The unit is being released in response to feedback from current PlayStation 3 owners, as well as research indicating demand for a less-expensive model. Along with the smaller hard drive, the new version will feature two USB ports instead of four, will not include a memory card port and, most significantly, will not be backward-compatible with PlayStation 2 titles. Sony said the removal of PlayStation 2 support in the console is the result of "reduced emphasis placed on this feature amongst later purchasers of PS3," as well as plans for a more robust selection of PlayStation 3 games for Christmas.
"The introduction of the new PS3 has been the result of extensive research into the entertainment needs and preferences of the next generation of PS3 owners," said SCEE President David Reeves. "It has allowed us to delivery an extremely advanced, yet incredibly affordable high definition gaming and entertainment system, configured to the next generation of European PS3 owners."
The existing 60 GB Starter Pack, which does sport PlayStation 2 compatibility, will remain on sale throughout Europe while stock lasts, at a reduced price of just over $700, except in the U.K. and Ireland, where it will be replaced by a separate in-store 60 GB promotion. Sony has made no comment thus far regarding the possible release of a 40 GB PlayStation 3 in North America.