The other day, Sony announced the specs for the European PS3 launch and much to the dismay of many a European, the Emotion Engine, the chip that's inside every PS2, is not inside the PS3, as it is for the US and Japan PS3.
The Emotion Engine chip allows for a hardware-based backwards compatibility. In other words, you could stick any PS2 game into the PS3 and it would play.
That is no longer that case as the European PS3s will have to use software emulation to play PS2 games (much like the Xbox 360 does to play Xbox games). The list of PS2 games is very limited, according to the press release, and although Sony has a list of backwards compatible PS2 games, it won't be updated until launch day. Bastards!
This exclusion of complete backwards compatibility can be seen as both a big deal and not so big a deal.
First, the not so big a deal. If you want to play PS2 games, you probably already have a PS2. Even with the emotion engine in the US and Japan PS3s, there were many complaints that PS2 games didn't look very good on the PS3. You are simply better off playing them on the PS2.
Also, the PS3 is for the cutting-edge technology and most gamers will probably wait to buy one until there are some great games out for it. There isn't anybody saying, "I can't wait to buy a PS3 to play my PS2 games on it."
Now, the big deal argument. Personally, I do think this is a big deal for several reasons. First, Sony promised gamers this backwards compatibility. It's yet another broken promise.
Second, Sony did this to save about $30 per system. Seriously!?! When you're losing hundreds of dollars on each system anyway, who cares about $30 in relation to the massive amount of uproar your're going to cause?
Third, it shows that Sony is continuing to make poor decisions which are only multiplying the negative image they currently have. They continue to dig themselves a bigger and bigger hole.
Four, it was a huge selling point that the PS3 played the entire library of PS2 games out of the box. This was one of the few advantages it had over the Xbox 360. Now, it's yet another reason to buy an Xbox 360.
In summary, Sony is in trouble. Deep trouble. Decisions such as this aren't helping them at all.