PS Vita debug firmware spotted at Gamescom

Our good friends The Z and npt were at Gamescom this week, and found out that the Vita they tried had a 1.69.1 Debug firmware.

In the video below, they are showing us some of the interesting features of the Vita debug firmware.

The Debug firmware is clearly aimed at developers who work on the Vita, and offers features to efficiently test games and apps. According to the video, these features include a Package Installer (this apparently needs to run through CMA in order to copy packages), which, as the name implies, allows to install (unsigned?) packages. The firmware also apparently offers a way to download content to the console without having to go through CMA, a feature that, honestly, even retail units should be offering.

The debug firmware also lets you choose which server to download Updates from, an option to fake a 3g network from wifi (to test 3g functionality), a possibility to fake lots of parameters (such as free disk space, etc…), options to change key bindings (in particular X and O can apparently be exchanged), a feature to change your region settings, and, did I spot a way to switch user accounts easily?

For people who are eager to actually “test” this, it is interesting to note that the Vita debug firmware seems to ship with an interesting security feature: It requires to be activated with a new key every 90 days. This is probably to mitigate the impact of a potential leak of such a firmware, as Sony most likely don’t want to see a new “convert your console into a debug unit and play games for free” situation anytime soon! It is assumed that if you fail to re-activate the console within 90 days, it will refuse to boot or to run anything.

Another interesting feature of the debug firmware is the possibility to investigate the Ram in case of a crash, with the possibility to retrieve core dumps. This is clearly aimed at game developers, but it something I’m sure lots of hackers would like to see too :)

So, there you go. Lots of interesting features, on a firmware that, even if leaked, will most likely refuse to run on your devices. Nevertheless, cool info in my opinion :)

Thanks to rafael707 for the tip!

  1. auron’s avatar

    Cool! so this is what SKFU was trying to get his hand on? no one hasn’t donated to him in ages. I mean with that debug fw couldn’t we find more ways to hack the vita? I think its something someone should get their hands on.

    Reply

    1. new’s avatar

      I know what you mean.. I would have guessed that the full amount would have been donated after 24hours of SKFU posting. Just to show you how ungraceful the community is. For those of you who donated.. A BIG THANK YOU:)

      Reply

  2. Gerson Revolorio’s avatar

    you think you can choose a different network using turbo sim. looks promising.

    Reply

  3. PsVITAHackbeginner’s avatar

    german guys hahaha

    Reply

  4. Universal’s avatar

    Really interesting info. I’m assuming in the near future, whenever CFW is available on the PSV maybe a “VSH Menu” will be ran through the settings app, VSH options will most likely be handled there.

    Reply

  5. abdou005’s avatar

    WOOOW Woooww I was thinking about selling My ps Vita. just these 2 days I changed my opinion :D. Thank’s Wololo. what a good news. The hope Returns

    Reply

  6. ZeRo’s avatar

    apparently thats a Oficial Cfw

    Reply

  7. ndh777’s avatar

    Sigh…was nice until you explained that a leak still wouldn’t allow users to use it lol

    Reply

  8. Karma_Darkly’s avatar

    Nice.

    Reply

  9. Norml’s avatar

    Pretty irritating to see settings that should be in the official Vita firmware…change O/X, turn off sleep mode…I hate $ony.

    Reply

    1. No1’s avatar

      I agree that having the option to change between the X/O buttons could be nice (although i wouldnt use it), but can someone explain to me why they need more than 10 minute sleepmode?

      If you’re going to leave the Vita for longer than 10 minutes, why do you want the screen to be on? It also takes like 2 seconds to recover from sleep mode, so it a problem at all. Makes little sense to me why someone wants more than 10 minutes, but that is why i ask :)

      Reply

      1. No1’s avatar

        Doh, typo, i ment of course to write “so it is not a problem at all” :)

        Reply

      2. Meow’s avatar

        yup.. we need easy mode to switch account :(

        Reply

      3. Norml’s avatar

        Here’s one good reason, watching movies.
        Also, why not? They already implemented it.

        Reply

        1. No1’s avatar

          The sleep mode doesnt kick in when watching movies. I just tried it myself :)

          Reply

          1. No1’s avatar

            I forgot to write: sure, it doesnt hurt to be able to turn off the sleep mode completely. But i don’t see the complaint about it, so i was wondering why someone need more than 10 minutes.

      4. NNNRT’s avatar

        What if someone wants to test how much something lasts in a game or anything similar? ;)

        Reply

  10. Crimson’s avatar

    Finally! The start of a cfw, maybe

    Reply

  11. Zech’s avatar

    i hope 1 day but not in the furthest feature, when i check this site and hoping to see a “VITA FINALLY HACKED!” article. Its really pain in the ass to buy all of the games. i still support the games that i really wanted. but buying games like asphalt, ridge racer, etc.. its a different story. i’m a jack sparrow myself so i don’t give a fuck about someone telling me to buy all of those games. i support when i want to support and when i have the funds for it.

