The PlayStation Store Closures Are Not As Bad As I Feared, But They Are Still Pretty Awful!

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ZombiePie

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Edited By ZombiePie  Staff

Preamble

WHELP!
WHELP!

So, it's happening. Sony is sunsetting the PlayStation Store for the PS3, PSP, and Vita at varying dates depending on the platform. As this blog's title suggests, the full details are not nearly as bad as I was initially fearing. Sony appears to be using its cross-buy and cross-play programs to bring old titles to their suite of modern platforms. Likewise, the initial fear was that impacted marketplaces would just shut down without warning, leaving consumers high and dry. With the current announcement, you still can purchase games that you might have missed out on for a while, and it appears your ability to redownload titles, for now, will not be impacted. Now, don't mistake any of this as a sign of my support of Sony's current decision-making. This situation is awful and bodes poorly for consumer rights of digital goods and video game preservation in general.

I understand many people view the present situation as a sign that backward compatibility is a higher priority than its critics might contend. However, it is hard for me to write an exhaustive missive about something I'd like Sony to add to their consoles when they have made it abundantly clear they are not interested. However, I feel like there's something to be said about my present ability to purchase original Xbox games on the 360 and how being able to do this should be an industry standard. Nonetheless, there are many talking points that others have brought up related to this news that warrants greater exploration. Likewise, there are related issues to this decision that directly impact the industry and consumers.

Sony Doing This While Selling An All Digital Model Of The PS5 Is WILD!

One of these things is very much not like the other.
One of these things is very much not like the other.

Last year, if you had asked me why I would advise against buying the "All Digital" PS5, it would have been my skepticism regarding its default hard drive being an appropriate amount given ballooning download and patch sizes. Obviously, that has changed. When news first broke about these shutdowns, my first immediate reaction was directed at the disc-less SKU of the PS5. From a PR and marketing perspective, Sony's decision to shut down these digital marketplaces kneecaps their efforts to bill the disc-less PS5 as a legitimate console. Time and time again, console manufacturers have experimented with cheaper SKUs to lower console prices, and this generation is no different. However, even before Sony poisoned the well, history has shown that digital-only hardware is still an unproven direction for the industry. For one thing, both consumers and console manufacturers aren't entirely ready to make this leap. The all-digital Xbox One S is a recent instance, but a more direct example inside Sony's wheelhouse would be the PSP Go. Laugh all you want about how ill-fated the handheld was from the get-go, but your reaction furthers a point I want to re-iterate. It is incredibly easy to parse out when a manufacturer treats an SKU as a red-headed stepchild. Trust me, I know this as a Switch Lite owner.

Additionally, every time a new console in an established line of hardware is introduced, sunsetting is bound to occur. As a result, at what point will the disc-less PS5 be made utterly inert? Online services get pulled from older consoles all the time, but that doesn't make them worthless or the owner unable to return to them. For example, the original Wii had its online store shuttered in 2019, and while I still decry that decision, the Wii, at the very least, has an optical disc drive as a backup. That said, using the Wii and other platforms as a metric, developers usually pull the plug on the online features of their legacy consoles after about ten to fifteen years. That timeline fits this announcement, and it is one that Nintendo has utilized repeatedly. So, in roughly ten years, what happens to the disc-less PS5? Consoles that preserve all of their online servers are few and far between. What's more, there is no industry trend or precedent to guarantee that an all-digital console will retain its value outside of the generation it inhabits, and Sony's recent decisions make that nakedly transparent.

Even a company like Microsoft, which has received a lot of credit recently for promoting backward compatibility, has some skeletons in its closet. For one thing, the original Xbox is no longer able to play games online. While there was a legitimate reason to pull Xbox Live from their original platform, that does not ignore the fact the Xbox has lost functionality. Again, this approach is nothing new. This year, we witnessed Nintendo pulling online servers for multiple Wii U titles, with the most recent example being Mario Maker losing its online map sharing ability. The loss of that feature halves that game's value, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. The frequency of these situations underscores the crystalized fact that console manufacturers remove features and utilities when they are no longer convenient to them. Additionally, they owe you and me nothing. As such, I cannot imagine a scenario where I view the All Digital PS5 as an appropriate investment of my money. I shouldn't have to worry about a doomsday clock whenever I buy a video game console, especially if it costs me $400.

Buying As Many Games As Possible Before Everything Shuts Down Is Not The Solution Everyone Claims It Might Be

Before we jump into the main argument I'd like to make, I want to share a bit of a side tangent. Back when I commented about the timed exclusivity of the Switch releases of Fire Emblem 1 and Super Mario 3D All-Stars, a lot of users took umbrage with my advocacy in that blog. Some viewed my attempts to implore users to pick up those titles as indirectly excusing Nintendo's shitty business practices. It was a fair point to make, but if you were one of those who commented as such, I sure hope you are not preparing to purchase soon-to-be unavailable PSN titles. You cannot argue, in good conscience, that me buying a timed-exclusive copy of a never-before localized port of an NES title is an unconscionable act while you are actively scanning the PSN directory for PS3 or PSP titles that are about to disappear. Certainly, both companies are in the wrong, but I have seen no less than three users who gave me a hard time on my Fire Emblem blog then admit they are planning on buying a ton of PSN titles in light of this news. One person even went so far as to say they were "excited" about the possibility of a PSN sale. To which I can only reply, what the fuck are we even doing?

To return to the topic at hand, Sony has yet to address two significant points of order on their sunsetting of their digital marketplaces. Yes, their cross-play and cross-buy programs are to be commended, but there are holes in this stop-gap approach. For one thing, many PS3, PSP, or Vita titles never got full cross-buy support. Additionally, Sony's communication about which games have cross-buy or cross-play permissions, and even the fundamental difference of either program, has been terrible since their introduction. Finally, indie game developers, which we will talk about shortly, are all but left in the lurch, with Sony unlikely to come to their aid. But that's beside the immediate issue of how PSN titles work, and the looming tempest consumers are likely to face in the coming years.

