Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
23 February 2007
The first PS3 hardware revision shipping next month?
Reports this morning like this one at Next-Gen.biz and this one at Reuters indicate that something has happened to the PlayStation 3 hardware. The result is reduced PlayStation 2 compatibility. If the Reuters report is to be believed then, it looks like an internal change (my emphasis):
Software will take over some of the functionality that was originally taken care of by dedicated chips, which means far fewer PlayStation 2 (PS2) games can be played on a European PS3 compared with the Japanese and American PS3 models which play 98 percent of old games.

So the first hardware revision of the PlayStation 3 may be to remove the PS2 chips that were inside to provide compatibility? I have no idea how much that costs, but perhaps it will save some dough. Then later this year there will be the move to a 65nm chip fabrication process for the Cell which will, supposedly, cut costs for Sony even more.

If the hardware has changed, I wonder when we'll see those systems on American shelves. As I've said before, initial console hardware often has its own bugs, but also has features that get cut from later revisions. Not that is was a particularly bold prediction, but I did say at the time:
If/when they move to a software emulator I think it highly unlikely that they'll achieve the same compatibility they can with hardware. Then again, the mighty Cell is magick, so anything's possible.
Looks like that's coming true.

Even these cost-cutting measures may not mean a cut in price for the PlayStation 3. As indicated in this Next-Gen.biz report, Sony may look at adding cheap bits to the package to make the current prices more acceptable. That didn't work for the PSP and it won't work for the PlayStation 3 either.

I think Sony is missing the point. The $500 and $600 prices are simply too high for most people, regardless of what kind of bonus junk you pack in the box. There's a mental barrier around $300 beyond which most people will simply stop paying attention. Sony needs a basic system at $400 to be on the periphery of consumer consciousness.

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--Matt Matthews at 08:39
Comment [ 5 ]

Comments on this post:

Per Gamasutra:
"SCEE also indicates that a device compatible with Linear PCM 7.1 Channel is required to output 7.1 channel audio, supported by Dolby TrueHD or a similar format, from the PAL PlayStation 3's HDMI OUT connector. The PAL PlayStation 3 will also not support output from the DTS-HD 7.1 channel, instead outputting it from a 5.1 or lower channel. Finally, SCEE indicates that “usability of all storage media types is not guaranteed” – presumably referring to PlayStation and PlayStation 2 memory cards."

Were any of these things present in the NTSC PS3s? That's a plethora of gimptastic goodness right there.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 23 February, 2007 11:17  

I subscribe to your blog, and enjoy reading your posts. I appreciate the real, often cynical, analysis of our hobby. However, even after reading your blog for a while, I've yet to detect which of the next-gen consoles (if any) that you own. Do you own a PS3, 360, or a Wii? If not, which one are you looking to purchase in the future? Once again, keep up the good work.

By Anonymous Chad, at 23 February, 2007 11:47  

Jeremy: I have no idea. I just got up to speed on HDTV information, and the various audio components are lost on me. I use two basic speakers with my systems.

Chad: I will eventually own a PlayStation 3 and a Wii (probably in that order). I will not own an Xbox 360 for at least 6-7 years, probably. I'm just now considering buying an original Xbox, now that they're out of the loop commercially.

By Blogger jvm, at 23 February, 2007 12:06  

Is the 7.1 "gimpness"? I think the PS3 is the same and I wasn't aware that the 360 (which completely lacks HDMI) is any better.

Anyway, I still say Sony's whiff at the moment isn't the price point - it's the lack of value add to make up for the price point. Blu-Ray is more attractive than the gaming set wants to admit - the PS3 alone has boosted Blu-Ray sales greatly.

But that's just not enough. Their online services appear lacking, their downloadable offerings seem shy and their web services are almost non-existent.

And decreasing compatibility? Ick. Yuck. I noted on CT that sure, it might be easier to upgrade the compatibility in the future - but I think Sony not aiming for 100% compatibility 100% of the time is shooting themselves in the foot.

By Blogger Josh, at 23 February, 2007 19:24  

It's not the 7.1 per se that's gimpness, it's that it's not fully supporting the BluRay standard, because it's not able to output DTS-HD properly.

For all practical purposes, DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD should be the same (both lossless audio formats), so maybe it doesn't matter.

There may be a technical difference there though about actually storing eight channels of audio versus storing six channels with the additional channels matrixed (that's how the 7.1 versions of DTS and DD worked on DVD).

I don't honestly know.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 23 February, 2007 20:12  

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