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Sony Computer Entertainment Europe said that backwards compatibility of the PlayStation 3 game console, which will be released in PAL regions in about a month time, will not be as good as that of the Japanese and the U.S. versions of the console. The announcement means that not all games for the PlayStation 2 will run on the PAL version of the console.

Sony claims that about 98% of old games can be played on the PlayStation 3 game console sold in Japan and the United States, however, backwards compatibility of the console will be much lower compared to that, according to the company. While competing Microsoft Xbox 360 game console also cannot play all of the games designed for Xbox, massively popular titles, such as Halo, are still available even with some additional eye-candy, e.g., at higher resolution and with antialiasing. The version of the PS3 sold in Japan and the U.S. also can upgrade PlayStation 2 games' graphics quality.

“The backwards compatibility is not going to be as good as the U.S. and Japan models,” a Sony spokesperson was quoted as saying by Reuters news-agency.

Potentially insufficient backwards compatibility may make gamers upset, as there are no really a lot of titles that take advantage of the PS3 and backwards compatibility is crucial. In fact, some gamers may put the PlayStation 3 purchase on hold, as getting a console with a few games that, perhaps, will not run several old titles, does not make much sense, especially in the PAL regions, where the machines will retail for up to $240 more than in the U.S. and up to $345 higher compared to recommended price (?59 980 or $495) in Japan. Still, the company believes that end-users will jump on the PS3 bandwagon in anticipation of improved game titles made exclusively for the new console.

“Rather than concentrate on PS2 backwards compatibility, in the future, company resources will be increasingly focused on developing new games and entertainment features exclusively for PS3,” Sony Computer Entertainment said in a statement.

Initially Sony will only sell higher-end PlauStation 3 version of the console, with 60GB hard disk drive, for ?599 ($777) in the most of the markets and for pricing close to that in variety of countries (UK – ?425 ($837), Ireland – ?629 ($816), Australia – AUD 999.95 ($777), New Zealand – NZ 1199.95 ($840)).

Sony PlayStation 3 console is based on the Cell processor developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba, the RSX graphics chip by Nvidia Corp. and will be equipped with Blu-ray optical disk drive. There are two versions of the PlayStation console available in the USA and Japan: one is equipped with 20GB hard disk drive and priced at $499, another features 60GB hard drive, card reader and some other improvements and is offered for $599.

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