Just three weeks ago, Sony announced its plans to shut down the digital stores for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, and PlayStation Vita, effective this summer. Today, Sony partially reversed course, with Sony Interactive Entertainment President and CEO Jim Ryan writing in a blog post that “it’s clear that we made the wrong decision here.”
As such, the PS4 and Vita online stores will continue operations, Ryan said, while the PSP store will still shut down as planned on July 2. PS3 and Vita players will continue to be able to purchase games through the hardware itself, while web-based versions of those stores will seemingly remain closed following their shutdown last month.
“When we initially came to the decision to end purchasing support for PS3 and PS Vita, it was born out of a number of factors, including commerce support challenges for older devices and the ability for us to focus more of our resources on newer devices where a majority of our gamers are playing on,” Ryan wrote. “We see now that many of you are incredibly passionate about being able to continue purchasing classic games on PS3 and PS Vita for the foreseeable future, so I’m glad we were able to find a solution to continue operations.”
Ryan didn’t set any new timeline for the PS3 and Vita store support, so it’s not clear just how long of a reprieve this will be in the end. But nothing lasts forever in the world of corporate-controlled servers, as shown by the continuation of plans to shut down the PSP store. That will come over 16 years after the PSP launched in North America and nearly 13 years after the PSP first got support for direct game downloads through a firmware update. Sony officially stopped producing PSP hardware in Japan in 2014, while PS3 production lasted until 2017 and Vita production lasted until 2019.
A sigh of relief
In the wake of Sony’s closure announcement, many online sources had begun compiling lists of the best games to download before the legacy PlayStation Store stores went offline for good. A VGC analysis suggested over 2,000 digital-only titles would become inaccessible if those stores shut down, including 138 that were not available on any other platforms. Other observers noted how piracy would become the only way to preserve some of these games in the wake of the shutdown.
As The Gamer noted, the planned Vita store shutdown also threatened to stop the production of some Vita games that were (and now are) still in development. “We’re way past the point where it makes a ton of financial sense to release on Vita, but it’s one of my all-time favorite consoles and I wanted to release a game on it before everything shut down,” Spooky Squid Games developer Miguel Sternberg told the site regarding a planned Vita port of Russian Subway Dogs.
Sony has still remained silent on a longer-term problem that could eventually make digital PS3 titles and all PS4 titles unplayable if and when Sony decides to stop supporting those consoles’ PSN connections. Recent testing by concerned players suggests that same problem could affect all digital PS5 games and some physical PS5 discs at an unknown point in the future.
Sony’s decision to change course comes months after Microsoft quickly reversed plans to raise the price of Xbox Live after strong fan backlash to the idea. “We messed up today and you were right to let us know,” Microsoft said of that turnaround.