When the PlayStation 3 was unveiled at E3 this past May, the majority of attention focused on its eye-popping graphics and hardware brawn. However, one selling point emphasized by Sony executives was that the console would be backward compatible not just with PlayStation 2 games, but also with those for the original PlayStation.
This week, though, that claim had some serious doubt cast on it--reportedly from a Sony spokesperson.
According to the IDG News Service, the comment came as part of Sony's response to reported problems with the silver slimline PlayStation 2 (model number SCPH-75000), due for release in Japan on November 23. When the machine was unveiled last week, Sony published a list of nine PlayStation 2 games, including Tekken 5 and Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, and 38 PlayStation games, including Resident Evil 2 and Worms, which have encountered problems playing on the silver PS2. Speaking to IDG in Tokyo on Monday, Sony Computer Entertainment spokesperson Reiko Sakamoto said the problem was due to "multiple factors."
However, it was Sakamoto's comments regarding the PS3 that made the most headlines. When responding to questions about whether the SCPH-75000's backward-compatibility issues heralded similar problems with Sony's next-gen console, she demurred. "It's hard to say the PlayStation 3 will be 100 percent backwards compatible, but as we said earlier this year, we aim to make it so as much as possible," Sakamoto said, according to IDG. Attempts to elicit clarifying comments from Sony Computer Entertainment America reps were unsuccessful as of press time.
While significant--ranging from frozen cinematics and sluggish data saves--the problems reported with the SCPH-75000 were not widespread. They plagued only a small portion of the 8,000 PS2 and PSOne games that Sony tested. It should also be noted that the PS2 is not 100 percent backward compatible either, as SCEA maintains a list of PSOne games that cannot play on the console.
The PlayStation 3 is currently slated for released in spring of 2006. It's not the only next-gen console that's been dogged by backward-compatibility questions. Microsoft has admitted that a number of original Xbox games will not be playable on the Xbox 360. For its part, Nintendo has said the Revolution will support all GameCube discs and that it will play downloadable, emulated NES, SNES, and N64 games.