Sony just can’t seem to make people happy with the PS3. They formally announced the much-rumored 40GB version of the PS3 — currently available only in Europe though it’ll probably hit the states before too long — that’ll be the cheapest model yet and every gaming site I’ve read is calling it the worst version of the PS3 so far. So what has them all up in arms? This version has done away with PS2 backwards compatibility.
This prompted the folks at Joystiq to give it their first ever W.T.F. award saying:
We are presenting the first-ever Joystiq W.T.F. award for Sony, who managed to single-handedly outshine the Microsoft / Bungie schism by deciding not to make the newest PlayStation 3 model backwards compatible … at all.
Even though it cost them practically nothing to upload written software that lets it work, Sony in its Great Benevolence decided to screw customers but tell them that it’s for their own good. doth quote the Penny Arcade, “we need you to believe another new lie.” Congratulations on the dubious award…
Then the guys over at Aeropause put it this way:
So why is this the worst idea to ever come from Sony? Because it basically brings the PlayStation 3 back to its absolute zero starting point with its biggest unserved fan base—the PS2 owners who have held out because of price. By turning the PS3 into a PS3-only gaming machine, they have re-launched the PS3 with almost no draw for those people. It’s no longer an “upgrade” or a “replacement” for the PS2, giving them pride in their brand loyalty, it’s a brand new machine that stands alone and doesn’t replace anything at all. Heck, it probably won’t even replace their DVD player. It might as well have ATARI written on it instead of Sony PlayStation. Maybe we can call it the 40GB ZetaSystem?
That bears restating, so here goes: It makes the PS3 into just a separate, incompatible console in the eyes of their fan base who has held out to see the price fall. Just like the Xbox 360 and just like the Wii for PS2 owners, the PS3 is a new box that will sit next to their existing box. The Wii replaces the GameCube with full backwards compatibility. The 360 replaces the Xbox with a wide variety of popular titles backwards compatible. With relatively few exclusives and a weaker online service, the PS3 may not exactly jump off the shelves at the same price as the already-launched 360.
The way some of these sites are reacting you’d think Sony had committed a cardinal sin. Don’t get me wrong, I think having backwards compatibility is a good selling point, but it’s hardly a necessary feature that should be a deal breaker for anyone. Let’s be honest, how many of you PS2 owners still play any PS1 games on your PS2 these days? If you’re anything like me then chances are you’ve not booted up a PS1 game since you picked up your fourth or fifth PS2 game. It’s a great feature to have for the first few months after launch when there’s not a lot of new games for the new system yet, but it doesn’t take long before you’re not bothering with booting up the old games any longer. At that point what difference does it make?
Personally I’d be more than willing to toss aside backwards compatibility for a cheaper PS3. It’s not like my PS2 suddenly becomes inoperable once I hook up that PS3 though I suspect history may repeat itself and it’ll get a lot less use. I’m actually a lot more concerned with the fact that the new model drops two of the four USB ports and the multi memory card port though, again, these are nice things to have but not deal breakers. I’ve never used the USB ports on my PS2 and while I’d like to think I’d make use of the multi memory card port the truth is I probably wouldn’t. Lastly if you just have to have these things they’re still selling the 80GB model which includes them all.
So, really, what’s the problem? Everyone, including myself, has been bitching about wanting a cheaper PS3 for ages and now that Sony has obliged it seems everyone’s bitching that it’s not exactly the same as the more expensive model. Seriously, did you people expect that just dropping the HD by 40GBs was going to allow for a $100 price drop? The argument seems to be that with the backwards compatibility being done in software on the 80GB model there’s no real reason it shouldn’t be on the 40GB model. It’s entirely possibly the only reason it’s not on the 40GB model is because Sony’s keeping that feature for the 80GB version as a selling point and that’s not unreasonable at all. It seems to me the folks who’d be most concerned with it would want the 80GB version anyway.
But that’s just my take on it. All the noise and fury over this new version of the PS3 seems like a whole lotta fuss over something that’ll probably be a moot point in the near term anyway.