PlayStation Mobile – An Urgent Warning To Gamers

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Regular Vita Player readers will have seen that we’ve been trying to highlight as many of our favourite PlayStation Mobile games as we can over the last couple of months prior to the upcoming closure of the PSM service. We wanted to make sure that everyone had the chance to get some of the best PlayStation Mobile games that are available before they disappeared forever. Infact, it was my intention to continue posting more of these recommendations over the next few days but circumstances have stopped me from doing this because it’s become apparent that there are some serious issues at hand for fans of PlayStation Mobile that could affect any games that they may have purchased to-date…

While the purpose of this post isn’t to scaremonger in any way, I do want to make sure that everyone is forewarned about what problems may occur in the coming weeks, but as it currently stands this could have very serious repurcussions for PlayStation Mobile loving PS Vita owners everywhere.

So what exactly is the problem? For those of you who have been following the story of PSM’s closure, as you will be aware Sony Computer Entertainment informed gamers that their PlayStation Mobile collections would be safe as long as they activated their consoles from April 2015 onwards through the Settings area on the PS Vita and PlayStation TV. While this was supposed to have worked in theory, it hasn’t quite proven to be the case. What Sony has forgotten to take into consideration is that the PS Vita is now primarily a console that is dependent on digital distribution for its software library. While there are no official figures, it is believed that almost 80% of titles sold for the Vita are digital and as such memory card space for Vita owners is at a premium. So much so that PS Vita owners are not only owning larger memory cards, but most now own multiple cards.

And this is what is causing the issue with PlayStation Mobile. For those of you who use more than one memory card, we’re used to the routine of card swapping – the wait of a few minutes while the PS Vita re-builds its internal database as new memory cards are inserted. It’s a minor inconvenience that we have come to accept in order to maximise the storage at our disposal and it’s certainly a better option than being dependent on Content Manager to continually swap files between the Vita and a PC / PS3. Unfortunately, when it comes to PlayStation Mobile, this seems to be having an adverse effect…

Essentially, when memory cards are swapped over, it is changing the way that the PS Vita is “seeing” the PlayStation Mobile titles that are on the card and in effect each time a new card is inserted it deactivates the PS Vita when it comes to PlayStation Mobile. PSM titles cannot be played without connecting to the PlayStation Network to obtain authorisation and more often than not, the console itself needs to be reactivated to allow any PlayStation Mobile titles to be played. Our obvious concerns here are two-fold. First, if games still require the authorisation process after the service is taken down completely in September, without the servers will this mean that we will be unable to play any of our PlayStation Mobile titles?

Of greater concern is the activation issue. While we have all been told that we must activate our consoles in order to continue using our purchased games, if we are being forced to reactivate our systems every time we change memory cards then this will simply be an impossible task for many gamers after September. Let’s just look at the basis statistics for a minute to see why this is going to be such a problem…

  • There are over 500 PlayStation Mobile titles available in the EU alone
  • The PS Vita can only support a maximum of 500 icons on its home screen (including those within folders)
  • 20 icons are placed on every Vita’s home screen as standard for system icons
  • Every boxed game owned places an icon on the home screen
  • The single largest memory card that is available for the Vita is 64Gb although only the 32Gb is officially distributed in the West
  • A 16Gb card can hold 300 PlayStation Mobile games

The reality is that gamers simply can not hold their entire PS Vita collection on a single card without using Content Manager. Urgent change is needed either to the Vita’s system software, the PlayStation Mobile activation process (so it becomes a hardware or PSN account issue rather than linked to memory cards) or some other solution or Sony Computer Entertainment could find themselves in a rather difficult situation with gamers in a couple of months time.

If gamers fail to take measures to ensure that they can keep their collections then the onus is certainly on them, but in the event that Sony have failed to ensure that gamers can play their games beyond September, which is looking likely to be the case for those with multiple memory cards, then gamers could be set to demand a refund on all of their PSM purchases and it’s a position that Sony wouldn’t want to find themselves in.

Rest assured that we are attempting to talk to Sony Computer Entertainment to try to get to the bottom of this problem to make sure that it can be rectified and we’ll keep you all posted.

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About Simon Plumbe 1077 Articles
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian. Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee:


  1. Great article — All Vita owners and/or PSM customers must take action or risk losing their PSM game collection!

    • The verification issue is something that has bugged me for a long time anyway, long before the closure of the service was announced. The issue I always had with that is that it seemed to be something that was really only workable for either mobile devices or the 3G model of the PS Vita – if you only had the wi-fi version then you really had no way of verifying the licence for a game when you were using your Vita while you were out and about. I was fine playing PSM titles on my Xperia phone but on the Vita…!

      While personally I am at the extreme end of the spectrum in terms of how I am affected by this (a 900+ games collection including 400 PSM titles, 111 boxed games and 8 memory cards) I’m not alone with this sort of problem.

      My wife has only had her Vita for a couple of months but because she had an Xperia prior to her Vita she already had a healthy PSM collection and already had some Minis on the PS3. Add to that her starter Vita collection so she’s got four memory cards and about 70 games as well so it’s going to affect a lot more people than Sony might realise.

