More information on the PS3 problem with 480i games

This post is a follow-up to the problem I blogged about yesterday regarding graphics-related issues with PSone and PS2 games being played on the PS3.The problem is pretty serious and Sony are keeping users in the dark as to when they can expect a fix.

This post is a follow-up to the problem I blogged about yesterday regarding graphics-related issues with PSone and PS2 games being played on the PS3.

After reading more than 500 posts on the PlayStation 3 forum and talking to a It is likely that this can be fixed through a firmware update, but only Sony would know this for surefew of the people affected by the issue, I now feel I have a better grip on the problem.  Much of this is due to the amazing effort that people affected by this issue have gone through to document the problems they’ve been experiencing.  These people really are hardcore enthusiasts – camping out while waiting in line for days and paying nearly a grand for their systems means they've earned that title – and the level of testing they’ve carried on the forum is of a high standard and they should be praised for their efforts.

Here's the deal with this problem:

  • The problem seems to be isolated to games that make use of 480i.
  • If a game which makes use of 480p experiences the problem, switching on the progressive scan option seems to solve the issue.
  • This issue is NOT related to TV sets or cables.
  • The 1.31 firmware upgrade did not fix this issue.
  • There are a number of theories as to what the problem is, but nothing concrete (I think those who claim this is a problem with the PS3's emulation layer being unable to handle horizontally scaled video are pretty close to the mark myself).
  • It is likely that this can be fixed through a firmware update, but only Sony would know this for sure (let's face it, this could be another recall for Sony).

Now, the first thing to get clear about is that this problem exists.  Period.  There are a number of people who still seem to doubt the validity of the claims made by those affected and simply see it as campaign to smear the PS3 and Sony.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  If you doubt the existence of the issue, take a look at the images and video below.

PS2 output

PS2 output - Lookin' good!

PS3 output

PS3 output - Gaaahhhhh!  Imagine if you paid $800 to see that!

Split screen output

Here we have a split-screen video output created by a forum member who goes by the name ‘Slurry’.  You can really see the PS3 quality on the left is a lot lower than the PS2 (on the right)

See the entire video here

The problem seems to involve groups of 4x4 pixels being flipped at regular intervals.  I've put together a gallery of images here showing this and how it can be "fixed" (in the image at least).

The problem doesn't seem limited to a small number of PS3s either.  A forum member known by the name ‘The-Sarge’ discovered that his PS3 was having difficulties playing PS2 games three days after the PS3 launch date.  He carried out further tests and checked the PS3's output of six different TVs.  When he saw the same problem displayed on all TV sets he contacted Sony tech support and after being taken through a number of troubleshooting steps Sony suggested sending him a replacement PS3.  However, when that arrived he saw that it too was having the same problems with the PS2 games he tried to play.

He contacted Sony again, and this time tech support told him the issue must be with his TV set and not the PS3.  He explained to them that he'd tested the unit on six different sets.  Getting nowhere, he asked for a refund but was told that Sony did not handle refunds and he should be take the PS3 back to the place of purchase - the only problem was that the serial number on the replacement unit didn't match that on the box and they wouldn’t give him a refund.

‘The-Sarge’ is not alone in not getting any help from Sony.  Most of the forum members who have reported this issue have contacted Sony tech support, some more than once, only to be told that Sony is not aware of the problem.  Either Sony tech support personnel aren't logging complaints, or customers are being deceived.

See, the real issue here isn't one of a new product having problems.  That's bound to happen, especially given how cutting edge and complex this particular device is.  The real issue has to do with Sony and how the company is dodging the legitimate concerns of customers.  Given the price tag of the PS3, I think those experiencing problems are owed an explanation and some sort of timetable outlining when this issue is going to be fixed.

Now the big question that needs answering is how Sony missed this problem during testing.  Well, one likely reason is that the issue is most noticeable on 40+ inch 1080p HDTVs.  If smaller non-HDTV sets were used for testing game compatibility, it's possible the issue could be overlooked (and it also helps if those testing the games were familiar with what the games looked like on the PS2).

I've contacted Sony for comment and will update this post if I hear anything.