Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
26 February 2007
Response to Next-Gen editorial on PS3 BC
Colin Campbell gives a spirited defense of Sony's decision to drop the hardware in the PlayStation 3 that provided near complete backward compatibility with PSOne and PlayStation 2 software. I'm a fan of such compatibility, and I'm of course distressed that we may see compatibility diminish from what we've come to expect from the original. Campbell's editorial has a link soliciting responses and here's how I replied.
Two key points are glossed over in your piece.

  1. True, Nintendo is not providing backward compatibility to all its previous consoles. However, this misses the important point that Nintendo is providing GameCube compatibility in the Wii. While it does not necessarily imply that Nintendo sees great value in backward compatibility, if it felt that it weren't worth the effort it would not have spent the time and money to make it polished enough for consumers to use in the finished hardware.

  2. Sony knows that its most important PlayStation 3 software will not arrive until later in 2007. In fact, the most important software for Sony's console business in the next six months will probably be on the PlayStation 2: Guitar Hero II and God of War 2, among others.

    Consequently, it would be foolish to limit PlayStation 2 backward compatibility on the PlayStation 3. Doing so would provide one more hurdle to the consumer considering a PlayStation 3.

    While I can grant that PSOne compatibility is not critical, I cannot discount the importance of PlayStation 2 software as the PlayStation 3 gets up to speed.
In defense of your position, I would add:
  1. A frugal shopper can get full PlayStation 2 and PSOne compatibility for under $100. It's called a PlayStation 2, and they're on store shelves now. It's a minor price to pay for hardware that plays some of the best games from the past 12 years.

  2. Moreover a point I thought you might have made in your defense of Sony is that no one knows the extent of the compatibility offered yet. Perhaps they're playing it safe and it'll be higher than the pessimists expect. And, at the very least, there is the potential for it to significantly improve over time.

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--Matt Matthews at 11:43
Comment [ 8 ]

Comments on this post:

There's far more money to be made in selling those old games again via download than by worrying about backwards compatibility. This may be the last generation of consoles that even worries with it at all.

By Anonymous fnc, at 26 February, 2007 17:05  

My take is that backwards compatibility is pretty vital at launch. If you can tell your consumers, it's safe to trade in your old machine, it's safe to replace it in your entertainment system, you can put it where your old one is so you don't have to buy a new TV stand, it makes people feel better about buying your product, and that's the most important part of marketing: making people feel good about your product. If they have to choose between a) not trading in, and having everything hooked up to the TV despite lack of room and b) losing the ability to play their favorite PS2 games, you're basically losing sales.

By Blogger webrunner, at 26 February, 2007 17:06  

PS2 is still selling for $129.99 I'm waiting for it to drop below $100 before I replace mine (again).

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 February, 2007 17:22  

Anon: I realized as I was reading your comment that the new price was, indeed, different. The price in my head was that of a local book/media shop that has tons of used systems. They've got it right at $99.99, as I recall.

I do expect that new PS2 units should be under $100 before the end of the year.

By Blogger jvm, at 26 February, 2007 18:28  

If there's no PS3 software, and you can have a PS2 for a song, and the most important software for Sony for essentially all of this year will be on PS2, then why buy a PS3 at all?

Why continue supporting that kind of company.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 26 February, 2007 19:08  

Yeah, I couldn't agree more. It's a bad idea - but I'm willing to wait for the launch to see how bad.

BC is actually a big deal for me and any console this generation will not fair well with me unless it has near 100% compatibility. I don't have an Xbox - but if I got a 360 I'd sure like to play any Xbox game I wanted. Same with the Wii and GameCube. And I have a large PS2 library and yes - I'd like to keep some of them if I ever upgraded to the HD generation.

Some slashes in the UK PS2 market are due - if the unofficial core 360 price cuts hit there as well.

By Blogger Josh, at 26 February, 2007 20:19  

I look at it this way... if the software emulator is not totally retarded, we might see better scaling and better HD support for older games in software (the PS3 is more than capable to handle it, I think...)

I'm not going to totally poo-poo over the idea of the software emu being totally gimped... and I agree that total BC is nigh on impossible without sacrificing future enhancement...

Only launch will tell how the SW emu fares. Hopefully it is merely a marker on the road to a cheaper, less bulky PS3... and it affects BC little if any....

With ALL the bad press Sony's been getting, having this on Europe's launch plate is a bit strange... even for them :)

By Blogger JFTaylor, at 26 February, 2007 22:23  

I doubt Sony is as of yet that much concerned about bad press. It has, as of yet, done them no apparent harm.

The PS3 isn't selling as well as they might wish, but there are reasons far beyond bad press. The PSP sold well in the face of both bad press and a belief that there wasn't even much worth buying to play on it. The PS2 continues to be a success despite a history of stories.

By Anonymous Baines, at 27 February, 2007 15:46  

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