  2. “First, if games still require the authorisation process after the service is taken down completely in September, without the servers will this mean that we will be unable to play any of our PlayStation Mobile titles?”

    There’s no need to worry about this, actually. Ever since April, PSM games’ authorizations have ceased expiring, so they have ceased doing the periodic online connection thing. They are now authorized permanently–as long as your system remains PSM-activated.

    The obvious solution to the activation issue is to just update the PSV firmware (and that of all other certified devices . . .) so that every system is hard-coded as PSM-activated. But, I suspect Sony views that option as a potential security risk and will decide to leave the status quo unchanged. Their likely evaluation of the situation is that the number of active PSM users is probably too small to form a class action lawsuit. That’s the corporate mindset; we can screw over customers if there aren’t enough affected ones to hurt us.

    Not that a lawsuit would necessarily be successful, anyway.

    • Another issue worth bringing up is that Content Manager may not be the last resort (i.e., using it to swap PSM games back and forth on and off a single, never-removed memory card) after all. Sony’s documentation of what happens after the PSM lights go out makes no mention of whether Content Manager will continue to support PSM content.

      • Unfortunately in reality it’s not that simple. The reason I wrote this post wasn’t to start a panic but because it was based on what I had heard from others as well as personal experience. Despite activating all my systems back in April, when I am away from home I can’t use my PSM titles. If I change memory cards the Vita NEEDS to connect to PSN before it will allow me to run anything with regards to PSM (I couldn’t play any of my collection for a while yesterday because of a PSN issue) altough this doesn’t affect any other digital game I own.

        As for Content Manager, while it is fine to use to make a backup of a PSM collection assuming it’s still supported (and if not then this is another issue I’ll address with Sony directly) the Vita’s digital dependency means that even 64Gb cards simply aren’t big enough any more, especially for anyone with a subscription to PlayStation Plus.

        • Regarding Content Manager, here’s something I figured out only a few days ago. When you use CM to copy a PSM game from your PSV to your PC, the copy of the game that goes to your PC contains authorization information that associates it with your PSV. That is, you can put that copy back on your PSV and play it again without being online, but if you put that copy on a second PSM-activated PSV (on your same PSN account), the authorization info won’t match, so it will need to connect online and re-authorize the game, this time for the second PSV (overwriting the previous authorization). Thus, if you use Content Manager to have your PC act as off-site storage for your PSM games, you’ll need to manage multiple sets of your games if you have multiple PSM-activated PSVs–heck, maybe the authorization is tied to the specific memory card even, not just the specific system.

          Also worth noting, when the authorization step occurs, it’s done for every game currently on the system. Not sure if that’s old news around here, but I hadn’t known about it.

          • This really was the problem I’ve tried to highlight. It seems to be the case that the authorisation issue is tied to memory cards in some capacity (it’s also interesting to note that the PSM Runtime Package needs to be installed onto each memory card rather that is integrated into the PS Vita’s System Software despite being a relatively small file).

            That being the case, I’d guess that the authorisation and Runtime Package are linked in some way and swapping memory cards does lead to problems. With Sony’s push on Vita owners having an emphasis on digital rather than physical game ownership it was really only a matter of time before problems like this reared their head anyway and it’s clear that a lot of people do have more than one memory card.

            I certainly don’t want to boast here, but I have a vast games collection installed on my Vita memory cards as well as approaching 120 icons used up with retail games so I have no choice but to use multiple cards and swap them repeatedly. Content Manager isn’t practical for me as I’ve got 256Gb of storage space with about 75% of that used up right now. I certainly couldn’t cope with copying that back and forth or re-downloading it!

            Even the 500 icon limit doesn’t help – I could physically fit all my PSM games onto a single 32Gb card BUT they won’t because of the icon limit as I have 400+ PSM titles and add that to the retail games and system icons and I’d need 550+ icons!

            If Sony REALLY want a digital future for the Vita then we need bigger memory cards (along with a return to general sale of the 32Gb card and a global release of the 64Gb card), more stable card-swapping support and another increase to the icon limit.

  3. And this is exactly why I never bought too many PlayStation Mobile titles… I saw the discontinuation of PlayStation Mobile coming (despite what Sony Computer Entertainment always claimed), and I saw these activation/license issues arising.

    • Sadly that’s a problem that isn’t just limited to PlayStation Mobile though. PSP owners lost out when the comics service was taken offline, I’ve experienced similar with PC games and been unable to re download replacements when files became corrupted simply because the supplier decided to stop dealing in digital distribution of software so where the Vita is concerned I’ll always buy physical games where possible.

      However the reality here is that Sony still have to ensure that consumers have a fair opportunity to use the products they have paid for. If the simple act of swapping memory cards renders our collections worthless then clearly we will be due some form of redress from Sony. It’s not a few people affected either – it runs into the thousands so it’s more financially viable for Sony to sort it out than face thousands of claims for compensation.

  4. Hello,

    Well this article was prophecy…

    My Vita display I can not activate Playstation Mobile anymore in my region / country after a simple memory card swap… 🙁

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