The Tweet that I have linked above might seem confusing to some, so here's the abbreviated explanation. There are declared expiration tokens on stuff you redeemed through PS+ or even purchased through PSN. The way things work on the PS3 is that you get an added year or so to every game with a token set to expire whenever you renew your PS+ subscription or, in the case of PSN purchases, whenever you establish an internet connection on your console. Should you fail to renew your subscription or establish an internet connection, a kernel is set to make that game "disappear." If Sony pulls online support for these platforms without removing this kernel, everyone's fucked. Currently, I have heard mixed reports that Sony is aware of this problem and plan to ensure it does not affect consumers. Moreover, it is worth mentioning Sony is not alone in employing clock-based kernels to curate digital titles. Microsoft, for example, uses similar kernels to make sure you are re-upping your Game Pass or Xbox Live Gold subscription whenever you snatch their free batch of games every month. The difference here, however, is that there is a future risk of the entire system going to shit.

And before anyone accuses me of playing favorites, let it be known I lost hundreds of dollars on this failed program.
And before anyone accuses me of playing favorites, let it be known I lost hundreds of dollars on this failed program.

To make matters worse, Sony has said absolutely NOTHING about how long people will be able to continue to redownload their PSN purchases. Sure, you can download these titles now, but for how long will Sony allow you to do this? Given present circumstances, I don't think you're going to be able to redownload PS3 PSN titles in perpetuity. Sony's previous track record about honoring purchases on discontinued platforms or marketplaces isn't exactly stellar. When they shut down PlayStation Mobile, there was no off-site process to redownload those purchases on a then-supported platform. You just lost your shit. Unfortunately for consumers, this is an unspoken industry standard of sorts. When GameStop bought Impulse, people who bought games on that marketplace lost everything when it was discontinued three years after its purchase. When Microsoft shit-canned Games for Windows Live in favor of a PC shell of the Xbox Marketplace, people simply lost their old PC game purchases. Maybe you are more optimistic that things will be different this time around, but personally I don't see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

So Many Of These PSN Games On PS3, Vita, And PSP Have ZERO Chance Of Being Re-Released

The above Tweet is by a former designer on the PSP and Vita ports of Jetpack Joyride. Their comments echo something that has been repeatedly said on social media by many developers who worked on PSP and Vita titles. Many of the dev teams that worked with these handhelds were sub-groups of larger teams working on bigger things. This is important because you cannot rely on developers looking at the current situation and seeing it as an opportunity to revive long-forgotten titles or impacted releases. Many were cash-grabs from the onset, but that doesn't mean they should be erased from the history books. I mention this because many of these portable games have exclusive features and modes. And we can expand this discussion beyond games if we want. Backgrounds, soundtracks, and DLC purchases are likely NOT going to get any consumer-friendly love as Sony eyes the button that shuts down all of these storefronts.

The situation gets even worse when you think about all of the exclusive titles that came out on the PS3, PSP, and Vita. Here's a list of just RPGs that are exclusive to these platforms. Likely, the exclusivity contracts on some of these games are bound to have expired. However, Sony still holds the publishing rights on many more, and unless they feel charitable, these games will live and die on these platforms. And we have to consider the technological hurdles no one wants to solve in translating these games onto modern technology. The number of people who even know of the existence of Zettai Hero Project: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman is likely small, so the odds of it turning up on the PS5 are low by default. Even if a developer wanted to emulate it for a Steam or PS5 release, it's an experience that requires a tactical handheld-based control scheme. Therefore, it's "stuck" on two platforms that are essentially "dead," and your ability to find a physical copy a bit of an ordeal. The same can be said about PSP or Vita exclusives like Tearaway, which are games I cannot imagine emulating well on a console or PC.

If Sony is not going to support Backward Compatibility, then I would love to see them revive the old PSOne Classic Program
If Sony is not going to support Backward Compatibility, then I would love to see them revive the old PSOne Classic Program

Speaking of which, the circumstances surrounding the Vita are even more lamentable. Now, say what you will about the much-maligned handheld, but it got a largely unreported second wind. Some of you may recall a recurring blog series on the site by BlackLagoon wherein they listed all of the digital-only titles that released on the Vita every month. Seriously, give some of their blogs a read and marvel at the breadth of support the Vita got even after Sony pulled the plug on new physical releases. The Japanese indie dev scene fell in love with the Vita, and the homebrew community certainly kept it afloat as well. However, most of these games only came out digitally. The immediate consequence of shutting down the Vita's online store is that many of these titles are not bound to get official releases on newer platforms. Furthermore, a majority of the Vita's digital-only releases came from doujin hobbyists who may or may not still be active members of the industry. As a result, you cannot reasonably expect hobbyists to make the financial investment necessary to localize and release their works on Steam or the Epic Games Store.

But what about the potential of HD remasters? First, I think there's a lot of wishful thinking that goes into devising a free market-driven solution to this problem. Likewise, not every developer or publisher is bound to view their catalog as highly as members of the internet might suggest. To the defense of these publishers, games like Jumping Flash or Pain exist due to extenuating circumstances. And to be honest, there's a lot of trash on the PS3. Nevertheless, these titles are a part of gaming culture so a market must exist for some games to get the HD Remaster treatment. Unfortunately, there's something to be said about how spoiled the gaming community has become about HD remasters. Few consumers appreciate the effort that goes into these titles. However, the standards and expectations for these sorts of projects are high. You're not going to see something like Game Room come out to "save" the PSP's catalog because no one is supporting a half-assed effort to preserve legacy titles. Worse, should remasters come out, you can bet your bottom dollar that the PSP and Vita will get the short end of the stick. Even before his ousting, Kojima repeatedly stated he wanted the Metal Gear Acid games to get console remasters. He even used every interview opportunity he had for a bit to talk about why he thought those games deserved a second chance, but that was back in 2008.

No Matter What, There Will Be A LOT Of Lost Media

It's all fun and games until indie devs get screwed.
It's all fun and games until indie devs get screwed.

