138 Digital-Only Games Will Disappear Completely When The PS3, PS Vita And PSP Stores Close

138 Digital-Only Games Will Disappear Completely When The PS3, PS Vita And PSP Stores Close
Image: Infamous: Festival of Blood

On July 2, the PlayStation store will close on PS3 and PSP consoles. On August 27, the PS Vita store will follow suit. The collective impact of this closure will be the loss of over 2200 digital games — 138 of which will disappear completely. While many legacy games have been given ports and remasters, or are available on other consoles, there are many which will never be playable again unless users purchase them before they vanish.

A new report from VGC has outlined the sad impact of these closures and identified which games are set to vanish over the next few months. Heavy hitters on the list including classic PSP hits like Ape Quest and LocoRoco: Midnight Carnival, but the most disappointing loss outlined is inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood on PS3.

This digital-only DLC is a non-canon chapter in the excellent inFAMOUS series, but it’s also a great standalone adventure. If you’ve ever wanted to storm the streets of New Orleans as a fledgling electricity-powered vampire, this is the game for you. But you’ll need to grab it before the legacy PlayStation Stores close. After July 2, there’ll be no way to purchase the game at all.

While everyone who currently owns games on the PS3, PSP and PS Vita stores will be able to re-download their library at any time, no new purchases can be made. It’s not just a big deal for gamers, it’s also a massive deal for video game preservation. While global foundations exist to preserve the histories of arts like film, TV and music, video game preservation has been notoriously lax — to the point where even modern games like Kingdom Hearts no longer exist in their original form.

The argument about video games being art will likely continue for decades to come, but there’s no denying the hard work, passion and talent that goes into the creation of games. Often they represent years of labour being poured into a project — and they can serve as important cultural touchstones. All art is representative of the history, politics and stories of the era when it was created, and it’s devastating to think these artefacts will soon be lost.

Yes, they’re “just” video games, but they all play an important part in representing an era. 138 games disappearing is a drop in the ocean of gaming history, but that doesn’t mean their loss isn’t meaningful. The closure of the PS3, PS Vita and PSP PlayStation Stores is a sad reminder that the digital games we buy only have a very short shelf life, and that losing the history of games is as simple as turning off a tap.

If you have your eye on any of the games detailed in the VGC report, it’s a good idea to jump onto the legacy PlayStation stores over the next few weeks and grab everything you think you’ll miss. Once the stores close, you won’t have the chance to buy any of those digital-only games again.

Comments

  • I wonder if needing to submit a finished copy of a work to have copyright granted would work, similar as to what they do with literature. There’d be a copy in a digital library then.

    Of course, that library would need to continue existing in perputity, but thats the same with any electronic systems which get superseded.

    That and patches, whether they’re ones that make the game run correctly, or ones that fundamentally change the game so that original content is no longer available. See, Disco Elysium – Final Cut replacing the existence of the original work on PC store fronts.

    And don’t get started on MMOs…

    • With this scheme, how would you handle data breaches like have happened at CDPR, Ubisoft, etc? While the break-in would still be illegal, with no copyright protection for the incomplete work there would be nothing to prevent third parties from reusing that data as public domain code.

  • This really highlights the issue with digital games and really makes them no better than physical games. At least with physical games you can buy them second hand if they aren’t being printed anymore, but with digital games that have been removed from stores or have had their stores closed, that’s not even an option.

  • “even modern games like Kingdom Hearts no longer exist in their original form”

    The source code was lost, but there’ll still be copies out there so the original release still exists. That means they can’t reproduce the original, but you can still get a copy given the game shipped on PS2 and thus would have everything on the disc required to play it.

    That might seem like semantics, but I think it’s an important differentiation to make. Some games legitimately are lost to time as they had built in server components and the like that were shut down and this are effectively gone from the world. If we’re comparing to art, many forms of art don’t get reproduced (or the reproductions would hold no value) which is effectively the situation lost source code creates.

    I realise some consider the source code itself to also be “art” and yes, that’s probably fine for Kingdom Hearts even if the game still exists.

    • That’s absolutely true, and a fair point to make. The point I was trying to make is that source code is extremely valuable, and the fact that it’s been misplaced/lost in such a short time frame is worrying because it shows how little thought is being given to preserving the history of video games.

    • I’m not that surprised a lot of this source code has gone missing. While version control is pretty ubiquitous today with tools like git, you don’t have to go back very far to when this wasn’t the case. And it’s not uncommon for internal processes at businesses to be 5 or 10 years behind current practice in Open Source.

      There’s also cases where the code base and tooling to build one project gets morphed into the infrastructure for the next project, and they inadvertently lose the ability to reconstruct the code and environment necessary to build the old project. That’s probably improved somewhat with the longer support lifetimes of many games these days due to DLC and title updates.

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