In a dramatic U-turn, Sony has announced the reversal of closures to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita online stores. In March, Sony announced the PS Stores would close in summer 2021, but today’s decision ensures that they will remain open for the foreseeable future.
The initial announcement led fans to frantically restore their digital purchases. Sony faced criticism for abandoning previous consoles. The approach starkly contrasts to Microsoft’s, which preserves past Xbox generations through backwards compatibility. While the PlayStation 5 can run PlayStation 4 games, there is no other compatibility. The PS Now service does contain PS3 games like LEGO Indiana Jones. However, they aren’t downloadable offline and are subject to leave the service at any time. This contrasts the Xbox One, which plays hundreds of Xbox 360 games off the disc.
The news will come as a welcomed gift to fans of older consoles, ensuring their support will continue. The announcement of the store’s closure spawned countless discussions of games that would be lost and revitalized the PS3 and Vita’s catalog. The reversal means over 2,000 games that would’ve been permanently inaccessible now live on.
Sony permanently erased the online PS3 and Vita stores in late March, gearing up for the closure of the console versions—though it is thought this will be restored now. The true motives behind the U-turn are unclear, but the rampant backlash—with fans scrambling to preserve the games, and criticizing Sony’s decision—undoubtedly contributed. A former Sony employee claims it was the latest of several attempts to kill the Vita, which struggled for sales and lost support quickly.
Whether appeasing fans or simply preserving years of gaming history, Sony’s decision ensures legacy consoles will live on. With the PlayStation 5 still thin on the ground with games, players need backward compatibility to sustain the console. If the store removals did happen, it would undermine the strength of Sony’s back catalog. It’s a powerful instance of fan action and protest affecting real change and proves retro gaming is here to stay.
Luke Hinton is a freelance culture journalist living in Cardiff, Wales. He graduated from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism, Media and Communications, and currently balances his freelancing work with postgraduate studies. He specialises in film, TV and entertainment writing.