What will booting up a PS3 look like five years from now? Before you answer that I want you to consider some things. Do you think your purchased backgrounds and wallpapers will still be there? Will your wishlist of game titles be available? How many features on the start screen will become wholly unusable? Think about the amount of customizability that will no longer be available to you in five years' time. Think about how much of that customizability required an investment of money. Sure, there are bound to be many of you who will say you never bought into any of these ecosystems or that their demise will not affect you in the future. However, my argument here is that this is a foolish perspective to have.

Let's say you pop in a game disc into your PS3 seven years from now. For argument's sake, let's use Asura's Wrath as a case study. In this scenario, you reach the end of the game and are prompted to explore the game's epilogue through DLC. With the shutdown of the PS3's store, you cannot do that. I know Asura's Wrath is a bit of an egregious and extreme example of a game that requires the purchase of DLC to get "the full experience." Still, this scenario applies to any game that had cosmetic DLC or even full-fledged expansion packs. When you try to play old titles that have yet to leap to modern consoles, there is the chance you will not be able to consume everything that the game originally had to offer. If you review the press release they published earlier this week, Sony was rather mum about the availability of microtransactions or DLC, and that paints a pretty bleak picture for the future. Games like LittleBigPlanet had a TON of cosmetic paid packages that you are unlikely to get a hold of if you do not act quickly and guarantee your saved data remains safe. And if you have been enjoying Alex's Rock Band streams, I cannot imagine how frustrating this situation is to someone who potentially invested hundreds of dollars on song packs.

Though, it is worth mentioning a lot of LittleBigPlanet's cross-media promotional DLC has already been pulled for rights reasons.
Though, it is worth mentioning a lot of LittleBigPlanet's cross-media promotional DLC has already been pulled for rights reasons.

Then we have the one-off programs that Sony and other developers pioneered in previous generations that have no continuity on the PS4 or PS5. The most notable example, by far, has to be the PS1 and PS2 Classics programs. Through these efforts, old titles were released with minimal technical issues on the PS3. To many, these ports still stand as the definitive versions of their respective games. However, Sony's efforts to provide an olive branch to long-time fans never extended beyond the PS3. Titles like Chrono Cross have no continuity, beyond emulation, to the PS4 or PS5. Then you have weird programs like PSP Minis which attempted to build a community of indie devs around Sony's handhelds. Those games have no fucking hope of making a comeback anytime soon with the shutdown of these stores. Ultimately, for anyone trying to recapture their gaming past or explore older titles they may have missed, your only option is emulation if your income is limited.

There's no denying that we live in a different era than when the PS3 first launched. Nevertheless, in a world where in-app purchases reign supreme, I think there's a larger reckoning to be had about consumers and their rights when it comes to digital goods. I know it sounds weird to get emotional about a Patapon background on the PS3, but with these goods potentially gone forever, I can't help but feel like I have lost something. I feel a similar sense of ownership over my saved data and the ability to re-enact moments of my gaming past. Unfortunately, all signs point to this becoming the "new normal" for digital video game goods.

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brian_

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#1  Edited By brian_

As someone who absolutely refused to buy Fire Emblem, and plans to pick up some soon to be nonexistent PS3 titles, I think there's a big difference in no longer supporting a storefront that is no longer bringing in profits for them, and supposedly a tech nightmare, holding back work on the current storefront, and Nintendo intentionally releasing a game for a handful of months in order to mine FOMO. I do not agree with Sony shutting their stores down. I think they should suck it up, take the L, and build some consumer trust in digital media if they're going sell people a digital only console. But this is a side effect of business and tech moving forward. Nintendo putting a countdown clock on a game, before it's even out, is an actively gross, entirely unnecessary, intentional decision.

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eccentrix

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As someone who didn't buy any physical games last generation, I was hoping to get a digital-only PS5 when it was easier. Between this news and the tiny hard drive, I'm thinking of just going PC-exclusive and dropping consoles altogether.

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bigsocrates

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I have no idea if I'm the person on the Giant Bomb forums who plays the most PS3, but I'm pretty confident that at least in recent months I've said the most about PS3 games, so I definitely have a dog in this fight. I'm not too bothered on my own account about the store closings, because I wasn't really making PS3 (or PSP or Vita) purchases anymore. A large part of my digital "collection" comes from those crazy sales they had in 2014-2015 where everything cost just a few bucks, and those are long done.

That being said I agree that this is a big deal. There are a lot of games that are about to become inaccessible by legal means, and a lot more that are going to be inaccessible as a practical matter. Even games that had physical releases are often too expensive for the vast majority of people. A game like rain, which I played last year and really enjoyed, is like 3 hours long and costs $45 for a Japanese copy on Ebay, and more for an English language version. The Suikoden series is even more expensive. These games are technically still "accessible" but not really, and at that price point most people will just pirate if they can't get them digitally anyway. The music and movie businesses learned a long time ago that if you don't make stuff easily available and reasonably priced online then people will steal it. The difference here is that the market for something like rain is so small that I guess nobody actually cares. It sucks for those of us who don't pirate and do like old games though. Nobody is really making games like rain anymore (especially with the closure of Japan Studio), and it holds up perfectly, so it's sad to see it go.

That being said, my main issue here is really Sony's lack of communication. Why is the store coming down? If it's a matter of security and protecting people's personal information, issues that Sony has struggled with in the past, then it's more understandable and it applies a lot less to keeping the game servers up. If it's a matter of saving a little bit of money then it sucks a lot more, and yeah, those servers will be coming down. Sony is just completely opaque about these things. The fact that they didn't respond to the widespread leak but waited until the scheduled announcement speaks volumes about how they view communication with their consumer base.

I will say that I disagree with you, @zombiepie, that physical media is a real solution to this. Such a high percentage of games ship requiring day 1 patches and online functionality at this point that physical discs aren't really a means of preserving that much. Maybe a game like Miles Morales will be playable off physical disc in 50 years, albeit with more bugs and reduced functionality compared to the current version, but we all know how Watch Dogs: Legion, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, and so many other games shipped. Have a physical copy of Balan Wonderworld that you want to play unpatched in 25 years? Hope you're not prone to seizures! For many games physical discs are just authentication keys. And that's not even getting into something like Outriders that requires a server connection to even function. Modern gaming is online.

