Sony Ends Support For Playstation Store For PSP, PS3, and Vita

from the preservation-mode dept

A few days ago, we discussed the problem of video game preservation as a matter of art when developers, publishers, or platforms shut down certain services. The point of the post was fairly wide-reaching, with the focus being on the idea that game developers in the PC space should embrace the habit of releasing their source codes for games and let the gamer ecosystem take over. While that’s an idea I find extremely interesting, it doesn’t really apply to the console gaming space. And it was rumors of the shutdown of certain Sony PlayStation stores that kickstarted the whole conversation.

Well, that rumored shutdown is now reality. And it’s roughly half as bad for the purposes of game preservation as was expected.

Today, Sony updated the important notice section of its official site with information about the upcoming shutdowns. While the stores will be closed later in the year, Sony explained that players will still be able to redownload content that they own after the shutdown date. Folks will also still be able to redeem PS Plus and game vouchers, though wallet vouchers will no longer work on these stores after they close.

So, that’s the top line summary of what’s changing, with the headline being that people will still be able to re-download games that they had previously purchased. That’s obviously a good thing. But where we dive right back into the preservation question is here.

You will no longer be able to purchase PS3, PS Vita, and PSP digital content, including games and video content.

You will no longer be able to make in-game purchases through games on PS3, PS Vita, and PSP.

So new purchases are not available for games. Whether said games will be made available anywhere else is an open question. As is the question of in-app purchases or DLC. Given that those are going away, the next question is what is being done to preserve the games and their source codes? No answers currently exist. And, if you believe that video games are a form of art and culture, that’s very much a problem.

Put yourself in the shoes of a preservationist or museum for video games. What in the world happens to this culture from here? Where does the DLC go, given that it’s very much a part of the art of the game? Where does the source code go? How will someone 25 years from now be able to experience this art in the same way you can walk into an art museum and see an exhibit.

As of today, the answer to most of those questions most of the time is ¯_(?)_/¯. But that can’t be the answer and it’s probably time that either the industry or, if the industry fails to take this seriously, the government take a good long look at carving out some exceptions or requirements to make sure all this culture doesn’t end up memory-holed.

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Comments on “Sony Ends Support For Playstation Store For PSP, PS3, and Vita”

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37 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

If not for obvious licensing issues of not owning every game individually nor including it as a license requirement it would make sense to include an ommibus copy for goodwill to the original owners. Old games usually crash in price anyway and well if they could cannibalize your existing product in a significant way that horse has already left the barn.

I understand that keeping legacy code and servers running can reach a "not worth the hassle" point.

I think preservation is currently a matter of hacking and pirates – Dreamcast had its limited time content archived and buyable content is often already there especially for online games.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Not only will the code be MIA, but the IP itself will be in limbo.
I remember the story about a group who wanted to reboot a beloved game of the past, they tried to follow all the rules but no one knew who currently owned the IP.
They contacted the last known owner who had no idea if they still owned it & wouldn’t bother to look until they made their tribute game & made money then they would fire the law lasers.
Project abandoned.
The original game no longer is available, the fans of that game have nothing, there is nothing new to pull in new fans.
But hey good thing the IP is maybe in control of a company… who will look to see if they have the rights to issue or deny permission only if they can demand tribute.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
zarprime (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That game was No One Lives Forever, and you probably read about it in one of these articles: https://www.techdirt.com/blog/?tag=no+one+lives+forever

NOLF and its sequel were great stealth games and a lot of fun. They were also quite well known for their humourous dialogue. I’ve heard stories of players who would stop while crawling through a ventilation shaft to listen to the banter of the guards.

There is of course still ONE way to get your hands on these games.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Sales of their next new awesome thing.

Oh and because new people can no longer purchase content, there is no resale market potential except to the small group who still have content they can access but maybe a dying system.

So any foreseen (fever dreamed nightmare) profit loss to the secondary market is now averted.
People will have to buy the new new thing.
It is unlikely that gamers had the foresight to invent a new account for the devices so they could then attempt to sell the system & the games it contains to others and somewhere in some TOS I am sure thats a reason to nuke accounts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

That sounds plausible at first glance and I suppose it’s entirely possible some out of touch Sony bosses imagined exactly that theory…and nobody dared correct them that back in the old days of PS3, games were primarily sold on physical media that remains just as resellable as ever.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Less Anonymous Coward says:

Unfortunate for Portable Gamers

The unfortunate part of this is that the PSP or Vita users aren’t taking the market from the new PlayStations. The Vita was the last portable PlayStation console. Unless they’re planning on releasing a new portable, they no longer have any income coming from portable gamers.

