If you want to play your old PlayStation games, like Gran Turismo 3 or Gran Turismo 4, on the new generation of gaming console, it turns out that you can. However, before PlayStation 5 owners start to break out their games discs, it’s not Sony’s console that’ll play them. It’s Microsoft’s Xbox Series S and Series X.
Sony has had a bit of a hit and miss approach to backwards compatibility across the console generations. PS2 could play almost any PS1 game, as could PS3. However unless you had a very early PS3, it couldn’t play PS2 games. PS4 was an island all of its own with no backward compatibility, and the current PS5 will play almost any PS4 game. Fans were hoping for more.
The Xbox Series consoles appear to be the solution, but it’s not exactly straightforward — and not something suited to novices. It all comes about by the magic of emulation.
In essence, Microsoft will allow anyone to turn their home console into a developer kit. When you receive your Xbox Series console, it’s in “Retail Mode”, but you can get an app from the Microsoft Store to activate “Developer Mode” on the console. In order to use the app you’ll need to have an account with Microsoft’s Dev Center, which costs $19.
While activating Dev Mode on your Xbox Series prevents you from running retail games and apps, it does allow you to run other software — among them emulators. YouTube channel Modern Vintage Gamer (MVG) did just that, running an emulator which allowed them to play PS1, PS2, PSP, GameCube, and Dreamcast games. MVG posted a video showing some games running on the emulator, including Gran Turismo 4:
Interestingly, GT4 didn’t run entirely smoothly on the console, but further optimizations to the emulator in question should improve this situation. Nonetheless, it means that the Xbox Series consoles can now play six different Gran Turismo titles, while Sony’s own new-gen machine can only play Gran Turismo Sport.
Of course it’s far from an ideal situation, very much not officially sanctioned, and — lack of disk drive notwithstanding — you can’t exactly pop your original game disks in and enjoy some retro goodness. However, it’s a good demonstration of what’s possible on these advanced machines.
Time for Sony to get working on an official PS1/2/3 emulator for PS5…