If you don’t own a launch PS3 chances are you won’t be able to use it to play PS2 games, because they’re missing the PS2’s Emotion Engine chip and thus don’t have the backwards compatibility. However, that could all change, because Sony has developed and patented a way to translate instructions from an Emotion Engine chip into chunks that can be referenced by a different, but more powerful processor.
Whilst I’m not up on the techniques used by emulators, it’s worth mentioning that Sony appear to have this ready to go running in “an example of a host system based on a cell processor that may be configured to emulate the target system.”. A PS3, then. If this means that we’ll finally have a way to emulate PS2 games successfully in software (as we’ve been hinting at for years) then this could pave the way for Store downloads of such titles.
Whether this is all purely conceptual or not isn’t clear either, but if anyone can do this it is the software engineers in the PS3’s firmware department, a tiny little shed behind Kaz’s house filled with steaming potions, and lots of coloured wires. Either this is planned for the rumoured PS3 Slim, or maybe, just maybe, firmware 3.0 will have something much, much bigger up its sleeve than just grief reporting. We’ll see.