It’s been reported earlier today by the website The Gamer that Sony Interactive Entertainment are planning on shutting down the PlayStation Store this summer for three of their legacy platforms. Namely the PSP, PS3 and most importantly for visitors of this site the PS Vita.
When Will The PlayStation Store Close?
At the moment, I want to stress that this hasn’t been announced by Sony themselves. The Gamer reported that the news came from a reliable source, but right now it’s just their source and not anywhere official. Regardless, according to their report the stores for the PS3 and PSP are to be taken offline completely in July, with the PS Vita to follow on 27th August.
Little is really known about the details right now of Sony’s intentions or the wider implications. And this is what has gamers concerned. From the Vita’s perspective, with physical games no longer being produced (Eastasiasoft confirmed a few days ago that they now have all their remaining games in hand) if this report is true then we have just a few months of new games left for the Vita.
A Hidden Agenda?
While we all want to know what is happening right now, there may have been signs of this coming for a while. Last year Sony announced that the web version of the PlayStation Store was to close for the PS3 and Vita. With physical game production ending in the West a year earlier, and coming to an end in the East this year the only new source of PS Vita games was through the PlayStation Store. Whether you believe the never ending rumours about a PS Vita 2 or not (which frankly we don’t), Sony couldn’t close the door shut firmly on the PS Vita until no more software was being released. And for that to happen the Store had to close as well.
Lack Of Communication
As is the case with Sony, it would appear that there has been no previous communication about this to anyone. It’s not just the Vita community that have been left in the dark about this, but developers as well. There are many who are still working on titles or who have games scheduled for release who haven’t heard anything about this prior to the story breaking today.
With nothing forthcoming from Sony, it’s all guesswork and conjecture. We don’t know if this report is true and if it is if the timescale is accurate. If this is happening what will the wider implications be for Vita owners with the closure of the PlayStation Store?
Many of us own more than one PS Vita. Some collect variants of the console, but others own backup systems incase their main PS Vita fails. In that eventuality would those consoles still be able to be activated for use with their existing game libraries? We’ve already seen some online functionality limited with several titles and would that be removed completely? And I don’t even want to consider whether support for those with active PlayStation Plus subscriptions would continue.
Over the years, hundreds of PS Vita games have been given away through the Instant Games Collection part of PlayStation Plus. The question has to be asked whether this would be affected or not in this store closure.
Are Our Games Safe?
This is the most important question on everyone’s mind. In the past when games have been removed from the PlayStation Store we’ve still been able to download ones that we’ve already purchased. But this is different. Usually, we would access that content through the Store itself accessing our Download List. If the Store no longer exists for the Vita, there’s no guarantee that the games will either.
It could be argued that Sony have always promised that we can redownload purchased titles whenever we want to in the future. But that promise was broken with PlayStation Mobile. The entire catalogue of over 500 games was deleted, along with access to them for existing customers. There is nothing to say that Sony won’t do exactly the same again.
Right now all we can do is wait. For those with large digital games collections I would strongly suggest making full use of Content Manager and making a full backup of your entire games collection to your PC. If there are any Vita exclusive games on the PlayStation Store that you are interested in then get them as quickly as you can. It’s unlikely that any of them will be on sale (unless they are Cross Buy) so you may not have much longer left to get some real gems.
Future Vita Owners
One thing is certain, this move will push people away from considering the Vita as a viable gaming platform. Without access to the PlayStation Store, potential owners will be left with just physical games to choose from. We’re already seeing prices of these rise and this will make the Vita a less appealing option as time goes by. Even more so as only a fraction of its library was released physically.
But to be completely honest if you are new to the console then buying a Vita is a bigger gamble than trying your luck at allvideoslots. If you’re happy with a physical only collection or want to use the console for homebrew then it’s still a worthy platform to spend money on. If not then I’d hold on to your money and look elsewhere.
Driven To Piracy
One thing I can see happening after August is that the future of the Vita will move in a few clear directions. Existing users will continue to enjoy the console and the library of games they have already built up for it. And with over 1,200 digital titles there’s more than enough to keep any gamer happy for a lifetime. Others will move towards seeking out a physical games collection, which will push prices up more than they already have been.
But then there is the darker side of the Vita’s future. More and more Vita owners have been hacking their consoles to allow them to run homebrew titles and emulation. The Vita is regarded as being one of the best systems for emulating older consoles at the moment. But there are also tools out there giving people access to pirated Vita, PS1 and PSP games. We certainly wouldn’t condone software piracy under any circumstances here at Vita Player but once the PlayStation Store is taken offline, these games will be gone forever unless they exist physically.
What really does astonish us with all of this – if this move is true – is that the PS Vita is known to have a very high attach rate for a console. Essentially, compared with other systems, Vita owners buy more games per head than most other console owners. So there seems to be no logic to this move when Vita owners are still eager for new games and happy to snap up bargains amongst older releases.
If there is a genuine cost concern for Sony keeping old games online perhaps more of a warning or more Vita-related sales to maximise income to keep the store financially viable. But if it’s not motivated by money then it’s just another slap in the face from a company that’s shown little regard for owners of a console that has been abandoned almost since it was launched.
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Unfortunately now we’re left with little to look forward to with the Vita apart from grabbing any digital bargains in the coming months, final physical titles from the likes of Eastasiasoft and enjoying our existing games. As for beyond that… I expect many Vita owners will see this as the final reason to move on.