PlayStation Classic Uses an Open-Source Emulator to Play Games

But maybe don't consider that a negative.

News by Matt Kim, .

The PlayStation Classic is nearing release but as we've gotten hands-on with the console it was discovered that Sony is using an opensourced emulator to run the 20 games installed on the console.

According to a preview by Kotaku the PlayStation Classic, Sony's retro mini console pre-loaded with 20 games, is using the PCSX ReARMed, open source emulator to play its games. The PCSX is a longtime favorite emulator software that let gamers play their PlayStation CDs on their PCs. It may not have helped a certain writer test out some bargain bin PS2 games he bought at the local record store in college.

While some readers were disappointed to discover that Sony opted to use an opensource emulator available to everyone to play its own classic games bundled in the PlayStation Classic, video game archivist Frank Cifaldi offered a rebuttal.

"The collective knowledge of the emulation community is going to exceed 'internal' knowledge almost every time," Cifaldi tweeted. "Now we have acknowledgement from the people who make PlayStation that a free emulator is good enough to be official."

Cifaldi isn't advocating for the PlayStation Classic or the emulator per se, but instead is arguing that the fact the PlayStation Classic uses the PCSX is a vote of confidence in the emulator itself. Sony wouldn't sell its customers something subpar, and instead opted to use a readily available emulator they believed was up to standards.

The PlayStation Classic will be available this December for $100. That's more expensive than either the NES or SNES Classic, and while the product is nice there have been some hesitation on account of the PlayStation Classic's library. We still went ahead and ranked the PlayStation games that will be on the Classic, but we would have maybe preferred what Japanese gamers are getting in their consoles.

Check out our PlayStation Classic guide for release info, games list, and more.

This article may contain links to online retail stores. If you click on one and buy the product we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.

Comments 14

  • Avatar for SargeSmash #1 SargeSmash 11 days ago
    Indeed, the best offerings from the emulation community has been outstripping most official emulation options for a long time. There's a reason that folks gripe about various compilations, or sub-par Virtual Console implementations; we've been playing for some time in more accurate emulators.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #2 Funny_Colour_Blue 11 days ago
    Didn't Frank Cifaldi do this great panel at GDC one year?

    I'm probably mis-remembering this, but I think he mentions (or was it DYKG?) something about Connectix Video Game Station. the original Mac Emulator that would let you run Playstation Games on your Mac and PC, with the actual discs.

    Sony sued Connectix and connectixVGS was discontinued, but what was interesting, I think - I can't confirm this - but supposedly, didn't they end up hiring the programmer who worked on connectix and then used that same emulation software in, I think, the PS2, PS3 and PSP for PSone classics? I'm not clear on this, but it was a really interesting story and it blew my mind when I first heard it.

    Either way, this is really great news all around. It's starting that discussion - wouldn't it be great if 40 years from now, you could pick up Crash Bandicoot, just as easily as you could pick up The Greatest Hits of Queen, Elvis or the Beatles and be able to play it on anything that you owned?Edited 4 times. Last edited 2 weeks ago by Funny_Colour_Blue
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Thad #3 Thad 11 days ago
    ...what a baffling article. This is 2018. I don't know why anyone would doubt that open-source software can be high-quality at this point.

    I'm typing this right now on an open-source operating system. It's called Android. Perhaps you've heard of it?

    Is the server that's hosting this website running Apache, perchance? Maybe MySQL? Perhaps even, dare I suggest, Linux? All open-source.

    This isn't 1998. Free and open source software is not a new idea. It is a known quantity. It's in our phones, our desktops, our laptops, our TVs -- even, in some cases, our microwaves, toasters, refrigerators, thermostats, and garage door openers

    This isn't even the first PlayStation to run open-source software; the PS3 ran a BSD-based OS.

    You're almost certainly reading this, right now, in a web browser that has open-source components.

    Of course open source software can be high-quality. We use open-source software every day. Every one of us.

