Sony dropped full PS2/PS1 backward compatibility from the PS3 a year ago, presumably to cut costs. The original two models of the PS3 had the Emotion Engine processor from the PS2 included in hardware, which meant that each PS3 came with, in effect, a PS2 built in. This solution apparently worked pretty well, but didn't sell too many $600 - $700 PS3s. Sony came out with a new design WITHOUT the Emotion Engine and dropped the price; that didn't help much either. Finally, this spring saw an increase in sales for the PS3 in Japan, driven apparently by several new A-List software titles. Sales in America have not increased outside of normal variances.
Not surprisingly, one of the most-quoted reasons by gamers for not buying a PS3 is the lack of backward compatibility. Gamers wanted the PS3 as introduced, except cheaper (game developers were pushing hard for this, as well). What Sony gave us was a slightly cheaper PS3 WITHOUT backward compatibility (a few other features were dropped in cheaper models, as well).
Presumably, Sony may have learned their lesson. From Sankaku Complex comes a story about a recently filed patent in America that (supposedly) shows a method for the PS3 to emulate the Emotion engine via software. I'm a bit confused on several issues here:
3) The best I can tell, this chart from Wikipedia is accurate. To sum up, the original 20GB and original 60GB had an Emotion Engine built in. In 2007, an 80GB model was released that had emulation, rather than an Emotion Engine processor. Later in the year, a 40GB model was released that had NO backward compatibility. Neither have the current 80GB or 160GB models.
4) I have never understood why Sony dropped the emulation (code, once written, does you no good if it's not used). The only answer I can see is that according to anecdote, Sony's PS2 emulation didn't even work as well at Microsoft's Xbox emulation.
5) Unless the re-introduction of emulation is accompanied by another price drop, I don't see how this will significantly boost sales. If it's GOOD emulation, that means I can go back to buying a NEW PS3 instead of a used one for myself, but...if there's no price drop, why buy it now when you wouldn't buy it before?
6) I seriously doubt that emulation is going to allow you to play ALL of your PS2 titles on the PS3. Even including the Emotion Engine IN the PS3 didn't give you 100% flawless playability. Xbox emulation is pretty good, and you get, what 85% backward compatibility? Maybe close to 90%? Haven't looked in a while. If you're a Sony fanboy, I'm sure you believe that Sony will do it better than Microsoft, but it STILL won't be 100%, or even close to it.
I'm pretty sure that Sony will be releasing a new model (the so called "PS3 Slim") and dropping the price in time for the holiday season. If they add PS2 software emulation (and make it available for existing 80GB/160GB users (i.e. me)), that would be pretty great.
That would be great, but I've got reservations. I personally don't care about the emulation that much, I own 2 PS2s. But for the prices Sony has been asking, every model after the first two just didn't seem like that good of a deal. I would really like it if Sony could get a PS3 out for under $300 that wasn't severely crippled in some way...but I don't think they can afford to at this point. Better, maybe to keep pushing the PS3 as a premium system.