The ability to play PS2 games is not the primary driver for the PS3's business, says Peter Dille.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, SCEA's senior vice president of marketing and PlayStation network defended the changes made to the new 40GB unit that was finally confirmed for the US market.
"We've been hearing loud and clear that price is more of a primary concern to consumers," Dille explained.
"We know that getting down to USD 399 will open up the PlayStation marketplace to a much broader swath of consumers that we had been at, at either USD 499 or 599."
The new 40GB PS3 eliminates the graphics synthesizer chip which allowed prior versions of the console to play PS2 software.
When asked why the company didn't eliminate Wi-Fi instead as a cost savings, keeping the chip for PS2 backwards compatibility, Dille said there was a good reason for that decision.
"[W]e'll be rolling out more and more features that take advantage of the connectivity between the PSP and the PS3, and Wi-Fi is really essential to that experience," he explained.
"We've got some cool things you can do today with Wi-Fi, but there are also a lot more on the horizon that will help people understand why we left Wi-Fi in."
While Dille recognized that consumers still value the PS2 software catalog, he pointed out that Sony is still supporting and selling the older system.
"If you take the USD 129 plus the USD 399 that the PS3 is being sold for today, you are still getting into the game for less than the USD 599 price we launched at."
Dille noted that Sony will reach ten years in the PS2's life cycle, with continuing third-party support, in sharp contrast to the way its competition handled their prior generation of hardware.
"Again, we know from our research that backwards compatibility is more important to some people than others," he explained.
"In practice, once you get the PS3 home, the ability to play games in high-definition is more what [consumers] are interested in than their back catalog of PS2 games."
The complete interview with Peter Dille can be read here.