With the way video game consoles come and go within the video game market, it was only a matter of time before older systems such as the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and the PlayStation Portable were going to no longer receive online support from Sony. Earlier this week, it was reported by Game Informer that the PlayStation Store on a web browser no longer has options to purchase games for the three systems. The report also pointed out that those same system owners will no longer be to purchase games through the console’s digital store later this year.
This has led to some owners of those systems being upset that their consoles were no longer being taken into account. I definitely understand the sentiment and have been there before. Also, indie developers such as Lillymo Games were caught off guard by the announcement that they had no idea was coming. Some had to cancel current projects they were working on. That’s terrible for them and I really empathize with their frustration.
What the gaming industry has shown time and again is that it is always moving forward. Consoles typically go for 5 to 7 years before the next one comes along. Personally, I think that gaming consoles should go for a full decade before the newer ones are released. But that isn’t the way it works. This means that like a computer’s operating system, there will come a time when a console you currently own is no longer the focus of a company and it may even become obsolete. Right now, Sony’s focus is on the PlayStation 4 and 5.
The latest developments with the PSP, Vita, and PS3 have once again brought the discussion of game preservation to the surface. One of the biggest weaknesses of relying on online digital platforms is that those very platforms have a shelf life based on the interests of the companies that run them. Like online-only, live service games, when the company pulls the plug on the server, it is game over.
Any time I see a company make decisions, I always do my best to get inside their minds and consider how those choices benefit it. The retro gaming community is growing and it is a matter of time before people look back on the PS3, Vita, and PSP the same way that we today look at the NES, Super Nintendo, and SEGA Genesis. Scarcity can make the value of something skyrocket and it is no different with video games. The highest amount I have ever received for a game trade-in at GameStop was Xenogears due to its limited availability. It landed me about around $70 in-store credit. Think about how much scalpers were making off PS5 sales because they were sold out everywhere.
From a business perspective, eliminating the digital stores for older systems gives a potential boost to the value of PlayStation Now. The library of the monthly subscription service currently includes PS3 and PS2 titles. I would not be surprised if PSP and Vita games start appearing within the service by the end of this year or in early 2022. Another option could be Sony deciding to bring back games for a limited time, such as what Nintendo did with Super Mario 3D All-Stars. Even though the game was just released last September and promoted as being available for a limited amount of time, it had sold more than 8 million units by February of this year.
I wouldn’t be surprised to start seeing more companies launching their own gaming clients going forward like Electronic Arts and Ubisoft have already done. Square Enix and Activision Blizzard are examples of organizations that have a huge library of games that would work well for a subscription service. Subscription services are working very well for television/movie entities such as HBO Max, Netflix, and Disney Plus. I believe more gaming companies will offer a similar model in the days ahead.
In the above video, Radical Reggie gives some great suggestions on games you can still purchase from the digital store for the PS3. Most, if not all of them, are games that can be played offline. As Reggie points out in the video, you’ll be able to purchase some of the games for a better price than you’ll find anywhere else.
As gamers, we must accept the reality that gaming preservation falls upon our shoulders. I understand the sentiment of wanting the gaming companies to hold up their end, but we must remember that they are businesses looking to do what is best for their bottom line. I don’t fault them for that and accept that reality. They are free to do as they wish with their own intellectual properties.
My advice is to purchase games that you’ll be able to play offline in the case that servers shut down or your console no longer connects to the internet. Then you’ll be able to access and play those games as long as you have electricity or batteries (for handhelds).