I think people who say that the stores or servers can't stay up forever are just flat out wrong. I can't imagine it's THAT expensive to maintain these things. Server space and bandwidth keep getting cheaper, and this stuff is barely used. A corporation like Sony can keep a few servers running indefinitely as just the cost of doing business. This may save them a couple million dollars a year, but that's nothing to them. They make more money than that off PlayStation branded apparel.

I think the biggest problem here is that Jim Ryan is right and consumers don't really care. There's a small, passionate, community that plays these old games and still cares about them and the vast majority of people have moved on and will never even hear about this. They probably assume that the stores are already down on these old consoles. We're all conditioned to think of media, and especially digital media, as disposable. We've all been through this before. What are we even supposed to do about this? Trust Steam or Microsoft? They're corporations too and their commitments can change.

It just sucks. It sucks.

P.S. People who are chiding you for buying Fire Emblem are being ridiculous. First of all, Nintendo doesn't care how Fire Emblem sells. It won't affect anything. Super Mario 3D All Stars sold crazy well and they feel like their strategy was vindicated. Fire Emblem is a tiny afterthought. And single person disorganized boycotts are meaningless. This stuff needs to change at a legislative level, or at least an organized campaign. Not random people not buying games for opaque reasons. If people don't buy Fire Emblem the only lesson Nintendo will take from that is that Americans don't care about Fire Emblem games or old games, and it will do even less preservation.

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cikame

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My first two thoughts about this is that i understand why a company might want to stop supporting old services to cut costs and free up some staff, but also that the three earliest Steam games i can think of are Psychonauts, Mafia and The Ship, and they're all still available for purchase. Is that relevant to this discussion? Valve aren't tied to restricted hardware generations so there's that, but on the consumer side i'm not paying a subscription for their services, so in that comparison i'd expect more from Sony.

You can't buy a digital game if it's not available, so this will be killing those games for future audiences, i'm not advocating piracy but it makes projects like RPCS3 even more important, and the abandonware space is about to start growing rapidly.

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Lego_My_Eggo

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You people and your disc's that you think you will be able to play in the future! Its not even day one patches that are going to be the big problem here!

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berfunkle

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I'm not overly upset about not being able to buy games going forward, but I bought so many digital titles for the PS3 that if they ever decide to pull the plug on downloading previously purchased games, I would be VERY upset.

Some of the games I bought were Tales of Graces, Tales of Xilla 1 and 2, and Drakengard 3. It would be a miracle to see those games on Steam.

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senorsucks2suck

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If they attempt to revise their Ps1 classics program for any game that I currently have a digital receipt for I expect/demand a discount or for that to be free on the PS5. This is a hardline for me and I'm absolutely not buying anything retail (all divisions) from Sony ever again if this happens. I'm so pissed I'm going to have a wait and see this entire generation for PS5 until I see those PS1 games come out. I'm anticipating shenanigans when Parasite Eve lands on the service.

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FRANZlSKA

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In a way, this was sort of bound to happen. The fact that digital storefronts require servers and tech support and often have different stores for different platforms means that almost every digital storefront is going to go this way eventually. That said, I can't help but feel like this is the absolute bare minimum they can get away with. As much as people have brought up the Wii Shop's closure in relation to this news, Nintendo handled that a touch better (giving about a year's warning, and stating upfront that re-downloads will be possible (of course, one day those will go, as PS3/PSP/Vita re-downloads will)), and even they didn't handle shutting down particularly gracefully.

I feel like the issue is that a truly good solution (if one is even possible) would be a major investment to design and implement, and would ultimately see little return. At the end of the day, these are businesses, and so long as PR can weather a store closing, they're going to opt to close stores as quickly as possible rather than do "the right thing" for consumers and preservation. But at the same time, the business and delivery side of games has become so messy that I don't know what a "perfect solution" would actually look like. If it were me, I would say that truly preserving a game means offering every version of a game in a way that's reasonably accessible to players. There's some precedent for this, Minecraft on PC already does this (as best it can), but when expanding that to the scale of a major storefront, it would no doubt cost years of time and millions of dollars coordinating, for at best an incredibly small return.

As well, while physical media is great for preserving older generations, it has practically been treated as a shackle these past couple generations, and has become increasingly detached from the reality of the games supposedly on the discs (retail Skyward Sword still has that game-ending save bug, not to mention famous examples like NMS or CP2077.) Even if it were possible to reverse the push to all-digital, that's also a terrible solution, since it would mean sacrificing patches, smaller releases, and ease-of-access in favor of preserving what remains.

Ultimately, it just sucks all around. If I didn't have qualms about buying digital already, I certainly do now. Even with how deep-rooted a digital storefront Steam is, I can't help but look at my library with a bit of hesitance and unease, because no matter how long it takes, all of these games could disappear one day too.

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Gundato

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@franzlska: I would actually argue that a good solution IS "good business". Steam was one of the first digital distribution platforms and while I am SURE that valve spent a lot of money and time internally improving stuff, as a user I see no difference between when I angrily used it to play Half-Life 2 and when I flock to it because it is faster to download Warframe.

Which is why I REALLY hope that the complete clusterfuck that is the PS5 webstore is Sony modernizing their infrastructure so that they "never" need to do this again. But... I REALLY doubt it considering what a mess the PS5 webstore is.

Aside from that: I don't think Sony has any responsibility to support the PS3. And I don't think any of this has any bearing on digital preservation because I am unlikely to ever hook my PS3 back up. When I decide I want to replay a PS3 exclusive I am not planning on using a playstation, if you catch my drift. If this means I can never replay my PS3 digital titles? That sucks, but whatever. it isn't going to stop me from staying digital for the vast majority of all future purchases

But I do fully agree with the sentiment that this is a REALLY bad move at a time they are selling a console that cannot play physical media.

