New PS4 Emulator Can Play Hundreds Of Games

Hands holding a PlayStation 4 Controller.

Photo: Alex Pantling (Getty Images)

Spine is the first, and only, stable PlayStation 4 emulator available, and its game library was updated on September 1. Hundreds of new games are now somewhat playable on this emulator, and the developer promised additional titles in the future.

The emulator was first announced via a YouTube video that was uploaded on July 3, 2019. It showed off emulated titles such as Megaman Legacy Collection and Stardew Valley. There have been other attempts to emulate the PlayStation 4. Orbital, another endeavor, isn’t ready to be released to the public, and the Windows- based GPCS4 can’t play any games yet. “PCSX4″ appeared to be another PS4 emulator that seemed to show some promise, but it was later reported to be a scam.

The Spine project is closed source as developer Zecoxao said they wanted to avoid “diluting” the emulator’s development.

While running over three hundred PS4 games is an unprecedented feat, it should be noted that Spine is unlikely to be running intensive AAA games at top performance right now. The majority of its initial library were indie games, and the developer stated in the release notes that 2D games achieve the best performance in Spine. The GitHub notes indicate that the emulator allows players to use a keyboard right now.

I admit, it feels kind of bad that such an impressive emulator can allow the Linux-owning public to play a ton of indie games that are still being sold. There’s an argument to be made regarding how emulators can aid in the historical preservation of games. Indie developers are often more reliant on sales to survive since they don’t have the same resources or name recognition of larger studios backed by massive publishers. A quick glance at the screenshot of the game list does reveal several unlocalized game titles. The Aibeya and the Aikagi games listed, for example, were never officially released outside of Japan. Spine could allow more people to experience games that would otherwise be prohibitively difficult to obtain.

While players on a Windows operating system are still out of luck, a working emulator on any operating system is an impressive feat of reverse engineering.

Update 09/10/2023 1:37 p.m. ET: Updated wording to make clear the emulator itself does not download or supply game ROMs.



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