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PS3 Backwards Compatibility Compromised
February 23, 2007
Thomas Mennecke
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The highly touted PS3 was scheduled to be released globally on November 17, 2006, however manufacturing difficulties with the PAL version forced its release to be pushed back until March 24 of this year. While the Japanese and North American markets have been enjoying the NTSC version of the PS3 for the last 2.5 months, the rest of the world has been restlessly waiting for their chance. Today, the annoyance of waiting has been fueled by news that the PAL version will have limited backwards compatibility.

Sony is currently facing very stiff competition in the gaming market, as the surprising success of the Nintendo Wii has caught gaming manufacturers off-guard. With a price tag of only $250.00 and a greater appeal to both female and male demographics, the Wii has been successfully outselling the competition in the United States.

Sony today released the technical specifications of the PAL PS3, which lacks a critical hardware component. Currently, NTSC PS3 consoles contain a dedicated PS2 Emotion Engine processor, which allows for nearly 98% backwards compatibility. In an effort to cut down on costs and likely be more competitive against the Nintendo Wii, Sony is eliminating that chip in the PAL version and instead relying on software emulation. As a result, it is expected that a far fewer number of PS2 games will be compatible with the PS3.

Despite what appears to be very disappointing news for gamers, Sony attempted to smooth over the situation by placing a more "forward looking" spin on the situation.

“PS3 is first and foremost a system that excels in playing games specifically designed to exploit the power and potential of the PS3 system,” said David Reeves, President of SCEE. “Games designed for PS3 offer incredible graphics quality, stunning gameplay and massively improved audio and video fidelity that is simply not achievable with PS and PS2 games. 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.”

Interestingly enough, while the move is designed to save money, the PAL version will cost considerably more. According to the Telegraph, the UK version of the PS3 will cost £100 (almost $200) more than the US version. Currently, the PS3 sells for about $599, while the European market will spend about $799. Americans also have the option to buy the cheaper 20 gigabyte version, with sells for approximately $500. The European and PAL market will not be so lucky, as only the 60 gigabyte version will be available, further enhancing the global pricing disparity.

Understandably, PAL market gamers are less than thrilled with this latest turn of events. They've endured a four month delay, will have less backwards compatibility, and will spend considerably more than NTSC markets.

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Technology News :: Hardware

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