Sony recently released an “Ultimate FAQ” for their upcoming PlayStation 4 console. As part of this FAQ, they discuss whether or not arcade sticks for the PlayStation 3 will work on the new console. While the answer is generally no, they also mention that this might not be the case depending on the game. Specifically, Section 5 states the following:
Will PS3 peripherals such as fighting sticks and steering wheels work with PS4?
Generally speaking, no. However, at launch, users will be able to use these controllers if a specific game title allows it to be used within the game. This decision is upon the game developer and will vary from game to game.
In other words, developers can make it so that the games themselves will be able to recognize the PlayStation 3 peripherals, such as arcade sticks, and allow them to be used in game. While this isn’t full backwards compatibility with controllers, it does mean that the current crop of arcade sticks won’t be totally left behind by the new hardware.
The caveat is that the developers have to enable their use first. Here’s hoping that development teams working on fighting games for the PlayStation 4 take this into account.
Source: PlayStation Blog