Building on an idea he’s had since he was a kid, security software engineer CTurt has developed a way for people to play unofficial games on a PS2 console by burning them onto a DVD alongside an exploit.
If you are down for a very technical explanation of how it all works, please check out CTurt’s blog post. If you just want the tl;dr version, he basically created a way of “exploiting the console’s DVD player functionality” by triggering a corruption in video playback and then running a game through the resulting hole blown in the system’s copy protection.
Why does this matter? Because all you need to do is insert a disc, the same way you’d launch any other PS2 game. You don’t need to get a mod chip, you don’t need a special USB exploit, you just put the disc in and you can play fresh code without changing anything else about the console.
CTurt’s blog post goes to great lengths to emphasise the word “homebrew”, but if you were wondering about any more direct applications for this exploit, two of his demo videos show a PS2 running a SNES emulator and a “backup” copy of Shadow of the Colossus.
While this clearly works on a PS2, CTurt theorises that the same exploit (or at least the same principle) might work on everything from a PS1 to a PS4 as well, saying “there’s really no reason this general attack scenario is specific to the PlayStation 2 as all generations support some combination of burned media: from the PlayStation 1's CD support, to the PlayStation 3 and 4's Blu-ray support, with the PlayStation 4 having only removed CD support. Hacking the PS4 through Blu-ray BD-J functionality has long been discussed as an idea for an entry point. This may be something I would be interested in looking into for a long-term future project.”