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Lego_My_Eggo

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@gundato: I think the reason for the store on PS3 that we have now is because they where modernizing it to support multiple platforms when the PS4/Vita came out, and it doesn't look like it is working out that well for them. The old PS3 store was very embedded into the console (like they are talking up with the PS5) and pops up here and there for games. This one was supposed to be web based so they didn't have to support all the different store fronts, just one big version.

The way they worded it in the e-mail very much makes it sound like they could keep these store fronts open, but that is effort they are not willing to put in and instead focus on the PS5/4 storefronts. It would be nice to get more of a technical reason as to why this is happening, but i highly doubt we ever will.

And i fully agree that they don't have to support a platform forever. But things like this make me reconsider every impulse purchase i will ever make going forward. I am very much holding onto my money and only playing old games until i clear a good bit of my digital backlog, which is a fair bit of money Sony isn't getting for some time. Which financially i should have been doing a long time ago, but it was hard to say no to some of those big sales they used to have on PSN.

Its one of the big reasons they should support emulating older generations. Selling all those old games for a few bucks im sure can bring in some nice revenue, and support the store going forward. Im sure we all fell victims to all those Steam sales and flash sales on PSN, because we tell our self's at some point will play all these games. But going forward its only games im playing in my immediate future.

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@gundato: In the long-term, absolutely. But the thing is that Steam has the benefit of being on a PC platform where console generations don't exist (who could forget GFWL or OnLive?) At the end of the day, with where Sony is now, the PS3, PSP, and Vita are outdated hardware with outdated infrastructure. When outdated infrastructure exists on a now-defunct console generation, it's not even always a question of "would it be worth it to move this infrastructure to a modern one" but rather "would it even be feasible?"

The only console I know of which has done such a thing is the DSi, which (to my understanding) moved over to support the eShop in 2017, the majority of the DSi-ware coming to the eShop with it. But just because it worked on the DSi does not mean that solution could or would function on any given platform, especially in this case where Sony would have to contend with the PS3's archaic bespoke processing system, and the lack of any modern Sony handheld to house PSP/Vita titles. While in general it is great when storefronts do go that extra mile to work in perpetuity, I can understand the reasons why this is not one such case.

It's not that I think Sony has a duty to support the PS3 forever and always. But even emulation, useful as it is, is an imperfect solution to the need for game preservation. Whichever approach a given user takes to emulation, they're always going to be limited to what an emulator can play, and by whether they own a game or are willing to pirate it. While a user might own all of the games they care about, and pirates doubtless have quite a selection too, there will always be cracks somewhere, where games get completely lost to time.

Which is why I say there's no perfect solution, and why it's so disappointing that Sony's solution makes minimal effort to preserve anything, even if it's for understandable reasons. Everything is temporary and fleeting, but things on the internet are especially so, as much as people like to pretend they aren't. This entire situation is a reminder of that, and of why digital license distribution platforms like this should be regarded with a bit of skepticism.

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FacelessVixen

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#12 FacelessVixen  Online

So this is what anticipating Y2K feels like.

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Gundato

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@franzlska: PCs very much have "console generations" as it were. We've been on windows 10 for a while but it was not at all uncommon for games to break going from 2k to vista or even vista to 7 to 8. Let alone the 9xs (although, fun story, Warhammer 40k chaos gate never worked for me under vista but "just worked" on 7 so... yeah). And Steam has been around effectively since late xp/early vista (if memory serves) and deals with a pretty wide range of windowses (let alone the "We sort of work. Look, we work better than anything else will" on mac and linux).

And that kind of ignores MS who, while there is definitely some shenanigans, sort of kind of, still support the 360.

Again, there is no reason Sony needs to do this. But, my hope is, that with the complete clusterfuck that is the PS5 store they are forward thinking (they aren't...). Because it is a no brainer that you drop support for expensive and outdated platforms... unless that is "free" because of the way you architected your store. Which is not what Valve and MS did initially but it is more or less where they "seamlessly" ended up. And you want that to be "free" because it means you aren't starting from scratch when the PS6 launches.

@lego_my_eggo: Backwards compatibility is weird. Ars famously wrote an article (that MS got REALLY annoyed at) which basically used the publicly available MS services to point out that "nobody" was actually taking advantage of xbox and 360 games on the xbox one. I forget the exact numbers but I want to say the effective attach rate was REALLY low with most consumers MAYBE playing one game (probably RDR) and that was it. And that "makes sense" because most games that were successful spawned enough sequels to make us hate them and the rest tend to be one off niche games that are "hard to go back to" because they were actually trying stuff.

Now, obviously, that went to shit when we had the weirdest console launch ever and EVERYONE is depending on backwards compatibility to justify the consoles we ignored work to virtually line up for. But, in a year or three, there is no reason to assume we won't return to the status quo of "weirdos decide they want to play Asura's Wrath in 2020".

All that being said, Sony probably SHOULD release a generalized emulator for each of their platforms. Maybe the PS3 is a cluster (yay for the CBE!) but they have time and time again shown they have PS1 and even PS2 "solved".

But that ALSO makes me remember the Vita. I use this example often enough that I should go research exactly what the combo was, but at some point I wanted to buy the Tomba games to play on my vita. And there was some weird ass combination like "NA Tomba 1 can be played on the ps3, psp, or vita. Only JP Tomba 2 can be played and only on the PSP or PS3" or some similar level of asinine.

And that is almost definitely licensing. Sony was a tv and music company (and a lot of other stuff) when the PS1 came out and odds are a LOT of those games had really weird distribution. That WAS even before the age where EA distributed Half-Life 2 and all those other shenanigans. So odds are that even if Sony released the emulators the games we could buy would be REALLY weird and REALLY limited. Maybe they could spend some money hunting down which laundromat in Tokyo technically owns the rights to distributing Armored Core 1 in the US again but... would it be worth it?

And you can see some of those same issues with the xbox where a lot of games straight up never had a digital release (like Armored Core 4 and 4a...). But the vast majority of the 360 era that people care about was. Which gets back to the CBE being a REALLY fun architecture.

