80GB PlayStation 3 to Have Limited Backward Compatibility

All eyes directed to the PlayStation 3 earlier this week were on its $100 price drop, with few paying much attention to the future 80GB PS3 bundle that will soon occupy the $599 price point. Those planning on waiting until August for the MotorStorm bundle should take note that the hardware inside the 80GB version will differ from all the PlayStation 3 systems released in North America thus far.

Taking a magnified view of the box art of the 80GB PS3 bundle supplied by SCEA, one can clearly read on the side of the package the following text:

“This product has limited backward compatibility with PlayStation and PlayStation 2 format software. Many PlayStation and PlayStation 2 format software titles operate, but full compatibility is not guaranteed. Updating the system software may improve compatibility. Visit www.us.playstation.com for system software update.”

The move to using software emulation instead of hardware backwards compatibility is a cost-cutting measure for Sony. It is unclear when or if the 60GB PlayStation 3 consoles will be affected, though it would be logical to assume that both console variants will inevitably share the same hardware aside from differing hard disk drives.

In February, Sony revealed that its European-spec PlayStation 3 consoles are shipping with revised hardware that are without the Emotion Engine and Graphics Synthesizer chips used for PlayStation 2 software backwards compatibility. Instead, the PlayStation 3 hardware would emulate the older systems through software, though Sony admitted that backwards compatibility suffers without the dedicated chips. 80GB PlayStation 3 hardware without the dedicated chips first appeared at the console’s launch in South Korea.