A Firmware Issue Threatens to Make PS4 Games Unplayable


Until one thing adjustments, a difficulty lurking in older PlayStations’ inside timing programs threatens to ultimately make each PS4 sport and all downloaded PS3 video games unplayable on present {hardware}. Proper now, it is not a matter of if however when this drawback will happen.

This ticking firmware time bomb has been recognized in sure PlayStation preservation and hacking circles for some time. Nevertheless it’s gaining new consideration amid Sony’s just lately introduced determination to close down the web shops for PS3, PSP, and Vita software program. Whereas that impending retailer shutdown will not influence gamers’ talents to play and re-download beforehand bought software program for now, the eventual wider shutdown of PSN servers for these getting old consoles might have a way more drastic impact on the playability of a large swath of video games.

The basis of the approaching subject has to do with the CMOS battery inside each PS3 and PS4, which the programs use to maintain observe of the present time (even once they’re unplugged). If that battery dies or is eliminated for any purpose, it raises an inside flag within the system’s firmware indicating the clock could also be out of sync with actuality.

After that flag is raised, the system in query has to verify in with PSN the following time it wants to verify the right time. On the PS3, this on-line verify occurs if you play a sport downloaded from the PlayStation Retailer. On the PS4, this additionally occurs if you attempt to play retail video games put in from a disc. This verify must be carried out not less than as soon as even when the CMOS battery is changed with a recent one so the system can reconfirm clock consistency.

Why does the PlayStation firmware care a lot about having the right time? On the PS3, the timer verify is used to implement any “closing dates” that may have been positioned in your digital buy. (As confirmed by the error message: “This content material has a time restrict. To carry out this operation go to settings date and time settings set by way of web.”) That verify appears to be required even for downloads that do not have any precise set expiration date, including a de facto one-time on-line check-in requirement for programs after their inside batteries fail.

On the PS4, although, the timing verify is outwardly meant to ensure PSN trophy information is registered precisely and to stop gamers from pretending to get trophies sooner than they really had. You’d assume this verify might be segregated from the power to load the non-trophy parts of the sport, however participant testing has proven that this appears to be a requirement to get PS4 video games to load in any respect.

None of this can be a large drawback for many PlayStation homeowners proper now. Sure, the 10- to 20-year life span in your common CMOS battery is slowly working out, particularly for the earliest PS3 {hardware}. However changing the battery and resyncing the interior timer with PSN is a comparatively minor annoyance in the meanwhile (assuming you could find a Wi-Fi scorching spot and PSN is not struggling considered one of its uncommon outages).

However nothing lasts ceaselessly, as Sony’s latest selections relating to older PlayStation on-line shops present. Sooner or later sooner or later, whether or not it is in a single 12 months or 100 years, Sony will shut off the PSN servers that energy the timing verify for {hardware} it now not considers vital. After that, it is solely a matter of time earlier than failing CMOS batteries slowly scale back all PS3 and PS4 {hardware} to semi-functional curios.

Sony might render the issue moot comparatively simply with a firmware replace that limits the system capabilities tied to this timing verify. To date, although, Sony hasn’t publicly indicated it has any such plans and hasn’t responded to a number of requests for remark from Ars Technica. Till it does, difficult workarounds that make use of jailbroken firmware are the one choice for making certain that getting old PlayStation {hardware} will stay totally usable properly into the long run.


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