This past April, Sony backed down from closing the PS3 and Vita digital storefronts amid a public outcry from fans and retro enthusiasts. Instead, Sony announced it would only move forward with its plan to end the sale of digital PSP games. Or so everyone thought. According to a notice recently posted on the PlayStation UK website’s “important notices” page, PSP games will continue to be sold through the PS3 and Vita consoles’ stores.
“Upon further reflection, however, it’s clear that we made the wrong decision here,” CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Jim Ryan, wrote in an April 19 post on the PlayStation Blog. “So today I’m happy to say that we will be keeping the PlayStation Store operational for PS3 and PS Vita devices. PSP commerce functionality will retire on July 2, 2021 as planned.”
At the time people took that to mean that PSP games would no longer be sold through the PS3 and Vita stores. VGC made a list of 35 digital-only PSP games that would be “lost forever” as a result of the change. But the PlayStation UK website’s “important notice” page for discontinued apps, features, and services says something different.
An update to the page, first spotted earlier today on the gaming forum ResetEra, states that while users will no longer be able to search for PSP games on the PSP or make in-game purchases, they’ll still be able to buy and download games. “You’ll still be able to purchase and play PSP content that is available on the PS3 and PS Vita stores,” it reads. “However, you’ll no longer be able to make purchases via the in-game store for PSP content.”
According to Google cache, this new language appeared sometime after midday on June 28. However, it is not currently showing up on the U.S. PlayStation website. But Sony confirmed the PlayStation UK language is accurate in an email to Kotaku, reiterating that users will still be able to “purchase and play PSP content that is available on the PS3 and PS Vita stores” even after July 2.
Rumours that Sony would be ditching its old storefronts was first reported by The Gamer back in March. It set off a firestorm of speculation and disappointment over the state of preservation in the video game industry. The outcry got even worse once Sony finally confirmed the news later that month, leading the console manufacturer to eventually reverse course a couple weeks later.
Losing the PS3 and Vita stores would have meant waving goodbye to a host of digital-only games released for those systems, while forcing people to hunt down physical copies of the rest. The PSP is an even more tragic case in some ways. Much more successful than its Vita successor, there’s no shortage of great games for Sony’s first handheld, including some brilliant but pretty obscure JRPGs and SRPGs (looking at you Jeanne d’Arc) that would be all but impossible to get except through piracy if they were no longer for sale on the Vita and PS3 shops.
Fortunately, it now looks like Sony will preserve the PSP’s one-of-a-kind digital library for a bit longer.