What exactly is Sony up to with emulating PlayStation 2 games on the PS4? A report this week from Wired confirmed that the company is, in its own words, "working on utilizing PS2 emulation technology to bring PS2 games forward to the current generation," but it seems that the PlayStation 4 already has this capability (at least in part), and Sony has done nothing to publicize it.
Sony seems to be emulating PS2 games on the sly
As DigitalFoundry and Eurogamer pointed out earlier this month, the recently-released Star Wars: Battlefront bundle for the PS4 includes three Star Wars PS2 games that appear to be emulated, rather than ported, to the newer system. There are numerous clues suggesting that this is the case, including the appearance of the classic PlayStation 2 logo before the games load; the inclusion of an emulation system for memory cards; and the automatic mapping of old controller buttons on to the new Dual Shock 4. The games also receive a pretty impressive resolution boost, as DigitalFoundry shows in this informative video:
It seems odd, though, that Sony hasn't been more actively publicizing this technology. Although a limited number of older PS3 games can be played on the company's latest console via the PS Now streaming service, this isn't true backwards-compatibility, and it misses out on the amazing catalog of games released for the PS2.
We've no way of knowing how Sony plans to implement backwards compatibility in the future (the Holy Grail is simply being able to pop in your old PS2 discs and start gaming), but the company's comments to Wired suggest that it at least has bigger plans than simply bringing back a few old Star Wars titles.