Since Sony dropped the PlayStation 2 compatibility from the PlayStation 3 early on as a price move to get the price of the console down, we have not heard as much hype as we did at the launch of the PlayStation 3 of the importance of backward compatibility. Apparently, Sony has been at least investigating its options; and has covered its bases with a patent for a new PlayStation 2 backward compatibility add-on for the PlayStation 3.
From what we can gather, this add-on would connect to the PlayStation 3 and provide PlayStation 2 compatibility. The add-on would have its own CPU, GPU, sound processor and a DVD decoder that would be emulated, we suspect. It has been suggested that the add-on would connect to the PlayStation 3 via USB; and once connected, it would offer pretty much full backward compatibility for the majority of the PlayStation 2 library.
News that Sony is going to sell a feature back to PlayStation 3 owners that it removed previously in the early generations of the consoles might not go over so well with many. Still, to be able to take advantage of the vast PlayStation 2 library of titles could be a big plus this holiday season, as Sony tries to get PlayStation 2 holdouts to upgrade to the PlayStation 3. As the number of titles for the PlayStation 2 start to wind down, this will lead to a number of users looking at upgrading; and Sony wants to keep them in the Sony family.
While some are already suggesting that this PlayStation 2 compatibility add-on could be a game changer for Sony this holiday season, we not so sure. It really depends on the cost of the add-on, if you ask us. With new PlayStation 2 consoles being sold for $100, we have to think that the company would need to price this add-on at $50 to make the sale of the add-on attractive. Still, at $50 it would add to the cost of the PlayStation 3 console; but those looking to move up might be tempted to upgrade if they don’t have to leave all of their PlayStation 2 titles behind when they do so.
If Sony is going to offer this PlayStation 2 compatibility add-on for the holidays, we expect an announcement soon; otherwise, it might be just a concept that Sony is looking at but has not made a final decision on. In the past, backward compatibility modules for gaming consoles have had mixed results. More often than not, however, most companies have opted to abandon their previous platform when moving forward. It could be, however, that Sony thinks that the numbers of users that could be enticed to upgrade by backward compatibility might justify its release. We will just have to wait and see.