Sony recently announced it has made changes to its PlayStation 3 video game console it will be offering to European customers beginning March 23. In a cost-cutting move, Sony has replaced legacy hardware chips which let the next-generation video game system emulate a PlayStation 2 console with a software-based emulation system. The result? The revised PlayStation 3 systems are backward compatible with fewer PlayStation 2 games. Although a software-based system can, in theory, be updated to improve compatibility and performance over time, Sony didn’t seem very interested, noting that it preferred to focus on PS3-exclusive technologies rather than work on PS2 backward compatibility.
As one might imagine, potential PlayStation 3 customers responded to the news of reduced backward compatibility with something less than overwhelming enthusiasm. In an effort to avoid adding another episode to Sony’s recent list of public relations disasters, Sony is publishing lists of PS2 and PSOne games and rating their compatibility with the European edition of the PlayStation 3. Games are rated at three levels: playing with no known issues on the PS3, playing with minor issues, or playing with noticeable issues.
If a game is not listed at all, “emulation is not yet supported on PlayStation 3.”
In order to play older games, new PlayStation 3 owners will need to download and install updated firmware. The firmware update also includes a Folding@Home client, as well as suport for Bluetooth wireless input devices and an optional on-screen keyboard.
Sony says it will continue compatibility testing and add additional titles to its compatibility list with future firmware upgrades. However, Sony re-emphasized its focus is not in providing complete backward compatibility, but in moving forward to develop the PlayStation 3 platform.