Sony confirms shutdown of older PlayStation digital stores
Last week, I wrote about a rumor that was going around that the digital PlayStation Stores for PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, and PlayStation Vita would be completely shut down later this summer. Today, Sony has now confirmed those shutdowns.
I’ve included the full text of the email that Sony Interactive Entertainment sent out this morning below, but before we get to that, let me run down the major points of what has been announced, and what it’ll mean for those who still own those three gaming platforms.
First, the biggest point: All PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, and PlayStation Vita digital content will no longer be purchasable. Not only does that mean that digital PS3, PSP and PS Vita games will no longer be accessible, but also all of the digital re-releases of classic PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games (save those few PS2 games that were re-released with trophies on PS4), as well a PlayStation Minis content. Unfortunately, as those additional games are not supported in any way through backward compatibility currently on either the PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5, those games as well will be lost.
You will no longer be able to make in-game purchases for PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, or PlayStation Vita games. This means any DLC of any kind, microtransactions, and so on will be lost once the stores shut down.
The PlayStation 3 digital store, and all remaining purchasing function for PlayStation Portable games, will shut down on July 2nd, 2021. The PlayStation Vita digital store will shut down on August 27th, 2021.
The good news is that, according to Sony, any game or video content purchases for those three platforms will still be downloadable after their stores are fully shut down. Of course, you’ll need to make sure to purchase any content that you still wish to download before those dates. As well, vouchers or digital codes for games can still be redeemed on all three platforms, but vouchers that add funds to your PSN wallet cannot.
There is, however, an important catch to the ability to re-download games: “If you have purchased a PS3/PS Vita cross-buy bundle and have only downloaded either the PS3 or PS Vita version, you will need to download the other version prior to the closure of PlayStation Store on the relevant device.”
As well, as of June 28th, 2021, the messaging service on the PlayStation Vita will cease to function. According to Sony, “although messaging on PS Vita is going away, your messages will still be available to you by using the messaging service on PS5 consoles, PS4 consoles, and via mobile on PS App.” I’m not certain if that means you’ll no longer have the ability to send or received messages on the Vita, or if access to all of your old messages might also be gone after that point when accessing them on a Vita.
Now, on one side of this situation, there is an argument to be made for companies being able to drop support for old hardware at some point. The PSP first launched in 2004, and the PS3 in 2006. Thus, both of those platforms have had nice, long lives. However, the Vita didn’t hit until 2011—just 10 years ago—and there are still at least a few games that were looking to release on the system this year.
The real problems with this decision are twofold. First, Sony still has no real solution in place for backward compatibility with its older consoles. While some leeway can be given for PlayStation 3 games, given the complex architecture of that console, there’s no good reason we can’t play PlayStation or PlayStation 2 games on our PS4s or PS5s. I personally invested quite a few dollars on re-buying games from Sony’s first two consoles digitally on the PS3, and I’ve still been given no answer as to why those games can’t play on my new PlayStations—especially when said PlayStations already have emulators to do so.
And even bigger problem is that, once those stores shut down, there will be a decently long list of games that simply disappear from the world—at least in a legal fashion—given they were only ever released digitally. Want to pick up Lumines on PSP at some point more than a few months from now? Physical copies are no doubt plentiful. Persona 3 Portable? Less plentiful and more expensive, but still out there. One of my favorite games on the platform, Corpse Party? Sorry—it’ll be gone. Possibly forever, unless you’re willing to walk on the shadier side of life.
The opportunity for games to be released digital only has brought fantastic change to our industry, as it’s meant that games whose sales would never justify producing physical copies can now not only come out, but even be a success. Developers can take more changes with digital-only titles, and games can be profitable with smaller sales numbers. Unfortunately, the dark side of all that positivity is what we’re seeing now: the harsh reality of what then happens to those games when the digital stores they were released on go away. We’ve seen it before, as countless Wiiware and DSiware titles simply vanished when Nintendo shut those stores down.
As I said in my original news story on the rumors, I still hold out hope that Sony will give us some big announcement before the stores shut down of a new backward-compatibility project on the PlayStation 5 that will bring back access to the long history of the company’s consoles. If not, then this might be yet another sign that those out there hoarding crazy collection of physical games might not be so crazy after all.
Update: In writing this news story, there was another issue that I never even considered until I saw someone bring it up. While games you’ve gotten for “free” through PlayStation Plus will be available for playing as long as you have an active subscription, Sony never enabled a way to purchase those on any platform before the PS4 while your subscription was active. So, if there are any games you’ve gotten that way that you then want to make sure you own, you’d have to let your PS+ subscription lapse before the stores shut down. Otherwise, once they do get turned off, you’ll never have the option to purchase those games again.
Sony full email below:
We are closing PlayStation™Store on PlayStation®3 on 2 July 2021 and on PlayStation®Vita devices on 27 August 2021. Additionally, the remaining purchase functionality for PSP™ (PlayStation®Portable) will also retire on 2 July 2021. After thoughtful consideration, we decided to make these changes in an effort to focus our resources for PlayStation Store on PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®5, which will enable us to enhance the customer experience even further. We thank you for your support on these platforms throughout the years.
What does this mean for you?
You will no longer be able to purchase PS3, PS Vita and PSP digital content, including games and video content.
You will also no longer be able to make in-game purchases through games on PS3, PS Vita and PSP.
While the PSP storefront was previously closed in 2016, the remaining PSP purchase functionality (e.g. in-game purchases) will now be fully retired.
What about content you already own?
• You will still be able to download your owned PS3, PS Vita, and PSP content, including games and video content.
• You can download your owned content onto your PS3, PS Vita, or PSP by accessing the Download List on the respective device.
• If you have purchased a PS3/PS Vita cross-buy bundle and have only downloaded either the PS3 or PS Vita version, you will need to download the other version prior to the closure of PlayStation™Store on the relevant device.
• Video content that you own can be streamed on PS3, PS4 or PS5 through the My Videos app, or on mobile devices through the PlayStation™Video app.
• You will still be able to re-download and play game titles you have claimed through PlayStation®Plus as long as you remain a member of the service.
What about vouchers, wallet funds, and cross-buy content?
• You will still be able to redeem game and PlayStation®Plus vouchers on PS3, PS Vita, and PSP devices once PlayStation™Store and purchase functionality for these devices close.
• You will no longer be able to redeem PSN wallet fund vouchers (e.g. gift cards) on PS3, PS Vita, and PSP devices once PlayStation™Store and purchase functionality for these devices close.
• Your PSN wallet funds will remain in your PSN account, but you will only be able to use your wallet funds to purchase PS4 and PS5 products on PlayStation™Store on the web, PlayStation®App, or on PS4 and PS5 consoles.
• You will still be able to purchase cross-buy content through PlayStation™Store on the web, PlayStation®App, or on PS4 and PS5 consoles and access both the PS4 version and the PS3/PS Vita/PSP versions.
Where can you find out more?
Read our FAQ for more information: https://www.playstation.com/support/important-notice/
PS Vita messaging service
As of 28 June 2021*, users on PlayStation Vita will no longer be able to use the messaging service. Although messaging on PS Vita is going away, your messages will still be available to you by using the messaging service on PS5 consoles, PS4 consoles, and via mobile on PS App.
*Termination will start on 28 June 2021, actual date of the termination may differ by region.
Mollie got her start in games media via the crazy world of gaming fanzines, and now works at EGM with the goal of covering all of the weird Japanese and niche releases that nobody else on staff cares about. She’s active in the gaming community on a personal level, and an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming, consumer rights, and good UI. Check her out on Twitter and Mastodon.