Microsofts World View Validated Again

18 05 2005

If you have a pulse and are connected to the net at anything faster than pigeon speed, you’ve heard that Sony has released the Playstation 3 at the E3 gaming expo. I don’t know about you, but the specs on this thing are pretty mindblowing. Checkit:

  • It will support Blu-ray (obviously), DVD±R/W, CD-R/RW
  • Backwards compatible with the PlayStation 2 and original Playstation
  • One 3.2GHz Cell processor – total system performance rated at 2.18 teraflops (uh, that’s actually about twice what Microsoft is claiming the Xbox 360 will do); it will have 256MB system RAM 3.2GHz, and 256MB GDDR VRAM at 700MHz
  • The nVidia graphics will be called the RSX (Reality Synthesizer), and will trump the Xbox 360 with 1080p (yes, that’s a p) graphics support.
  • There will be a 2.5-inch hard drive (i.e. laptop hard drive) attachment – a first for a Sony launch (no, we don’t count the PSX and/or the FF add-on)
  • Memory Stick Duo slot, and very surprisingly, an SD and CF slots
  • Bluetooth support with up to seven wireless controllers
  • Six USB system ports
  • 1080p HDTV direct support (!!)

Wow. For me, the kicker on this is once again they’ve made backwards compatability a big priority. This means this PS3 can play all the games released for the PS2 (somewhere around a bazillion) as well as all the games for the PS1 (another few bazillion). Cool.
Now lets take a look at the Other Side. Microsoft released their Xbox 360. Microsoft has been trying to take over the home market from Sony for quite a while, and while they have a good solid hold on sports games, they’re not making much progress elsewhere. They had hoped that coming out with a new console around the time the PS3 came out would win them points.
The word on the street is that the Xbox 360 is backwards compatable. Sorta. The comments I’ve heard are that it will “run the major titles”.
Does this sound familiar? Microsoft went to the biggest game manufacturers, and asked htem what their top selling games were, and tweaked and modded the 360 to make sure it would run those games. Screw the rest of them, they didn’t make any money.
This approach is SOOO like every upgrade that Microsoft has ever done – Win95, Win98, Win2k, WinXP, etc. The ‘big stuff’ ran, but the little stuff had a tendency to break.
I’ll point out that Sony is maintaining compatability with a machine that hasn’t been manufactured in something like 7 years. And no ‘some titles’ or ‘the big ones should work’ schpiel here. They all do. Why? Because they know their specs, they know their platform, they know what a game can and can’t do, and they built the environments accordingly.
Not that I would have gone out and bought an Xbox 360. I wouldn’t. But the PS3 just seems to blow the socks off anything the 360 is offering, including backwards compatability so I can play those old dusty PS1 games I have.
Now, all I have to do is be able to afford it. Hmm.

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3 responses

18 05 2005
Brad Wilson

I think you’re way over-reacting here. If you read the interview with Ballmer, he makes the compatibility story much clearer:
http://www.joystiq.com/entry/1234000597043723/
“We are working very hard to get compatibility. Of course the prioritization in our technical work is in the leading selling games from the first generation, just like the PS2 didn’t run all PS1 games, it is unlikely we’ll ever be able to say the 360 will run all Xbox 1 games. I think there are some games if we get them to run that means many, many other games will run, and I think rather than give some statement that is either too conservative (because the engineers can do better), or a bold statement we can’t live up to, we thought we’d make our strategy clear that as we get further down the road and as our engineers do more work, the execution will speak for itself.”
Just admit that this article is really just your anti-Microsoft bias. The PS2 didn’t play every PS1 game. The PS3 won’t play every PS2 game, and won’t play every PS1 game.
I work for Microsoft, but I also own an iPod and a PS2 and a GameCube. Likely, I’ll own at least a Revolution, and maybe a PS3 (the PS2 is the least used of my 3 consoles).

18 05 2005
dbs

While I admit my own anti-microsoft bias, I think the blanket statement “just as the PS2 didn’t play all the PS1 games” and the subsequent “I’m sure the PS3 won’t…” is some wishful thinking, not to mention whitewashing from the master of spin, mister ballmer.
According to the FAQ’s I can find, there are only a handful of games that have issue on the PS2. 9 to be exact. I’m referencing this page, quote:
Is the PS2 backward compatible with all PlayStation games?
According to SCEA, there are a handful of PS One games that experience problems when played on a PS2. These games include: Arcade Party Pack, Arcade’s Greatest Hits: Atari 2, Fighter Maker, Final Fantasy Anthology, International Track and Field, Judge Dredd, Monkey Hero, Mortal Kombat Trilogy, and Tomba. Note that this does not necessarily mean the entire game is unplayable, only that there is a known compatibility issue with a certain feature or part of the game.

Of course I can’t make a blanket statement that the 360 is not backwards compatable . The machine isn’t even in real people’s hands yet. But I’m willing to place a wager here that the XBox 360 will not show the same ratio of backwards compatability that the PS2 shows, and the PS3 wlil show to the PS2.
According to this FAQ entry there were 1,592 titles for the PS1 (then called the PSX) in Japan, 515 in the US, and 550 in Europe. Assuming some overlap, lets call it 1700 titles. Of those, only 9 have issues on the PS1. That’s about 0.5% of the games had an issue.
On May 10, 2005, a Gamestop employee cranked out a list of all the XBox titles, and came up with a number of 596 released. So if we were going to have an even comparison, no more than 3 games would have to have issues running on the XBox 360.
Microsoft has never, ever, in all it’s history, done a new version of a product that had that clean an upgrade history. I’ll bet ya $10 right now, that 6 months from now, we’ll have a long dark history of issues with games running on the XBox 360 that run just fine on the XBox.

18 05 2005
rlc4

In terms of backwards compatibility of earlier PS games on the PS3, I located the following link:

http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/09/02/1517232&tid=203&tid=212&tid=10

which pointed me to:

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/content_page.php?section_name=pub&aid=2171

Basically saying “The PS3 is going to be able to run any PSX or PS2 game out there”. Yeah, it’s software emulation, but then how many people crawled onto the Mame bandwagon?




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