40GB PlayStation 3 to Hit North American Shores Nov. 2

With the 40GB PlayStation 3 already loose and about in Europe, and a Ceramic White colored one bound for Japan, it’s nearly certain that a fourth PS3 SKU will be touching North American shores in time for the holiday buying season.

While SCEA’s public relations department has been strangely mum on the upcoming console, SCEA president Jack Tretton spilled the beans to Reuters early Thursday morning. Tretton said that the 40GB model will launch on November 2 at the expected price of $399.99.

Matching up with analyst expectations, the price of the 80GB model will fall the $499.99 – the price currently held by the 60GB PlayStation 3, which are becoming a retail rarity since Sony stopped producing it.

Like the 40GB PlayStation 3 hardware that is hitting the rest of the globe, the one bound for North America also will be without any form of backwards compatibility for PlayStation 2 titles. Original PlayStation games will still be playable through software emulation, but 40GB PS3 will be unable to support any PS2 games due to the removal of both the Emotion Engine and Graphics Synthesizer.

Dedicated PS2 hardware was first removed in the European PlayStation 3, and later the 80GB North American model, but those were still able to play a limited number of legacy titles. The new 40GB model will eschew classic games altogether, which Sony says is to better focus on making PlayStation 3 games rather than concentrating on making older PS2 games run on its newest hardware.

With the PS2 consistently outselling the newer PS3, Sony is still mass manufacturing the previous generation hardware. “We’re choosing to focus on the PlayStation 2 consumer with the PlayStation 2, which remains incredibly relevant, and focus on the PlayStation 3 consumer with the new 40-gigabyte model and the great software coming out,” Tretton said. “Backward compatibility is a nice secondary consideration, but it’s far from the number-one priority.”

The 40GB PlayStation is also equipped with two fewer USB ports and no memory card reader, which are available on the 80GB model, as a further cost-reducing measure. Tretton made no mention of the expected Spider-Man 3 Blu-ray Disc pack-in, though details of that may be saved for the pending official announcement.

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