By Valens Quinn

If you’re thinking about buying a games console there’s something you should know. I went to a Sony press event late last week that announced some new add-ons for the PlayStation 3 and PSP for the coming year. Apart from the fanfare, there was a quiet – almost understated – mention about changes to the PS3 itself that escaped much of the media’s attention.

There’s a new variant of the PS3 coming out, which will sneakily replace the current PS3. While it might look like the same box to the average buyer, there are some notable things missing.

First, the hard disk capacity drops from 60GB to 40GB, so there’s less space for storing video, music and games data.

Next, two USB ports get dropped from the original box, so there are just two left to plug devices into. The memory card readers are also removed, plus the ability to play SACD (Super Audio CD).

But worst of all…

And finally, most importantly, the new 40GB variant of the PS3 will not support PS2 games, while the first version did.

OK, I can see why this would happen. Sony obviously wants you to buy the PS3 version of games like Buzz! and SingStar, and not use your PS2 versions, and I would imagine that that it’s cheaper to manufacture a PS3 that doesn’t have PS2 compatibility, let alone the other features. Also, for $699, the 40GB PS3 is cheaper, which is paramount to it remaining competitive in such a cutthroat market.

Loyalty?

This all makes commercial sense, but what about Sony’s loyalty to the crowds of PS2 owners out there? These are people who have already paid once for their games, so why should they be forced to pay again for the convenience of running them on a PS3? Ultimately, for the crowds of people out there who have a PS2 and were considering upgrading to a PS3, Wii or Xbox 360, the PS3 loses a point in its favour. Yes, these people can still play their PS2 games on their PS2 consoles, but it’s almost an insult that they could have done this on a PS3 for a while, but not anymore.

Come on Sony, you can do better!