News of the closure of the PS3, Vita, and PSP PlayStation Stores sparked a lot of concern. First it was discovered that some developers who were still making games for Vita hadn’t been told about the store closures, which created a lot of problems and canceled games. Many also take issue with games being made permanently unavailable, particularly digital-only games that haven’t seen a re-release of some kind physically or on a different platform. VGC did a full analysis of the digital-only games across the three storefronts and found that roughly 2200 digital-only titles will no longer be available for purchase come the store closures.
Here are the full estimates that VGC came to in their research of the PS3, Vita, and PSP stores:
- ~630 digital-only Vita games
- ~730 digital-only PS3 (PSN) games
- A small number of digital-only PSP games
- 293 PlayStation Minis
- 336 PS2 Classics
- ~260 PS1 Classics (particularly on PSP and Vita)
VGC notes that a “vast majority” of those 2200 games are available in some way on other platforms; either older PlayStation consoles or PC. The PS1 and PS2 classics are the obvious ones here, but a number of games in the other categories exist elsewhere too. Other games will become Xbox exclusives, with the only other versions of titles like “Beyond Good & Evil HD, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Rayman 3 HD, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate HD, SoulCalibur II HD Online, Resident Evil Code: Veronica X, and both Bionic Commando games” now only being available via Xbox’s extensive backwards compatibility that still supports games from the Xbox 360-era. But 120 games exclusive to at least one of those online stores will vanish forever with no way to purchase them in the future.
While there have been rampant concerns about video game preservation, the analysis says that a good number of the games being lost will still be available on other platforms in some way, just not to purchase new through those storefronts. In addition, players who already own the games can still go back and download them (provided they have the appropriate platform). From the preservationist angle, it is those 120 games that are the cause of most concern.
As a few examples, the following are exclusive to only the PS3, Vita, or PSP, with no other versions existing elsewhere:
- Infamous: Festival of Blood
- Echochrome II
- Lumines Supernova
- The Last Guy
- Trash Panic
- PixelJunk Racers
- Tokyo Jungle
- MotorStorm RC
These games and more will be entirely lost, unavailable for new purchases. And some aren’t even that old. Infamous: Festival of Blood is less than 10 years old. While scores of movies, music, and books can still be purchased from decades ago, many are lamenting platform-specific digital games disappearing after short periods, some even less than 10 years. Yes, those who have previously purchased it can still download and play, but in the long term, the availability of some of these games will degrade as new purchases/copies are cut off and the discontinued hardware gets harder to find. Will anyone even be able to find and play Infamous: Festival of Blood in 50 years?
In fact, the Vita itself is only nine years old. Every digital-only Vita release that’s vanishing released less than a decade ago, some much less. The PS4 isn’t much younger than that, VGC notes. While it’s obviously unlikely that Sony is going to be shutting down the PS4 storefront anytime soon (and it has integrated much better backwards compatibility into the PS5), it’s cause for some consternation, wondering what could one day become of our digital libraries as the idea of ownership and preservation for digital games becomes fleeting.
It’s well worth diving into the full VGC report for an even more detailed and nuanced look at what the PS3, Vita, and PSP PlayStation Store closures mean not just for the games being lost, but the idea of long-term digital games preservation in general.