The guys at TotalVideoGames.com have a statement from Sony about the newly redesigned PS2 and its obvious lack of an expansion bay for the HDD add-on. They confirm that the HDD will not work with the new model, but they insist this is not a change in philosophy with regards to their support for the HDD expansion.
In a statement, Sony Computer Entertainment America defended the decision by saying, “The new PlayStation 2 was designed to be slimmer and more lightweight, and the current manufacturing, as well as capacity and design of the internal Hard Disk Drive would not allow for inclusion in the new hardware model.”
Fearing that it could be perceived as a change of direction, the statement continues by saying that, “The design of the new hardware is NOT a sign of Sony Computer Entertainment’s change in philosophy regarding the Hard Disc Drive. The internal Hard Disc Drive will continue to be sold in North America and Sony Computer Entertainment America will offer related services and customer support…Consumers who want and use the Hard Disk Drive are typically the more ‘hard core’ gamers, and with more than 27 million PlayStation 2 units already sold in North America, we feel that a majority of those HDD interested consumers already have their PlayStation 2 units…We are also looking into other memory options that would be compatible with the new PlayStation 2.”
Currently the only game that makes use of, let alone requires, the HDD is Final Fantasy XI which comes pre-installed on it so it’s open to debate how much of an impact this will really have. It certainly means developers can’t assume that every PS2 owner will have the option to make use of the HDD any longer and that may alter plans for support of the device in the future, but then most developers assume an add-on device such as this isn’t likely to achieve a huge penetration into the market in the first place so many are already not planning to support it. SOCOM was the killer app that drove adoption of the Network Adapter for the PS2 and it was hoped that FFXI would do the same for the HDD, but so far it hasn’t sold as well as had been hoped.
Consider that Sony estimates that there are around 1.4 million PS2 owners in North America who have the network adapter and actually use it to play online regularly as of last August. That’s certainly enough users to qualify the adapter as a big success despite being an additional cost. Now consider it in relation to the fact that there are over 27 million PS2s in North American homes and you realize that the adapter has managed to penetrate just over 5% of the potential PS2 market here.
It probably doesn’t help that FFXI itself requires a network adapter to play (it’s a MMORPG) and the vast majority of PS2 owners probably don’t already own one as Sony only started including it as a standard feature with new PS2 sales around a year or so ago. This effectively bumps the price of getting the HDD from $99 to $138.99 if you don’t already have the network adapter and while FFXI isn’t a bad game, it’s not enough of a killer app to convince a lot of people to fork out that kind of cash. With nothing else out there to make use of the HDD there’s little additional reason to get one unless you want to play FFXI, but even if you’re a huge fan of the Final Fantasy games you have to weigh the cost of buying everything you’d need to run it on the PS2 against the fact that you can buy the same game for your PC for $50. So you end up with a lot of folks (like me) who are holding off on buying the HDD for the PS2 until there’s more games that make use of it and at the same time the developers are holding off on making use of it until there’s more of an installed base. Add all of that up and you understand why Sony doesn’t think it’s a big friggin’ deal that their new version of the PS2 won’t work with the HDD.
Now that bit about them looking into “other memory options” opens up some intriguing possibilities… let the rumor mongering begin.