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DinosaurCanada

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Is it even possible to connect your PSP to wifi anymore? How are you supposed to even buy games for it?

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liquiddragon

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#15 liquiddragon  Online

@dinosaurcanada: The PSN store on the PSP has been closed for years. To buy PSP games, you have to use PS3's PSN store. Then you can dl PSP games from the PSP via wifi from account setting -> download list or connecting the PSP to PS3 if you download on to the home console.

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Mamba219

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In a way, this was sort of bound to happen. The fact that digital storefronts require servers and tech support and often have different stores for different platforms means that almost every digital storefront is going to go this way eventually. That said, I can't help but feel like this is the absolute bare minimum they can get away with. As much as people have brought up the Wii Shop's closure in relation to this news, Nintendo handled that a touch better (giving about a year's warning, and stating upfront that re-downloads will be possible (of course, one day those will go, as PS3/PSP/Vita re-downloads will)), and even they didn't handle shutting down particularly gracefully.

I feel like the issue is that a truly good solution (if one is even possible) would be a major investment to design and implement, and would ultimately see little return. At the end of the day, these are businesses, and so long as PR can weather a store closing, they're going to opt to close stores as quickly as possible rather than do "the right thing" for consumers and preservation. But at the same time, the business and delivery side of games has become so messy that I don't know what a "perfect solution" would actually look like. If it were me, I would say that truly preserving a game means offering every version of a game in a way that's reasonably accessible to players. There's some precedent for this, Minecraft on PC already does this (as best it can), but when expanding that to the scale of a major storefront, it would no doubt cost years of time and millions of dollars coordinating, for at best an incredibly small return.

As well, while physical media is great for preserving older generations, it has practically been treated as a shackle these past couple generations, and has become increasingly detached from the reality of the games supposedly on the discs (retail Skyward Sword still has that game-ending save bug, not to mention famous examples like NMS or CP2077.) Even if it were possible to reverse the push to all-digital, that's also a terrible solution, since it would mean sacrificing patches, smaller releases, and ease-of-access in favor of preserving what remains.

Ultimately, it just sucks all around. If I didn't have qualms about buying digital already, I certainly do now. Even with how deep-rooted a digital storefront Steam is, I can't help but look at my library with a bit of hesitance and unease, because no matter how long it takes, all of these games could disappear one day too.

It almost makes me want to sell my entire physical library and Steam account and give up video gaming altogether. I could probably net a cool $50-$60k for it all - at least - and why shouldn't I? It's a hobby that I've loved my whole life, but it seems like these corporations and the weirdos who defend their shitty decisions are dead-set on making everything ephemeral and fleeting. Better make time to play every game that looks interesting RIGHT NOW, as it won't be here in ten years. Only a very select, handpicked few titles will be spared oblivion. It really makes me wonder what even is the point.

It's like, who knows? Will I even be able to share something like Persona 4 with a loved one in 20-30 years? Will my best friend and I have to rely solely on our memories to make dumb Funky Student jokes? Right now I'm feeling like I should just get a head start on that and cash out while this stuff has some value.

This whole situation has been depressing me lately.

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bigsocrates

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@mamba219: As a certified old person who has been through something like this multiple times with multiple mediums, you don't need to worry on that deep a level. I was born in 1981 so I grew up in the age of Nintendo Entertainment System, VHS, and cassette tapes. None of that stuff is widely accessible anymore, and relatively few people still have the physical items they had when they were younger. Yes you can get a VHS player and figure out how to hook it up to your modern TV, but people don't.

Even older people had even more ephemeral products. Film wasn't even available on home release for a very long time, and most TV wasn't available on any recorded medium. Much of early film and TV were outright lost in a way that only a few video games have been (the masters for a lot of games have been lost, but almost every commercial game and literally every major release after the very dawn of the medium exists in some form somewhere.)

For the stuff you're talking about that your friends use for jokes and that represent your cultural history, companies will find some way to sell it back to you at some point. I grew up on Super Mario Brothers and Zelda, and of course those games are accessible today. Persona 4 Golden was a big hit, and it's widely available right now to buy.

Smaller games and certain other things will be more difficult to get but there will be copies around or piracy if you absolutely have to. Certain games will be tough (it's difficult to show someone Duck Hunt in a meaningful way these days just because of how TV tech works; you basically need an original system with the zapper and a CRT too) but there will be ways if you really want to.

Movies and music are similar. Most of the movies and TV and music I grew up with is on streaming, and the stuff that isn't can be found in other ways if you look hard enough. Things don't really get fully lost anymore. I don't still have my old VHS tapes or cassette tapes, but I can still watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail or listen to the Beastie Boys and share them with others.

That's not to defend any of this BS but just to say that it's not worth getting depressed about, or giving up gaming if it's something you're passionate about. It's worth getting frustrated and angry and letting Sony know in whatever way you want to (within reason; petitions or boycotts yes death threats no) and of course donating to various video game preservation initiatives (I give money to one regularly) but all media has these problems (even books can go out of print and get hard to find) and companies in general are bad about their legacies. It's just part of life, but the truly precious things aren't really lost in the end, and of all the regrets and problems I've had the fact that my VHS tapes no longer work is low on the list.

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vortextk

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#19  Edited By vortextk

@gundato said:

But, in a year or three, there is no reason to assume we won't return to the status quo of "weirdos decide they want to play Asura's Wrath in 2020".

I just wanted to say that yes, I did play and beat Asura's Wrath with DLC for the first time in 2020. I did it on an emulator.

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Mamba219

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@bigsocrates:

The logical part of me knows you're correct, but the emotional side of me sees and hears what you're saying and wants to swear off all media. Not logical or reasonable by any means, but these moods do crop up. I did not take the casual way many are treating this online well.

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bigsocrates

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@mamba219: I understand duder. I think we all understand. I'm just saying...it's not worth getting depressed over.

Remember that World of Warcraft is a live services game and they brought back the classic flavor because people wanted it. You don't have to give up on media. And, of course, you can always curate and maintain your own collection of favorites. They can't take that away from you! At least until Fahrenheit 451 becomes reality.

