Digital purchases are mysteriously expiring on classic PlayStation consoles, rendering a random assortment of games unplayable.
Over the last several days, PlayStation users have reported strange, decades-old expiration dates being applied to their digital games. Upon re-downloading the PSOne Classic version of Chrono Cross, for instance, Twitter user Christopher Foose was told the purchase expired on December 31, 1969, preventing him from playing the game on both PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.
GamesHub editor Edmond Tran described a similar issue. Trying to boot up Chrono Cross on PlayStation 3, Tran said, gave him the same expiration date and time, only adjusted for his location in Australia. Tran did mention, however, that he was able to download the PSOne Classic from his library and play just fine on Vita despite the game’s apparent delisting from the handheld’s store.
So did @PlayStation expire the PSOne Classics versions of #ChronoCross and #ChronoTrigger by setting the date on new downloads to 12/31/1969? This is preventing me from playing my purchased copies on Vita and PS3. @ModernVintageG @dark1x pic.twitter.com/wxRebNIZWh
— Christopher Foose (@FooseTV) April 8, 2022
While at first this felt like an attempt at encouraging Chrono Cross fans to purchase the new Radical Dreamers remaster, Kotaku quickly found evidence of this same problem occurring with different games.
Chrono Cross worked just fine for content creator Words, but not its spiritual predecessor Chrono Trigger, the licence for which somehow lapsed 40 years before the game was added to the PSOne Classic library.
Steve J over on Twitter asked PlayStation directly why the expiration date for his copy of Final Fantasy VI was changed to 1969, but never received a response.
Reddit user Gyrocop reported their PlayStation 3 giving them guff about Rune Factory: Oceans (subtitled Tides of Destiny in North America) earlier this week. They were also told that their licence for the digital purchase ran out in 1970. Switching to a different console didn’t help.
Two separate threads on the Vita subreddit shared the same story, with one poster claiming that their entire library of digital games remained affected even after trying solutions like re-subscribing to PlayStation Plus and factory resetting their system.
And finally, someone on GameFAQs reported a now-familiar 1969 expiration date for the PSOne Classic version of Final Fantasy Origins three days ago.
The only potential explanation I’ve seen for this issue thus far involves what’s known as the “Unix epoch,” or the arbitrary date early engineers designated as the beginning of the operating system’s lifespan. Some bug or glitch on Sony’s backend may be defaulting PlayStation game licence expiration dates to the Unix epoch, essentially telling them they can’t be played after midnight UTC on January 1, 1970.
Kotaku contacted Sony about these issues but did not hear back before publication.
Whatever the case may be, it’s affecting users’ ability to play games they ostensibly own, and that can be frustrating as hell considering all the hoops folks already have to jump through to maintain their classic libraries. That said, this also doubles as a good example of why it’s best to buy physical when possible. We never know when digital games are going to just up and disappear on us, and there’s really nothing we can do about it when it inevitably happens.
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