PlayStation 4 hack brings severely limited backward compatibility to the console

For years the PlayStation 4 had a power advantage over the Xbox One until the Xbox One X came along, but Sony’s system lagged behind in terms of its software services and features. Three years ago at E3 2015, Microsoft introduced Xbox 360 backward compatibility on the Xbox One, bringing hundreds of 360 games to the current-gen console, with new games added to the program frequently. Sony, on the other hand, does not offer backward compatibility on PlayStation 4, and the only ways to play any either force you to re-buy PlayStation 2 Classics—of which there are just several dozen—on the PlayStation Store or subscribe to PlayStation Now to stream certain PS3 games. Thanks to a new hack, the PlayStation 4 now somewhat features backward compatibility, albeit in an extremely limited state (via Eurogamer).

Earlier this month, an exploit was released that allowed for low-level system access, though it’s restricted to consoles operating with system software 4.05. Unfortunately, most users don’t run 4.05 anymore, and the exploit was patched way back in November 2016 with firmware update 4.06. Still, that hasn’t stopped hackers from taking advantage of it.

Hackers have recently exploited the vulnerability to add Linux support, full root access to the system via FTP, and PS4HEN—a homebrew enabler that arrived last week. People have now increased efforts to bring more PlayStation 2 games to the system. Tools are available for users to install package files, decrypt games, and then re-package them to be installed on compromised hardware.

Reported tests appear to indicate that certain PS2 games that could not run on PS3’s software emulator are able to work on PlayStation 4. Because they aren’t meant to, however, players attempting to use this method to play PS2 games on PS4 may encounter graphical glitches and other performance issues.

It’s not full backward compatibility that most would hope for, but it’s a taste of what Xbox One players have. That PlayStation 4 players need to go through so much effort just to play some of their old games is disappointing on Sony’s part. Hacking issues aren’t uncommon on PlayStation 4, and this could lead to more piracy efforts in the future.

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