    But the real question this raises: PCSX isn't merely free/open-source; it's published under the GPL, a license that requires anyone who releases a modified version to release the modifications under the same license. So has Sony modified the PCSX code and, if so, when can we expect to see those modifications published?
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for docexe #4 docexe 11 days ago
    @Thad To be fair, I think it boils down to the fact that many people don't really know what the term “Open Source software” actually means.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for btsierra #5 btsierra 11 days ago
    "Sony wouldn't sell its customers something subpar"

    Rebuttal: This thing's selection of titles.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for BulkSlash #6 BulkSlash 11 days ago
    I must admit I am surprised Sony went this way, all the PS1 games emulated on the PSP/PS3/Vita all ran without glitches or problems. I’d been assuming they’d use their own emulator again.

    I agree with Cifaldi that open source emulators can be great but I don’t think it’s always the case that the community knows hardware better than the creators. The knowledge the community has is always from reverse engineering the technology, in the case of certain arcade hardware like Model 2 and Model 3 we still don’t have perfect emulation of those systems because they’re still not fully understood. I would think Sega still has access to the technical documentation of that hardware and could do a better (or at least quicker) job of getting an accurate emulator running.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for mobichan #7 mobichan 11 days ago
    I don't think the idea that "the parent company of a console can make superior emulators" is being debunked here. The parent company has the actual knowledge of the console's ins and outs and hopefully the staff that designed it still employed there. Now, whether or not that parent company wants to invest the money to gather those resources and create the definitive emulator is another question. I am guessing the case here was that Sony said "those guys did good enough for our needs so don't bother spending any money on R&D".

    There are great emulators out there made by passionate people and I recognize and applaud their work. But their work would be better if they could chat with the hardware developers and get spec manuals from the source (instead of leaked, piecemeal info from people breaking NDA's).Edited 2 weeks ago by mobichan
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for SIGGYZtar #8 SIGGYZtar 11 days ago
    "It's a Sony" used to be a marker of high quality products, and it would imply development quality. It is one thing for the company to use an open source emulator, but it's another thing to see how the company's internal software development teams failed to measure up to what's commonly available out there. Sony is definitely cutting costs for this device, and if there are any legal troubles that could arise, especially related to the GPL3 License, it's only a one off design, that cannot be adopted for their PS4 family.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Sturat #9 Sturat 10 days ago
    I think the interesting part of the story is the way game publishers will fight against fan projects like emulators (even ones that are made to run legitimate game discs like Bleem) but are happy to profit from fans' unpaid work.

    I also think the best way to protect your products against piracy and derivative works is to make a paid experience that is undeniably superior to what people can get for free, and when the paid experience uses freeware it becomes more difficult to argue its value.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for pennybags #10 pennybags 8 days ago
    @Funny_Colour_Blue it was Bleem they tried to sue
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for pennybags #11 pennybags 8 days ago
    @mobichan PlayStation emulation is pretty much a solved problem. They could only do worse
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for pennybags #12 pennybags 8 days ago
    @Sturat they could certainly do a lot to improve the experience, but there's no way they could improve the actual emulation part to be noticeably better than what's freely available.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #13 donkeyintheforest 6 days ago
    I actually really liked the way the Switch's NES emulation looked when it first launched. There was a lot of glowing and sizzle to the screen that emulated the look of a CRT far beyond simply adding some scan lines and bubbling the screen. Seems like that was causing issues for lots of people though and looks to have been patched out now which makes me sad. I haven't seen that level of CRT emulation in any other emulator; open source or proprietary. Why did no one talk about it??
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for vinedo #14 vinedo 4 days ago
    I am huge fan of games and emulators. Now i am ready to take Playstation Classic emulator. This is one of the best solution they have found it btw i am playing android games now days on pc with the help of nox app player . And i am become fan of this emulator, it runs games smooth and fast. Best experience.
    Sign in to Reply