That's another book that I loved as a kid that's still widely available!

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GTxForza

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#22  Edited By GTxForza

Well, all I can say about this, the PSP, PS3 and PS Vita games cannot be played on PS5 via backward compatibility so Sony decided to remove them from the PSN store.

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whitegreyblack

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I tried to browse the PS3 store this weekend to find if there were any remaining digital-only games I'd like to snap up; the PS store crashed my PS3 three times, each time necessitating a hard "hold the power button down" shut-down and full rebuild of the database or whatever it does afterwards. What a nightmare.

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Mamba219

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@mamba219: I understand duder. I think we all understand. I'm just saying...it's not worth getting depressed over.

Remember that World of Warcraft is a live services game and they brought back the classic flavor because people wanted it. You don't have to give up on media. And, of course, you can always curate and maintain your own collection of favorites. They can't take that away from you! At least until Fahrenheit 451 becomes reality.

That's another book that I loved as a kid that's still widely available!

Haha. I do man. I have something like 1300 old games - been collecting them since 2007, and have pretty much every game I'm interested in from the 5th generation on. Doesn't change the fact that it sucks they're making it hard for others to enjoy some of these titles. Video games are always more fun when you can discuss them with friends.

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MrGreenMan

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@mamba219: This is really what upset me most about this. Sony is making it clear they just do not care at all about what happens to these games. The moment a game comes out to Sony, after people paid for it, it;s just waste to them and have no value. And to me that is just so sad. So many people have fond memories of these games that are just going to be gone, So why should any of us as consumers care. Clearly all they seem to care about is money and nothing else. I'm just glad I don't own any of these consoles but I feel for all of you dealing with this BS.

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ZombiePie

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#26 ZombiePie  Staff

Normally I would take the time to respond to the input and criticism shared on my blog, but the discussion here is so active, I just cannot imagine doing that without becoming exhausted. There are two updates worth sharing since I first published this:

  1. All signs point to Sony announcing this shutdown without properly notifying developers, especially indie-devs, as Vita development teams have since come out saying that they have suspended development and future game releases. Lillymo Games had an all-digital Vita port of one of their current projects in the works and announced they terminated production. Yes, Sony is not entitled to notify devs that they are pulling the plug on their platforms, but this just shows that there were people still supporting the Vita until this announcement.
  2. The number of digital-only games that will potentially be "lost forever," is currently hovering around 120 to 150 games. Many of these titles cannot come to other platforms due to Sony having the publishing rights and many others were part of programs like the PSP Minis program which only make sense of their intended platform.
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senorsucks2suck

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@zombiepie: Well the fact that PSNow hosts titles like Ape Escape for the PSX (with trophies patched in). Fantavision for Ps2 and Residtance from Ps3 means they were able to get games on to the service on their current generation. But by turning off access to games (or without minimum a time table for releasing titles... remember Cerny’s vague intonation of backwards compatibility for PS5) there is no hint of giving me the games I bought for the PS3 during the pandemic coming to current generation consoles. They took my money. And when the class action suit comes out I have receipts for a couple hundred dollars worth of games. I will take the $0.14 check. While I waited on backwards compatibility facts they happily took my money. I had enough time to put my hands on every game I purchased so I’m not that fool. But if they have the means to deliver through PS Now I feel like I have the right to continued access to those games. Not my problem. It’s a brave new world for digital delivery and gamers are powerful enough voices to make Sony the Fall Guy for our digital content for all digital content going forward. If my music on iTunes didn’t work in perpetuity I would be pissed. As far as I (and hopefully whatever court) is concerned these games are just 1’s and 0’s and you better deliver. Your programming acumen and definitely lack thereof is not my problem.

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FacelessVixen

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#28 FacelessVixen  Online

@liquiddragon said:

What are y’alls last purchases?

I thought about getting Persona 3 and 4 since I've only played their portable versions, but I'm leaning towards getting physical in case my future self doesn't feel like changing the battery for the PS3's CMOS, provided that Sony doesn't address that bit of DRM in a final firmware update.

Yaaaaay. Video gaaaamesss.

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Lego_My_Eggo

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#29  Edited By Lego_My_Eggo

@whitegreyblack said:

I tried to browse the PS3 store this weekend to find if there were any remaining digital-only games I'd like to snap up; the PS store crashed my PS3 three times, each time necessitating a hard "hold the power button down" shut-down and full rebuild of the database or whatever it does afterwards. What a nightmare.

Not sure how complete a list this is, but browse this site instead and see if there is anything that interests you. You will have to search and buy on the console itself, but at least you can take a look without constant crashing. The built in store for the PS3 was never that great, but i don't remember it being this bad.

And i hope Sony gives more details about how they are closing the store. Because if i remember right if you don't download the "new PSN store" it defaults back to the OG PSN store even for the download list. Which i think is why i was having problems with my download list crashing all the time until i downloaded the "new" store. So are they leaving that part up for download and just gutting it? or will i be stuck with a crashing download list basically making it useless?

Edit: just tested and it uses the non-crashing download list thankfully.

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whitegreyblack

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@lego_my_eggo:The biggest issue is that the PS3 store can crash or act erratically randomly during just about every action you can take on it. I've had it crash when trying to search, when trying to view a trailer or other material overview info, when going to the cart/checkout, sometimes just when moving through the catalog, and just about anywhere else.

Yesterday I went to actually purchase Ratchet Deadlocked, and had the store just pop up a "An error occurred" message when confirming the purchase (after I've selected my payment method – which I know works, because I bought another game a month or so ago before the closure announcements) over and over. So, I cannot even buy anything.

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Lego_My_Eggo

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#31  Edited By Lego_My_Eggo

@whitegreyblack: This might just be me misremembering, but im talking about the download list under the account section on the XMB. When i didn't have the store downloaded (because i used the better web store) it crashed every time after a relatively short amount of scrolling (i have 2,700 odd things in my list). But now after downloading the store i have scrolled though it and so far no crashing. Its something i could test by deleting the store and trying it out, but im to lazy at the moment.