Anonymous Coward says:

The ps3 uses a non standard cpu,
so its not realistic to run ps3 games on a ps4 or a ps5,
most games are easy to check ,who owns the ip.
the dev or the publisher.
maybe someone will make a vita emulator.
many pc games are only avaidable on torrent websites,
as the original dev and publisher is out of business.
congress could bring in a law its legal to set up a server for old digital games in order that gamers can play old games online that require a server to host online matchmaking and security patching services
if the game is older than 10 years and theres no online servers provided by the dev or the ip holder.

eg if ps3 owners wish to play old games online using servers maybe funded by donations ,or a patreon type service

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"The ps3 uses a non standard cpu,
so its not realistic to run ps3 games on a ps4 or a ps5"

So, why do working PS3 emulators exist for the same chipsets used on the PS5? What about streaming services that allow people to play games not originally written for the hardware they’re using? Surely if I can play an XBox 360 title on my Android device, the tech isn’t far out of reach for a PS5 player to access a PS3 title?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Pirates: the modern day cultural curators and protectors

Put yourself in the shoes of a preservationist or museum for video games. What in the world happens to this culture from here? Where does the DLC go, given that it’s very much a part of the art of the game? Where does the source code go? How will someone 25 years from now be able to experience this art in the same way you can walk into an art museum and see an exhibit.

All those questions can be answered with a single word: Yarr.

As always it’s one of the greater ironies that the very people who are decried as destroying creativity, jobs and entire economies are the ones who preserve culture and creativity, helping to keep works alive and/or available despite the indifference of the owners who were happy to get all the benefits of copyright law but don’t care in the slightest to uphold their end of the deal and are content to let works fade into non-existence the second they are no longer seen as profitable(or worse, compete with a newer product).

Rekrul says:

Re: Pirates: the modern day cultural curators and protectors

All those questions can be answered with a single word: Yarr.

Except that not every game is available as a pirated copy. For example: Burnout Paradise. I looked and could not find a pirated copy of the PS3 version online. I saw one for the Xbox 360, but not the PS3. The retail release doesn’t contain much of the DLC. The only "complete" copy is a digital-only download.

If you’ve seen a pirated copy of it for the PS3, please correct me, but as far I know, it doesn’t exist. Last I checked, Burnout Paradise: Remastered for Windows hadn’t been cracked either and only exists as a digital download.

BTW, it’s not that I’m obsessed with this particular game, it’s just that it’s the only game I’m currently interested in that I know hasn’t been pirated, so it makes a good example.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Thad (profile) says:

This is why I still buy games on physical media, if I can.

If I put a cartridge into my NES and turn it on, I can play the game. (I mean okay I had to replace the cartridge connector first. But still.) But as for the digital downloads I bought for my Wii? There’s no (legal) way to re-download them now; the service has been shut down.

That’s not the case yet for PSP, PS3, and Vita; for now, they’re still allowing you to download previously-purchased games, they’re just preventing new purchases. But someday, they’re going to shut that down too; I’m sure they won’t keep them available forever.

There’s a reason I bought a physical copy of Dragon Quest Builders for Vita (which required getting it on eBay from southeast Asia, because it was released digital-only in North America). And that’s because if I want to play it again in twenty years, I know I can.

And of course that’s only possible because Sony didn’t include region locking on the Vita.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

c[h]arade, please.
you know that not all physical copies have DRM attached.
per usual, the best option is to have multiple options – not all eggs in 1 basket. currently, we can buy physical, rent physical (gamefly), rent digital (ps plus), buy digital, and stream. these are the best of days, but when the only option is buying/renting digital or streaming, count me out.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"you know that not all physical copies have DRM attached."

Have you looked at games recently? Many of the them require 50Gb updates before you can even start using them.

"rent physical (gamefly), rent digital (ps plus)"

I love the fact that one of your counter arguments against DRM is to mention rentals, which have them by default and is way less problematic than DRM on purchases. Almost as if you don’t understand the actual argument…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

here <i>you</i> come…with the mobile goalposts…
patches != DRM , but I do see the similarity in that they both require online access; which sucks

‘reading comprehension is lacking with this one named "Paul".’
sir Paul, my argument was never "against DRM" (tho it utterly sucketh and is always hacked), my argument is against the notion that DRM is a part of all physical media. when you’re not on this site, do you even game bro?

i love the fact that you, Paul, don’t agree that having umpteen different options when it comes to accessing (not necessarily owning) games is the best option/scenario, but carry on…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"patches != DRM "

But, they do contain DRM, you can’t apply them to a pirated copy and they’re required before you can use the game on any official server. In some cases, they’re required before the game is even playable.

