A month before its December release, the PlayStation Classic is in the hands of a select few for preview purposes. While there have been critiques regarding the barebones menu and the game selection, the most interesting fact coming out of these previews is the PlayStation Classic’s software. Rather than any internal emulation solution, Sony has chosen to use PCSX ReARMed, an open source PlayStation emulator available online.
Some might be skeptical that the company that makes the PlayStation is using software developed by enthusiasts. However, it might just be the best option available. Gaming historian Frank Cifaldi spoke about the issue on Twitter, calling the move one of validation for open source software.
I want to expand on this now that it's kind of blowing up. There's been this decades-long myth that emulators a company makes and sells you are somehow better. Now we have acknowledgement from THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE PLAYSTATION that a free emulator is good enough to be official.
— Frank Cifaldi (Unlicensed).nes (@frankcifaldi) November 9, 2018
While not endorsing the mini-console, Frank does make a valid point. Why should Sony invest into their own proprietary software when something just as good is up for grabs?
“The collective knowledge of the emulation community is going to exceed “internal” knowledge almost every time.” Frank continued in the Twitter thread. “Working at Sony doesn’t give you secret access to perfect knowledge of a now-ancient system. To me, this is a really obvious move that every company should be making.”
Sure, the optics on Sony profiting off the work of others without contributing to the project are not great. While that goes against the spirit of open source, it’s still a pretty big win for those developers.
Sony isn’t even the only games company out there taking advantage of the emulation scene. While Nintendo has publicly battled emulation for many years online, they’ve certainly utilized the scene’s work on more than one occasion. Official virtual console releases have utilized ROMs acquired online. In addition, Nintendo has dabbled in special save states on the Switch’s NES service that play a whole lot like ROM hacks.
[Image by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images]