Alongside long overdue confirmation of the closure of its PlayStation 3, PS Vita, and PSP storefronts today, Sony noted that the changes will allow the organisation to “refocus our resources for PS Store on PS5 and PS4, which will enable us to enhance the customer experience even further”. It’s empty justification without any actual evidence of what the move will improve, although we daresay the legacy consoles represent a technological noose around the platform holder’s neck.
Nevertheless, this is undeniably disappointing news. It’s not, for balance, the unmitigated disaster that some social media pundits were anticipating: download lists will be retained in perpetuity, meaning that you’ll still have access to the software that you own. There’ll be no race to backup previously purchased titles, as that will remain safe on Sony’s servers for the foreseeable future – you just won’t be able to buy anything new on those devices.
Of course, the move couldn’t have come at a worse time for the platform holder; while Microsoft continues to run rings around its competitor, upgrading older titles to reach new standards on its Xbox Series X|S units, Sony is seen to be leaving its legacy behind. While the list of original Xbox titles available on Microsoft’s next-gen platform is thin, it’s a far better selection than PS4’s upgraded PS2 slate – and there’s simply no comparison when it comes to Xbox 360 and PS3.
PlayStation, of course, would point to the complicated nature of its last-last-gen console’s CELL architecture as the primary motivation behind its abandonment of PS3; it’s a tough excuse to swallow when competent PC emulators exist. Either way, we’re not really here to argue the technological possibilities of running PS3 software on PS5 – we’re not engineers – but it doesn’t take a genius to understand why the optics are bad, especially in light of Microsoft’s aggressive Game Pass offering.
But beyond the obvious business implications, which could result in a lack of consumer faith in Sony’s digital services, the real tragedy here is the loss of some great games. There are many titles, like inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood, which can only be purchased digitally and will be nixed from existence in the near future; despite its mainstream popularity to this day, there’s still not a reliably great way to legally purchase PS1 software in modern times.
It’s unfathomable to think there’s no way to buy Twisted Metal or Jumping Flash and play it on a PS5 or PS4; this disregard for PlayStation’s legacy is truly disheartening to see. Sony may point to poor sales and licensing issues as a reason for the conundrum, but it was roundly applauded for bringing Vib-Ribbon to the PS Store a few years ago; to undo all of that good work and goodwill is a real shame.
The company may highlight the likes of Demon’s Souls and MediEvil as evidence that it respects its history; these are big budget, high-profile remakes of cult classics. However, PlayStation’s back catalogue is so broad and brilliant that it shouldn’t be restricted to once-in-a-blue-moon remakes of its best titles; why can’t we have both? It’d be nice if the original Demon’s Souls existed on the PS Store to compare and contrast against its modern remake, for example.
The outrage will swell and surge over the next 24 hours, but the world will keep turning and people will move on. This isn’t the apocalyptic announcement some expected; PS3, PS Vita, and PSP downloads will be retained, and you’ll always have access to the software you own. But what this news does show is that Sony has a rich and vibrant history that it’s willing to leave behind, and as long-time fans of the brand, it hurts to see.
How do you feel about Sony’s approach to preserving its legacy? Is this something you care about, or are you fully focused on new games? Will you continue to spend money on the PS Store moving forwards, or has this shaken your trust in PlayStation’s online storefronts? Retire us in the comments section below.