Sony's new PS2 won't play all games

Sony will soon launch a new PlayStation 2 model in Japan but hardware changes inside the machine mean it won't play all games smoothly.

Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) is launching a limited edition version of its PlayStation 2 to boost holiday sales in Japan. It comes with a special surprise: the inability to play some games smoothly.

SCEI has published a list of nine PlayStation 2 games and 38 PlayStation games that run into problems on the new console.

The SCPH-75000 will be available in Japan from Nov. 23, and is modeled on the slim-line PlayStation 2 that SCEI put on sale just under a year ago. In launching the new model, SCEI is using an often employed sales-boosting tactic of making a console available in a different color -- silver in this case -- for a limited period.

However, this time changes made inside the console are causing trouble.

"We believe multiple factors are responsible," said Reiko Sakamoto, a spokeswoman for SCEI in Tokyo. The latest console uses a new chipset -- the chip that sits between the main processor and the rest of the device -- and changes in that chip coupled with the way some software is programmed is believed to be causing the glitches, she said. The problems are largely screen hang-ups during certain parts of the game but also include glitches such as the slow saving of game data onto memory cards.

The problems were discovered when SCEI began compatibility testing of the new consoles with the roughly 8,000 games that have been released for the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 consoles in Japan. Mass production of the consoles had already begun at the time.

As testing isn't complete the list could become longer. SCEI wouldn't specify how many titles remain to be tested but said "most of" the software testing has been completed.

Looking ahead to the PlayStation 3, which SCEI plans to launch in the first half of next year, Sakamoto said that SCEI remains committed to backwards compatibility with existing titles on the new machine.

"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.

The latest promotion comes at an important time for the company: ahead of the holiday sales season in Japan and just under three weeks before Microsoft Corp. is due to launch its Xbox 360 console in Japan.

SCEI hasn't detailed an international launch for the console, which will cost YEN 19,800 (US$171) in Japan.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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