Sony Is Feverishly Battling Vita Tinkerers Despite Vita Being Discontinued

from the why? dept

Update: After this post published, the Kotaku article was updated with more input from the hacker who reversed course and stated his previous exploit still worked on the new firmware version for the Vita. Kotaku apologized for the error in reporting, as do we.

If ever there were a poster child for this strange new culture in which we don't actually own what we buy, there is a strong argument for making Sony the number one pick. Beyond all of Sony's day-to-day anti-consumer practices disguised as anti-piracy efforts, the company is also rather infamous for the Playstation 3 debacle, in which the console was rolled out with a feature that allowed buyers to install other operating systems on it, and then subsequently removed that feature via a firmware update. That Sony wasn't fully trashed in the legal and public opinions courts for doing so basically set the tone for the subsequent decade, where now this sort of bullshit is common practice.

Which brings us to the present and a discussion on the Playstation Vita. The Vita, a Playstation hand-held device, has basically been retired with PlayStation Plus games no longer rolling out to the devices and new cartridges for the system no longer being manufactured. As there had been with the PS3, the Vita has a tinkering community around it that has long worked to jailbreak the hardware to allow it do other things. Piracy is part of that, sure, but so is emulation, running other sorts of software, tinkering with hardware performance, etc. Each time someone released a way to jailbreak the Vita, Sony would patch it with a firmware update.

Including, most recently, this past week.

Less than a day after a new exploit for jailbreaking the Vita was discovered, Sony has already released a new firmware update to safeguard its sunsetting handheld.

“Surprise! h-encore² released for PS Vita firmware 3.71,” Andy Nguyen, a Vita hacker behind the recent Trinity Exploit for jailbreaking the most up-to-date versions of the handheld, announced on Monday. Unlike the Trinity Exploit, which required using a PSP game to hack the Vita, h-encore² is a native hack, meaning it can be done directly on the system. And while some hacks on work on Vitas running older software, h-encore² was designed to work on any firmware version between 3.65 and 3.71, the most recent one.

As if on cue, Sony announced firmware update 3.72 today.

A lot of the response to this has been the continued dismay that Sony won't let people who bought their freaking Vita do with it as they please. They own the hardware, but are restricted from using it the way they want. That's as insane as it was ten years ago.

But there is another track some are responding to, namely: "Why the fuck is Sony continuing this whac-a-mole game with tinkerers for a device that has been essentially discontinued?

And for all intents and purposes, Vita has also been unofficially retired, leaving some people in the homebrew community scratching their heads about why Sony has seemingly redoubled its efforts to safeguard it. The Vita no longer gets new monthly PlayStation Plus games, and production of new game cartridges ended earlier this year. “I need a movie about the 4 guys at Sony who still have to work on the Vita in friggin 2019,” wrote one person on Twitter.

Maybe Sony Pictures can make such a film. Then, perhaps, we'd get some sort of firsthand explanation as to why Sony is so committed to ensuring people can't use their hardware the way they want that it continues that practice even after the death of said hardware.

Filed Under: firmware updates, freedom to tinker, jailbreaks, ownership, playstation vita, tinkerers, vita
Companies: sony


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  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 5 Sep 2019 @ 12:29am

    Re:

    You don't have to imagine, there's examples. The great one in my mind is the state of web browsing. Internet Explorer 6 was at one point the dominant browser, largely because IE was (illegally) bundled with Windows. Microsoft actually announced at one point that they would no longer be releasing standalone versions of IE, and it would only be packaged with new versions of Windows. At the time, IE was a joke. It was a buggy mess that didn't conform to any kind of web standard, it lacked any modern features such as tabbed browsing and was a major security hole even when it wasn't running, thanks to Microsoft's decision to make the OS dependent on it.

    Thankfully, fate intervened. The open sourced Mozilla code eventually brought us Firefox, which broke IE's stranglehold on the market, while the long delays in getting Vista to market (which was only really a beta version of 7 in the first place) got people interested in alternative OSes. Basically, if you like any feature that's part of the web in the last 10 years, it's because open source replaced locked down proprietary software.


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