One of the biggest evolutions on the ongoing development of videogame consoles is the advent of the digital copy. From Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 it became possible to just purchase and download new games online, storing them in a game console’s hard disk drive, precluding the need for game discs and the like. When a successor console comes, they tend to provide for backwards compatibility so that they could play games of previous generations. Meanwhile the older consoles gradually get phased out. Sony did announce the closure of online game stores for the PS3, PSP and PS Vita, only for loud owner protests to make them reconsider.
As CNet would have it, Sony has decided not to shut down two of its three online stores for older game systems following backlash from their loyal owners. While the PlayStation Portable, launched in 2004-5, will see its purchase functionality terminated on July 2 as planned, the same closure date for the PlayStation 3 and the August 27 shutdown of PlayStation Store services for the Vita handheld have been called off, allowing owners of these devices to continue being able to buy digital game titles and DLC for the same.
In an official statement on the PlayStation blog dated this past Monday, April 19, Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan noted that their decision to close the PS3 and Vita online stores was wrong, so they will keep the storefront sections for these older game systems operational for an indefinite time period. “I’m glad that we can keep this piece of our history alive for gamers to enjoy, while we continue to create cutting-edge new game worlds for PS4, PS5, and the next generation of VR,” says Ryan.
Looking at where Sony was coming from, one can understand their initial plans to begin wrapping up support for the PlayStation 3 (released 2006-7) and PS Vita (launched 2011-12 to replace the PSP but sold less). One factor is “commerce support challenges,” since manufacture of these systems has long terminated and supplies for units, games and components are running out anyway. Second, obviously the latest consoles must be prioritized, such as the PS4 and the new PS5. Sony merely underestimated how many people still own and play serviceable PS3s and Vitas to be cut off just like that. It is a pity for the original PSP however, but its lifespan was until 2014, so it was just time to retire.
Image courtesy of Game Informer