Sony confirmed rumors today that they are shutting down the PlayStation Store for new purchases on three platforms this year. The PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation Portable will all lose the ability to purchase new games and DLC digitally, but can still redownload previously purchased items. This was confirmed via an e-mail to users and an “important notice” posted to Sony’s PlayStation support documentation website:
We are closing PlayStation™Store on PlayStation®3 consoles on July 2nd, 2021 and on PlayStation®Vita devices on August 27th 2021. Additionally, the remaining purchase functionality for PSP™ (PlayStation®Portable) will also retire on July 2nd, 2021.
Many more questions were answered by that notice like what will happen to funds added to accounts of users who aren’t planning on migrating to the PlayStation 4 or 5 (they can be refunded) but it’s pretty clear now that the digital purchases made on stores like these are extremely ephemeral. Microsoft is hailed for their back-catalog support but they retire Forza Horizon games after a few years and make them unavailable for purchase. Nintendo’s e-shop for the Wii shut down in 2019 and they also shut off re-downloads of purchased games for that platform.
Making games available for digital purchase should mean that they are available in perpetuity, but it’s clear that the businesses selling games don’t expect to do so, leaving game preservation in the hands of people outside of those companies who are constantly threatened with legal action. Nintendo still doesn’t regard emulation as legal despite boasting about their in-house emulation capabilities and selling boxes that use emulation as does Sony with their PlayStation Classic, most likely Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are the primary reason that emulators aren’t allowed on most app stores.
Fortunately for today’s subjects, while PlayStation Vita emulation is still early, PlayStation 3 emulation has improved a great deal with RPCS3 and PPSSPP handles PSP games well. It’ll be up to people who pirate game software to continue to distribute games that weren’t available on discs and patches for game software will probably be hard to come by.