Your desperate flailing to pretend you’re correct doesn’t change the fact that patches contain and act as a form of DRM.

"i love the fact that you, Paul, don’t agree that having umpteen different options when it comes to accessing (not necessarily owning) games is the best option/scenario"

It’s weird how you "love" something that’s 100% the opposite of any stated opinion I’ve ever made. Especially since you explicitly state that you’re not talking about actually owning the game – which should be the primary benefit of purchasing a physical copy.

Having many different options that benefit the consumer is a great thing (cross-platform, ability to stream from any device, purchase vs rental, physical vs digital, and so on). Being tied into a DRM system where you’re assumed to be a pirate and cannot access what you legally purchased after the publisher decides it no longer benefits them is not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

again…you don’t read well, Paul. (are you an alien, or a bot?)
I’m not in favor of DRM. show me where I’ve stated that DRM is a good thing…i’m waiting, Paul…
i basically made 3 points. i’ll repeat them for you:
-not all physical media has DRM
-DRM sucks
-options (physical, digital, owning, renting, streaming) are the best option
i love how your whole shtick is to argue a point that I never made in the first place. go get some change cause you ain’t makin’ since, son.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

"show me where I’ve stated that DRM is a good thing"

Show me where I stated you did. All I’ve done is point out that some of the "options" you’ve discussed are also laden with DRM, so they’re not an alternative to DRM laden media.

"-not all physical media has DRM"

This is increasingly less true as games depend on DRM-laden patches to run, which are not supplied on the disc. Not all, but you’re more likely nowadays to get a DRM-free digital copy from GoG than you are a DRM-free AAA game on a disc.

"-DRM sucks"

No argument there.

"-options (physical, digital, owning, renting, streaming) are the best option"

You specifically said you weren’t considering owning in your previous post. While there are some DRM-free options, a great deal do not have them, hence the issue. But, you’re muddying the waters here since the argument about a title that you stream or rent is a totally different discussion to DRM on something you supposedly "own".

"i love how your whole shtick is to argue a point that I never made in the first place."

He says, railing against something I never said…

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

But, they do contain DRM, you can’t apply them to a pirated copy and they’re required before you can use the game on any official server. In some cases, they’re required before the game is even playable.

Please explain something to me: Why don’t these companies allow you to backup the patches? I mean truly back them up, so that those copies can be applied to any legitimate copy on any console? For that matter, why don’t they allow people to download the patches as files that could burned to a disc (if they’re small enough), or saved to a USB drive, so that users could re-install them in the future?

Having a patch that will only work on legitimate copies does not in any way facilitate piracy, so I don’t understand the logic of making patches something that only a game can download when it connects to the company’s official network.

I understand why it’s done for DLC, even if I don’t agree with it, but having that stance for patches, makes no sense.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

"Why don’t these companies allow you to backup the patches?"

Some companies do. However, without cracking them in violation of the DMCA you wouldn’t be able to use them unless the original game was non-DRM or a later patch removed the DRM.

But, the larger point is that because of DRM most games won’t allow you to use them without phoning home, so they insist you download them since you’re using their server to play anyway. There’s arguments to allow offline patches for people with bad network speeds, but as far as these companies are often concerned, since you need the latest patch to connect to their online services and you need to do that to play the game even if it’s a single player games, why offer a more easily cracked version?

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"you know that not all physical copies have DRM attached"

Yeah that’s why there is the "if" in there. Also even if they do have DRM attached, it’s might not needs continuous support from the company to connect to anything online to work.

The point wasn’t that all physical copies won’t work when support ends, it’s that just buying physical copies isn’t good enough to be sure it will.

If we are being honest though, your chances of original NES games still work unmodified on original Nes consoles 25 years after end of life are pretty good.. another 25 years from now, I would still put way better odds on a random NES game working on a nes compared to a random physical ps3 game on an unmodified ps3

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Having physical copies won’t help you either if they have DRM in them that relies on something online

Having physical copies means you have the code and asset data. Even if you don’t have a copy, a physical release is easy to find on ebay and the like. It won’t run because the DRM server is offline? Patch the code to remove the check. (Or just download the cracked exe and move on like the vast majority of pirates do. AKA. Crack the game.) The code won’t run on modern systems? Re-implement the code in an opensource project and reuse the original assets.

In short, If you have a physical copy, you can make the old game still work. Even if it requires work on your part to do so. No physical copy? Better hope someone has a working system somewhere with an intact copy still on it. Else, it’s lost to time.

