Sony is shutting down legacy PlayStation Stores. Do you really own your digital games?

Whether we want to admit it or not, Sony’s PlayStation Store closures for legacy devices are a problem and will see more than 2,000 digital games disappear for good unless they are moved to PlayStation Now. The issue? That may not happen and could lead to the games being lost for good.

On July 2nd and August 27th, 2021, Sony has revealed that they will be shutting down the legacy PlayStation Stores for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, and PlayStation Vita. The moment that they do, you will find that your digital storefronts are gone, disabling your ability to access various features to those games, but also, the games themselves. It’s a surprising move considering that Sony has been able to keep their fan bases across each of their console generations alive and healthy.

As I’m writing this, I have my PlayStation Vita sitting on the desk beside me next to my plethora of Gunpla kits I’ve built since the start of the pandemic in March of 2020. To me, the email just recently arrived from Sony, confirming that my devices would no longer have active PlayStation Stores later this year, that the store closures, unfortunately, are on their way due to the future of PlayStation being on both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

Both of which, believe it or not, are nearly impossible to obtain as an ongoing semiconductor shortage remains in effect and only looks to be getting worse in the foreseeable future. As it will only get worse, many have begun to question whether or not that Sony is making the right decision and raising questions as to whether or not you actually own your digital games.

Soul Sacrifice Delta | Credits: SIE Studio Japan

Personally, I’ve purchased hundreds of dollars in digital games for my PlayStation Vita, even going as far as using sites such as Play-Asia and Amazon in order to obtain international copies of my games. I’ve obtained various games over the years and even buying digital-only releases when it was the only way to purchase said games. Now, like many, I’ve begun to wonder: What will happen to my licenses if Sony ends up shutting down their authentication servers or something happens to the said device?

Believe it or not, I’m not alone either. In recent days, especially when the PlayStation servers hiccup, I’ve been unable to access some of my titles when this happens, only having a remedy for the issue by renewing my licenses through the “Account” option on my PlayStation 4 Pro. Now, this could very well happen on the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Vita as well while some can ensure that the PlayStation Portable content will remain accessible for the foreseeable future.

The importance of this question is whether or not we actually own our digital products. The short answer? No. You don’t. Not according to the digital licensing agreement that Sony has posted online and in their Terms of Service agreement. Why is that? In Sony’s Software Product License Agreement fine print, you are granted access to a digital license of the game, not sold a copy of it, which makes the argument of whether or not DRM should exist a bigger topic as PC users have been waging war on the practice of DRM a rather large ordeal for quite some time.

That means that any purchases that we have made? Well, they aren’t actually purchases, they’re long-term rentals. Sony has made it very clear in recent days that our licenses are only as valid as they want them to be. That means that the licensing server, if it goes down, can retract our license at any time, requiring us to renew our license certificate on their server and or our console whenever they choose to do so or if something happens that causes our license to become invalidated according to the console itself or our connection directly to them.

It also makes the argument for physical purchases even more validated, allowing for the longevity of those games to exist further out than those that were purchased digitally, and allowing you to play those games if you wish to do so without being concerned about licensing of those games. Truth is, you don’t own your games, and it doesn’t seem like there is any intention in Sony changing their stance on ownership at any given time. Your best bet if you are worried about ownership? Go physical if you can.

If there’s the off chance that Sony decides to release the games physically or onto PlayStation Now, you’re out of uck when it comes to over 2,000 digital games, assuming that Sony decides to keep the PlayStation Stores alive and or changes how they handle licensing on those platforms after their inevitable shutdown dates approach unless backward compatibility becomes something they will remain true to moving forward.

Images used are contents from Killzone Mercenary, Soul Sacrifice Delta, and Freedom Wars.

About the Writer(s):


Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook today.

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