What will happen to your PS Vita the day Sony’s servers go down
If you read this, it’s possible that like me, you are the owner of a PSVita. Maybe, like me, you were trying to be cheap, and got a 4GB memory card to go with it. Or maybe you’re super rich and got yourself a 32GB version, the best one can get with Sony’s Vita in those days of 50GB Movies and 3TB hard drives.
Maybe, like me, you realized the horrible truth fairly quickly: the average AAA title on the PSP was 500MB, while on the Vita, the average is at 1.5GB, with superstar games such as Uncharted going up to 3.5GB. Maybe, because you’re stupid like me, you thought going digital was a nice idea, and you found yourself cornered with your memory stick full of games less than 2 weeks after buying your Playstation Vita, with no room left to even copy a music album.
Oh, silly you and your first world problems, don’t cry: if you have too many games, you can easily delete them to make room, and since Sony allows you to re-download your purchased games from their services free of charge, you’ll be able to get them back whenever you want…
But imagine for one moment that Sony’s servers go down for a long period of time, either because of a technical issue, or due to business decisions (sarcastic details below on why this is not an unlikely scenario) :
You’re facing a situation where, if Sony’s servers get shut down at some point, whatever games are currently on your memory stick will be the only ones you can play ever again.
Some people will pretend that this is a general problem with digital downloads, not with the Vita in particular. This is incorrect. For example, the PSP has digital downloads too, but you can copy them as much as you want to your own hard drive, then copy them back to the PSP. This will work as long as you don’t mess with the PSP’s licenses for each game. (And I could also explain how the humble bundle digital downloads work DRM free, but that would be a low blow)
So, why not use the backup functionality of the PS Vita to do the same then? Well, I’m glad you ask, since this is where I was going: the only way to copy files back and forth between your Vita and your PC is through CMA, a tool which requires your PC to be connected to Sony’s servers constantly while you use it. At this point I assume you understand where I’m going: in a scenario where Sony’s servers are down for whatever reason, you can’t copy anything from and to your Vita, because the only tool to do that won’t let you. This, among other things, renders all your backups useless, and basically means whatever is not on your memory stick right now will never be able to run on your Vita ever again.
Yes, this is nothing new, it just hit me like lightning the other day, as I was asking myself “why do I hate the concept of CMA so much?”.
- Related read: Vita 1.80: the hidden “features” we didn’t really need
But hey, who am I fooling, there’s no chance in heck Sony’s servers will ever go down [Warning: sarcasm ahead]. It’s not like they’ve been in a bad financial shape for the past 4 years, or if they’ve ever had their PSN servers hacked and taken down for a long period of time, or if they have been closing many network game servers recently to reduce costs… And the Vita is doing such awesome sales so far, there’s no risk Sony will ever try to cut their loss on this device.
And even if that ever happened, come on, with a 32GB card, you can store up to 10 Vita games, and who has ever bought more than 10 games for a console, right? And those who do won’t mind spitting an additional $100 for a memory stick every time they run out of space, I’m sure. It’s not like Vita games are expensive anyway.
By the way, I digress, but this echoes one thing I’ve been saying for a while: digital games on the Vita should be much cheaper than the physical version. It’s only natural since storing them on a memory stick costs about $15 (average cost for 3GB on a Sony memory stick – by comparison the same costs about $2.5 on a sdcard), a 30% cost increase which is absorbed in the case of a physical purchase because you don’t have to pay for the storage.
- Related read: 10 Things that should be improved on the Vita
No, unlike what the image at the top of the article seemed to imply, I am not coming with a terrifying revelation on how all the Vitas in the world will stop working if Sony’s systems ever go down. But I’m just realizing more strongly how we are not buying games anymore, we’re merely renting them, and the system is already in place to make sure it will not be easy to claim ownership of the digital products we bought, if something bad ever happens to Sony. Don’t you love how today, you can fire up your old Dreamcast, and it tells you you can’t play games because it can’t find a connection to Sega’s servers?
- Related read: Breaking physical: the good the bad, the ugly.
So, do you trust Sony’s servers that keep your Vita alive will still be here in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? Would you rather stick to physical games? Or will you buy a new memory stick every time you download a new game? Do you expect Sony would release a “patch” to let you retrieve your backups with CMA, if they ever go bankrupt?