Following the recent news
of a new version of the PlayStation 3 hardware to debut for the console's European launch later this month, multiple new interviews have discussed the specifics and thinking behind the move.
“The original PS3 used the Emotion Engine/Graphics Synthesiser to emulate PS2 titles,” commented an unspecified Sony representative in an interview
posted on the company's Three Speech 'semi official' blog. “With the latest European specification we have removed the Emotion Engine, retaining the graphics chip. This has an impact on the number of PS2 titles that will be backwards compatible.”
While no specific reason for the shift from hardware to software emulation of PS2 titles was cited by Sony in the interview, many have speculated the move was made in an effort to cut costs. This theory was given further credence by Sony Computer Entertainment Australia managing director Michael Ephraim, who commented to consumer website GameSpot
that the move presented a cheaper, though admittedly less effective alternative for the technology giant.
"Clearly cost is one of the [reasons]. If software is cheaper than the cost of the chip, then why not do that?" commented Ephraim. "We will be working on delivering backward compatibility through software emulation. The software-emulation list will grow, and there's a Web site people can check to see what games are backward compatible. It will be a progressive emulation."
Approximately 98 percent of PlayStation and PlayStation 2 titles are backwards compatible with the U.S. and Japanese consoles, though Sony has not yet made available a list of which games will work on the PAL PlayStation 3. The company did note that such a list will be released care of an official website
, though this site is not expected to go live until the console's March 23 debut.
While the lack of a definitive list is sure to upset some who weigh the issue of backwards compatibility heavily in their decision to purchase the console, Sony does note that it is “assessing the extent of backward compatibility, and will continue to do so right up until launch.”
Adding to this, Sony has also emphasized that its focus remains on the current and future crop of software releases for the console, a move that in some ways echoes Microsoft's approach to the Xbox 360 and its slowly growing backwards compatibility with the existing original Xbox library.
The un-named Sony spokeperson noted in the Three Speech blog interview: “We will continue to offer firmware upgrades to increase the number of titles that are compatible, but 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.”