PlayStation 3 and Vita Stores Not Closing, PSP Still Losing Out

Start up those emulators

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.

PlayStation Store Shutting Down for Vita, PS3, PSP

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.