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?”.

But hey, who am I fooling, there’s no chance in hell 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.

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?

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?

  1. psp411’s avatar

    thars so true, and that is wy I hate dowuloaded games, an vivid example is killzone psp, I oun the “rigtts” to play psp killzone in vita but chapter 5 is totaly mising, and can´t put it on vita even you have it in your computer, simply you can´t

    that is very disapointing on vita, killzone psp chapter 5 do not exist in the server you try to update yout “licenced” game and the server redirecs you to killzone ps3
    that´s tief and no grand auto
    it sucks

    after that experience I prefer fisical format, that´s rigth I expected the release of ps1 titles as resident evil, I have a 32 gb new mem format for vita, becouse 4 and 8 Gb cost so much than a 32 Gb but video is no taken in correct order (anime), do not accept carpets for orden reasons, music is the same, sony is full of idiots I am sure of that, wy becouse thats was the first thing the ouners of psp asked to psp sony wy psp have that funtion and vita users do not?
    I can complain all day long on vita but the screen and the touch capabilities but rhe games of vita actualy sucks, resistance was disapointing, gravity rush is lesser disapointing but unit8 is a totally bullsh….t, and do not deserve the mony pay for it, sony mus realice psvita remote play for ps3 titles is the only thing prevent downs of sales I love play ps1 titles via remoteplay in the hotel aut of my city, or even in the oficce when have some litlle time, I whis to play killzone 1, 2, 3, on my vita out or in my house, becose that´s my right, but I have to hack my ps3 to do it why sono do not understand that?


  2. psp411’s avatar

    pd: is hard to write ok on vita too, but simpler than on a psp



  3. Gerbil’s avatar

    PSN exclusives i have no problems downloading since they’re only around 200 – 500MB, when it comes to games that are available on physical copy, I will ALWAYS get the physical copy.


  4. zagzag’s avatar

    thats ok if PSN dies some one jast gona hack ps vita and make CFW and we and well all gona be happy agen make piret server for PS vita we name PSS Piret Server Store


  5. zagzag’s avatar

    if psn dies sony gona post all ps vita sorce keys


  6. alex’s avatar

    I buy actual vita games on physical media for this very reason. I download apps and little free games like Treasure of Montezuma blitz from the psn store that I’m not to terrified to lose. PS1 games i run on my psp via popsloader. Just to be on the safe side I don’t use my credit card info on PSN; i buy the PSN cards at the store. One thing I don’t like is the Netflix PSN tie-up if you’re not on psn or the correct FW netflix doesn’t work. I really think Sony should really relax with all the network big brother stuff. Use it for security and bans for hacked or moded consoles that’s fine, but the rest is just way over the top, and personally i feel its unnecessary.


  7. omni’s avatar

    Good point. You know, I’ve been grappling with the idea of how to go about purchasing the titles for the Vita when I do eventually get one.

    One of my major concerns before was the need to purchase an online pass code for some games just to play online, which can usually take you back up to the price of a normal game anyhow. But this just convinced me. I have a big enough hard drive on the ps3 for the occasional downloadable game. And while I have my games installed on the Xbox for the sake of the CD’s longevity, I can always delete those installations any time I run out of room (not likely) so that I never have to delete digital downloads.

    Thanks for the article, I think you helped me make up my mind. I’ll stick with a normal storage card for saves and the occasional media file and keep my games completely physical.

    I probably will end up getting a nice 32 GB one eventually, though, for the sake of PS1 and mini downloads and other things that I want to download, but will want to keep.

    Nice article.


  8. codestorm’s avatar

    Well, there’s still that small possibility they will “unlock” the PS Vita Content Manager when the servers go down


  9. Enclave’s avatar

    Well, this is why we have Open CMA isn’t it? Sure it’s not supported by Sony but that doesn’t change the fact that we have it.


  10. mugshots.com’s avatar

    Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to this web site before but after browsing through many of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely happy I came across it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!


  11. Matthew Concepcion’s avatar

    sony only smart in making technology when it comes to their customers and putting apps they are s2pid


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