Sony has decided to put a lid on the PS2 backwards compatibility. What was once a “killer feature” against the Xbox 360 is now gone, and “it’s not coming back”, according to Sony’s John Koller. Why do you ask? My short answer is: too much trouble for what it’s worth – from Sony’s point of view, of course.
To understand it fully, you have to understand how backwards compatibility works. To get a perfect backwards compatibility like the one from PS1 to PS2, the bulletproof way of doing it is to integrate all the hardware and logic of the old console in the new one. Thanks to advances in semi-conductor technology, the old stuff would eventually become dirt cheap.What used to be the PS1 became a small, cheap and quasi insignificant part of the PS2. It worked great and it worked with every games.
The PS2 however, was much more complex and while the first PS3s had some PS2 hardware, Sony quickly realized that the cost of backwards compatibility was more than they bargained for. Now, it is possible to achieve partial compatibility by software emulation, but taking this path quickly leads to building an emulation backend full of “per game” hacks and that ultimately becomes unmanageable – or at least not worth the trouble and support nightmare.
If complexity was the issue here, chances are that future consoles won’t be backwards compatible at all…