In preparation for the PS5 launch, Sony completely rebuilt the PlayStation Store and relaunched it in October. The new marketplace only carries PS4 and PS5 titles. However, an older version of the store remains for PS3, Vita, and PSP users.
Last week, TheGamer reported that anonymous sources claim Sony will retire the PS3 and PSP stores on July 2, 2021, and the Vita store on August 27. If true, PS3, PSP, and Vita games would no longer be available. This news sparked anger and frustration among fans and owners of the older systems.
While Sony did not confirm these rumors, even when asked multiple times by IGN, ResetEra users noticed over the weekend that the web-based version of the older store was gone. Users can still access the marketplaces from their consoles, but the website closure does seem to validate the rumors of a total shutdown.
The PlayStation 3’s store was Sony’s first move into digital sales, and the way the model has always worked is that when you buy a game on the storefront, it is free to download later, even if you have uninstalled it. If the store closes, it is unclear how users will access their legitimately purchased copies. Hikikomori Media commented on some of the pitfalls and ramifications facing Sony if it goes through with shutting it all down (above).
Speculation is that Sony wants to move PS3 titles into its PS Now subscription service. However, to do so, the company would essentially be telling customers who bought those games that they no longer own them and have to pay monthly to play them now. It seems a very precarious situation for the console giant. Such a move would surely spark massive class-action lawsuits.
While Sony has yet to answer questions on its plans, sources say that it intends to announce the store closures within the next few days. It will be interesting to hear how Sony will proceed with sunsetting these marketplaces. Does it have any contingencies in place for dealing with game ownership? We shall see.