Last month Sony announced that they were going to shut down the PlayStation Stores for purchasing games on the PlayStation 3, Vita, and PlayStation Portable. A statement from Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Jim Ryan has backtracked on this closure, but only for the PS3 and Vita:
Recently, we notified players that PlayStation Store for PS3 and PS Vita devices was planned to end this summer.
Upon further reflection, however, it’s clear that we made the wrong decision here. So today I’m happy to say that we will be keeping the PlayStation Store operational for PS3 and PS Vita devices. PSP commerce functionality will retire on July 2, 2021 as planned.
There are about 80 million PSPs out there that will still be able to download games, but not purchase new games. It’s absolutely ridiculous to trust any of the companies who are selling games digitally to ensure they’ll be available to purchase or download in the future. Even Steam today had blips with Rockstar games going in and out of availability. Right now you can’t buy Midnight Club 2 on Steam, for example. On that same store, dozens of older games that get new re-releases have their original editions removed from purchase. Sometimes the publisher or developer is at least smart enough to leave the original store page up and have the original edition available for purchase in a bundle with the newer version, they get more money and you get at least one version of a game you’ll never play but you can’t make the mistake of buying the old version if you’d prefer the newer one. It isn’t always terrible, you probably don’t want to be able to buy the wrong version of a game, but if the newer releases are broken or missing features, soundtracks are the most likely to get trimmed due to music licensing, well then you’re just out of luck.
On the Xbox platform you can’t buy older versions of the Forza Horizon game digitally, presumably due to car and music licensing both expiring, and there are the same problems with newer editions forcing out older ones, but at least there’s backwards compatibility, right? All of the backwards compatibility and availability is up to the publishers of those games and Microsoft. The original Xbox and 360 emulation probably could work as a general purpose emulator, but Microsoft has left it up to publishers and developers who may not even exist anymore to decide if you can run those games on the Xbox One and Series S and X consoles.
So, I don’t see this reprieve for the PlayStation 3 and Vita as meaningful. The axe will fall on their stores even if it isn’t this year, just as it will for the PlayStation Portable. Do what you will with that information.