With a four month delay, £125 price premium and elimination of the cheaper 20GB option you wouldn’t think Sony could alienate its European customer base anymore than it already has... but that’s where you’d be wrong.
Yesterday – just one month from the console’s official launch date – Sony sent round a curious press release to journalists detailing the ‘Hardware Specification of PlayStation 3 for Europe’. This seemed odd since other than switching to PAL and cutting on a different plug there seemed no need for a ‘European’ PS3. Then it all clicked into place when Sony referred to the machine being “compatible with a broad range of original PlayStation (PS) titles and a limited range of PlayStation 2 (PS2) titles”.
Surely this couldn’t be true, the PS3 released to the rest of the world officially plays 98 per cent of older PS2 and PS titles. So this was the hardware change...
It turns out that despite charging us a whopping great price premium Sony is actually cutting costs on the internals of our PS3s. Whereas consoles shipping to the rest of the world have a dedicated chip to handle backwards compatibility the European PS3s will scrap it in favour of weaker software emulation.
The reason: European law dictates that Sony will be responsible for the reliability of its console for up to two years and in the rest of the world it tends to be one year. Sony felt this could be compromised by the hardware which handles backwards compatibility so it was hauled out to replaced with a cheaper and more reliable software alternative that doesn’t work nearly so well.
Of course this raises three questions: 1. Just how much does “a broad range of PlayStation titles and a limited range of PlayStation 2 titles” equate to? 2. Why not simply make a reliable product? And 3.Just how unreliable does this mean other versions of the PS3 are? Obviously Sony didn’t comment on any of these points.
Instead it put out a ridiculous statement of self justification from SCE European President David Reeves.
“PS3 is first and foremost a system that excels in playing games specifically designed to exploit the power and potential of the PS3 system,” said Reeves, no doubt sensing the outrage that would greet these comments. “Games designed for PS3 offer incredible graphics quality, stunning gameplay and massively improved audio and video fidelity that is simply not achievable with PS and PS2 games.” Then here it came: “Rather than concentrate on PS2 backwards compatibility, in the future, company resources will be increasingly focused on developing new games and entertainment features exclusively for PS3, truly taking advantage of this exciting technology.”
Did you see it? It was subtle wasn’t it!
Now I won’t dignify this nonsense by responding to it but clearly Sony has sunk to new depths in the handling of its European customers. I can only hope that the public votes with its chequebook, namely by keeping it in their pocket, but I fear far too many will be unaware of this deliberately last minute alteration until it is too late.
At least now you are not one of those people though, are you...