On Friday we reported on the cut down European PS3, and not surprisingly it’s caused some murmurings around the Internet.
Dan Nicolae Alexa over at Playfuls.com has written a long and generally insightful article, which basically (and this probably does an injustice to the points he covers) points the finger of blame over the hardware modification of PAL version PS3s at Sony’s management.
Sony transformed this famous compatibility in early stages of development into one of the key features for its product, triumphantly declaring that the HD experience of PS2 games played on PS3 will likely increase the level of satisfaction for hard-core gamers.
Sony are reportedly losing a lot of money on their Playstation consoles, and they seem to be happy to do whatever it takes to claw back a bit of cash. Removing the Emotion Engine takes the developer (Toshiba et al) out of the equation, and 11% of the manufacturing cost. Sony still sell the PS3 at a loss (though Europe will pay more than the US for the console), but not as much.
Just to put the boot in a bit more, though it’s an important point if true, is that:
the Cell CPU, which is the core of every PS3, is so complicated that High Moon Studios has invited IBM engineers and a handful of other Vivendi Games studios, such as Swordfish and Radical Entertainment, to a workshop that aims to teach developers how to effectively harness the power of the Cell… So again, what guarantees do I have that PS3 will run PS2 games fine, if even the developers are confused and overwhelmed?
The conclusion is that European gamers are being ripped off, because many that pre-ordered did so on the understanding and expectation that their PS2 games would play on the PS3. Add to this that some think the current crop of PS3 games are, well, crap. Maybe because the Cell is so hard to fathom?
The facts show that Sony did not revolutionize gaming with its product, it only brought losses to the company and disappointment to its fans. I personally confess that I love them for the PSP, but I hate’em for the PS3.
On the other hand, we have the viewpoint of Next Generation, who writes that “backwards compatibility is No Big Deal; a lot of noise made by a vocal minority.”
In fact, the company told us it would drop hardware emulation way back in the summer of 2006. A report in Ultra One Monthly, a Japanese technology magazine in June of last year stated that the firm would be removing the PS2 chipset from future revisions of the PS3 hardware once it completed development of a software-based emulator.
They argue that backwards compatibility usually comes pretty low down on a list of features gamers look for in a new console, though they concede that some PS2 owners who traded in their console to help finance a PS3 might now feel a bit hacked off.
They also make the interesting point that Nintendo pay very little attention to backwards compatibility, to the point where they’re now selling recodes of old games for new consoles. It’s the companies (Microsoft, Sony) that never started out in gaming that are getting the backlash.
Two interesting opposing viewpoints on Sony’s cost-cutting exercise. What do you think?