video games

Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition Temporarily Free for PS4

As part of that free Play at Home marketing campaign around keeping people at home during the pandemic, Sony is now giving away Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition for the PlayStation 4 until May 14th at this link. The other eight games from the deal are only available until the morning of the 22nd. No PlayStation Plus subscription is required to add any of these games to an account.

video games

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

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.

video games

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.

video games

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.

video games

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.