the improvements made to the hardware since its launch, there remains a bone of contention among PS3 owners and would-be owners: If you don’t have a launch-era 60GB unit, you don’t have native backwards compatibility.

Considering that the PS2 has one of the most (rightfully) lauded game libraries of all time, this is quite a sore spot among people who would rather not have to plug in a wholly separate console just to play Shadow of the Colossus or Persona 4. It’s made all the more sore by the recent revelations that Sony is finally making profits on every PS3 sold – if cost-cutting was the reason for removing backwards compatibility, can’t they just put it back in now?

A patent recently filed by Sony Japan indicates that yes, Sony is thinking about the return of PS3 backwards-compatibility – just not as we knew it. According to research done by Siliconera, the patent in question is for an external add-on “adapter” that would allow a PS3 console to play PS2 discs.

The device apparently contains its own DVD decoder, CPU, and graphics and sound processors – so, from the sound of it, Sony’s patent is essentially a PS2 that you plug into your PS3? Er, I guess it saves on having to switch cords, so it’s better than nothing, right?

At any rate, this is only an application for a patent – someone needs to approve it first, and just because a patent has been filed doesn’t mean that anything will necessarily come of it. While I would much prefer the return of actual backwards compatibility without the need for fancy addon doodads (hey, remember how well that worked out for Sega?), this at least shows that the issue is on Sony’s radar.


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