PlayStation 4 hackers bring PS2 games and pirated software to the console

The Nintendo Switch isn’t the only console that’s a popular target for hackers and homebrew enthusiasts – the PlayStation 4 system has been hacked, bringing a flood of pirated software and the chance for tinkerers to play their own PlayStation 2 games on the more modern console.

According to Eurogamer, the exploit in the console’s software was discovered earlier this month, but it’s limited to consoles running system software 4.05. Given that most people automatically update their consoles and we’re now on system software 5.05, it’s safe to say there are very few PlayStation 4 consoles out there right now that will be able to actually take advantage of the exploit. 

However, that hasn’t stopped a sudden flurry of activity in the hacking community. Not long after the release of the exploit, we’re seeing Linux support and the creation of a homebrew enabler called PS4HEN. Now, hackers are able to install package files on PS4 consoles, use tools to decrypt games, and then re-package and install them on hacked consoles. 

Hack happy

Such is the popularity of the idea of backwards compatibility, work is also underway on reverse engineering popular PlayStation 2 games so that they can be played on the PlayStation 4. 

PlayStation 2 emulation is a feature that exists at system-level on the PlayStation 4 console and it offers games which tap into it a resolution and performance boost. It’s not been possible until now, however, for users to emulate all of their PlayStation 2 games. 

Instead they’ve had to rely on the very limited number of titles on the PlayStation Store. With this hack, though, there are now tools which allow users to place their own ISO files into a package which can be installed and operated on exploited consoles. 

Not every game will operate perfectly using this method, however. But given the clamor for backwards compatibility from PlayStation 4 owners it’s unsurprising that it’s being thoroughly tested.

This and the access to pirated software is, of course, moot for the vast majority of users who are running the latest system software which cannot be exploited with the same method. 

It’s worth bearing in mind that there are inherent risks and downsides when it comes to hacks such as these – running such old system software will mean that you’ll be unable to run more recent releases which have been mastered for later firmware updates; exploiting consoles will naturally void their warranty; and, of course, there’s the damage that piracy can do to the games industry and the people that work in it. 

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.