Sony to Euro PS3 Buyers: Don’t Look Back

The PlayStation 3 consoles about to be sold in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Australia will not be as compatible with PlayStation 2 games as those sold elsewhere. The news may bother many gamers, but it probably won’t affect Sony’s bottom line.

“Whatever the game console manufacturers do, there are always going to be some dissatisfied gamers, no question about it,” Michael Cai, Parks Associates gaming analyst, told TechNewsWorld. The fact that the PS3s coming to market in Eurasia on March 23 will be less adept at playing PS2 games should not significantly impact the sales and overall success of the new platform, he added.

Different Specs

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE), in announcing the hardware specifications for the consoles, conceded they differ from the units currently being sold in the United States and elsewhere.

“The European PS3 … embodies a new combination of hardware and software emulation” which will allow the units to play “a broad range” of PlayStation and a “limited range” of PS2 games, said SCEE. The company said it purposely is designing the new consoles to have limited PS2 capability.

“PS3 is first and foremost a system that excels in playing games specifically designed to exploit the power and potential of the PS3 system,” Sony said.

SCEE stressed that PS3 games offer much higher-quality graphics, game-play and audio than PlayStation or PS2 titles. “Rather than concentrate on PS2 backwards compatibility, in the future, company resources will be increasingly focused on developing new games and entertainment features exclusively for PS3, truly taking advantage of this exciting technology,” explained SCEE.

Software-Based Compatibility

In essence, the forthcoming consoles will rely on software to “emulate” the work done by computer chips in American PS3s that allow those units to be compatible with PS2 games. The Eurasian consoles’ backward compatibility will be flexible, according to SCEE.

“Some additional PS2 titles will become compatible on the PS3 system through regular downloadable firmware updates,” the company stated. These will be available from the PlayStation Web site or via PS3 discs, said Sony.

Additionally, console owners will be able to check whether their PS2 games are compatible with the PS3 by visiting faq.eu.playstation.com/bc after March 23, the company noted.

Feeling Slighted

Some Eurasian gamers aren’t happy, especially since Sony delayed the release of the PS3 in Europe, Africa and Asia and is charging more for it in some places than it did in North America. “Thats great,” wrote a person on one game forum, noting the company stalled the console’s release, is charging “extortionate” prices and is limiting the unit’s backward compatibility.

The decision to change the box’s guts is perceived by many to be a cost-cutting measure. There’s no real gain in making the PS3 fully PS2-compatible even if cost wasn’t a factor, Cai noted.

“If you look at the PS2 install base, there are more than 120 million units worldwide,” he stated. “And they are not discontinuing the PS2 quite yet. They’re still selling a lot of them. … If you already have such a large install base and if most of the PS3 buyers already have PS2, from a gamer’s perspective is backward compatibility all that important?” Cai asked.

“Hard-core gamers” who buy PS3s are “probably going to shift their budget to that new platform anyway,” he concluded.

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