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whitegreyblack

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#32  Edited By whitegreyblack

@lego_my_eggo:I should have been a bit more clear; I was meaning the link you provided does not end up being a great workaround because I have been prone to experience crashes in absolutely any kind of action taken with the PS3 online store (even when just finding the store page for an item I have been made aware of elsewhere).

The download list only feels slightly less fragile than the store itself but has worked for me so far - however I only have about a dozen items on that list and have redownloaded only a small handful of items. I can't imagine you having a glitch-free time with 2700 items on that list.

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beard_of_zeus

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Yesterday I went to actually purchase Ratchet Deadlocked, and had the store just pop up a "An error occurred" message when confirming the purchase (after I've selected my payment method – which I know works, because I bought another game a month or so ago before the closure announcements) over and over. So, I cannot even buy anything.

I had this happen just this morning and it was obnoxious. I tried a couple times and kept getting that same error. I then backed out of the PS3 store, loaded it back up (luckily it kept my couple items in the cart), and then I was able to get the purchase to go through.

And I'm in the same boat as you, I bought things a few months ago using that same payment method w/no issue, so I knew that wasn't it.

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ZombiePie

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#34 ZombiePie  Staff
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senorsucks2suck

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#35  Edited By senorsucks2suck

@zombiepie: it’s all just Lip Service. More than likely they have a vision for a free-to-play battle royale which, in a pre-fortnite world, would have given skins from completing challenges in the single player game. Battle royale makes sense in this world so maybe they want to compete with Halo Infinite or the dead Mario 100. They really have nothing in that free-to-play space. Maybe a Warhawk reboot would be cool.

By not opting for a native performance bump like Xbox they can time their patches to marketing deals or withhold patches all together whenever a remake makes sense.

Last of Us is an okay game. The puzzles make the game terrible. I played the ps3 game a year ago and a PS4 version is superfluous so the PS5 version is as well. I imagine they want to do something with multiplayer. Unless that game can muster branching story paths it’s taking all my gut not to just spoil the game right here and right now so maybe they can cancel this waste of a project.

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ThePanzini

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#36  Edited By ThePanzini

@zombiepie: One of the reasons Naughty Dog ported Last of Us from the PS3 to PS4 was so they could learn using PS4 SDK and to improve their tools.

Michael Mumbauer, who took over direction of the Visual Arts Service Group in 2007, recruited a group of about 30 developers, internally and from neighboring game studios, to form a new development unit within Sony. The idea was to expand upon some of the company’s most successful franchises and the team began working on a remake of the 2013 hit The Last of Us for the PlayStation 5. But Sony never fully acknowledged the team’s existence or gave them the funding and support needed to succeed in the highly competitive video game market, according to people involved.

Also from the article the endeavour doesn't sound that expensive, game studios often create small incubation teams to pitch new projects and ideas all the time.

I'm having a harder time trying to contextualize the shutdown of these stores given their previous comments about hating to revisit the past.

I don't recall Sony ever saying this. Given we had the Demon Souls remake and Medievil recently too, their actions have been the opposite.

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ZombiePie

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#37 ZombiePie  Staff

I'm having a harder time trying to contextualize the shutdown of these stores given their previous comments about hating to revisit the past.

I don't recall Sony ever saying this. Given we had the Demon Souls remake and Medievil recently too, their actions have been the opposite.

No Caption Provided

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ThePanzini

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#38  Edited By ThePanzini

@zombiepie: Ryan talking about native PS1 & 2 games looking dated and demand for these titles would be very low through backwards compatibility, which he's probably right.

He doesn't say they would not or never remaster/remake these games which Sony has been doing.

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Lego_My_Eggo

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@thepanzini: Sony's overall stance has basically been that nobody really wants to play those old games. Based on there data with PS3 backwards compatibility, the talk about generations, and you have that fantastic Jim Ryan quote. But when it comes to selling you that same game again for $60-$70? Well apparently only then do people want to play those older games. Its hard to argue that there overall feeling towards past generations has been that that stuff is in the past, leave it there. If there is someone at Sony championing there old catalog of games and systems they are not getting much PR time. There farted out PlayStation Classic is a very good example of a quick cash grab with little effort shown for caring about the games.

You may get some remakes and remasters here and there, but you are going to be paying for those, and its only going to be a select handful. The better consumer friendly option is just get backwards compatibility working, to which they say nobody plays those old games, its not worth the money or effort. It all feels very contradictory.

I %100 percent get it from a business standpoint, but as the consumer it all looks bad from this end.

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ThePanzini

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#40  Edited By ThePanzini

@lego_my_eggo: MS have around ~30 original Xbox games available via backwards compatibility. MS talked just before adding OG titles about the difficulty adding OG games to the program and not to expect a lot, mainly because of licensing due to age.

Sony have a similar number of PS2 classics available on PS4 via ports and remasters. Emulating the PS3 cell on the PS4 is not possible becuase of the PS4's weak CPU, with that in mind it makes perfect sense for Sony to favour ports over creating a backwards compatibility program that would only be possible on the PS5.

It would be fantastic if Sony had a BC program but they made poor choices with the PS3's cell and in creating PSN.

MS most played chart is updated on a weekly basis every Sunday only three BC titles have ever entered the top 50, and only once has a BC game charted in the US. We have also gotten a few snap shots of BC through data mining. Every indication we have is BC is not widly used.

When new platforms launch game sales of the previous platform fall pretty quickly especially for first part games Miles Morlas did 80% of its sales on PS5, Breath of the Wild did the same console users are often very quick to move on.

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From the Bloomberg article:

Sony’s focus on exclusive blockbusters has come at the expense of niche teams and studios within the PlayStation organization, leading to high turnover and less choice for players.

I can't say I even liked Days Gone, but for Sony to focus so much on their biggest blockbuster IPs is kind of a yellow flag for me. I understand from a business perspective, this is what they want to do, but I don't see myself getting a PS5 if it means $70 for each Uncharted remaster.

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#42 ZombiePie  Staff

Well then... I guess things can change when you least expect them.