Copyright is no longer a system to benefit the public and creators. It’s a system designed by rightsholders to swindle the public for everything they’ve got.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Having physical copies means you have the code and asset data"

Not all of it. A physical unpatched physical copy of Cyberpunk won’t have all the usable data.

"In short, If you have a physical copy, you can make the old game still work"

Not without violating the DMCA, which is one of the many reasons it was a bad law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Not all of it. A physical unpatched physical copy of Cyberpunk won’t have all the usable data.

Having the base engine and assets are far more important. The rest can be recreated with far less work than having to start from scratch. Further, physical copies ensure a legal means of obtainment for future generations. Digital copies can still be obtained in the same manner, but are far more likely to be damaged or destroyed than a physical copy. Due to digital copies requiring preservation of both the copy and the device it requires to execute on.

Not without violating the DMCA, which is one of the many reasons it was a bad law.

Reverse engineering is permitted for the purposes of interoperability in the US. Preservation of the content by making legally obtained copies usable on modern devices easily falls under that banner. Many open source engine re-implementation projects depend on that fact. CorisxTH (Theme Hospital), devolution (Diablo 1 + Hellfire), OpenRCT2 (Rollercoaster Tycoon 1 + 2), Xash3D (Half-Life 1 + GoldSrc engine games), just to name a few recent ones. Given all of these projects, many easily found with a simple google search to the point that Wikipedia has it’s own list of them, for engines from multiple different development studios and publishers, I’d find it hard to say that your claim of DMCA violation holds legal weight. At the very least it shows most rightsholders currently don’t seem to care enough about these projects existing to pursue litigation, or are afraid of the negative PR blow back that would ensue if they did.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"Having the base engine and assets are far more important. The rest can be recreated with far less work than having to start from scratch."

Yes, but having a bunch of modders try to illegally recreate the assets and other code from the patches is hardly the same as having access to the whole game on the disc, which is what’s being discussed.

"Reverse engineering is permitted for the purposes of interoperability in the US."

Circumventing DRM in order to do so is not, nor is doing so to apply the resulting patches.

"Many open source engine re-implementation projects depend on that fact"

That’s the engine. They can still be held legally liable if they try copying the assets. If you don’t have the original assets, you don’t have the original game.

"I’d find it hard to say that your claim of DMCA violation holds legal weight"

Have you read it?

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/1201

There are exceptions which can be revisited every couple of years, but there’s nothing in there that says "circumvention is fine so long as you just recreate the game assets from scratch".

Rekrul says:

Re: Re:

This is why I still buy games on physical media, if I can.

While I agree with the sentiment, that’s no solution for modern games. Half the games you buy are seriously broken until you download a crap-ton of patches and digital downloads are usually the only way to get the DLC that was released for the game. Maybe if you’re lucky, they’ll later put out a Game of the Year edition, patched to remove most of the bugs and with the DLC included, but that doesn’t happen for every game.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Half the games you buy are seriously broken until you download a crap-ton of patches

That’s a failure of the market, and the IT industry in general. You can easily replace the word "games" in that sentence with virtually any other "modern" software product and the statement holds true. Preservation doesn’t care about the warts and imperfections. Hell, if anything one of the goals of preservation is to educate future generations of our failures so that they may avoid making them themselves. Under that logic, we would want to preserve the most bug laden version we could find in addition to the GOTY version to provide historical context.

Physical copies can’t be easily replaced to erase the past, but digital versions can be. All of the hate around many works will be preserved by social media posts and archive.org, but the bugs that cause said public outrage may not be. A real concern, even for publishers, today. With works constantly being judged on previous reviews made before the bug fixes came out. There’s even concern among preservationists about censorship and artistic vision that stems from forced updates as well. Physical copies, versions of works fixed in time, help demonstrate how far we’ve come, and what mistakes we still haven’t learned from.

Anonymous Coward says:

So new purchases are not available for games. Whether said games will be made available anywhere else is an open question.

Unless it’s a physical Game of the Year release, the answer is no, they’re won’t be available anywhere else. When have console games ever been officially available from anywhere else other than physical releases and the company’s online store?

As is the question of in-app purchases or DLC.

All of that just goes away. Period.

Given that those are going away, the next question is what is being done to preserve the games and their source codes?

Absolutely nothing. Nobody in the industry gives a shit.

Put yourself in the shoes of a preservationist or museum for video games. What in the world happens to this culture from here?

It just disappears, as I’ve been saying for years.

Where does the DLC go, given that it’s very much a part of the art of the game?

It just disappears.

How will someone 25 years from now be able to experience this art in the same way you can walk into an art museum and see an exhibit.

They won’t, because nobody in the industry gives a shit.

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