    Reply

    1. No1’s avatar

      If you think that those games are boring, why do you want to play them? Ridge Racer is like $15 anyway, so its not a big investment. Asphalt also have a demo that you can check out.

      Reply

  12. arturia’s avatar

    i wonder if sony will figure out how nintendo keeps piracy maintained on their 3ds. anti piracy on game carts will make it hard for us to rip games. then we might need a dongle for our vitas lol

    Reply

  13. Openvita’s avatar

    I donated 20€ to skfu for the dev-kit because i think it is the best way to build a cfw.

    Reply

  14. Acid_Snake’s avatar

    It’s not anymore about homebrews, now it’s about features. This debug firmware has tons of extra features that should be on retail firmware: multiple PSN accounts, X/O swap, Power saving On/Off…
    Nice work Sony, keep adding nails to your coffin

    Reply

    1. Meow’s avatar

      i hope they gonna release that features on 1.80

      Reply

  15. iawa2k’s avatar

    Completely agree with others on here, even without us gaining access to a full debug fw that hackers could force activate against dummy servers etc. some of the features would be really nice to have on OFW especially the change of O and X buttons.

    Is there any more info as to whether the unit is special in some way or is it just the firmware? Would the public be able to sign up to the Sony Developer program to gain access to this firmware? Weren’t they supposed to be allowing people to be making games for the vita publicly like iOS, Android etc?

    Maybe no one has the answers to this but would love to know if someone has a bit more info/knowledge on the matter.

    Reply

    1. wololo’s avatar

      the “public API” for normal people who want to make games is the Playstation Mobile program (formerly known as Playstation suite). IT does not require a debug unit, and is sandboxed in a Mono environment.
      This debug firwmare is for people developing AAA titles using the “full” power of the machine. Typically, big companies that have worked with Sony in the past

      Reply

      1. iawa2k’s avatar

        Bugger. Probably the only thing to say to that!

        It’s a shame though as really Google and Apple allow you to install what you want, re-sign apps (even app store ones other people have bought) and use them on your device etc. by using the publicly available dev subscription.

        I’m not a massive fan of ISO loading etc. but I have done in the past when wanting to fully demo a game and if I find after an hour I am still playing I will go and buy it. However I still think that if they did 30 min or 1 hour demos of full games they would not have so many issues with piracy – Onlive just use timed demos of full games and that works great as you can play any game and it will even save the game but you have to buy the game to load the save states. Excellent idea!

        Reply

        1. No1’s avatar

          I think the reason why it is different on phones and tablets is because of the different business model. These things are sold with big profits. Dedicated gaming systems are usually sold with loss or minimal profit.

          On gaming devices they make the biggest profit from game sales and accessories, while phones and tablets make their biggest profit from the devices themself. This means that the gaming device business model is much more sensitive to piracy, so they try to do what they can to avoid it.

          Reply

      2. Acid_Snake’s avatar

        Until the beta is over, and when it does then psm will become just another closed license.

        Reply

  16. StepS’s avatar

    Very nice!

    Reply

  17. BigCockSurprise’s avatar

    lol around 4:30 you can hear the guys in the background “this thing gonna be stolen over night!” lol

    I’m still wondering where was that filmed? it’s really hands on an open firmware.

    Reply

    1. No1’s avatar

      There are several of Vita units at Gamescom (a game convension, the european version of E3). They probably just exited the game on one of these units and went through the menu from there.

      Reply

  18. lows’s avatar

    There is an Feature called “Core Dump” to see 2:30 at the vjdeo. SO is it like an PSPLINK in the OFW/Debug on the Vita?

    Reply

  19. StepS’s avatar

    I was thinking a bit on this, and some things aren’t clear for me.
    So if you say that this firmware could be “leaked”, then it wouldn’t be hard to install it as a firmware update (overriding xml, etc)? Wouldn’t then it be possible to do a normal firmware upgrade later to get rid of the debug one and its timebomb?
    That’s really interesting :)

    Reply

    1. Yes’s avatar

      Debug firmwares for the PS3 was released a long time ago, but it was’nt possible to install them on a retail PS3 until the recent CEX to DEX hack. I assume that its the same thing on Vita, that you need to hack it first to be able to install debug firmware on a retail Vita unit.

      Reply

  20. StepS’s avatar

    Also, before organizing the donations project, SKFU has said that he “already got a way around 3-months limitation”. I guess it’s this same timebomb as in debug firmware (and a debug firmware on the devkit console)

    Reply

  21. openvita’s avatar

    what about setting a proxy on a debug vita and downloading the update files with a notebook?

    Reply

  22. nCadeRegal’s avatar

    cool news sounds like a step in the right direction . Don’t care for piracy just want to have the same homebrew functionality as my psps do , but on my vita nice read.

    Reply

  23. auron’s avatar

    I think we should donate to SKFU again! http://streetskaterfu.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  24. Nizar Nemer’s avatar

    How could the re-activation fail?

    Reply

  25. Crimson’s avatar

    Just a few days left for update v1.80!

    Reply

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