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.

Sony Giving Away Eight PlayStation 4 Games

Sony is giving away eight PlayStation 4 games as part of their Play at Home marketing campaign during the pandemic to encourage people to stay home instead of going out. Click this link for the games on the US PlayStation store. There’s Subnautica, Enter the Dungeon, Abzu, The Witness, Rez Infinite, Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, Moss, Thumper, and Paper Beast. All of these can be downloaded until 8PM Pacific Daylight Time on the 22nd of April.

Ratchet & Clank is also left over from last year’s campaign and available for free until the end of March. Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition will be available for free from April 19th to May 14th.

These games don’t require a PlayStation Plus subscription to download for free, and more are supposed to be added in the next months.

Next PlayStation Detailed in Wired

Peter Rubin has the scoop on what might be the PlayStation 5 at Wired with a Mark Cerny interview. It’s mostly about the tech details. The SSD, backwards compatibility, ray tracing, PSVR compatible, not in 2019, not at E3.

My fear with anything like this as I sit here in April 2019 is that a PlayStation 5 would be noted to the press at length, and then the punchline when final details are announced is that it could be just the server that sits at a data center to host your game stream, but that isn’t the vibe I get from Rubin’s article.

Rubin also talks about the supported resolution of the new hardware in this parenthetical:

(While the next-gen console will support 8K graphics, TVs that deliver it are few and far between, so we’re using a 4K TV.)

I don’t for a second buy that this machine can do anything like real 8K rendering. Especially in combination with any kind of ray tracing.

I am not super interested in the ray-tracing GPU situation today. My read on it has been that enabling ray tracing features destroys performance on today’s modern, expensive, desktop gaming hardware from Nvidia.  A 2020 (or 2021) release date isn’t going to magically make today’s performance issues and cost go down to the point where true 8K rendering and ray tracing can coexist. Sony isn’t even using Nvidia parts. Cerny doesn’t seem like the type to bullshit, and that quote above isn’t quoting Cerny.

PlayStation Network to Finally Allow Name Changes

If it hasn’t been hijacked yet, PSN is finally going to allow you to change your username. Sid Shuman says it’ll be free the first time, and $10 or $5 (for PlayStation Plus subscribers) after that, and the feature has some odd limitations:

When you change your online ID, you will have the option to display your previous ID with your new ID, so your friends can recognize you. Once you decide to display your old ID or not, you won’t be able to adjust this after completing the online ID change process.

The name-changing feature will be in a temporary “preview program”  in November for people who have registered to test pre-release versions of the PlayStation 4 system software, and it may break some recent games:

This feature is compatible with PS4 games originally published after April 1, 2018, and a large majority of the most-played PS4 games that were released before this date. However, please note not all games and applications for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita systems are guaranteed to support the online ID change, and users may occasionally encounter issues or errors in certain games. If for any reason you experience issues after changing your ID, you can revert back to your original ID for free at any time (you will only be able to revert once during the preview program). Reverting back to an old ID will resolve most issues caused by the ID change. In addition, when this feature officially launches, a list of compatible games published before April 1, 2018, will be provided on PlayStation.com for reference before you make a change.

Yikes.

It sounds like some games may just be broken for anyone who wants to play them after changing their name. I hope that Sony has a better workaround than “pay us to change back so you can play old games” before the name-changing feature ships to everyone early next year.

PSN Account Hijackers

Patrick Klepek has a terrific read up on Waypoint about his investigation into Sony’s incompetent security practices around user accounts, and the social engineering crews that steal them:

$1,200. That’s how much someone is asking for a PlayStation Network account I’ve been investigating for the past few weeks. “Secure,” the person calls it, claiming the account will “never be touched” by the original owner again. “He won’t be getting it back,” they claim. More than a thousand dollars? That’s a little rich for my blood, and so I counteroffer: $700.

He also has a few updates on twitter for after you’ve read the article.